Fantasy Hockey Analysis: First Half of July

fantasy hockey analysis

The NHL offseason is coming at us fast and furious. Signings, injuries, buy-outs, etc. – things are happening daily. It’s time to take a pause and provide some fantasy hockey analysis on the recent fantasy-relevant news.

Fantasy Hockey Analysis – Signings

Wayne Simmonds Re-signed

Simmonds is far from the stat-stuffing asset he used to be back in his days as a Flyer. He had 50+ points, over 100 hits, over 100 PIMS, over 200 shots and 13 or more powerplay goals in three separate seasons. Pretty amazing, right? Fast-forward five years and Simmonds begins his second year with the Maple Leafs. That player isn’t coming back but at 33 years old, the Scarborough, Ontario native can still have some value in deep leagues. Before breaking his wrist just 12 games into last season, Simmonds had five goals, including three on the powerplay. If he can sustain that level of play and remain healthy for the likely-to-be Hyman-less Maple Leafs, Simmonds could play himself back onto fantasy teams.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Re-signed

Prior to the pandemic ending the 2019-20 season short, Nugent-Hopkins had 61 points in 65 games and was on pace to eclipse career highs from the year before. He followed up that fantastic season with an awful one. Nugent-Hopkins only had 35 points in 52 games – his worst points per game in four seasons. 20 of those 35 points came with the man-advantage. Nuge is better than that. It remains to be seen who will surround him in the top six, but as long as he remains on the top powerplay unit he will maintain significant value. With contract talks behind him and a clear home for the foreseeable future, Nugent-Hopkins won’t have less than 60 points next season.

Joel Eriksson Ek Re-signed

Eriksson Ek is coming off a career season where he had 19 goals and 11 assists for 30 points in 56 games. At 24 years old, he should continue to progress on a team lacking centre star power. It will be interesting to see if a number one centre is brought in ahead of him. But still, his age, position, and hit totals make him a great selection in deeper leagues next season. Despite his inflated shooting percentage of 16, Eriksson Ek should take another step and reach at least 40 points for the first time.

Fantasy Hockey Analysis – Trades

Viktor Arvidsson Traded

Arvidsson’s back-to-back seasons of half a point per game made him expendable in Nashville and in fantasy leagues. His 6.6 shooting percentage last year would indicate he was unlucky, but his shot selection was extremely poor. That said, three shots per game is welcome on any fantasy team. With a fresh start on a youthful Los Angeles Kings, Arvidsson makes for a sneaky late-round pick in drafts next season. The 28-year-old could bounce back somewhere between 50-55 points.

Duncan Keith Traded

This deal would have been vetoed in fantasy leagues but unfortunately, this is real life for Edmonton Oilers fans. Looking at this from a fantasy perspective though, Keith actually holds more value going into next season than he did with the Blackhawks. Obviously, at 38 years old, we won’t see anything close to the 60-point player he used to be. But a 30-point season is attainable. He’ll be slotted on the second defensive pairing behind Darnell Nurse but will surely have exposure to Connor McDavid at times. The problem with Keith – the fantasy player – is that along with the potential of a decent number of points, the only other stat he will significantly contribute to is blocked shots. If you’re in a deep league that accounts for blocks, he may be worth a late pick. If not, move on from Keith and draft a defenceman with greater upside.

Fantasy Hockey Analysis – Other News

Pekka Rinne Retires

The announcement confirmed what we already know – Juuse Saros is the outright starter in Nashville. Saros was nothing short of incredible down the stretch. As he willed the Predators into a playoff spot, he probably led some fantasy hockey managers to victory. As amazing as he played though, Saros has yet to prove that he can be a 60-game goalie in the NHL. The Preds lineup is also far from complete. With Arvidsson shipped to Los Angeles and Matt Duchene rumoured to be left exposed in the upcoming expansion draft, it will be interesting to see how the team looks on opening night. Will Connor Ingram be Saros’s understudy? The next two months will provide a clearer picture of Saros’s value heading into the next season.

Zach Parise and Ryan Suter Bought Out

The 36-year-olds are out in Minnesota but will surely find a home before the 2021-22 season begins. Both Parise and Suter failed to reach 20 points for only the second time in each of their careers. For context, Parise had six points in 13 games back 2010-11 before missing the rest of the season to injury. Suter had 16 points as a rookie. Point is – these guys are on the back nine of their careers. Parise is unlikely to land anywhere that will make him fantasy relevant. Suter, on the other hand, may have some appeal depending on his landing spot. He is only one year removed from a 48-point season.

Oscar Klefbom Still Out

The last thing Oilers fans wanted to hear at the latest Ken Holland press conference was that Klefbom’s chances of playing next season are “very slim”. But unfortunately, the news likely influenced the Keith signing. Klefbom missing the season keeps the spotlight on Darnell Nurse as one of the top offensive threats on the back end. An inflated shooting percentage of 10.4 (career 4.9) could bring his goals down from the 16 he scored last season, but Nurse’s elite category coverage still makes him a prime target. Assuming the Oilers re-sign Tyson Barrie or bring in a similar player, Nurse could reach 50 points next season. If they don’t and the top unit powerplay quarterback role is his, Nurse has the potential to finish as the top fantasy defenceman.

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