2014 Fantasy Hockey: A Change of Scenery
This article is written by Michael Kies. He can be found on twitter @mrcrazyfantasy.
Every season several NHL Players pack their bags and relocate, allowing for bigger and brighter futures. These changes impact the NHL, the player’s lives and most importantly their fantasy values. For some players it means a bigger role on their new team or sometimes a downgrade to a smaller role from their previous situation.. Below are five players whose fantasy value will change this season due to relocation. Please note these names are not in any particular ranking or order.
Radim Vrbata (VAN, Right Wing): Vrbata has been around the league since 1999 when the Colorado Avalanche drafted him. Vrbata never actually played for the Avalanche rather, he is most known for his six seasons with the Phoenix Coyotes. Every season in which Vrbata played at least 40 games, he finished with twenty or more goals and assists. The Czech native had his best season was back in 2011, when he finished with thirty-five goals and twenty-seven assists. Keep in mind his line mates for those six seasons weren’t nearly as good as his new line mates — the Sedin twins. By moving to Vancouver, the 33-year-old Vrbata now has a better supporting cast than he ever had in Phoenix.
Expect Vrbata’s numbers to increase across the board with the Sedin brothers surrounding him. Both Sedin brothers are great at setting up fellow line mates so expect Vrbata’s goal numbers to reach as high as thirty for 2014. Along with that his time on ice and plus/minus numbers should also be higher for this upcoming season. ESPN currently has Vrbata ranked as their 72nd forward, but I could easily see him finishing as a top sixty forward for 2014.
Brad Richards (CHI, Center): Richards is one the best centers in the NHL and only has lifted the cup once. The former Tampa Bay Lightning center could easily have eighty points — thirty goals and fifty assists in a season. Richards has never had more than twenty-eight goals and his career high for assists is sixty-eight. The Canadian center has a ceiling of thirty-five goals and sixty-five assists, now being in Chicago. Richards has been around the league for a while but I can’t remember him ever having line mates like Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp.
Just imagine as a coach, trying to defend Richards, Kane and Sharp all on the same line, it’s near impossible. Keep in mind this is Chicago’s second line, but Richards should see a lot special teams work too. Given his play-making abilities, he’s a perfect fit for power-play and penalty-kill time. If nothing else Richards will see a large increase in assists with Kane and Sharp being the snipers they are. Also expect for his plus/minus to soar, since Chicago is one of the most balanced teams in the NHL. With this relocation Richards is primed for a monster season and possibly career highs across the board.
Mike Cammalleri (NJD, Left Wing): The Los Angeles Kings drafted Mike Cammalleri but his most memorable seasons were with the Calgary Flames — whom he played for four seasons. His career high for goals is thirty-nine and he had forty-three assists in that same season. Although the Ontario native isn’t exactly young, he still has a lot potential and upside especially with this relocation. Cammalleri will be on the Devils first line skating alongside Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr. While this line is a little past it’s prime, Zajac is still young enough to provide speed and energy to this great front line.
With Jagr on the other side we can expect Cammalleri’s plus/minus to increase from seasons past. Given the improved talent around him compared to that of the Calgary Flames, Cammalleri should enjoy a much improved stat line this season in the Garden State. Cammalleri’s main issue is staying healthy, but he is an underrated player that has value late in drafts. His ceiling for 2014 could be as high as thirty goals and twenty-five assists with a great plus/minus value. The Canadian winger should also see a lot of time on the Devils special teams, meaning more time on ice and power play points. Expect for Cammalleri to a sleeper in 2014 and rise above expectations for this year.
Matt Moulson (BUF, Right Wing): Another former wing from the Los Angeles Kings that could be back to old form is Matt Moulson. In Moulson’s first three seasons with the New York Islanders he finished with at least thirty goals and twenty-two assists. Those are great numbers, but since then he hasn’t be able to stay healthy and reach that level of production. With this relocation, he should have more opportunities and have the potential to get back to his old self.
The Ontario native has issues staying on the ice but he has a clean bill of health currently, so let’s stick with what we know. No one can predict injuries perfectly; so let’s just assume he plays more than sixty percent of the 2014 season. Over the course of the season he has the potential to be a thirty-goal scorer and record fifteen assists. Keep in mind Moulson’s line mates are not known for scoring goals. Moulson’s assist totals may go decline in 2014 but his goal and plus/minus stats should increase significantly. We should also see an increase in his power play production and shots on goal. Expect for Moulson to finish way above expectations for 2014.
Jason Garrison (TBL, Defenseman): Not many undrafted players succeed in the NHL, but Jason Garrison is the exception. The British Columbia native had to wait a while before he got his shot in the NHL, but it was worth the wait. Garrison is one of the most underrated two-way defenseman — most think of him as more offensive-minded but his defense is much better than analysts give him credit for. While he has a very accurate and hard shot, he also can skate very well and stay toe-to-toe with the elite forwards of the NHL. Garrison was at his best when paired with Brian Campbell in Florida, but when he decided to move back home to Vancouver his numbers declined because he was missing those great passes he got from Campbell.
Recently Garrison signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning and this opportunity will be a great fit for this two-way defender. The former Panther will be skating beside Anton Stralman on the second defensive line for the start of 2014. There is a slim chance that Garrison could be moved up to the first line with Victor Hedman who he will skating with on the power-play. Overall we should expect Garrison’s goal and plus/minus values to increase over the course of this season. His career high in goals was sixteen with the Panthers but he missed the first five games. With a full season expect for Garrison to finish with twenty goals and assists with a plus/minus of seven. Look for a great resurgence with relocation back down south to the Sunshine State.