Hjalmarsson side-effects... Zherdev signs with Flyers... risky Russian business... Risers & Fallers due to free agency... Five Hole for Food
NEW! Not really fantasy news but the Sharks offer sheet to Niklas Hjalmarsson spiced things up a little bit on an otherwise dull Friday. I'm sure the Hawks would love to match but that may not be possible given their cap situation. Hjalmarsson has no fantasy value, don't be suckered into thinking otherwise. If the Hawks let him walk then we'd expect them to fill his spot with a cheap veteran so don't be thinking that this will open another spot for a young player. If SJ is successful, it would affect Jason Demers spot on the Sharks roster as he would drop to the #7 dman and could find himself back in the AHL next year after a promising rookie season.
NEW! The Rangers picked up Steve Eminger in a deal with the Ducks that sent Aaron Voros the other way... nothing to get excited about here as Eminger is really getting passed around more than blame at a BP meeting, this will be his sixth team in the past two years. He did have 26 points two years ago but only managed 16 last year and is likely destined to be on the Rangers 3rd pairing. Voros is pretty useless unless you're desperate for PIMs.
So Nik Zherdev did sign with the Flyers... why on earth they'd want to give themselves that headache, we have NFC. But for all the flack Zherdev gets, he has averaged 82 games, 25+35=60 with 237 shots over his last two NHL seasons, so he could help your fantasy team if you're willing to deal with his inconsistency. He had 39 points in 52 games in the KHL last year and the last time he returned from a one year vacation in Russia (he had 40 points in 51 games in the RSL in 2004/05) he put up 27+27=54 with Columbus in 2005/06.
RFA winger Eric Fehr re-signed with the Caps on a two-year deal. He had a decent year last year with 21+18=39 points but injuries are always a concern with him. He also needs to find a way onto one of the top 2 lines (he only averaged 12 mpg of ice) & a little more PP time (1:26/game)... but without a lot of departures from the Caps this offseason (outside of Brendan Morrison), an expanded role might not be in the cards.
The Capitals re-signed RFA dman Jeff Schultz to a four-year deal... he teams with Mike Green a lot at ES so he's bound to pick up a few points (23 last year) and have a great +/- (league leading plus-50 last year) but otherwise he's a liability in other categories so you should probably pass unless your really desperate.
Evgeni Nabokov took the money ($24 million/4 years) and ran back to Russia, actually he didn't really have any NHL offers close to that so can't really blame him. This really hurts your fantasy team if you were banking on him as your #1 next year, time to switch to Plan B (or come up with a Plan B if you don't have one). Good lesson though in the risk of owning Russian players is that you never know when they might be tempted back to their homeland.
Brett Lebda signed with the Leafs to be their 6th/7th dman, so you'd think he'd be making somewhere around the league minimum, right?... no, Burke signed him for two-years and $1.45 million per... stupid. He's not worth a sniff in your fantasy league.
The Wild signed 24-year old German goalie Dennis Endras to a one-year deal... he was named MVP of the World Championships this year but really hasn't shown a lot in league play in Germany. The Wild plan to let him play in Germany again this year and re-evaluate after the season.
Patrick Lalime re-signed with the Sabres on a one-year deal, doubt you want to go near him as he's a combined 9-21-5 over the past two seasons backing up Ryan Miller... but heads up as this means another year in the minors for good looking prospect Jhonas Enroth, who is ranked #57 in our Fantasy Prospect Rankings.
The Blues signed up Jaroslav Halak on a four-year deal, so good news if you own Jaro as he looks locked in as the Blues starter for a while. We think Halak is in for a big year and a nice run in St.Louis with an up & coming team. One of these years they're going to have a breakthrough like the Kings did this year and Halak is set to be a big part of that and benefit greatly.
Here's a bit of an interesting one as when the Predators traded Dan Ellis to the Habs for Sergei Kostitsyn, we weren't sure if either of them would play for their new team but Kostitsyn has signed with Nashville on a one-year deal so reports of him leaving for the KHL were premature. Looking at the Predators depth chart, it looks like it might be difficult for Kostitsyn to nail down a regular spot but at the same time this is a team that is desperate for some offensive flair so maybe Kostitsyn gets an extended look... if we had to bet, we'd say Kostitsyn disappoints again.
RFA Teddy Purcell re-signed with the Lightning, he was mildly productive after coming over at the trade deadline from LA with 3+6=9 in 19 games and definitely saw his ice-time increase. If things fall right, he could find himself a spot in the top 6 for T-Bay, so he'll be a risky sleeper pick this year.
Rangers prospect Ryan McDonagh is leaving school early to sign a pro contract... he looks like a good one and could be good enough to make the team this fall but he doesn't look like he's going to be much of a fantasy hockey contributor.
We're into the second week of free agency so there's been enough activity for us to come up with a list of the biggest risers & fallers due to what's happened so far:
Alex Tanguay - smart move by him to take a one-year deal for less money to return to a place where he's had some success (career high 81 points in 2006/07) and the plan is for him to play on the first line with Iginla & Jokinen. We're not big fans of his since he's allergic to shooting the puck but it's possible that he could double the 37 points he put up last season.
Antero Niittymaki - obviously stepping up from sharing the net in Tampa to the likely starter in San Jose is a nice promotion and while it should help Niittymaki immensely, we're not convinced he'll be able to vault himself into the "elite goalies" as he's just not good enough for that, so don't go completely overboard and be taking him in the 1st round.
Dan Ellis - like Niittymaki, we're not convinced that Ellis can get the job done but going from playing 31 games with Nashville last year to potentially twice that number in Tampa definitely helps his value. We're not big fans of Mike Smith and he's proven fragile so Ellis should see a lot of action this year on what should be an improved Lightning squad.
The Back-up Goalie in Nashville - with Ellis moving on, this opens up a spot in Nashville for a back-up to Pekka Rinne, and we all know how Barry Trotz is not afraid to flip his goalies around so this is a good spot for whoever emerges out of Mark Dekanich, Chet Pickard and Anders Lindback... we'd bet on Dekanich.
A few other honourable mentions... Alex Goligoski should take over the PP QB role in Pittsburgh (over Paul Martin) with Gonchar leaving, I guess Andy Greene is the full-time PP QB in NJ with Martin gone and Pavel Kubina should see more PP time on a better PP unit in Tampa.
Evgeni Nabokov - if you own Nabby, you go from having a guy who has averaged 44 wins over the past three seasons to a guy who will get you zero next season (as he signed in the KHL)... just a small drop in value there.
Ondrej Pavelec - not that he really deserved it based on his play last season but with Lehtonen no longer around it appeared that Pavelec would be the #1 goalie in Atlanta this year but then the Thrashers went out and signed Chris Mason. Mason's a proven starter and while these two may share the #1 duties, it's hard to see Pavelec taking this job outright unless Mason gets injured.
Eric Staal - losing his top wingman, Ray Whitney, could hurt Staal more than most people realize. Whitney & Staal have been pretty inseparable the past few years and formed a somewhat dynamic duo at ES & on the PP. With no real replacement brought in, it appears that Staal will be lining up with guys like Erik Cole, Tuomo Ruutu & Zach Boychuk.
A few other honourable mentions... with Gonchar's signing in Ottawa, Erik Karlsson gets bumped as the top option on the PP, he should be paired with Gonch on the #1 unit which could help but he'll have to take a backseat to the veteran. Another one who loses value is Dave Legwand, not that his value is that high as it is, but with the the signing of Matt Lombardi and the likely emergence & shifting to center of Colin Wilson, we're even more pessimistic about Legwand's chances.
RFA goalies Justin Peters has re-signed with Carolina, he's due to be the back-up to Cam Ward this year which is a good step up for Peters but he's not likely to play a lot unless Ward gets hurt.
An article from Dave Molinari is surely to cause some buzz as he said that the Penguins are looking at adding a 3rd line Cman due to the plan to move Jordan Staal or Geno Malkin to wing... try not to get too work up about this since: (1) Malkin pretty much plays with Crosby half the game as it is already; (2) They've tried to move Staal to wing before and it didn't work; and (3) When has being on Crosby's wing meant a big jump in production anyway? [more]
Carlo Colaiacovo has re-signed with St.Louis, he's coming off a decent season with 7+25=32 in 67 games but the concern with him is always injuries... because of this and the fact that he usually doesn't chip in much in terms of shots & PIMs, we'd give him a pass.
What's distracting us this week?
- The Cross Canada Road Hockey Road Trip called Five Hole for Food made its stop in Calgary on Monday and this scout had the opportunity to participate, good times and over 600 pounds of food were raised for our local food bank... great stuff guys, looking forward to next year. If you're in Edmonton, Vancouver or Victoria then you can still catch these guys during their stops over the next few days.
- Thanks to the amazing DayWalk3r and his HockeyWebCaster YouTube channel we get to relive TSN's Top 10 Hitters of All-Time. We'll assume that by 'all-time' they mean in the last 30 years because none of the players played before the 80's. That's beside the point though as it's a great way to spend 20 minutes. Click here for Part 1 which is very good but Part 2 is even better... how is Paul Kariya still alive?