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Free Agency Fantasy Impact

Vincent Trocheck

Vincent Trocheck


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The dust has settled on the first few days of the free agent frenzy and there has been plenty of roster turnover. At this time, we are still waiting for some notable players, including Nazem Kadri, John Klingberg, Paul Stastny, Phil Kessel, Nino Niederreiter, Evan Rodrigues, Sonny Milano and Rem Pitlick, to receive new contracts.

Let’s take a look at some of the signings that have gone down so far and examine what the fantasy outlook for each player is with their new team.

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Johnny Gaudreau goes from Calgary Flames to Columbus Blue Jackets

Gaudreau was the top free agent on the market and he stunned the hockey world when he decided to sign with Columbus on a seven-year, $68.25 million contract. Gaudreau, who turns 29 years of age next month, is coming off the best season of his career. He reached the 40-goal mark for the first time and he topped the 100-point plateau for the first time as well. Gaudreau tied for second in the league in scoring with 115 points in 82 games. He played alongside one of the most potent scoring combinations in the NHL with Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm. Gaudreau instantly becomes the top offensive threat for Columbus and could be a fit alongside Boone Jenner and Patrik Laine. Unfortunately, he will lose some fantasy appeal as a result of the change in teams. A repeat of last year’s performance was going to be a difficult task regardless and the team switch doesn’t do him any favors. At the same time, Gaudreau’s arrival will boost whoever gets to play with him.

Vincent Trocheck goes from Carolina Hurricanes to New York Rangers

Trocheck accumulated 39 goals and 57 assists in 135 games in parts of three seasons with Carolina. That includes 21 goals and 51 points in 81 matches during the 2021-22 campaign. Trocheck inked a seven-year, $39.375 million deal with the Rangers to occupy the team’s second-line center role. He should get Ryan Strome‘s old spot alongside Artemi Panarin, which will provide his fantasy value with a significant boost.. Trocheck hasn’t been able to repeat the success he had in 2017-18 when he amassed 31 goals and 75 points in 82 matches for the Florida Panthers. This could finally be the year that we see him get back up to those numbers and his draft stock should improve considerably as a result.

Ondrej Palat goes from Tampa Bay Lightning to New Jersey Devils

Palat scored a personal best 23 goals back in 2013-14 during his rookie season. He had a career-high 63 points in 75 appearances the year after and he registered 52 points in 75 outings in 2016-17, but he hasn’t managed to get back to the 50-point plateau in his past five campaigns. However, that could change next season. Palat has already shown signs of getting back there after he had 18 goals and 49 points in 77 contests last year and then he amassed 11 markers and 21 points in 23 playoff games. He was brought in by New Jersey on a five-year, $30 million contract to add leadership and a championship pedigree. The ideal spot for him would be playing alongside Jack Hughes and Jesper Bratt, which is the likeliest position for him, and he will probably see his power-play time increase as well. He could also be used alongside Nico Hischier, which would also be a strong spot. Either way, Palat should benefit from the increase in responsibilities as a member of the Devils.

Claude Giroux goes from Florida Panthers to Ottawa Senators

Giroux played the first 1,000 games of his NHL career with the Philadelphia Flyers and now he is on his third team. He will be much closer to home this time, though, after signing a three-year, $19.5 million contract with Ottawa. Giroux produced 21 goals and 65 games with the Flyers and Florida last season. He registered 20 helpers and 23 points in 18 matches with the Panthers prior to adding eight points (three goals, five assists) in 10 playoff games. Giroux’s fantasy value will take a hit after he benefited from playing with Jonathan Huberdeau and logging time on Florida’s top power-play unit. The Senators improved their top-six forward group with the signing of Giroux and the acquisition of Alex DeBrincat. Assuming the top line of Brady Tkachuk, Drake Batherson and Josh Norris remains intact, a second unit featuring Giroux, DeBrincat and Tim Stützle offers plenty of offensive upside. It is difficult to envision Giroux not being on the top power-play unit, but spots could be limited if the aforementioned top line is there with DeBrincat and Thomas Chabot potentially occupy the other positions. If the Senators utilize five forwards on the power play then Giroux would certainly be included. Still, he should be able to pile up assists alongside DeBrincat at even strength.

Jack Campbell goes from Toronto Maple Leafs to Edmonton Oilers

Campbell was signed to a five-year, $25 million contract to help bring some stability to Edmonton’s goaltending situation. Unfortunately, he is coming off an inconsistent year in 2021-22 despite his superb 31-9-6 record. Campbell started the year with a 2.22 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and four shutouts in 26 games prior the All-Star break. However, his play dropped considerably afterward, as he had a 3.14 GAA, .904 SV% and one shutout in his next 23 outings. Campbell was better down the stretch after he returned from a rib injury, but he struggled again in the postseason. Still, it’s likely that his fantasy value doesn’t change that much. He will get to play in front of another highly-skilled offensive team and Edmonton will be looking to build on their successful run to the Western Conference Final. Campbell will attract plenty of fantasy attention despite moving to a team that gave up more scoring chances last year. He does have some question marks, but remains a very good option for fantasy managers.

David Perron goes from St. Louis Blues to Detroit Red Wings

Perron has spent the bulk of his 15-year career as a member of the Blues. He has been productive during those 11 seasons, while playing well in stops in Anaheim and Vegas as well. Perron has flirted with the 60-point plateau in each of the past two years after reaching that mark in 2019-20. He compiled 27 goals, 57 points, 177 shots and 80 hits in 67 games last campaign. Perron joined Detroit on a two-year, $9 million deal. He meshed nicely with Ryan O’Reilly and it would make a great deal of sense if he played alongside fellow newcomer Andrew Copp, who shares some similarities with the Blues center, on Detroit’s second line. It is probable that they will be joined by underrated scoring threat Jakub Vrana. That is a combination that offers plenty of offensive upside and it should be reliable defensively as well. Perron’s fantasy value probably won’t change much in 2022-23, but if he isn’t on the top power-play unit then that could hurt his impact a tad.

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Andrew Copp goes from New York Rangers to Detroit Red Wings

Copp landed a five-year, $28.125 million contract with Detroit after he had the best season of his career with Winnipeg and the Rangers. He accounted for 21 goals and 53 points in 72 games, including eight markers and 18 points in 16 matches with New York. Copp followed that up with 14 points, including eight assists, in 20 playoff contests. Detroit likes his versatility, which was on display in 2021-22 when he mostly played as a top-six forward. He is slated to occupy the second-line center role for the Red Wings. Copp will get to play with some strong offensive players, but loses some fantasy appeal after moving away from Panarin as a linemate. His power-play minutes will also probably not increase. Still, Copp is an intriguing fantasy option to keep in mind for the later rounds as a value pickup.

Darcy Kuemper goes from Colorado Avalanche to Washington Capitals

Kuemper received a five-year, $26.25 million contract from Washington after helping the Avalanche win the Stanley Cup. The Capitals decided to overhaul their goaltending situation in the offseason with the signings of Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren. Kuemper was solid in his only season with Colorado, while going 37-12-4 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. The Avalanche allowed fewer scoring chances against than Washington last season, but the Capitals were better when it came to limiting high-danger scoring chances against. Still, Kuemper will lose some fantasy appeal with the switch in teams, but he remains a very good crease option going into 2022-23. Washington made some solid roster moves to add depth up front.

Andre Burakovsky goes from Colorado Avalanche to Seattle Kraken

Burakovsky has been productive for the Avalanche for the past three seasons. He tallied 150 points (61 goals, 89 assists) in 191 contests, including personal bests in 2021-22 with 22 goals and 39 assists over 80 matches. Burakovsky spent most of the year alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, while also playing with Nazem Kadri and Valeri Nichushkin. He left those fantasy-friendly combinations for the Kraken on a five-year, $27.5 million contract. Burakovsky’s value to poolies will take a significant hit in 2022-23, but he still could have some value as a top-six forward on a line with Matthew Beniers or Yanni Gourde. He should also have a spot on Seattle’s top power-play combination.

Dylan Strome goes from Chicago Blackhawks to Washington Capitals

Strome was permitted to test unrestricted free agency after Chicago didn’t present him with a qualifying offer. He ended up signing a one-year, $3.5 million deal with Washington. It was a surprising decision by the Blackhawks to give him up for nothing after Strome scored a career-high 22 goals in 2021-22 and registered 48 points in 69 games. He spent most of his playing time on the top line between Patrick Kane and DeBrincat. Strome is slated to occupy the second-line center role for the Capitals after Nicklas Backstrom underwent resurfacing surgery on his left hip this offseason. That could put him between Anthony Mantha and T.J. Oshie, who were Backstrom’s most frequent linemates in 2021-22. Additionally, Strome should log minutes on Washington’s top power-play unit, which would provide valuable exposure to Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov. Losing Kane will certainly hurt his fantasy appeal, but the prospect of having a little more trust and being placed in key situations for the Capitals could help offset that change and Strome is an intriguing value option on draft day for fantasy managers as a result.

Vladislav Namestnikov goes from Dallas Stars to Tampa Bay Lightning

Namestnikov has returned to where it all started for him, as a member of the Lightning. He inked a one-year, $2.5 million contract with Tampa Bay after he had 16 goals and 30 points in 75 games with Detroit and Dallas last campaign. He was productive back in 2017-18 when he last played for the Lightning when he had 20 goals and 44 points in 62 contests. Namestnikov has experienced some ups and downs since then, while playing for five different teams, but he could be worth monitoring this season. The offseason departure of Palat opens up a spot on Tampa Bay’s top line. Brandon Hagel and Alex Killorn will be options to move up as well, especially with Anthony Cirelli sidelined for the start of the season. Still, Namestnikov makes for an intriguing player to monitor due to his versatility. He could have plenty of sleeper potential if he lands a spot with Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point or Nikita Kucherov.

Ilya Samsonov goes from Washington Capitals to Toronto Maple Leafs

Samsonov was another surprising entry into the free-agent market after he didn’t receive a qualifying offer from Washington. He chose to sign a one-year, $1.8 million contract with Toronto in order to prove himself. Samsonov is highly motivated after a sub-par 2021-22 performance, which he spent splitting starts with Vitek Vanecek. The Capitals ended up trading Vanecek to New Jersey this offseason. Samsonov had a 23-12-5 record along with career-worsts in goals-against average (3.02) and save percentage (.896). He is moving to a Toronto team that surrendered fewer scoring chances and fewer high-danger scoring chances against last year than Washington. Additionally, Toronto’s high-scoring offense should give him the opportunity to pick up more wins. Samsonov is expected to compete for starts with Matt Murray, which could limit his fantasy value. Both of the Leafs’ new netminders come with risky elements attached, but the upside is there for success thanks to the strength of Toronto’s roster.

Honorable Mentions:

Ryan Strome and Frank Vatrano (NY Rangers -> Anaheim Ducks) - The fantasy value of Strome and Vatrano took big hits this offseason after having cushy spots in the top-six forward group of the Rangers. They both could end up on the second line or Vatrano could be bumped to the third combination. The positive outlook for Strome is that he could see time with Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry on the top power-play unit.

Colin White (Ottawa -> Florida) - White played in just 24 games last season and missed most of the year due to a dislocated shoulder. He will get a chance to rebound with the Panthers and could have some sleeper value as a top-nine forward option. White could play on one of the top-two lines for Florida and it’s possible that he follow in the footsteps of players like Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett or Mason Marchement who all enjoyed plenty of offensive success after coming to Florida. He is worth keeping an eye on at the very least.

Mason Marchment (Florida -> Dallas) - Marchment was productive with the Panthers in 2021-22, while racking up 47 points in 54 games, on the third line with Sam Reinhart and Anton Lundell. He could be in line for second-line duty with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, which hurts his upside because most of the team’s production comes from the trio of Joe Pavelski, Jason Robertson and Roope Hintz. Marchment could be poised to take a bit of a step back after leaving the high-powered offense of Florida.

Dominik Kubalik (Chicago -> Detroit) - Kubalik has been trending in the wrong direction since he scored 30 goals in his rookie season. He could end up starting on Detroit’s third line, which hurts his fantasy appeal, but he may be a candidate to move up if injuries occur and he is worth keeping tabs on during the 2022-23 campaign.

Ilya Mikheyev (Toronto -> Vancouver) - Mikheyev surpassed the 20-goal plateau in 2021-22, while seeing mostly third-line minutes with the Maple Leafs. If he manages to land a spot in the top-six forward group of the Canucks then he will be worthy of more fantasy attention.