Surprise 1st rounders worth keeping eyes on... really? all that for Ballard?... Recchi re-signs... Bobby Ryan = Comedian
The NHL Draft began on Friday and while the lack of meaningful trade activity was a letdown there was plenty of interesting 1st round selections... we'll talk more about the draft after it all wraps up this weekend but one thing that we really enjoyed was how a lot of the guys we were promoting in our Draft Rankings from a fantasy perspective were taken much higher than the pundits had predicted... we had Jeff Skinner as the 9th best fantasy prospect in the draft class and he ended up being a surprise selection at 7th overall. Same goes for Jaden Schwartz, who we had as the 5th best fantasy prospect and he went higher than expected at #14 and Joey Hishon, who we really like and had him as the 8th best fantasy prospect in the class, he was a shock 1st round pick at #17 to Colorado... keep eyes on these kids and we suggest making them early picks in your prospect draft this summer.
The Panthers traded Keith Ballard to the Canucks for Steve Bernier, Michael Grabner and a 1st rounder. I've been a fan of a lot of the moves that Vancouver GM Mike Gillis has made but I wouldn't have made this one. Ballard is a 30 point dman who's been traded four times now while appearing in exactly zero playoff games over his career and is overpaid at $4.2M for the next five years?!?... yikes... I wouldn't have given up the rights to Harold Snepsts for this guy let alone a young player like Grabner & a 1st. Ballard's plus/minus should get a boost in Vancouver but his production will probably go down as he's not likely to see much (if any) PP time. Bernier's been a huge tease wherever he goes and I wouldn't expect that to change in Florida and Grabner could be given a chance to play but we're not sure who's going to be left to play with.
The Sentators traded the 16th overall pick to the Blues for 2009 1st rounder David Rundblad... he's a decent point producing dman prospect who will spend another year in Swedish Elite League (this will be his third)... he's rated as a 3-Star prospect and ranked #109 in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings.
The Bruins re-signed the ageless (well actually, 42-year old) Mark Recchi for another year... he's still kicking and able to contribute on a team like Boston with 18+25=43 last year but he should only be a last resort for your fantasy team if you're in a very deep league. Funny how he just keeps floating around and landing on teams with all these young superstars over the past few years... Crosby, Stamkos and now Seguin.
The Sharks took one of the big UFAs off the market as they re-signed Patrick Marleau to a four-year deal. He's coming off a career high 44 goal season and while we'd be a little surprised if he did that again, he is playing on probably the most productive line in the league with Thornton & Heatley, so his value will remain very high. The Sharks also locked up RFA Joe Pavelski on a four-year deal... we're big fans of Little Joe as he would have put up 62 points & 279 shots if he kept up his pace and wasn't hurt last year and was even better in the playoffs with 9+8=17 in 15 games... he's a gamer.
Johnny Boychuk re-signed with the Bruins on a two-year deal. He had an uneventful regular season with 15 points in 51 games but really came on in the playoffs playing big minutes and had six points in 13 games. We like this kid heading into next season as, barring any more trades, he should pick up some of Dennis Wideman's ES & PP time. Don't forget that he was AHL Dman of the year in 2008/09 with 20+45=65 in 78 games, so the kid has some skill.
The Bruins have given Tim Thomas and his agent permission to seek out a trade but his agent doesn't seem to keen saying that they'll listened to any trades that GM Pete Chiarelli brings to them. Look for a trade to get made but it could take a while and with the glut of goalies on the market, he might not end up in the best spot.
The Coyotes re-signed RFA Wojtek Wolski to a two-year deal... he had 65 points last year and 18 in 18 games with Phoenix. He'll easily slot in as a top line guy and should get a lot of opportunities to build on his big season.
We had another BFD on Wednesday as the dismantling of the champs has begun when they shipped Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Ben Eager & Akim Aliu to the Thrashers for a 1st, 2nd, Jeremy Morin, Marty Reasoner & Joey Crabb. Absolutely brutal trade for the Thrashers, not sure what they're thinking but did remind us of this article by Jonathan Willis about how Thrashers GM Rick Dudley loves the physical specimens (like Byfuglien & specifically Aliu) over players with good numbers (like Morin). Alright, let's do a little "BFD Breakdown" on this deal:
Dustin Byfuglien - I'm not a fan of this if I own Buff, he goes from the best team in the league to one of the worst, he used to line-up with guys like Toews, Kane, Sharp & Hossa and could only manage around 35 points, how's he going to do on the 2nd/3rd line in Atlanta playing with dudes like Todd White & Clarke MacArthur??? He's only really a fantasy asset if you're in need of a PIM contribution or if he still has D eligibility in your league.
Akim Aliu - he's a marginal fantasy prospect in our eyes (ranked #311 in our Prospect Rankings) after struggling in the AHL this year and being sent to the ECHL... best case scenario, he'll be the next Dustin Byfuglien in five years.
Jeremy Morin - this is the steal of the deal here as we were really high on Morin's finishing ability (#14 in our 2009 fantasy draft rankings) and that was even before he put up 59 goals in 78 OHL games (regular & playoffs) this year. He's rated as a 4-Star prospect and ranked #47 in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings and this deal only enhances his value as the Hawks don't have a lot of high-end offensive talents in their prospect pipeline and they'll be looking for cheap talent to make the jump to the NHL soon.
Kyle Beach - without Byfuglien & Eager in the line-up next year maybe the Hawks look to add a little more muscle and give Beach a full-time role next season. He's coming off a 52 goal & 186 PIMs season in the dub and if he can keep his head on straight then we're loving his fantasy potential (ranked #50 in our Prospect Rankings).
Craig Ramsay is expected to be named the Thrashers new head coach shortly... he's been an assistant all over the place, most recently with the Bruins and while we don't have a good handle on what type of head coach he'll be (he's been an interim head on two occasions), he's known as one of the best teachers in the league, so we're going to say its a good fit for the Thrashers younger players. But his style will certainly be a lot more structured than John Anderson's fire-wagon hockey, so we'd downgrade the Thrashers offensive players quite a bit.
To make the Byfuglien trade work, Atlanta had to ship a few contracts to San Jose, Brett Sterling was one of those... barely fantasy news but thought some people might be interested in an update on the AHL sniper... he's a UFA on July 1st.
AHL playoffs MVP Chris Bourque has signed to play in the KHL next year... he should be a 1st round pick in your KHL fantasy league.
The BFD of Tuesday was the Nathan Horton trade as he went to the Bruins for Dennis Wideman and the 15th overall pick. Horton is a good young player who has topped 30 goals once and 60 points twice but has proven to be a little fragile. This is a good move for him as (barring more trades) he should line up with one of Marc Savard or David Krejci and should enjoy a change of scenery. Wideman is a decent offensive dman who may have looked a little better than he really is lining up with Chara and on a strong PP that helped him to a 50 point season in 2008/09.
The Sharks have told Evgeni Nabokov that they won't be trying to re-sign him, so he'll become a UFA. Interesting move and I would assume that GM Doug Wilson will be looking for a cheaper alternative on the free agent market but this is a positive development for the prospects in the Sharks system. Thomas Greiss was a full-time NHLer for the first time this year and looked pretty good with a 2.69 & .912 in 16 games. Depending on who the Sharks bring in, Greiss could see a real boost in value if he ends up in a platoon situation. Also benefiting is prospect Alex Stalock, who looked very good in his first pro season with 39 wins, 2.63 & .908 in the AHL and while he's a few years away, he looks like the Sharks goalie-of-the-future. Both Greiss & Stalock are rated as 3-Star prospects in our Fantasy Prospects DB but we're a little higher on Stalock long-term and he's ranked 84th while Greiss is 95th.
The Habs re-signed Tomas Plekanec to a six-year deal worth $5M per season... I know this is the going rate for average players but wow, talk about getting sucked in by one mediocre season. He had 70 points this year but this is coming off 39 points last year (and 69 the season before that). His fantasy value doesn't change but we'd put money down that the Habs will regret this contract within a few years.
Scott Niedermayer is hanging them up... for real this time (maybe). Great career for him and this leaves a whole on the Ducks blueline and also on your fantasy team if you own him as he was still good for 48 points this year (12th amongst dmen). As we like to do here at FHS when a star retires, let's shine a little light on their best fantasy season... usually for these old timers it means going way back in their careers to when they were in their 20s but for Niedermayer, he actually had his most productive years in his mid-30s coinciding with when he left New Jersey... we like this one the best: 2005/06, 13+50=63, plus-8 with 96 PIMs (career high) and 181 shots (career high).
Pat Quinn is stepping down as coach of the Oilers and Tom Renney is taking over. Now, things couldn't have gone more wrong in Edmonton last year so it would be hard to say that this is a bad move but from a fantasy standpoint, it is... Quinn is a free-wheeling coach who likes offense and usually can put together a decent PP, whereas Renney is all about shutting down the opposition and limiting their chances. From a fantasy perspective, GMs who own Oilers players (other than goalies) can't be too happy about this.
The Rangers are not going to qualify Enver Lisin, FYI for those of you that have been holding on to him for six years, waiting for him to breakout... he's probably heading to the KHL.
Mike Modano doesn't know if he's going to play next year but he's starting rumours that if he does play, it may not be with the Stars... which would be a little sad & unfortunate. His ppg average & role has steadily declined over the past five seasons down to the point where he was playing at a 42 point/82 game pace last year. He could still be useful in an ideal situation but let's see if he even decides to play next year.
Sounds like negotiations between Pittsburgh & Sergei Gonchar aren't going that well, as they may get to the point where they cut bait and deal his negotiating rights before July 1st. He's such a solid producer that he'll put up points wherever he lands but his loss would be huge to the Penguins and we'd downgrade their players if he doesn't return.
Reports say that Matt Cooke has agreed to a deal with the Penguins... Cookie has settled into the 3rd line, 30 point & 100 PIM range with Pittsburgh and if that sort of thing is useful to you, then have at 'er.
The Coyotes re-signed Taylor Pyatt to a two-year deal. After over 600 games in the NHL, his career average is .35 points-per-game... nice 8th overall pick by Mike Milbury.
Predators GM David Poile has said that he's not likely going to qualify Denis Grebeshkov, so he'll be hitting the UFA market on July 1st and it's possible that Dustin Boyd will be in the same situation. Grebeshkov is a guy who had 39 points in 2008/09, so it's worth keeping an eye on where he lands. We'd still like to see a team give Boyd a legit shot with some regular ice-time but that may not be happening. [more]
T-Bay GM Steve Yzerman had a meeting with Vinny Lecavalier to tell him that he's not shopping him but challenged him to be better and Vinny came away from the meeting "relaxed"... not sure that's the result of the meeting that Stevie Y was looking for, think he'd rather here "motivated" or "determined"... I think making sure that Vinny is relaxed is the least of his problems. So I guess if you think that a lack of relaxation was the problem with Vinny over the past two years where he's put up 70 & 67 points, then I guess you'll be glad to hear this news. [more]
The Penguins have said that they're going to let Alex Ponikarovsky walk, so he'll hit the UFA market on July 1st... not surprising as he only had 3+11=14 in 27 games (regular & playoffs) with Pittsburgh after coming over from Toronto for Luca Caputi... for those without a calculator that works out to nine goals projected out over an 82 game season.
Not much news over the weekend but this should be a busy week with things coming to a head at the draft on Friday & Saturday... some of the more interesting issues that should be resolved:
- Trades have to be coming soon for Nathan Horton, Tomas Kaberle and numerous Chicago Blackhawks;
- Will Jeff Carter & Jason Spezza be on the move???;
- The Bruins seem to be at the center of a lot of the chatter and hold a lot of cards at the draft;
- With a number of high profile Russian prospects available, who's willing to take risks and spend early picks on these guys with the big-bad "Russian Factor" lurking?;
- Will the Blue Jackets move the 4th overall pick for some immediate help?; and
- We can finally put the Taylor vs Tyler debate to rest (until the season starts, at least).
What's distracting us this week?
- NEW! Great comedy sketch from the NHL awards last night featuring Ryan Getzlaf & Bobby Ryan...
- Cult of Hockey thinks Sam Gagner is ready to break out... like 70 points break out. We like Gagner a lot but 70 might be a stretch, 60 seems doable though.
- Want to see PPP trying to forget the Leafs Cup drought? Click away.
- Trivia question: What do Hakan Loob, Alexander Mogilny and Jonathan Toews have in common? Why it's the triple gold club (which has nothing to do with Hertz, btw)... check out Puck Report for the entire list of players... and one coach.
- Thanks to the always awesome St. Louis Game Time for posting this video. Best use of a Daniel Powter song in a hockey trade parody video ever!.
- Everyone should check out this awesome Cross Canada Road Hockey Road Trip called Five Hole for Food that is likely coming to a town near you soon... get out and support a great cause.