NHL Fantasy Hockey Hot Takes: Off-Season Trades
While everyone’s focus is on dollars and terms during free agency, the trade market is often overlooked and flies under the radar. A few surprising deals were struck – Hot Dorion Summer, anyone? – and quite a few goalkeepers involved as teams scrambled to find starters in a market that was short of quality options.
Here’s a look at some key player moves and their fantasy values for the 2022-23 season.
Alex DeBrincat, Ottawa Senators
Not only is DeBrincat in a contract year, but he now has more than one player — Patrick Kane, in case they had any doubts — to help him generate offense. The Senators’ top six is downright scary with the amount of talent they have, and while they’re still very young, they have some great options at center, including Tim Stutzle, Claude Giroux, Josh Norris and Shane Pinto. DeBrincat scored 41 goals twice without much help; imagine what he can do now. Value: up.
Alexandar Georgiev, Colorado Avalanche
Of all the players to switch addresses, Georgiev benefits the most as he will no longer have to fight Igor Shesterkin for game time. Rangers are expected to ride Shesterkin like they did with Henrik Lundqvist; i.e. they won’t play their save much. In Colorado, Georgiev has the chance to fight for the starting position with Pavel Francouz, who is six years older and has far fewer long-term advantages. This is Georgiev’s big chance to prove himself, and note that he played very well in early December and early April last season when he got consistent playing time. He should be removed from the draft board quickly given his potential as a starter for the defending champions. Value: rising.
Max Pacioretty, Carolina Hurricanes
Vegas dropped a quality player for the second year in a row for next to nothing. Pacioretty struggled with injuries all season, but remained a points-per-game player and high-volume shooter when healthy. He’s a rare and valuable asset in fantasy, and while he won’t be sharing the ice with Mark Stone and it remains to be seen who will center him, Pacioretty has proven to be a reliable scorer wherever he plays. On the contrary, he simply made everyone better on the rods. Value: Even.
Connor Brown, Washington Capitals
Brown is an ideal candidate to play with Alex Ovechkin, who won’t have Tom Wilson on his opposite wing as he recovers from injury. That alone will give Brown a huge boost in fantasy, not to mention that Brown is in his contract year. The Sens have made huge improvements, so it’s a shame Brown won’t stick around, but compared to last season, Brown still finds himself in a situation where he should improve his scoring production. Value: up.
Brent Burns, Carolina Hurricanes
Burns’ supporting cast will be better, and he’s finally freed from a moribund franchise that still has to lose a lot of big contracts before it can ever be a good team again. Burns fills a huge need in Carolina for a right-handed defenseman and gives them a good power-play quarterback to replace Tony DeAngelo. He will help a power play that has struggled in the playoffs and has been below expectations this season, and could also bring his production back into the 60-point range with his first positive plus-minus in four seasons. Value: rising.
Cam Talbot, Ottawa Senators
The writing was on the wall when the Wild opted to bring back Marc-Andre Fleury, who was acquired at the trade deadline and – controversially – named the starter for Game 1. Talbot is now heading to Ottawa where he will be the 1A ahead of Anton Forsberg and the Senators are ready to qualify for the playoffs. Talbot’s increased playing time gives him a fantastic boost and he is also in a contract year. Value: Slightly up.
Matt Murray, Toronto Maple Leafs
You never really know what you’ll get in Murray. The Leafs made a gamble after refusing to make a long-term commitment to Jack Campbell, and time will tell if it’s the right move. Ilya Samsonov has been signed as an insurance policy and he’ll be pushing Murray for game time, and the goalie – again – is the biggest question mark for the Leafs at the start of the season. Until Murray, who was demoted in the AHL last season, can regain his form, he remains a fantastic high-risk, high-reward asset. Playing on a good team will help him win games, but he always looks like he’s about to implode. Value: Up, because Murray is back in the series and playing on a good team, but that’s cautious optimism.
Tony DeAngelo, Philadelphia Flyers
I don’t know how DeAngelo and John Tortorella will get along, but note that Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov are still around, and they’re both better 5-on-5 options. Chuck Fletcher is a mixed bag when it comes to to build a team, and they were quick to nab DeAngelo just as the Canes were ready to leave him. He probably won’t have the same quality of players to work with in Philadelphia as he did in Carolina. Value: down.
Vitek Vanecek, New Jersey Devils
Training camp will likely determine who will be 1A and 1B between Vanecek and Mackenzie Blackwood. Blackwood is the starter so he has the inside lane as Vanecek waits to sign his new contract, but both keepers have had periods where they have looked excellent and periods where they look like they are on the verge of vanish. A fresh start should help Vanecek, and unlike the Caps, who remain afloat if not down as their cut window closes, the Devils are up and present an opportunity to really surprise. Value: Even.
Ville Husso, Detroit Red Wings
Husso will push Alex Nedeljkovic for playing time with a chance to take the starting job, given how many times Nedeljkovic — and Thomas Greiss, now at St. Louis in what was essentially a goalie trade — have had to be withdrawn, sometimes in the same game. Husso took a back seat in the playoffs after Jordan Binnington regained his form, but it’s clear Husso has the chops to be a starter for small stretches. Look for an even spread as the Wings continue to find their footing, but on a young roster with lots of new plays, they won’t be as consistent as the Blues, especially with their defensive structure. Value: Slightly down until the Wings proved to be a competitive team.
Petr Mrazek, Chicago Blackhawks
The obvious upside is that it’s Mrazek’s trick, win or lose. The Blackhawks won’t be a good team, so Mrazek will be a good option for fantasy managers who want to rack up the saves, but pretty much everything else — win totals, save percentage, goals against — will be an utter disaster. And that’s even if Mrazek manages to stay healthy. Value: Very low, because it’s probably not worth it.
Kirby Dach, Montreal Canadiens
Entering his fourth full season, one of which was cut short by injury, it’s time for Dach to break out. The former third-overall pick is getting a fresh start with a manager who has taken great advantage of his players so far, so that’s a very good sign. Other than Cole Caufield, who will play with Nick Suzuki, the Habs don’t have any other elite wingers to pair with Dach — not counting first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky — but getting out of Chicago already counts as a win. A move to the Canadiens puts Dach in valuable, late-round pick territory in the deep leagues. Value: up.
Pavel Zacha, Boston Bruins and Erik Haula, New Jersey Devils
Zacha and Haula have been swapped for each other and it’s more of a change in style as Zacha plays a much heavier game, but it’s a lot more inconsistent. Zacha’s fantasy value is capped if the Bruins bring back both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci, as they say, and Haula will take some pressure off Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes. It’s a change of scenery for Zacha and a bigger controlling role for Haula, meaning both players remain fringe fantasy assets. Value: Zacha, peer; Haula, slightly down.
Alexander Romanov, New York Islanders
Romanov is an effective defender who hasn’t really made an attacking impact yet. The Isles’ blue line is a bit crowded and they already have a first puck player in Noah Dobson. At best, Romanov is a No. 4 behind Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, which will cut into quality playing time. Romanov goes from a potential top four in a young team to one that will rely on veterans as they contest the Cup. Value: down.