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Feel free to check out the Free Agent Frenzy Recap for some of the more noteworthy moves in a hectic start to NHL free agency.
The focus here will be on players switching teams via free-agent signings and what the fantasy impact of that transaction could bring for the player and for his new team.
Dougie Hamilton signs seven-year, $63 million contract with New Jersey
Hamilton going from the Carolina Hurricanes to the Devils will hurt his fantasy upside slightly because of the gap that exists in talent between the forwards on the two teams. However, he will still be a valuable defender for fantasy managers, while giving his new teammates a boost. Hamilton will log big minutes and he will be tasked with helping a New Jersey power play that ranked 28th overall last season. He tied for sixth among defenders with 18 points on the man advantage during the 2020-21 campaign. Hamilton has scored the most goals among all NHL blueliners over the past four years (59), while racking up 165 points in 266 games across that span. He has reached double digits in goals in each of the last seven seasons. Hamilton's arrival will provide the Devils with a much-need jolt of offense from the back end.
Philipp Grubauer signs six-year, $35.4 million contract with Seattle
Grubauer’s move from Colorado to the expansion Kraken will hurt his ability to rack up wins. He ranked second in the NHL last season with 30 victories. Still, he should be a very good choice for fantasy managers. Meanwhile, Darcy Kuemper, who Colorado acquired from Arizona to be Grubauer’s replacement has skyrocketed up fantasy rankings and for good reason. The Pacific Division has some weak competition and the Kraken should be able to find some success, so Grubauer will remain a viable option and he may even be underrated by some. The defense corps of the Avalanche was a stacked group, but Seattle’s assortment of rearguards appears as though it could be a team strength going into their inaugural season. Don't count them or Grubauer out.
Jaden Schwartz signs five-year, $27.5 million contract with Seattle
Schwartz will be looking for a bounce-back performance in 2021-22 as a key member of the Kraken's offensive attack. He only had eight goals and 13 assists in 40 games last season with St. Louis, but he has been a strong contributor before. Schwartz provided 22 goals and 57 points over 71 appearances in 2019-20. He has surpassed the 50-point plateau five times before, including a 63-point effort during the 2014-15 campaign. Schwartz will have value as a projected top-line forward for Seattle.
Frederik Andersen signs two-year, $9 million contract with Carolina
Andersen didn't live up to expectations in his last two seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs. In 76 games played in 2019-20 and 2020-21, he posted a 2.89 goals-against average and .905 save percentage. Andersen went through an issue around his knee last campaign that limited him to 24 appearances and led to him losing his No. 1 job to Jack Campbell. However, there is potential for a rebound next year on a very goalie-friendly Hurricanes squad. Andersen may be a bit overrated in some fantasy circles because of the team change. Still, there is a great deal to like about his situation despite the risks with regard to his recent play and his injuries. Antti Raanta, who the Hurricanes also signed this offseason, is another risky bet with the potential for a big reward if he can stay healthy.
Zach Hyman signs seven-year, $38.5 million contract with Edmonton
Hyman had success with just about everyone he played with during his time with Toronto. He also proved that he can produce with talented players, while seeing time alongside Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and John Tavares over the past three seasons. He compiled 57 goals and 54 assists in 165 games during that span. Hyman has produced at a 60-point pace in each of the past two years, but injuries have limited his appearances in the lineup. The potential to play with Connor McDavid and/or Leon Draisaitl gives him additional fantasy appeal, but his health will be the defining factor in his quest to be a 50- or 60-point performer. His all-out, relentless style has been a double-edged sword.
Linus Ullmark signs a four-year, $20 million contract with Boston
Ullmark has played well in the last two seasons despite playing for a Buffalo team that had the worst record in the league in 2020-21 and finished better than just six other clubs in 2019-20. He has 26 wins with a 2.67 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 54 starts during that stretch. Ullmark missed time due to injuries last year, but was one of the few bright spots on the team when he was in the lineup. He typically gave his team a chance to win and even attracted interest from fantasy managers. Joining the Bruins as a potential No. 1 goalie gives him a significant boost in fantasy pools going into 2021-22. Even if he enters into a timeshare situation with Jeremy Swayman, they both have the potential to be solid options between the pipes. However, the situation could get complicated if Boston brings back Tuukka Rask at some point.
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Ryan Suter signs four-year, $14.6 million contract with Dallas
Suter ended up with the Stars after he was bought out by Minnesota. However, his situation probably won’t change that much. The veteran defender is still capable of soaking up minutes in all situations. He could slot in alongside Miro Heiskanen on the team’s top pairing, while seeing plenty of shorthanded minutes as well as secondary power-play time. His role on the man advantage was already diminishing with the Wild last year, so taking a backseat to Heiskanen and/or John Klingberg won’t be much of an adjustment. Suter has been a good source of assists, shots and blocks during his career and that is unlikely to change with Dallas.
Mike Hoffman signs three-year, $13.5 million contract with Montreal
Hoffman reportedly nearly signed with the Canadiens last year, but ended up choosing St. Louis instead. He played with a variety of linemates and spent some time as a healthy scratch, but he still managed to have a productive year on the scoresheet in 2020-21. Hoffman produced 17 goals and 36 points in 52 games during his only season with the Blues. It was a step down from his previous two performances with Florida, but he should be able to bounce back in his first campaign with Montreal as a projected top-six forward. Hoffman brings some much-needed scoring ability to the Canadiens' roster and should help the team on the power play.
Blake Coleman signs six-year, $29.4 million contract with Calgary
Coleman transitioned nicely to being a valuable third-line forward for Tampa Bay for part of the 2019-20 season and last year during the team's two Stanley Cup championships. Prior to that, he was logging over 17 minutes of ice time per game for New Jersey, while producing 43 goals and 67 points in 135 contests. During his time with the Devils, Coleman also topped 200 hits twice and he had 191 hits in 66 games with the team the year he was traded to the Lightning. The 20-goal scorer, 200-hit player is the one we could see return with the Flames and his fantasy value gets a boost as a result. Coleman is projected to be a fit on one of Calgary’s top-two lines and he will likely be a key member of the team’s penalty kill.
Brandon Saad signs five-year, $22.5 million contract with St. Louis
Saad was limited to 44 games last season with Colorado, while generating 15 goals and 24 points. He benefited from a career-high 22.1 shooting percentage. Saad spent most of the year as a top-six forward and logged the majority of his minutes alongside Nazem Kadri, but his average time on ice per game played dropped to a career-low 14:06. If he ends up on one of the top-two lines of the Blues then a return to the 20-goal plateau and perhaps the 50-point mark could be in the cards. The chance of that happening increases substantially if he lands a spot alongside Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron.
Petr Mrazek signs three-year, $11.4 million contract with Toronto
Mrazek was very good for Carolina over the past three seasons, while posting 50 wins along with a 2.48 goals-against average and .911 save percentage over 92 games played. He was limited to just 12 appearances in 2020-21 because of injuries, but typically ailments have not been an issue for him. Mrazek is expected to help out Campbell in the crease this campaign. This could be a potential timeshare situation, but it would not be a surprise if Campbell picked up more starts. Still, Mrazek has value as a goalie buddy for Campbell’s fantasy managers and as a depth option behind a strong Toronto lineup that can provide plenty of goal support.
Phillip Danault signs six-year, $33 million contract with Los Angeles
Danault’s contract situation last year compounded with his difficult start and the uncertainty of his role contributed to his five-goal effort over 53 contests. He ended up with 24 points thanks to a hot stretch from Mar.6-Apr. 12 when he had four goals and 13 points in 17 matches. Danault is projected to center the second line of the Kings and should be able to bounce back in 2021-22. He accounted for 13 markers and 47 points in 71 contests during the 2019-20 campaign after he posted a career-high 53 points (12 goals, 41 assists) the year before. Danault could be a very good fit with fellow Kings newcomer Viktor Arvidsson because of his playmaking and Arvidsson’s shooting. They are also both solid defensively.
Other free-agent signings who may receive a boost:
Michael Bunting (two-year, $1.9 million to Toronto) - Bunting had 10 goals and 13 points in 21 games with Arizona last season. He was also credited with 28 hits and could be in contention to play on Toronto’s top line, which would provide him with a significant lift in fantasy upside.
Nick Ritchie (two-year, $5 million to Toronto) - Ritchie recorded 15 goals, 26 points and 102 hits in 56 games last season with Boston. He could be candidate to play on the second line of the Maple Leafs and stands a chance to see time on the top power-play unit.
Tony DeAngelo (one-year, $1 million to Carolina) - If DeAngelo can stay out of trouble then he could bring plenty of offense to the table for the Hurricanes and see time on the team’s top power-play combination. He compiled 15 goals and 53 points in 68 games during a breakout year in 2019-20.
Alex Goligoski (one-year, $5 million to Minnesota) - Goligoski typically operates under the radar most years in fantasy pools until he picks up steam on the waiver wire. He offers great category coverage and has the potential to be a strong fit on the top pairing of the Wild with Jared Spurgeon.