Following the expansion draft, entry draft and free agency, there are many players who saw their fantasy value go up or down for the 2017-18 season.
Let’s break down the biggest development on each team’s roster:
Anaheim Ducks: The decision to sign a two-year, $4 million deal in Anaheim proves Ryan Miller is ready to invest in his family’s off-ice lifestyle — the Hollywood address suits his actress wife — and legitimate shot at a Stanley Cup, in exchange for settling in as second banana. Make no mistake, John Gibson is the Ducks’ go-to netminder this season and beyond. Barring injury, Miller can only be counted to play a supporting role, rendering the 36-year-old’s fantasy value immaterial in shallower leagues.
Arizona Coyotes: Dealt along with goalie Antti Raanta from the Rangers in exchange for Anthony DeAngelo and a seventh-round draft pick, Derek Stepan slides into the No. 1 center’s role with the Coyotes. Splitting gifted, young wingers Max Domi and Anthony Duclair (or Tobias Rieder), Stepan projects to easily surpass the 60-point plateau for the first time as a pro. As for Raanta, the 28-year-old fills the void as Arizona’s top netminder in place of Calgary-bound Mike Smith.
Boston Bruins: The signing of reigning AHL MVP Kenny Agostino highlights an otherwise unremarkable offseason for the Bruins to date. Collecting 83 points in 65 contests with the Chicago Wolves in 2016-17, the 25-year-old left wing has a legit shot at stealing a job from a Bruins’ regular up front. At the very least, GM Don Sweeney hopes Agostino makes others uncomfortable in training camp. Fantasy owners are advised to monitor whether such discomfort ultimately results in a reshuffling of Boston’s scoring lines.
Buffalo Sabres: Returning to the organization that drafted him back in 2001, Jason Pominville rejoins the Sabres via trade after four and a half seasons in Minnesota. While the days of flirting with — and even surpassing — the 70-point mark are well over, a rebound season could be in store for the 34-year-old, depending on whether he nails down a top-six spot alongside center Jack Eichel or Ryan O’Reilly. It’s not necessarily likely, but not completely out of the question either. If nothing else, a spot on Buffalo’s No. 1 power play should help Pominville better last season’s total of 47 points in 78 games with the Wild.
Calgary Flames: For the past six seasons, Mike Smith has been a competent-to-great goaltender for an altogether defensively weak Coyotes team. Now the 35-year-old gets the chance to win more games, and bolster his goals-against average, with an all-round stronger club in Calgary. Additionally, consider handcuffing Smith with fellow Flames’ newbie Eddie Lack, in case the former falls hurt. In the final season of his current contract, Lack will feel extra inspired to make a positive impression whenever afforded the chance.
Carolina Hurricanes: Back in 2005-06, Justin Williams racked up 76 regular-season points en route to winning the Stanley Cup (his first) with the Hurricanes. More than a decade later — stints with the Kings and Capitals consuming his attention in the meanwhile — Williams makes his way back to Carolina shouldering more modest expectations. Pencil in the versatile winger for an approximate 50-point season, similar to his output in Washington these past two seasons. That’s as long as he enjoys a fairly prominent role on the Hurricanes’ power play, as anticipated.
Chicago Blackhawks: In a throwback to 2014-15, the Blackhawks are choosing to fill the void on the left side of Jonathan Toews with a familiar face. At 22 years old, Brandon Saad — snatched back from the Blue Jackets in a multiplayer deal this June — accumulated 23 goals and 18 assists three seasons’ back, often alongside Chicago’s captain. The two seasons of experience collected since then promise even greater numbers from Saad. Also worth mentioning: Veteran winger Patrick Sharp could be in for a scoring renaissance in his return to Chicago, joining a second line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov. This past injury-riddled campaign in Dallas (18 points in 48 games) was one to forget for the 35-year-old veteran.
Colorado Avalanche: At the time of this writing, and with management reportedly asking for a couple of first-round draft picks in return, forward Matt Duchene remains a full-fledged member of the Avalanche. Now while it’s possible the Avs still manage to move the 26-year-old this summer — as otherwise would assure a disastrously distracting launch to a fresh season — that’s hardly guaranteed. If Duchene is moved, look for young centers Tyson Jost and J.T. Compher to jostle for top-six minutes with the rebuilding club. Selected 10th overall in 2016, Jost is already loosely projected to hold down the second-line gig regardless of Duchene’s handling.
Columbus Blue Jackets: As part of the aforementioned multi-player deal sending Saad back to Chicago, Artemi Panarin joins an ever-improving squad in Columbus. Skating on a No. 1 line and power play with an emerging Alexander Wennberg tees up a promising enough campaign. But playing away from a proven star like Patrick Kane hurts. Panarin will be hard-pressed to repeat this past season’s tally of 31 goals and 43 assists.
Dallas Stars: One of this summer’s flashier transactions sees Alexander Radulov reject the offer of extending his relationship with the Canadiens for a five-year, $31.25 million deal in Dallas. With coach Ken Hitchcock already leaning to positioning Radulov on the right side of top-liners Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, we anticipate a 60- to 65-point season from the 30-year-old winger — up from last season’s tally of 18 goals and 36 helpers. Additionally, the six-year investment in competent netminder Ben Bishop should finally see a tangible improvement in play between the pipes for the Stars.
Detroit Red Wings: While locking in veteran defenseman Trevor Daley for three seasons is an altogether solid move for the Red Wings, the fantasy ramifications are limited. A healthy dose of power-play minutes should eventually translate into a 25- to 30-point season for the 33-year-old. Otherwise, we’re far more intrigued with whether prospect Evgeny Svechnikov manages to wrangle an NHL job out of camp. The 20-year-old forward followed up an impressive regular season as member of the Grand Rapids Griffins with an equally inspired showing in the playoffs. Selected 19th overall in the 2015 draft, Svechnikov could make an impact with the Red Wings as soon as this autumn. Monitor how he manages in training camp.
Edmonton Oilers: As many bemoan the arrangement shipping Jordan Eberle to Brooklyn in exchange for Ryan Strome as lopsided, we’re inclined to take a more generous view. Still only 24 years old, Strome hasn’t peaked, and the change in environment should inspire a return to his 50-point ways, enjoyed in year two with the Islanders. Sitting third on the depth chart behind fellow centermen Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Strome will likely wreak most scoring havoc on the power play — particularly if he settles on a unit with McDavid and winger Leon Draisaitl.
Florida Panthers: Bidding adieu to Jonathan Marchessault (Vegas expansion) and Jaromir Jagr (thanks but no thanks), the Panthers welcome KHL export Evgeny Dadonov back into the fold. Drafted in 2007, Dadonov played three seasons split between the NHL and AHL before bolting for Russia. Projected to join Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau on Florida’s No. 1 scoring line, the 28-year-old is coming off his most productive season yet: 66 points in 53 games with St. Petersburg SKA. Take advantage by drafting this unfamiliar dark horse in mid- to later rounds, as he won’t be on every fantasy owner’s radar.
Los Angeles Kings: Like Jason Pominville, veteran forward Michael Cammalleri is u-turning his way back to the club that initially drafted him more 16 years ago, signing a one-year deal with the Kings. With much to prove after a desultory season in New Jersey, the 35-year-old sniper should catch the back of the net more often, flanking either center Jeff Carter or Anze Kopitar in a top-six role. Unfortunately, Cammalleri’s health remains a concern, as he’s averaged just slightly more than 50 games in his past two campaigns. That should be a valid concern for any interested fantasy owner. But, when he is healthy, he’s proven quite productive.
Montreal Canadiens: Following a three-season roller-coaster ride, including a controversial contract standoff before last season’s breakout campaign with the Lightning, forward Jonathan Drouin is handed a fresh start in his home province. A top-six job along with a spot on the Canadiens’ No. 1 power play should see the 22-year-old repeat — if not improve upon — the 21 goals and 32 assists earned in 2016-17. Having since lost Alexander Radulov to the Stars, the Habs better hope for as much.
Minnesota Wild: The relatively light-handed approach by GM Chuck Fletcher this offseason — signing defensemen Kyle Quincey, Ryan Murphy, etc — appears to leave the Wild short only a centerman to start 2017-18. If that hole remains unplugged by camp, look for Charlie Coyle or rookie Joel Eriksson Ek to fill in on the third or fourth line. Serving most often as a top-six winger this past campaign, Coyle collected 56 points — his most since entering the league in 2012-13. A shift down the lineup would make further improvement on that total a tough task for the 25-year-old. Keep a view on where he lines up, starting in early fall.
Nashville Predators: Out from the dense shadow cast by Penguins stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Nick Bonino has a fresh, favorable shot at earning the second-line center’s gig with his new club in Tennessee — regardless of whether Mike Fisher retires. Centering winger Craig Smith — who has plenty to prove himself following a four-season slide in production — with and without the man-advantage should boost the 29-year-old through the 50-point barrier for the first time in his career. By no means a fantasy jewel, Bonino offers solid value with the potential to pleasantly surprise in all but the shallowest leagues.
New Jersey Devils: Forward Marcus Johansson faces a difficult task in building on his most productive season yet (24 goals, 34 assists), following his trade from the Capitals. Johansson seems curiously pleased to be joining the conservative-scoring Devils (2.20 goals per game in 2016-17) after six seasons in Washington (3.18 GPG in 2016-17). I don’t get it; playing on the left side of center Travis Zajac is hardly an upgrade over Evgeny Kuznetsov. And since he’s expressed a keen interest in sticking at left wing, a top-line slot alongside Taylor Hall — and No. 1 draft pick Nico Hischier, perhaps — is unlikely. Beyond a fairly promising power-play role, there isn’t all that much to appreciate, fantasy-wise, about Johansson’s move to New Jersey.
New York Islanders: Project ‘Replace Kyle Okposo 2.0′ is underway in Brooklyn. After the trial of jamming Andrew Ladd on John Tavares‘ wing fell pancake flat in 2016-17, the Islanders have their fingers crossed Jordan Eberle will jibe with the club’s star center. It doesn’t hurt that the off-ice buddies played together in world junior competition before going pro. Candid with his appreciation for the “fresh start,” the former Oiler is in solid position to easily better this past season’s dismal yield of 51 points. In fact, a full campaign flanking Tavares could result in a return to Eberle’s Halcyon days of 70-plus points (2011-12).
New York Rangers: As one of the least surprising moves this summer, local boy Kevin Shattenkirk signed a four-year deal where just about everyone anticipated: his hometown club. No need to overthink matters here; the Rangers’ new No. 1 offensive-defenseman will contribute plenty with the man-advantage and without — probably to the tune of a 60-point season. More pressingly, we’re wondering who falls directly behind the 28-year-old in productive prominence, the steadfast Ryan McDonagh or Sophomore Brady Skjei? As long as he nails down a permanent role on New York’s secondary power play, the youngster should improve on the 39 points earned his rookie season.
Ottawa Senators: The loss of veteran defenseman Marc Methot (Dallas via Vegas), and inking of fourth-line center Nate Thompson aside, the 2017-18 Senators appear nearly identical to last year’s version. That means forward prospects Colin White and Logan Brown face a tougher task in swiping a full-time NHL job out of camp. That said, I’m not ruling out White, in particular, from pulling it off. Blue line-wise, Methot’s departure swings the door open for top defensive prospect Thomas Chabot. Keep a view to where the former 18th overall selection (2015, same draft year as White) slides in, should he succeed in landing a job in Ottawa.
Philadelphia Flyers: Joining his third team in as many seasons, Brian Elliott is hoping 2017-18 in its entirety is more akin to the success he enjoyed through the second half of this past season with the Flames than the lack thereof through the first. Fact is, with Michal Neuvirth — who was substandard this past campaign — and the largely untested Anthony Stolarz queued up behind, the Flyers’ net is Elliott’s to lose. How much fantasy faith you put in the habitually streaky 32-year-old netminder and Philly’s defense is up to you.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Otherwise leaving his Stanley Cup-winning club nearly well enough alone, GM Jim Rutherford felt obligated to throw a bit of cash (works out to an 18th of what the Oilers will start paying Connor McDavid, on average, in 2018-19) at veteran goalie Antti Niemi, with Marc-Andre Fleury gone. The $700,000, one-year wager is low risk and, hopefully for the Penguins, not all that relevant. Even if No. 1 Matt Murray falls hurt, youngster Tristan Jarry could be an option in later stages of the season.
San Jose Sharks: The departure of San Jose fixture Patrick Marleau sets the table for one of the franchise’s youngsters to claim a prominent and permanent spot up front. Coming off a disappointing, mononucleosis-plagued first season, Timo Meier is expected to battle hard for a fresh start. Goodness knows, the 20-year-old, former first-round draft selection (ninth overall in 2015) will feel particularly inspired after such poor fortune in 2016-17. A brilliant scoring talent, Meier averaged 1.57 points per game in his three final years of junior play (QMJHL).
St. Louis Blues: Snagged via trade with the Flyers, forward Brayden Schenn will be offered every opportunity to earn a spot in the Blues’ top six, perhaps even on a unit with star winger Vladimir Tarasenko (possible, if not probable). Just be wary, there’s a promising youth movement gaining momentum in St. Louis, embodied by the likes of Robby Fabbri, Zach Sanford, Dmitrij Jaskin, Ivan Barbashev, and Oskar Sundqvist. Competition for plum roles up front will be fierce; if left on the outside looking in, Schenn will face a steep climb in trying to repeat last year’s 25-goal/30-assist showing.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Forced to plug a hole on the wing following Jonathan Drouin‘s exodus to Montreal — and with little financial wiggle room — the Lightning did well to lure veteran Chris Kunitz over for just the one season ($2 million). While the heady days of racking up 60-plus points are likely in his rear view, the 37-year-old four-time Stanley Cup champion will improve on last season’s dismal output in Pittsburgh (29 points in 71 games). Whether he secures a top-six gig alongside center Steven Stamkos or Tyler Johnson — in lieu of Alex Killorn — or settles into a lesser third-line role will determine the degree in improvement altogether.
Toronto Maple Leafs: As one twitter user suggested, “[Patrick] Marleau would get 30 sitting in a chair playing with Matthews or Marner.” Fortunately, the 37-year-old will be let loose to skate upright in Toronto just like back in San Jose. As for where Marleau sashays in among the Leafs’ young talent, a station on the left side of Calder winner Auston Matthews and William Nylander seems fitting. And, yeah, he’ll probably score 30 (plus another 30 assists) without much hassle.
Vancouver Canucks: After a surprisingly productive rebound campaign with the Blue Jackets, forward Sam Gagner has re-established himself as a valued contributor at the highest level, while earning a three-year stint with the Canucks. But unlike in Columbus, Gagner will be afforded the chance to play top-six minutes on a scoring line in Vancouver — in addition to serving on the No. 1 power play. As such, anticipate a bump in production over the 50 points he netted in 2016-17.
Vegas Golden Knights: One notable figure from this merry band of franchise newbies is the free-agent acquisition of an 11-year KHL veteran. Vadim Shipachyov collected a career-high 76 points in 50 games with SKA St. Petersburg last season, falling second only to teammate and former NHLer Ilya Kovalchuk (78 points). An early favorite to skate on a top line with wingers James Neal, David Perron and/or Jonathan Marchessault, the 30-year-old center easily sports 60-point potential, at minimum. While the Golden Knights won’t likely win a ton of games in their first go-around, a good percentage of the goals they do score will come from that top trio.
Washington Capitals: Signed to a two-year bridge deal, Andre Burakovsky has a finite amount of time to make his mark in Washington. While Capitals’ management remain high on the 22-year-old, this past season’s 35 points in 64 games fell short of previous expectations. Not exactly “breakout” material. Fortunately for Burakovsky — with Justin Williams gone for Carolina — a plum spot on the right side of top-six center Kuznetsov is his to squander. After three seasons in the NHL, the pressure of a ticking clock might finally bring out the best from the former first-rounder (2013) … or not.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets have a new No. 1 netminder in Steve Mason after the former Flyer/Blue Jacket inked a two-year/$8.2-million deal with Winnipeg. A serviceable goalie all around, Mason should enjoy similar — of not slightly better — numbers with his new club over last season in Philly. Connor Hellebuyck breathing down Mason’s neck as a potential timeshare partner will only serve as additional incentive. View the 29-year-old as a solid No. 2 fantasy goalie in most leagues.