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Despite the uncertainty surrounding the start of the 2020-21 NHL campaign — reportedly set to start on January 13 — there were plenty of big names on the move this offseason both via trades and free-agent signings. A change of scenery can both help and hurt a player’s fantasy value, so let’s take a look at some of this year’s biggest offseason moves and how they might impact each skater’s production during the upcoming campaign.
Brandon Saad – Traded to the Avalanche
The Blackhawks have finally committed to a rebuild, or at least a retool, after several years of mediocrity, which was the driving force behind a trade that sent Saad to Colorado in October. The 28-year-old American should benefit greatly from his change of scenery, as the Avs had one of the best offenses in the NHL last season, and they could be even better in 2020-21. Saad might not see much power-play time with his new club, but that shouldn’t matter, as he only picked up one point with the man advantage last season, and he should be skating on Colorado’s second line at even strength. He’ll be an attractive upside pick in the later rounds of fantasy drafts.
Max Domi – Traded to the Blue Jackets
Domi often butted heads with Canadiens coach Claude Julien, which led to a demotion to the fourth line during last season’s playoffs — the final straw in their already fractured relationship. Now with the Blue Jackets, Domi will look to recapture the form he displayed in 2018-19 — 72 points in 82 games — under coach John Tortorella in 2020-21. The 25-year-old pivot is expected to skate on Columbus’ second line, and should receive ample time with the man advantage, so the potential for a bounce back is there.
Matt Murray – Traded to the Senators
The emergence of Tristan Jarry in Pittsburgh made Murray expendable, and Ottawa jumped at the chance to acquire the two-time Stanley Cup champion in exchange for a second-round pick and a prospect in October. Now locked up on a four-year, $25 million contract, Murray will be the main man in net for a Sens squad that likely won’t be ready to seriously compete for a few more years. Still, Ottawa should be a little better in 2020-21, and Murray will have minimal competition for playing time with Marcus Hogberg projected to enter the season as his backup. Don’t expect impressive figures in GAA or save percentage from Murray this year, but he’ll be getting a ton of work, and should pick up enough wins to make him a solid No. 3 option in fantasy leagues.
Dubnyk was awful for Minnesota last season, but he’ll have a chance to bounce back with a fresh start after being traded to the Sharks this offseason. Martin Jones will still presumably enter the season as San Jose’s starter, but if he falters, as he often has over the past two campaigns, Dubnyk will be lying in wait ready to grab hold of the starting gig. The Sharks were bad last year, but they haven’t committed to a rebuild, so with some injury luck, they could rebound in 2020-21. If Dubnyk’s able to steal the starting job on an improved San Jose squad, he could end up being a value in this year’s fantasy drafts.
Taylor Hall – Signed with the Sabres
Hall will be looking to cash in next offseason after signing a one-year deal to join the Sabres in October. Buffalo may seem like an odd choice for a guy looking to play his way into a lucrative long-term deal, but Hall will be skating with Jack Eichel on the Sabres’ top line this year, a duo that promises to be extremely deadly. Hall will have huge boom potential this season and may be slept on by fantasy managers only looking at his lackluster production with the Devils and Coyotes over the last two campaigns.
Torey Krug – Signed with the Blues
After seven highly productive seasons with the Bruins, Krug joined the Blues on a monster seven-year, $45.5 million contract this offseason. Alex Pietrangelo is no longer in the picture, so Krug will immediately jump into a featured role on St. Louis’ top pairing while also quarterbacking the first power-play unit. Krug is one of, if not the best, power-play quarterback in the league, and he’ll be joining a Blues man-advantage unit that converted at a 24.3% clip last season, third-best in the league just behind Boston’s 25.2% rate. Krug’s offensive output may not improve in St. Louis, but it certainly shouldn’t decline either, making him a top-10 option at his position in most formats.
Alex Pietrangelo – Signed with the Golden Knights
Pietrangelo was unable to come to terms with the Blues on an extension and instead ended up signing this offseason’s richest contract with Vegas, a seven-year, $61.6 million deal. The Knights’ supporting cast should be just as good, if not better, than St. Louis’ in 2020-21, so the only concern surrounding Pietrangelo’s fantasy value will boil down to his power-play usage. Shea Theodore is locked into a spot on Vegas’ top man-advantage unit, so if coach Pete DeBoer doesn’t want to deploy two blueliners at the same time, Pietrangelo will have to settle for second-unit minutes. Still, that shouldn’t have a major impact on his production, so Pietrangelo will remain a rock-solid No. 1 fantasy defenseman this year.
Tyson Barrie – Signed with the Oilers
Barrie was a bit of a disappointment with the Maple Leafs last season, finishing the campaign with 39 points in 70 contests, but he should fare far better in 2020-21 after signing a one-year deal with the Oilers. When he put up back-to-back 57-plus point seasons with the Avalanche from 2017-19, Barrie was a force on the power play, which should be the case this year as he mans the point for an Oilers man-advantage unit that boasts Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, and which was the best in the league in 2019-20. A return to Colorado-esque production is definitely in the cards for Barrie this year.
Robin Lehner – Signed with the Golden Knights
After joining Vegas at the trade deadline and taking over as the team’s No. 1 netminder during the playoffs, Lehner signed a five-year deal to solidify his standing as the Knights’ starter heading into 2020-21. Marc-Andre Fleury isn’t going anywhere, at least for now, but Vegas made a big-time commitment to Lehner, and I don’t see a scenario in which he plays poorly enough to lose the starting job to Flower this year. The Golden Knights are once again poised to be one of the best teams in the NHL, so there will be plenty of wins to go around between the two backstops. Lehner has top-five potential this year.
Braden Holtby – Signed with the Canucks
After 10 years with the Capitals, Holtby headed west this offseason, signing a two-year deal with Vancouver. Thatcher Demko is the future in goal for the Canucks, and he was brilliant in his three playoff starts against the Golden Knights last season, but he also only has 41 games of NHL experience under his belt, so Holtby will almost certainly get the bulk of the starts this campaign. Holtby struggled with a 3.11 GAA and a .897 save percentage last season, but if he’s able to return to form, he should make for a high-end No. 2 fantasy option as Vancouver’s No. 1 netminder this year.
Jacob Markstrom – Signed with the Flames
The Canucks decided to sign Holtby to a bridge deal to mentor Demko rather than commit to Markstrom long term this offseason, which led to the 30-year-old Swede penning a six-year, $36 million deal with the rival Flames. Backup David Rittich is capable of handling a pretty hefty load, but Calgary didn’t drop $36 million to have Markstrom ride the bench, so there’s little reason to believe he’ll enter anything resembling a timeshare with Rittich in 2020-21. He’ll be a rock-solid No. 2 fantasy option with No. 1 upside this year.
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