Main photo: USA TODAY Sports – Stephen R. Sylvanie
A major trade target is off the market as of Thursday. The New York Rangers kept up with the cross-town New York Islanders in making a splash far ahead of the deadline. Vladimir Tarasenko is now a Ranger. Now it is time for us to look at how this affects the fantasy hockey value for him.
Fantasy Hockey Implications of Vladimir Tarasenko Trade
Lower production so far this season
It is no secret that Tarasenko has struggled. He missed almost all of 2019-20 and 2020-21 with injuries. Last season was a bounce-back year with 34 goals and 82 points in 75 games played. While he has been able to stay relatively healthy, he sits at only ten goals and 29 points in 38 games played this season. As a pending UFA, it was believed that he was a player who needed a change of scenery. He got it, but does that make him a more productive option in fantasy hockey leagues?
This shuffles the Rangers forward group quite a bit, so expect to see a couple new lines. Potentially, Tarasenko could end up on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin. The Rangers have tried quite a few line combinations through the season and Zibanejad and Panarin have seen some time together. Unfortunately, they have minimal success regardless of who the third skater is. Of all lines that have played more than 20 minutes together, the best they have produced was with Vitali Kravtsov at an expected goals per/60 of 2.98. That is good for only 7th best on the team. That trio does have the lowest expected goals against per/60, so they are effective. But enter Tarasenko and that may change.
In all line combinations Tarasenko has played more than 20 minutes this season, he is almost exclusively a higher expected goals against per/60 than for. Offensively it has been not much better than the New York duo either. This season, Tarasenko has brought his lines down rather than lifting them up. For example; his best stat lines with the St. Louis Blues have come next to Ivan Barbashev. It is some of the worst line numbers for Barbashev when he is lined up with Tarasenko. When he is not, he is part of the first and third best lines for expected goals for per/60. This may not be the answer fantasy hockey owners want to see for a New York team who is already struggling with Zibanejad and Panarin out there together.
If Tarasenko lines up here, the fantasy hockey value could be massive. Again, using the same 20 minutes per line, the top four lines for the Rangers in expected goals for per/60 have either Kreider or Trocheck attached to them. These skaters make others on the ice better. The previously mentioned Zibanejad and Panarin are proof of this, as their production together is low, but with either Kreider or Trocheck, they excel. If the Rangers put Tarasenko here, the lower fantasy hockey value he has had could rise very quickly.
Tarasenko could be available in your league
Tarasenko is rostered by a large majority of fantasy hockey owners. But he has been trending down lately. Pay attention to the lines that the Rangers deploy when he arrives in New York. Even in the down year, he is still a producer. He has just been far below what he was last season. On the wing with Kreider and Trocheck looks like it could be the massive boost that fantasy hockey owners were counting on when they drafted Tarasenko. If he is anywhere else, based on the numbers, don’t expect the change of scenery to be as large. He will still be a valuable option, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to make sure he was on my roster.