Fantasy Focus: Five NHL Players Whose Fantasy Value Skyrocketed this Offseason
The major moves of NHL free agency have been made, and teams have started to be re-shaped. While there are still a few more moves to come, such as the signings of Alex Semin and Shane Doan, as well as possible trades of Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan, and Roberto Luongo, I thought that today was a good day to look at 5 players who have seen their fantasy values increase dramatically due to the moves that have been made around them. Poolies should look for these names to be undervalued in Yahoo (and other services) ranking systems which merely take into account their last three years of results.
Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins, Goaltender: Rask has long been the heir apparent to Tim Thomas’ goaltending job in Boston. When Thomas announced that he would be taking a one-year hiatus from hockey, the mantle of starting goalie for the Bruins was placed on Rask’s shoulders. Rask has had excellent stats in limited time. In fact in 2009-10, Rask stole the starting job from Thomas down the stretch, and ended up starting 39 games and leading the entire NHL with a 0.931 save percentage while also recording 22 wins and 5 shutouts. The last two years he has started a combined 49 games, recording 22 wins and another 5 shutouts. His save percentages were .918 and .929 respectively. The Bruins are still a formidable team up front, and should continue to provide solid defence in front of their goalies. With Rask as the number 1, look for him to get a big increase in starts, as it is likely he will get around 60 games. This should lead to stats that will be among the best fantasy goalie stats in the NHL.
Anders Lindback, Tampa Bay Lightning, Goaltender: When Steve Yzerman traded a bevy of picks to get Lindback out of Nashville, he basically assured that the young Swede would be the new Lightning goaltender. In his two years as the backup to Pekka Rinne, Lindback has started 28 games and put up 16 wins, a .914 Sv % and 2 Shutouts, impressive numbers given the amount of action he has faced. Lindback looks poised to be a number 1 goalie and Tampa has greatly improved their defence from last season with the additions of Matt Carle and Sami Salo. The continued maturation of Victor Hedman, and a healthy Mattias Ohlund will also help the Bolts. I expect the Lightning to have a much better record in 2012-13 and bounce back close to the form that took them to the playoffs in 2011. Lindback with increased starts should be a major fantasy beneficiary of this.
Ryan Ellis, Nashville Predators, Defence: With the departure of Ryan Suter to Minnesota comes a huge opening at the point on the Nashville power play. Enter the young, offensively talented defenceman from the Windsor Spitfires. Ellis had a terrific junior career, both in the OHL and internationally as he won two Memorial Cups, and two World Junior Championship gold medals. He might be undersized but his offensive talent is undeniable. In his last OHL season he put up 101 points in just 58 games. In the AHL last year he put up 18 points in 29 games as a rookie, and in the NHL he put up 11 points in 32 games. Ellis has outstanding vision and passing skills which will be used to set up Shea Weber’s cannon on the Nashville power play. Expect a big jump in ice time and points for the 2009 11th overall pick.
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild, Centre: Koivu centres the top line for the wild. A line that just got much more potent with the addition of Zach Parise. Koivu is excellent at controlling the puck down low and making plays for his wingers, a style of game that should mix perfectly with a winger who has the proven ability to snipe like Parise. Add to this the fact that Koivu is a weapon on the Minnesota powerplay, a powerplay that has been greatly strengthened by the addition of Ryan Suter, and a real breakthrough season is possible here. If Minnesota decides to open up their style and play a more offensive game with their two new additions, it could be a huge year for Koivu.
Brad Boyes, New York Islanders, Right Wing: Boyes has struggled and let many a fantasy owner down since scoring 42 goals in 2007-08 and 72 points in 2008-09. After putting up just 23 points for the Sabres last season many fantasy owners have given up on him, as have many NHL owners and GMs. Boyes took a major paycut this season signing a 1 year, $1 million deal with the New York Islanders. It is expected that Boyes will slide into the right-wing hole on the top line vacated by P.A. Parenteau’s departure to the Colorado Avalanche. While Boyes may never put up 40 goal seasons again, if he plays the year with John Tavares he has the ability to finish plays and could once again crack the 25 goal mark.
What do you think, are there other players who you will be targeting for big campaigns next season? Let us know in our comments section below and follow me on twitter @LastWordBKerr.