Fantasy Hockey Impact of Free Agent Frenzy; Day One

Dallas Stars left wing Loui Eriksson
Dallas Stars left wing Loui Eriksson
Apr 9 2013 Dallas TX USA Dallas Stars left wing Loui Eriksson 21 warms up before the game against the Los Angeles Kings at the American Airlines Center Jerome Miron USA TODAY Sports

While the rules for signing a free agent appear to change near-daily, the landscape of the NHL will look very different next year than it did this year. The salary cap is going down from $70.2M this past year year to $64.3M for the upcoming season, as was negotiated in the new CBA. This means teams near/at/over the cap limit are going to have to shave some money somewhere, which means some teams could get decent players that have high cap hits for a bag of pucks, evident by the Shawn Horcoff trade last night.

However, despite the strain the cap might put on, don’t expect teams to be tight with their wallet. The salary cap could be up over $80M in a by the end of this decade, so signing a player to a $6M/season deal might look bad now, but could look good in 3-4 years. I think this is a terrible way to make a management decision – ‘let’s handcuff ourselves now so we can potentially have a marginally decent contract in four years’ – but that will be the mantra du jour for many NHL general managers.

I’m going to take a quick look at the fantasy impact of the first day of moving/shaking in the NHL.

Tyler Seguin/Loui Eriksson Trade

My personal feelings on this trade aside, this alters the value for each player going into next season.

Tyler Seguin

This is a young player that is on the cusp of being elite. I think it’s reasonable to argue that playing in Boston may have depressed his numbers a bit; their power-play ranked 26th, 15th and 20th the last three seasons going backwards chronologically. Also, Boston is a puck possession team that stresses defense, which probably isn’t Seguin’s greatest concern.

Going to Dallas means he will probably playing with Jamie Benn and that should be a fun duo to watch. Dallas wasn’t a very good possession team this year and I don’t see that changing much unless they improve their defense corps. Ironically, this could mean a boon in Seguin’s production; less defensive worry with more focus on scoring. Seguin’s +/- will take a big hit going from a great possession team to a so-so-at-best one, but his production should at least match 2011-2012 (29 goals and 38 assists) and I would not be shocked in the least if he exceeded it.

Loui Eriksson

A model of consistency – Eriksson put up between 26-29 goals and 42-46 assists for three consecutive years leading up to the lockout-shortened season – Eriksson fits the now-gaping need for a scoring winger in Boston. Not only that, but he should fit the “Boston Mold” – whatever the H-E double hockey sticks that is – he was a plus-possession player on a minus-possession team last year and can play hard two-way hockey.

The immediate boost for Eriksson is plus/minus. Dallas’ mediocrity of late meant that Eriksson was a minus player in two of the last four seasons, and being a minus player in fantasy hockey is a huge detriment – only one player last year was a top-10 forward and a minus player, Steven Stamkos. Early indications are that Eriksson will be tried at right wing, making me think he’ll find his way to a line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. This is significant because these two players are a combined +114 over the last two seasons. Now, Eriksson still doesn’t shoot a lot (career 2.12 shots/game) or take penalties (114 PIMs in 501 career games) so his value will still be lower than it could be, but a return to his 2011-2012 form could mean a top-50 season.

Rich Peverley

The forgotten part of the Seguin/Eriksson deal, Peverley should find second line minutes and first line power-play time this year, which will mean a boost to all his numbers across the board this year compared to last year (I don’t see his plus/minus being worse than the -9 it was this year). Peverley is an ok possession player whose line-mates are uncertain at the moment, although it would seem a lock that Erik Cole will be on his line next year, not a bad scoring winger with size.

There’s a lot that remains to be seen but this I can tell you; Peverley’s -9 rating shouldn’t get worse next year and he’s only 30 years old. He’s three years removed from putting up 22 goals and 55 points playing first/second line minutes in Atlanta where three of the four forwards he played with the most don’t have an NHL contract for this coming season. He will be a sneaky pick late in drafts and once January rolls around and you have four players on the injured reserve, he’ll look like found gold.

Danny Briere Signs With Montreal

As a Canadiens fan, I’m very wary of this move. It’s only for two years, so the risk is fairly minimal. However, Montréal will have a lot of players to sign going into next year and this might hinder their flexibility to do so.

Briere appears to be on the decline. He is going from a barely minus-possession team over the last three years to a barely plus-possession team over the same span that typically has an effective power-play, so there should be some good offensive numbers. I do worry, though, that Briere has been a minus-possession player for three consecutive years despite playing some easy competition and having some pretty good line-mates, especially this year.

His power-play numbers should improve after a down year; he had 6 power-play points in 34 games this year (~0.17 ppp/g) after 17 PPP the year before (~0.24 ppp/g) and 15 PPP the year before that (~0.2 ppp/g). The hope is that he can find his scoring touch again after two consecutive years of scoring decline, we will see if it happens. At this point, a 50-point season with 20 goals should be considered a resounding success, which is a serious limit on his upside. Briere should be reserved for late-round picks in most leagues.

NHL Free Agent/Trade frenzy, as a Twitterer of mine put it, is like Hockey Christmas.

author avatar
Michael Clifford
Michael Clifford was born and raised in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada and is a graduate of the Unviersity of New Brunswick. He writes about fantasy hockey and baseball for XNSports and He can be reached on Twitter @SlimCliffy for any fantasy hockey questions. !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+'://';fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document, 'script', 'twitter-wjs');