THE DEVILS GET: SAMI VATANEN
He’s a legitimate top-four defencemen. He may immediately be their best overall defenceman, which isn’t necessarily an impressive feat considering who they have been regularly rolling out.
Any improvement to the defence corps will surely have a positive impact on Cory Schneider, who has been stellar in a bounce-back year.
Will Butcher remains the top fantasy option among New Jersey defencemen. His spot on the top power play unit is safe. Underlying figures suggest that his scoring will slow, but that should have nothing to do with the arrival of Vatanen.
Vatanen instead threatens to push Damon Severson off the second power play unit. Severson hasn’t been productive, so this wouldn’t be much of a loss. Vatanen himself has seen a two-year decline in production. Over his past 86 games he has produced just 28 points. Nearly half of Vatanen’s 126 career points (60) have come on the power play. If he isn’t a top unit option (and he shouldn’t be) this move won’t improve his stock a ton.
Vatanen should see a spike in ice time overall. The Devils could use him in all phases of the game, running him out there alongside Andy Greene as a shutdown pair. Bumping his ice time from 21 minutes per game to 23 or 24 could result in a small increase in productivity, but only because he has been so unproductive to start the season. Overall, Vatanen is losing out by joining a team where he is less likely to see big power play minutes.
The biggest fantasy impact on the Devils may in fact come from the loss of Henrique who has been soaking up top power play minutes in New Jersey. If Nico Hischier jumps into those minutes, it could spike his production from an already solid 60-point pace. At the very least an increase in power play time would serve as a buffer for Hischier should his 5-on-5 scoring drop off.
THE DUCKS GET: ADAM HENRIQUE, JOSEPH BLANDISI, AND A THIRD-ROUND PICK
The Ducks acquired some desperately needed forward help in Henrique and Blandisi. Their top two centremen have been some combination of Derek Grant, Antoine Vermette and Chris Wagner. Henrique is an immediate upgrade. He has already been productive in New Jersey, but could see a short-term boost. Henrique has been skating 18:15 per game with top unit power play time, but his best season came in 2015-16 when he was skating 19:50 per game. A couple of extra minutes per game could result in Henrique scoring at a 60-point pace for a couple of months.
Eventually, the Ducks will get healthy and Henrique will fall back into a third-line role, which will hurt his value, but for the next two months, he is the Ducks’ best centre.
Again, the more impactful bit for fantasy owners may be the opening left behind. Vatanen had carved out a slot on the Ducks’ top power play unit, nudging Cam Fowler to the second unit, who was also in competition with upstart defenceman Brandon Montour. With Vatanen out of the picture Fowler and Montour are locked in as the Ducks’ top offensive defencemen. Fowler put up 39 points in 80 games with this deployment, and should get back to a similar level. Meanwhile, Montour is on track for a 45-point breakout season. With no fear of him losing minutes, Montour owners can boast about him with confidence.
Just as Vatanen’s arrival helps Schneider, getting some forward help should provide a boost for John Gibson. Gibson has already been one of the league’s best goalies with a .921 save percentage, but he has been giving up more than three goals per game because the Ducks have allowed more shots per game than any other team. This is somewhat typical of Randy Carlyle-coached teams, so Henrique may not stop the shot barrage against, but if he adds some scoring it could help Gibson get some wins.
The dynamic for the Ducks will change when they get healthy up front. Even if Henrique doesn’t add any wins for the Ducks in the near term, getting Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler and Rickard Rakell back will certainly help Gibson in the second half. Consider him a strong buy-low option who could be a top-five fantasy goalie over the season’s final months.
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Steve Laidlaw is the Managing Editor of DobberHockey. Follow him on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.