<
>

Fantasy hockey ranks: Trade deadline implications

How will Mikkel Boedker fare on the Avalanche? Norm Hall/Getty Images

It wasn't the most impactful trade deadline on Monday, but player movement is player movement and there will be some fantasy fallout to discuss for most of the trades -- however minor they may seem compared to recent seasons. We'll go over the players in new homes that are most likely to draw the interest of fantasy owners.

They are listed here in order of expected fantasy relevance.


New homes

Mikkel Boedker, W, Colorado Avalanche: Only owned in 59 percent of ESPN leagues, Boedker gets the biggest improvement to his fantasy surroundings with a move to the Avalanche. He'll get every chance to establish himself as a top-six winger and he'll play with more talent than he ever did with the Arizona Coyotes. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog appear to be his initial linemates, which would bode extremely well for the speedy Boedker. We'll go so far as to suggest that if you see him on the free-agent pile in any league format, he should be scooped up.

Jiri Hudler and Teddy Purcell, W, Florida Panthers: On paper, the Panthers now have two wingers to flank Nick Bjugstad to create a dangerous second line. In practice, Bjugstad is having a down year and has been relegated to the third line, while Vincent Trocheck, Jussi Jokinen and Reilly Smith have solid seasons. We'll have to let the Panthers play a couple of games to see how this plays out, as Jonathan Huberdeau's concussion also changes the short-term deployment for all three lines. Both Hudler and Purcell have strong potential with this change of scenery and Bjugstad could be awoken from the fantasy dead.

Eric Staal, C, New York Rangers: In Staal's first game as a Ranger, Derek Stepan and Derick Brassard did not get bumped from being the first- and second-line centers. But just what happens in the next game or when Rick Nash returns remains to be seen. Nash is still likely two weeks away from coming back, however, so looking for a Staal-Nash combination won't come until later in March.

For now, Staal can be considered the same as he has been with the Carolina Hurricanes for most of the year: Not a very useful fantasy asset, but one that seems too dangerous to drop from your roster except in the shallowest of formats. It's an unfortunate title, but if Staal finds a groove with the Rangers he'll burn fantasy owners that ditched him. Keep him on the bench unless you absolutely can't.

Justin Schultz, D, Pittsburgh Penguins: There is really only room for one offensive defenseman with the Penguins, but if you had to choose two words to describe Kris Letang they would likely be talented and fragile. If Letang should succumb to another in his long line of injuries, Schultz would be given every opportunity to step into his shoes on the top power play. There is probably an argument for Schultz to be used in medium and deep leagues as a backend defenseman, even with a healthy Letang in the fold. Smart passers on the Penguins blue line tend to get points by association with the star forwards.

Brandon Pirri and Jamie McGinn, W, Anaheim Ducks: Pirri is stil on the injured reserve with an ankle ailment, but McGinn offers a big body for the front of the net that immediately should get a shot on Ryan Getzlaf's line. Chris Stewart was fitting in nicely with Getzlaf and David Perron before an injury and Mike Santorelli has only been keeping the spot warm for someone like McGinn to step in. In case you forgot, Getzlaf is tied for the NHL points lead post All-Star break.

Lee Stempniak, W, Boston Bruins: This will be a sink-or-swim situation for Stempniak owners, as he is either going to replace the "OK this season but nothing special" Brett Connolly on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand or he'll wind up on the third line with minimal power-play time. We are leaning toward the former, which should help elevate what has already been a big season for Stempniak.

Kris Versteeg, W, Los Angeles Kings: Dwight King and Dustin Brown both lag behind Versteeg for overall offensive capabilities. That doesn't mean Versteeg has a surefire shot at a scoring-line role, but the opportunity will certainly be there. If you see him skating next to Anze Kopitar or Jeff Carter in the near future, keep his name handy.

Patrick Maroon, W, Edmonton Oilers: Maroon has scoring line experience and the Oilers are down a winger after the trade of Teddy Purcell. It's a low percentage chance, but if Maroon happens to fit well with Taylor Hall or Connor McDavid, he could have some deep-league fantasy value.

Devante Smith-Pelly, W, New Jersey Devils: With Lee Stempniak out of town, the underrated Smith-Pelly gets yet another chance to show he can play a scoring-line role with a new team. So far, he hasn't stuck in the assignment with the Anaheim Ducks or Montreal Canadiens, but those teams have a lot more firepower than the Devils currently boast.

Niklas Backstrom, G, Calgary Flames: Jonas Hiller and Joni Ortio both resemble Swiss cheese of late. Sure, Backstrom hasn't started a game in the NHL since January 2015, but can he be any worse than Hiller or Ortio given the chance? If you are desperate -- and we mean desperate -- for some goaltending down the stretch in a deep league, he's worthy of a pickup just to see what happens in the short-term.

Alex Tanguay, W, Arizona Coyotes: We could envision a small boost in Tanguay's production now that all bets are off with the Coyotes. Especially given the team's talented scorers and general lack of playmakers. That said, we are talking about 14-team leagues or deeper before he is even on the radar.

James Reimer, G, San Jose Sharks: Reimer has put up some pretty decent numbers on Toronto Maple Leafs teams that have been horrific in front of him. There is some upside to his game finally playing for a solid squad bound for the playoffs. That said, he'll get minimal starts behind Martin Jones unless something happens.

John-Michael Liles, D, Boston Bruins: Firmly behind Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara, Liles would be more interesting for fantasy purposes if either of those two were out of the mix. For now, he's a name to know if injuries start plaguing the Bruins defense.

Kris Russell, D, Dallas Stars: If you play in a league with blocked shots, the NHL's best will now be doing so with a different team. There isn't much more to see here.


Filling voids

Frankly, a theme with a lot of the players moved is that they weren't having a huge impact with their current club. That means there aren't a lot of power vacuums left behind from the deals for players to step into and have an impact. That said, four potential situations did catch our eye.

Insert Winger Here, W, Calgary Flames: That's right, even on Monday night coach Bob Hartley was trying different players alongside Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau on the top line. Josh Jooris and Garnet Hathaway got the most time, but Michael Ferland, Joe Colborne and pretty much everybody else will be in the mix until the right combination is found. Watch the deployment during the next few games, because this is going to be a good spot for someone that is likely currently a free-agent in your league.

William Nylander, C, Toronto Maple Leafs: With 45 points in 37 AHL games this season, Nylander has nothing left to prove in the minors. He played almost 19 minutes of ice time in his NHL debut Monday, so the training wheels look to be off. Keeper leagues should already have him tucked away, but re-draft formats might want to take a look, too. After all, someone is going to score goals for the Leafs.

Brandon Davidson, D, Edmonton Oilers: Someone has to play the blue line on the Oilers power play and the personnel on the team's man advantage remains impressive up front. Davidson had two points in the first game with Schultz out of town on Sunday.

Noah Hanifin, D, Carolina Hurricanes: So long as Justin Faulk remains out with an undisclosed injury, John-Michael Liles' departure should leave young Hanifin to man the point on the Hurricanes power play. We haven't seen him with that responsibility on the first unit much this season and there is a chance he will embrace it.


Forwards Rising and Falling

Lindor

Jason Pominville, W, Minnesota Wild (up 12 spots to No. 150): Rejuvenated on the third line under new coach John Torchetti, Pominville has four goals and five assists in eight games since Torchetti took the helm of the sinking Wild. He's playing well with Erik Haula and Nino Niederreiter as the talented trio is a mismatch for most other team's bottom six forwards.

Lindor

Mika Zibanejad, C, Ottawa Senators (up 52 spots to No. 122): Rocketing up the rankings, Zibanejad now takes over the No. 1 center role for the Senators with Kyle Turris shut down. Coming off a natural hat trick on the weekend, Zibanejad will get every chance to thrive down the stretch while playing with Mike Hoffman and Bobby Ryan (or maybe Mark Stone at some point). The bottom line is that no one will challenge him for the prime ice time at pivot both on and off the power play.


Defensemen Rising and Falling

Lindor

Matt Niskanen, D, Washington Capitals (up 41 spots to No. 168): With John Carlson all but out for most of the remainder of March, Niskanen will slide back onto the Capitals dangerous top power-play unit. Playing the role of lead offensive defenseman with Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov on the receiving end of your passes will have its benefits.


Goaltender Rising and Falling

Lindor

Michal Neuvirth, G, Philadelphia Flyers (up 10 spots to No. 145): We've been warning about this all season and it seems the Flyers are finally taking Neuvirth seriously with the playoffs potentially on the line. Neuvirth has now appeared in seven consecutive games and has all but seized the starter's mantel from Steve Mason. He's still available in 23 percent of ESPN leagues and has the potential to remain a top-10 fantasy goalie for the rest of the season.

Quick Hits


Updated top 250 rankings

Here are the updated rest-of-season, top 250 rankings of forwards, defensemen and goalies, including position ranks.

Note: Sean Allen's top 250 players are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice for skaters, and wins, goals-against average and save percentage for goalies.