Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Starting goalie: John Gibson
Starting goalie: Tristan Jarry
Starting goalie: John Gibson
Keep this good stuff up, NHL GMs.
Ears perked up on Thursday, as the Anaheim Ducks landed Adam Henrique (and other stuff) from the New Jersey Devils for Sami Vatanen (plus some nicknacks) in another intriguing trade. One can only hope this means that we’ll see more interesting moves sprinkled throughout 2017-18, rather than having to beg for trimmings during the trade deadline alone.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the fantasy hockey implications of this move. Apologies to Joseph Blandisi for a lack of attention here, but honestly, his fantasy impact will most likely be … well, the first five letters of his last name.
Sami Vatanen – As much as I love how the Devils are redesigning their team, I’m not so sure what to make about Vatanen from a W-L record standpoint. In other words, the “reality” part is tougher.
It seems like I’m not alone in having some mild doubts about this, but for more on the real-world implications of the move, check out Sean Leahy’s analysis of the trade.
From a fantasy perspective, this is a slam-dunk for the Devils and Vatanen’s value, though. It will be intriguing to see how Vatanen’s arrival impacts the value of Will Butcher, who has been averaging three minutes per night on the Devils’ power play. Will New Jersey opt for a three-forward, two-defensemen setup or go with league trends and lean 4F-1D?
Either way, the Devils suddenly have more balance, and continue to nudge themselves up the ranks of the NHL’s most entertaining teams (because their strengths and weaknesses lineup so blissfully). Vatanen’s had some struggles in the past couple seasons, but he’s a two-time 30+ point scorer despite never playing more than 71 games in a single regular season.
I’ll leave the add/drop analysis to PHT’s Joey Alfieri, as far as where Vatanen might fit in your lineup. There’s little doubt in my mind that Vatanen is more valuable today than he was as a member of the Ducks, even though he was given reasonable opportunities to succeed in Anaheim.
At the absolute minimum, the Devils get that much more fun to watch.
Instead, this was a very sensible move where two teams gave up surplus pieces to fit glaring needs.
In the case of Henrique, the Ducks get a sorely needed center – probably their top center for quite some time, as Ryan Kesler and Ryan Getzlaf both deal with serious issues – who’s also cheap at $4M. For a budget-conscious contender, this makes a lot of sense.
So, what kind of player is Henrique? That might be a question many are asking, considering that he’s been part of a Devils team that’s been under the radar for some time.
Henrique brings some impressive mid-level goal-scoring to the table. While he’s been weak in that area this season (just four goals on 49 SOG for an unusually low 8.2 shooting percentage), his career shooting percentage is a lofty 15. He’s hit 30 goals once and also had 25 and 20-goal seasons.
Eventually, you’d expect the returns of Kesler and Getzlaf to push him down the lineup, but it’s worth noting that Henrique can probably move to the wing when that happens.
It’s not as if a fantasy owner wants long-term results if they’re adding Henrique; you’re not really slotting a keeper league spot for him, right? This would be about short-term returns in most instances, and the bigger question is just “How depleted is this Ducks offense?” Along with Kesler and Getzlaf having serious issues, the Ducks also have Ondrej Kase, Jakob Silfverberg, and Rickard Rakell on the shelf. Let’s not forget Patrick Eaves‘ frightening health issues, either.
That opens the door for Henrique opportunities, but it’s worth mentioning that he probably won’t be carried by red-hot wingers. The results could be modest for would-be fantasy owners.
Who gains from Vatanen’s departure?
It will be interesting to see which Ducks defensemen get a boost from Vatanen being traded away, too.
So far in 2017-18, Cam Fowler was the only Anaheim blueliner who averaged more PP time per game than Vatanen. That said, Brandon Montour (2:41 per night) wasn’t far behind Vatanen’s average of 2:48 per game, and Hampus Lindholm got his fair share of reps, too, at 2:16 per evening.
Between power-play time and even-strength minutes – Vatanen averaged 21:06 minutes of total ice time per game, third among Ducks skaters and defensemen – there are some nice opportunities for Lindholm, Montour, and Josh Manson to take bigger roles.
The Ducks are transitioning from such a deep defense that people have to fight for ice time to something a little more stable, what with Vatanen and Shea Theodore out of the mix. Personally, I’m especially intrigued by what this might mean for Lindholm and Manson, two of the Ducks’ most interesting blueliners.
Again, it’s wise to check in on Alfieri’s add/drops post for more immediate advice on Monday, though.
Every Monday, PHT will offer up some advice for all you fantasy hockey general managers out there. We’ll take a look at what’s available on the waiver wire in most leagues and who you should cut ties with sooner than later.
Only players available in less than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues will make the cut for the adds and only those owned in more than 50 percent of leagues will make the drops list.
Here’s this week’s lists:
—Adrian Kempe-C/LW-Los Angeles Kings (owned in 42 percent of leagues)
Kempe has been one of the pleasant surprises of this young season. The 21-year-old has six goals and nine points in 11 games this season and he should continue to produce as long as he continues playing in an offensive role. He’s been very good. The fact that he’s listed at two different positions is just a bonus.
—Josh Bailey-LW/RW-New York Islanders (owned in 25 percent of leagues)
Bailey has been skating on a line with Anders Lee and John Tavares, who’s been unstoppable over the last few games. Bailey has picked up at least one point in seven of New York’s 11 games this season, and he’s currently riding a six-game point streak.
—Evgenii Dadonov-RW-Florida Panthers (owned in 33 percent of leagues)
Dadonov has quietly put up five goals and six assists in 10 games. The Russian winger has accumulated five multi-point games this season (three of them have come in his last four contests). He’s played really well on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.
—Brock Boeser-RW-Vancouver Canucks (owned in 23 perfect of leagues)
Before we get into his fantasy outlook, we have to mention that he’s currently listed as day-to-day with a foot injury. It’s unclear how much time he’ll miss. It’s hard to ignore what Boeser’s done so far this season. He’s racked up two goals and nine points in eight games with Vancouver. Even though his production will likely drop off at a certain point, he looks like the real deal. Consider adding him soon.
—Brandon Montour-D-Anaheim Ducks (owned in 46 percent of leagues)
Finding good fantasy defensemen on the waiver wire isn’t easy, so you’ve got to pounce when one becomes available. Montour has four goals, three assists, a plus-4 rating and four penalty minutes for the Ducks this season. With Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm back, Montour’s role will likely drop off a little bit. He’s still worth owning though.
—Ivan Provorov-D-Philadelphia Flyers (owned in 49 percent of leagues)
The Flyers defenseman just barely made the cut for this list. Let’s start by saying that he needs to be owned in pretty much every dynasty league. He still provides value in standard leagues, as he’s on pace to score 15 goals and 37 points this season. Provorov is averaging almost 24 minutes of ice time per game.
—Jacob Trouba-D-Winnipeg Jets (owned in 66 percent of leagues)
After putting up eight goals and 33 points last year, Trouba is off to a slow start in 2017-18. He’s playing big minutes (averaging 22:14 of ice time), but he has three assists and a minus-5 rating in 10 games. Trouba’s been a disappointment, but he should only be cut in standard leagues where a suitable replacement (like Provorov) is available on the wire.
—Semyon Varlamov-G-Colorado Avalanche (owned in 56 percent of leagues)
Varlamov won his first three games of the season, but the dream is over. He’s dropped three of his last four games and he’s given up at least three goals in three of those four contests (he allowed seven goals to Vegas in his last start).
—Patrick Hornqvist-RW-Pittsburgh Penguins (owned in 71 percent of leagues)
Hornqvist has put up a respectable three goals in 10 games this season, but there are better options available on most waiver wires. Sure, he might heat up but his injury history also needs to be considered. In five of the last six seasons, he’s missed at least six games. He isn’t one of those players that absolutely has to be cut though.
As the dust settled on the expansion draft, the Anaheim Ducks’ defense is coming into focus.
Only Vatanen, Lindholm and Holzer see contracts that go beyond 2017-18 – at least without an extension yet for the likes of Fowler and Manson – so Holzer provides a little bit of certainty.
Is the $900K a minor overpay, though? Holzer played in 32 games for the Ducks this season after appearing in 29 in 2015-16. His impact has been pretty minimal, generating seven points while averaging 13:31 in ice time per contest (down from 14:45 the previous season).
Granted he may get more opportunities to show what he’s capable of if the Ducks lose another piece. Then again, at 29, the Ducks likely know what they have.
It was expected Anaheim would ask veteran defenseman Kevin Bieksa to waive his no-movement clause for the Vegas expansion draft.
The Ducks very well may have, ahead of yesterday’s 5 p.m. ET deadline. But nobody will confirm.
Per the O.C. Register, neither the club nor Bieksa’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, would comment on whether the 36-year-old rearguard had been approached.
Bieksa has long been viewed as the “key” to Anaheim’s expansion plans. His NMC means he requires protection, which is less than ideal given the Ducks have a plethora of good, young defenseman they’d like to keep.
If the Ducks decide to protect seven forwards and three defensemen, Hampus Lindholm will be protected for sure, and Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour are each exempt. But that only leaves two spots for Bieksa, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, and Josh Manson.
Even without the looming specter of the expansion draft, Bieksa is still somewhat problematic. He’s set to make $4 million next season, which is a lot of money for a third-pairing defenseman in the twilight of his career.
As such, the solution may come via the buyout route.
Of course, Ducks GM Bob Murray could orchestrate a handshake deal with Vegas GM George McPhee, in which McPhee passes on taking one of Anaheim’s assets — like Manson, for example — in exchange for compensation further down the road. It’s believed McPhee has a similar deal in place with Columbus, with regards to Scott Hartnell and Josh Anderson.