Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) -
All was quiet on the NHL front for about two weeks following the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals, but the league has re-emerged from its slumber with a flurry of player movement since last Friday.
Below, I'll analyze the fantasy impact of the biggest recent transactions.
1) Pittsburgh Penguins trade LW James Neal to Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling
Neal's fantasy value takes a major hit in the move to Nashville. He'll go from playing regularly with Evgeni Malkin at even strength and on one of the NHL's most deadly power-play units to a team whose top centers are Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson. Neal played just 59 games last season, but his 61 points would have led his new team. During his three full seasons in Pittsburgh, Neal averaged 40 goals (G), 41 assists (A), 322 shots on goal (SOG) and 33 power- play points (PPP) per 82 games. However, in 214 games with the Dallas Stars over his first three seasons, he averaged 28 goals, 23 assists, 203 SOG and 11 PPP per 82 games. Hornqvist has had at least 48 points three times in his career and he should easily reach 60 points for the first time with the Penguins in 2014-15.
2) Vancouver Canucks trade C Ryan Kesler to Anaheim Ducks for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa and two draft picks
Kesler is going from a team that missed the playoffs last season to one that led the Western Conference with 116 points, but he's not going to see much of a fantasy boost from the trade. It would be great if the Ducks planned to use Kesler as a winger on the top line with stars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry like Vancouver sometimes did with the Sedins, but Anaheim needs Kesler to serve as their second-line center, especially because it included Bonino in the deal and let Mathieu Perreault sign with the Winnipeg Jets. Kesler had at least 73 points in 2009-10 and 2010-11, but he's produced fewer than 50 points in each of his last two full seasons. He could see an uptick simply by getting out of former Canucks coach John Tortorella's system, but don't count on a 60- point season from him.
3) Ottawa Senators trade C Jason Spezza to Dallas Stars for Alex Guptill, Nicholas Paul, Alex Chiasson and a draft pick
For the second straight offseason, the Stars added a frontline center without giving up a big haul. Getting Tyler Seguin from the Boston Bruins was beneficial for both Seguin and Jamie Benn, as both young forwards set career highs in goals and points. Spezza has been a point-per-game player throughout his career and he'll bank at least 70 points with the Stars, especially because the team also brought over winger Ales Hemsky from Ottawa. In 18 games after the Senators acquired Hemsky from the Edmonton Oilers last season, Spezza had seven goals and 12 assists. Spezza and Hemsky will play together on Dallas' second line in 2014-15.
4) Minnesota Wild sign LW Thomas Vanek to a three-year contract
The Wild are Vanek's fourth team since the start of 2013-14. The 30-year-old, who played for the University of Minnesota, produced at all three stops (Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, Montreal Canadiens) last season and finished with 27 goals, 41 assists and 248 SOG in 78 games. Vanek will get his 70 points whether he plays on the top line with Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu or the second line with Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund, but we'll have to see where the Wild plan to play him before we determine how the signing will help the rest of Minnesota's top six.
5) Vancouver Canucks sign G Ryan Miller to a three-year contract
Vancouver worsened its defense by trading former Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler, but it still has the Sedins and Miller showed his caliber by recording a .923 SV% with the dismal Sabres last season. His brief tenure with the Blues was disappointing, as he went 10-8-1 with a 2.47 GAA and a .903 SV% in 19 starts, but he should prove to be a reliable mid-level fantasy goaltender with the Canucks. Eddie Lack, who had a 2.41 GAA, a .912 SV% and four shutouts as a rookie, will be relegated to backup duty.
6) St. Louis Blues sign C Paul Stastny to a four-year contract
As the Colorado Avalanche stockpiled young centers over the past five years the 28-year-old Stastny became expendable, but that doesn't mean he isn't still an impact player. He had 25 goals and 35 assists last season while playing with Gabriel Landeskog to his left and a collection of different players, including Nathan MacKinnon, Alex Tanguay and P.A. Parenteau, to his right. St. Louis has a deep, albeit unspectacular, group of forwards and Stastny shouldn't have much of a drop-off from last season. The Stastny signing will help the production of projected second-line wingers Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko, as they will get to play with either Stastny or David Backes instead of Patrik Berglund.
7) Colorado Avalanche sign RW Jarome Iginla to a three-year contract
The Avs needed a veteran presence after letting Stastny walk, so they inked Iginla to a three-year deal. In his lone season with the Boston Bruins, Iginla, who turned 37 the same day he signed with Colorado, proved he still has gas left in his tank by recording 30 goals and 31 assists in 78 games. Iginla could be an odd fit with the young and fast Avalanche, but you have to like that he'll likely be attached to MacKinnon as the 18-year-old continues his ascent toward superstardom. While fantasy owners shouldn't invest too heavily in Iginla because of his advanced age, he'll be a top-30 forward again if he stays in the lineup because he's still excellent at positioning himself in front of the net. Loui Eriksson will probably be the guy Boston looks to as Iginla's replacement on a line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic.
8) Chicago Blackhawks sign C Brad Richards to a one-year contract
Richards took just $2 million to sign with the Blackhawks for one year after the Rangers bought him out. The 34-year-old is on the downside of his career and had 85 points in 128 games the past two seasons, but he'll get to play with Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad in 2014-15. That alone could help him reverse the decline and get back to the 60-point plateau for the first time since 2011-12.
9) Washington Capitals sign D Matt Niskanen to a seven-year contract
Kris Letang and Paul Martin played just 76 games combined last season, so Niskanen had to step in as the team's No. 1 defenseman and he delivered 10 goals, 36 assists and 162 SOG. The Capitals have finished first in power-play goals in each of the last two seasons so Niskanen is entering a good situation, but he also will have to compete with proven offensive defensemen Mike Green and John Carlson. Niskanen was a top-10 fantasy blueliner in 2013-14, but he should be drafted as a second-tier defenseman this coming season.
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