Chaos Reigns Supreme: NHL Madness and DFS Impact
In my lifetime of being a NHL fan, I have never seen an hour of madness like we did this afternoon. Maybe it is because we are a society that is social media dependent, maybe it is because all NHL fans as a whole were waiting for big new to drop, or maybe it was because these were three just utter jaw dropping moves that happened within 30-45 minutes of one another. Lets get into this chaos for a second before we discuss how this effects the DFS landscape.
First of the major bombs to drop was the New Jersey Devils acquiring Taylor Hall in exchange for Adam Larsson, and only Adam Larsson. Peter Chiarelli, the General Manager famous for trading Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars was at it again here with what is quite possibly the worst trade in the history of the NHL in the modern era. I do not think this is an over reaction. The Oilers could have started with a package of Adam Larsson, Pavel Zacha, and a number 1 pick, and I think the Devils would have strongly considered it and probably in the end added another piece to make it happen. Yes the Oilers were in desperate need of a right handed defenseman but why would you trade Taylor Hall, who is third in the league in 5v5 points behind Sidney Crosby and Jamie Benn, for a defensemen, who is good, but hasn’t come close to establishing himself as a dominant top pair defensemen.
On top of all that, Jason Demers, a right handed defensemen, who, at this point in his career is better than Adam Larsson was set to visit the Oilers tomorrow as an UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENT! It would have just cost the Oilers money and not a premier winger. To add to all of this the reason Taylor Hall was traded was to make cap room for Milan Lucic, who was rumored to already have agreed to a SEVEN year deal with the Oilers. Any way you slice it, Taylor Hall is greater than Milan Lucic and Adam Larsson combined. I am still utterly shocked at this deal and the fact that Peter Chiarelli still is employed after this is horrifying to me.
Finally, as the shock started to wear off from this trade, the Twitter and NHL universe got hit with another uppercut to the jaw as the Montreal Canadiens announced they had traded PK Subban to the Nashville Predators for Shea Weber. Now on the surface, you look at this trade and go, well, this is not too bad. Then you dive into it and realize that it is an absolutely brutal trade for Habs. Shea Weber is 31 years old, and he has TEN years left on his massive contract he signed 4 years ago; and has already started to show signs of decline and liabilities on the defensive end. He still has one of the most violent clappers from the point on the power play which won’t be going anywhere anytime soon but he isn’t getting any younger. The cap hit of an aging Weber will become hampering on the Habs cap situation in the upcoming years.
For whatever reason PK Subban has had his issues with the Habs coaching staff and front office, but no one actually believed he would be traded. Even as early as six days ago Canadiens General Manager, Marc Bergevin said “I’ve never shopped P.K. I’ve never done it and I’m not doing it.” Well he did it and now Subban joins the defensive corps in Nashville that are already loaded with Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. Add Subban to the mix and that quite possibly will be the best top 4 defensemen on a team in the league. Lets get one thing straight, P.K. Subban is an elite defensemen, despite all the claims that he isn’t. He is and he is just coming into his prime as Shea Weber is starting to look at his prime in the rear view mirror. The Preds are clear winners in this deal.
While the details of the Subban/Weber trade were still being sorted out, another bomb dropped as multiple media outlets were reporting that Steven Stamkos had decided to stay at home and resign with the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the end the terms of the contract were 8 years for 68 million. This is a great deal for all parties involved, Stamkos, GM Steve Yzerman, and the Lightning organization. Where this gets a little odd is that if Stamkos waited a few days until July 1, he could have, and would have gotten a LOT more money on the open market. It would have been hard to imagine, a team like the Buffalo Sabers, offering at least 7 years at 12 million per season. He also would have gotten more money from the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that was heavily rumored to land the superstar on July 1.
Maybe Stamkos did not want the pressure of going to Toronto, maybe he doesn’t like change, maybe he feels like he has unfinished business with the Lightning, and in the end he took seemingly less money to stay in the situation he knows and lets not be fooled, it is a great situation as the Lightning should be cup contenders again this season.
In the three moves today, five players were involved but the DFS impact on these moves goes well beyond the five players, so I am going to try to breakdown some of the key impacts this has on the DFS landscape.
Taylor Hall – You have to feel for Hall here, he finally has a bunch of talent around him and he gets moved to New Jersey. He will slot onto a line in Jersey with Adam Henrique and Kyle Palmieri(if he returns). On the surface this isn’t terrible, however the Devils lack of depth will mean that this line will more than assuredly see the top D pairs and the top defensive lines from teams night in and night out. There will be no Connor McDavid on another line to grab the attention away from Hall. Lets not forget how great Hall is 5v5 scoring, and while his raw abilities will carry him to create and score, his production will take a hit with the lack of talent around him. He will still be a very solid DFS option if priced accordingly, however, his days as an elite dfs wing option, are over, at least at the beginning of the season until we all see how he will acclimate to New Jersey.
Adam Henrique – One of the big winners of the DFS day was Adam Henrique. He will now be centering Taylor Hall and that will do nothing except increase his production on a night in and night out basis. Lets not forget that Henrique is only 26 years old and will be coming into his prime years with an elite winger on his side. Last season, in 80 games he put up a more than respectable 30 goals and 20 assists. I think the biggest two impacts the Taylor Hall trade has on Henrique from a DFS standpoint is since Taylor Hall draws a lot of attention, Henrique’s goal total could possibly increase just based off rebounds off of Hall driving to the net and him drawing double teams. The other area where he definitely should see an uptick is assists. Not taking anything away from who Henrique played with last year, well yea I kind of am, Taylor Hall is a far superior scorer. I am not saying Adam Henrique will become of point per game player because of this move but I do think he will jump from 50 points into the 60-65 point range this year, making him a very viable center option for DFS.
Adam Larsson – From a DFS standpoint this is a great move for Larsson. He should, in theory anyway, replace Andrei Sekera on the top power play until for Edmonton. For someone who was generally hovering around the $3,000 price tag on DraftKings, he is right up my ally for the type of defensemen I like to use, however, if he gets extended special teams minutes with the likes of McDavid, Eberle, Draisaitl, etc, his price tag will be on the rise fairly quickly as he should start racking up quite the amount of assists.
P.K. Subban – The Nashville Predators already had an extremely dangerous power play and now they are adding one of the best power play point men in all of hockey into the mix. The first power play unit as it stands is now P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Johansen, James Neal, and Filip Forsberg, easily one of, if not the best power play units in the NHL. Subban had 6 goals and 45 assists last year and just under half of his points came on the Power Play(2 goals and 22 assists). Lets get something straight, the Predators power play is far superior than the Canadiens despite their late season success. This should only lead to an uptick in production on special teams for Subban.
Shea Weber – Weber will slot right into the top pair for Montreal taking over top D pair responsibilies. On top of that Andrei Markov appears to be on his way to Russia and the KHL. This will add extra burden onto Weber, however, from a DFS standpoint it should increase his point total. On FanDuel, if they keep +\- as a scoring statistic could be an issue for Weber even if Carey Price makes a full recovery. Weber is still a great power play point man which will be great for DFS, but as we saw in the playoffs his 5v5 play on both ends has started to decline.
Carey Price – First of all, the most important aspect this will be Price’s health. If he comes back fully healthy, he is one of the leagues premier goalies. Let’s not forget that in 2015 he won both the Veznia and the Hart Trophy which is extremely rare for a net minder. Now being a Rangers fan will help here I think. Henrik Lundqvist was absolutely elite last season but at times he looks nothing more than average and that was because his blue line was suspect at best. I’m not saying by trading Subban for Weber the Habs blue line will be on the Rangers level, but let’s be honest, it took a hit. There will be nights during the season where Price will have to stand on his head to steal a victory and that’s a tough proposition is DFS. At the beginning of the season I would probably go into the wait and see approach to see, if he’s healthy for one, and to see how he reacts to his new blue line. He will still be a very good goalie option but if he is still priced like he was in 2015, I would be more inclined to wait him out.
Steven Stamkos – Stammer staying put makes this fairly straight forward for DFS purposes. He is an elite DFS option, and hopefully all the Lightning will stay healthy this year making them a great team to use. Stamkos is just a pure scorer plain and simple but he also make the players around him better. Look for 2015 production levels from Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, and Tyler Johnson. As well as Nikita Kucherov building off an excellent 2016 campaign. Early in the season they could and should be a team to target often in DFS.