Wednesday ended up being a day that was heavy in high profile hockey news and this column is a good opportunity to tackle the implications of all of those moves now that the dust settle. I'm certainly going to write about the fantasy fallout of them where appropriate, but I've come to treat this column as a hybrid between a more traditional fantasy advice and general commentary and in that respect this week will be no different.
With that in mind, we'll go chronically through yesterday's major events, starting with the All-Star selections, which objectively have no bearing on fantasy leagues. You could maybe make the argument that those who don't go get a bit of a boost either because - if they were snubbed - it lights a fire under them or it gives them a breather while the stars get extra work. That's a stretch though and at best that would be a minor and situational effect. In fact, I'd take it a step further and state the obvious: The All-Star Game really has no impact on anything. It's sole purpose in my mind is to entertain the fans with its novelty, which is why I don't get why there are people out there upset with John Scott being voted in. Is he worthy of being called an All-Star? Of course not, but so what? His involvement will give some fans entertainment and thus he is fulfilling the purpose of the All-Star Game by being there.
That's why I also can't get too passionate about the big story surrounding the All-Star selections: the snubbing of Sidney Crosby. Those suggesting that it's a misstep on the league's part because he's their most marketable player are, I think, ignoring an important tidbit: It's been nearly a decade since he last participated in an All-Star Game. He played in 2007 and that's been it, largely because of injuries, although some of them were of a minor nature. For example, Crosby had been playing through a lower-body injury last season and decided to time shutting himself down with the All-Star break. So in that regard, this year's All-Star Game will be the same as the norm in that Crosby won't play and thus won't be a ratings draw.
I do want to add though that in spite of everything I just wrote about the All-Star Game, it is nice to see Nicklas Backstrom get selected. The 28-year-old has 607 points in 613 career games and yet he hadn't been selected to an All-Star Game until now. So yeah, I don't think that All-Star rosters should be treated as serious business, but I will admit that it is still nice to see a great player finally get picked.
Moving on to news that more directly impacts the course of the season though, the Los Angeles Kings acquired Vincent Lecavalier and Luke Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for Jordan Weal and a third round selection. At first I was pretty shocked that the Kings would agree to a trade this bad. Lecavalier in my mind has negative value in the sense that he isn't worth his cap hit - he's not even worth half of his cap hit, so the Flyers retaining part of his contract doesn't undo the downside in the Kings taking him. Additionally, Schenn is an okay, but not big boost and honestly, from a rental perspective, I'm not sure that he's worth Weal and a third rounder.
Eventually it came out that Lecavalier intends to retire at the end of this season and that makes this deal more tolerable for the Kings because at least now they won't have to deal with the final two seasons of his five-year, $22.5 million deal. I'm still not entirely sure that this trade was to the Kings' benefit though.
I do think that it's worth keeping a close eye on what happens with Lecavalier over the next few days because if the Kings are willing to give him an opportunity to play on a scoring line then perhaps he'll surprise people. However, I'm not counting on that. Based on what's happened in Philadelphia, Lecavalier's best days seem far behind him and I'm not buying into the idea that he simply needed a change of scenery at this stage. Instead, I'm more interested in what happens with Weal as the 23-year-old forward was a roughly point-per-game player in the minors, but was barely used by Los Angeles. So perhaps in his case switching franchises will be beneficial.
Around the same time as that trade it came out that Mike Richards had inked a one-year, $1 million contract with the Washington Capitals. Richards had been on the decline for years before the Kings terminated his contract for a "material breach of the requirements of his Standard Player's Contract." Some will call this his second chance - although I disagree. His second chance was the 2014-15 campaign after the Kings decided not to use a compliance buyout on him before that window closed. Richards responded with the worst performance of his career. But that disaster and everything surrounding it is behind him now. It certainly will be interesting to follow this story, but I think the odds of him being a significant offensive contributor now - keep in mind he's attempting to make his comeback mid-season - are so low that he's not worth picking up in standard fantasy leagues yet.
And that brings us to the last major event of Wednesday: Columbus' Ryan Johansen for Nashville's Seth Jones. This trade is both simultaneously a big surprise and not at all, if that makes any sense. It's surprising to see Johansen's stock with Columbus fall so far, so fast that this trade happened, but given the fact that he never seemed to mesh well with new coach John Tortorella, it seemed reasonable to believe that something would eventually give. Nashville is a good destination for him as the Predators can certainly use a young, high-end skilled forward like Johansen (along with the rest of the league, but the argument could be made that the Predators needed him more than most) and they were in the fairly unique position of giving a young defensemen with the kind of upside that Jones has due to their already impressive defensive core.
Ultimately this move might prove to be good for both players as Johansen gets the change of scenery he likely needed while Jones has an opportunity to be a leader in Columbus in a way that he likely would have never been in Nashville. In the short-term I think you're likely to see more of a jump in production out of Johansen than Jones though, if only because Johansen was the one in the rougher position. Johansen had gone from averaging 19:30 minutes per game in 2014-15 to 17:20 minutes this season, but he'll likely go back to playing in a more premium role now that he's been dealt. Jones should be a good offensive defenseman down the road, but it might be a couple more years before we see the 21-year-old really shine in that regard.