It was a wild Saturday prior to the roster freeze, so it’s time to break it all down with the second installment of offseason fantasy hockey analysis. If you missed the first piece, check it out here. It’s time to take a pause before the craziness picks up again and provide some insight on the recent fantasy-relevant news.
Fantasy Hockey Analysis: Signings
Miro Heiskanen Re-Signed
There’s no denying that 22-year-old Miro Heiskanen is one of the NHL’s best young defensemen. After a miraculous cup run in 2020 where he had 26 points in 27 games, Heiskanen had only 27 points in 55 games this past season. Based on the bar he set for himself in the playoffs, he statistically didn’t live up to that standard. That’s partly due to the play of John Klingberg, who spent more time on the powerplay and had more points overall compared to Heiskanen. Klingberg is still a member of the Dallas Stars which unfortunately prevents Heiskanen from reaching his true ceiling. Be wary of this in re-draft leagues. Heiskanen is going to be an incredible fantasy asset in the future. For next year though, he probably won’t break 50 points.
Anthony Duclair Re-Signed
Anthony Duclair has bounced around the league for various reasons but finally seems to have found a home with the Florida Panthers. It bodes well for his fantasy value heading into next season. Duclair had 32 points in 43 games while spending time on a line with Aleksander Barkov and later, Sam Bennett. He regularly played in the top six and had obvious success doing so. He’s a safe bet to have a similar role and should surpass his career high of 44 points he set back when he was a rookie with the Arizona Coyotes. Expect Duclair to put up between 50-55 points over a full season.
Fantasy Hockey Analysis: Trades
Adin Hill Traded
Adin Hill has shown encouraging signs over the past few years in Arizona that he can be a starter in the NHL. It seems that he will get that opportunity with the Sharks thanks to the inconsistencies of Martin Jones. Still, Hill is largely unproven and the team in front of him has some serious warts of their own. With goalie starts sometimes hard to come by in fantasy leagues, it’s worth mentioning that Hill now holds some value.
Nolan Patrick Traded
After being drafted 2nd overall in 2017, Nolan Patrick played two seasons where he had 30 and 31 points prior to missing the entire 2019/2020 season with concussion issues. Last year Patrick only had nine points in 52 games. It was understandably a poor season and far from fantasy-relevant, but Patrick is still so young and has so much potential. At 22 years old, it’s too early to write him off. Now that he’s on a formidable Vegas team, he’s worth keeping an eye on.
Ryan Ellis Traded
Ryan Ellis was part of a three-way trade on Saturday that sent him to the Philadelphia Flyers. A change in scenery may prove to be beneficial for him. He spent 10 seasons with the Nashville Predators playing behind the likes of Shea Weber, Seth Jones and of course, Roman Josi. Although the Flyers may not have established players like that, the situation he finds himself in isn’t that different. He goes from splitting offensive duties with Josi and Mattias Ekholm to Ivan Provorov and Shayne Gostisbehere. In both situations, Ellis is the only right-handed shot. His deployment will be really interesting here. Ellis is only one season removed from a season where he had 38 points in 49 games (a 64-point pace). If he can secure a regular role on the top powerplay unit and continue to provide decent category coverage, Ellis could be a steal. Similar usage from his time in Nashville should see him between 40-45 points.
Jared McCann Traded
The Toronto Maple Leafs grabbed Jared McCann ahead of the looming expansion draft. For the purpose of this piece, we’ll assume he remains with the team. Coming off a 32-point season, McCann has proven that he can be a fantasy asset under the right circumstances. When Evgeni Malkin was injured, McCann did most of his damage. The young 25-year-old was placed on the top powerplay unit and excelled. He led the Penguins in powerplay goals with seven. He may be due for a shooting percentage correction, but McCann has shown that he can play with elite talent. If he finds a spot at left wing on a Maple Leafs team that is weak on that side, he could reach 40 points.
Nick Leddy Traded
Nick Leddy is only being mentioned here because he had 31 points last season – a full-year 45-point pace. It was a bounce-back to his 2015-2018 seasons when he had more than 40 points in each of the three years. Now he makes his way to the Detroit Red Wings, a team who finished second-last in goals with 125. Its not expected to get much better in Detroit from that standpoint. Despite Leddy likely having a similar offensive role where he spent time on both powerplay units, a return to 40 points is highly unlikely. 30 is possible, but Leddy lacks any meaningful peripheral stat coverage to warrant ownership in most leagues.
Fantasy Hockey Analysis: Buyouts
Keith Yandle Bought Out
Keith Yandle’s buy-out leaves a hole on the Florida Panthers blueline and effectively makes him a free agent. From a Panthers’ standpoint, Aaron Ekblad no longer needs to share offensive duties with Yandle. This is his team and his time to take full reigns on the powerplay. Ekblad had 11 goals and 11 assists in 35 games prior to his season ending to injury. That’s a full season (82 games) pace of 52 points. A correction in shooting percentage may bring that total down, but Ekblad is sure to surpass his career high of 41 points he set two seasons ago, assuming he can remain healthy.
Yandle, on the other hand, had his worst points per game total (.48) since 08/09 when he was a member of the Coyotes (.43). He was 22 years old then. He’ll be 35 when next season begins. In bangers leagues with multiple categories, Yandle’s average draft position will likely be too high to warrant being selected. He was drafted on average as the 130th pick in Yahoo leagues last season. That’s ahead of Darnell Nurse, Drew Doughty and Jacob Trouba – guys who do it all. At 35 years old, Yandle will continue to be the same player. A good source of assists, points and powerplay points but that’s it. There are better, younger, well-rounded defencemen to take a chance on where he’ll be drafted.