2021 NHL Draft, Trades & Free Agency – Fantasy Hockey Impact (Ep. 18)

Marc-Andre Fleury

Table of Contents

In the 18th episode of the Fantasy Hockey Hacks Podcast; Devon, Bruce, and John talk about the fantasy hockey impact of the 2021 NHL Draft, trades, and free agency. We’ll get you up to speed on all the latest moves from around the league and what the implications are for fantasy hockey next season. Which players will see their fantasy hockey stock rise or fall? Listen to find out!


  • Seth Jones and Marc-Andre Fleury acquired by the Chicago Blackhawks
  • Rasmus Ristolainen traded to the Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pavel Buchnevich traded to the St. Louis Blues
  • Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland traded to the Vancouver Canucks
  • Brayden Point signs an 8-year extension with the Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Taylor Hall re-signs with the Boston Bruins for 4 more years
  • Alex Ovechkin signs a 5-year extension with the Washington Capitals
  • Gabriel Landeskog extended for 8-years with the Colorado Avalanche

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Hockey News | July 23 – July 29 

2021 NHL Entry Draft

July 23 | Chicago Blackhawks acquire Seth Jones, a first-round pick in 2021 (No.32 originally belonging to TB) and 6th round pick in 2022 from the Columbus Blue Jackets. CBJ gets Adam Boqvist, first and second round picks in 2021 draft. Jones then signed an eight-year $76M ($9.5M AAV) contract extension.

    • 📈 Jones’ stock should get a substantial boost here. Boqvist and Keith are gone, leaving Seth Jones as the sole power play quarterback, on a unit with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex Debrincat, and Kirby Dach. Jones’ best season came in 2017-2018 when he put up 57 points (16 Goals), 249 SOG, 124 BLKS, 92 Hits, +10. That season he played an average of 2:42 PPTOI, producing 24 PPP. I would expect him to at least match those numbers this upcoming season. 

July 23 | The Philadelphia Flyers acquired defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a first round pick (13th overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, a second round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft and defenseman Robert Hagg.

    • 📉 Philadelphia makes another trade to bolster their blueline; adding a large (6’ 4”, 221 lb.) right-shot defender in Rasmus Ristolainen. “Risto” has been a productive (40+ points) offensive-defenceman in the past (2015-2019); but has been in decline over the last two seasons. With Rasmus Dahlin in the picture, Ristolainen has seen a significant decrease in PP TOI; and his shot rates have been declining since 2017. In a good year, Ristolainen will provide decent category coverage in terms of assists, hits, PIMS, SOG, and blocked shots. With Provorov, Ellis and now Yandle in Philadelphia, I’m not convinced we see a significant spike in production from Ristolainen, although his plus/minus should improve. Buffalo made out very well in this trade with first and second round draft picks, as well as Robert Hagg. Hagg was not fantasy relevant in a sheltered role for Philly; so I wouldn’t expect much in Buffalo either. 

July 23 | St. Louis Blues acquired forward Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers in exchange for forward Sammy Blais and a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

    • 📈 Buchnevich has seen inconsistent deployment throughout his time as a New York Ranger; often times being relegated to third or fourth line duty. However, when he was finally given an opportunity, Buchnevich produced as a top-line winger. Last season, he put up 48 Points (20 Goals) in 54 GP; good enough for a 71 point pace; similar production to a player like Brock Boeser. We will have to see how things shake out with line deployment, but I would expect him to be a mainstay in the top 6 for St. Louis; gaining valuable exposure to players like Ryan O’Reilly, Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko, and David Perron.  

July 23 | Vancouver Canucks acquire defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson and forward Conor Garland from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forwards Loui Eriksson, Jay Beagle and Antoine Roussel and a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) in the 2021 NHL Draft, a second-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. 

    • 📈 Conor Garland. 39 Points (12 Goals) in 48 GP for the Yotes last season (65 Point Pace). Garland should have no trouble producing similar or better numbers with exposure to Horvat or Petterson as his centers. His ceiling will ultimately be determined by whether or not he receives PP1 time. 
    • 📉 Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Quinn Hughes is the guy in Vancouver, just as Jakob Chychrun was last season in Arizona. So don’t expect to see a big fantasy boost for OEL, at least not in terms of PPP; unless Hughes goes down with injury. Shot rate and PPTOI have been declining the past few seasons; but with more offensive weapons in Vancouver, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect 10 goals and 30 assists out of OEL again. 

July 23 | The Boston Bruins re-signed UFA LW Taylor Hall to a four-year contract extension with an AAV of $6M. 

    • 📈 The former Hart Trophy winner was excellent in Boston after being acquired at the trade deadline. Hall put up 14 points (8 goals), 2 PPP, 48 SOG, and 10 Hits in 16 GP with the Bruins through the end of the regular season and playoffs. He only received 42% PP share, so there is definitely room for greater production if the Bruins decide to use him on PP1. Also, his shot rate per game was down to 2.6 (a career-low); so if he can get back to his career average of 3.3 SOG/Game, we could see a real boost in goal totals (3.3 x 82 Games = 270 SOG X 10.2 Career S% = 27.60 Goals). With the right deployment and some positive regression, I could easily see a 75-point (25 goals) season out of Hall next year. 

July 23 | Carey Price had knee surgery, expected to be ready for the season opener on October 13th. 

July 24 | Cale Makar signs a 6-year contract extension worth $54M ($9M AAV). The 22 year-old had 44 points (8 goals) in 44 GP last season (82 point pace). 

July 24 | Columbus Blue Jackets trade Cam Atkinson to the Philadelphia Flyers for Jakob Voracek.  

    • 📉 Cam Atkinson. Cam Arkinson has potential to bounce-back in Philly with more offensive talent around him; however, he may just see less opportunity in the top 6 and PP1. I doubt we see Vigneualt place Atkinson on PP1 ahead of players like Giroux, Konecny, Couturier, or JVR; but time will tell. Volume shooter with at least 20-goal potential. 
    • 📈 Jakob Voracek. Should be a key piece on PP1, and could see a spike in PPP feeding pucks to Laine on the wall or Werenski on the point. The 31 year-old put up 43 points (9 Goals) in 53 GP, along with 104 SOG. His shooting percentage (8.7%) was down by his career standards (9.2%), as was his shot rate per game (2.0 vs 2.4 career). With a little more opportunity and some positive regression; a 20 goal, 70-point season should be achievable. He was on a 67 point pace over 82 games last season. 

July 24 | The Florida Panthers acquire forward Sam Reinhart from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for 2022 first-round pick and goaltender Devon Levi.

    • 📈 Sam Reinhart. Reinhart’s 3-year average is 62 points (28 goals, 34 assists) over 82 GP. On one-hand, it’s hard to imagine that Sam Reinhart’s production will get much better, given that over the past three seasons his TOI averaged 19:40 (3:03 PP, 68% PP Share), he hasn’t scored fewer than 22 goals, and he played largely with Jack Eichel (when healthy). However, the Panthers were 4th in the league in GF/GP at 3.36, while the Sabres were 28th at 2.39. Florida scored 117 goals 5v5 (7th), whereas Buffalo scored 87 goals 5v5 (30th); that’s 30 additional goals at even strength! So even if Reinhart doesn’t see regular duty on PP1, he should see some uptick in production. DailyFaceoff.com has him slotted in as RW1 next to Alexander Barkov…

2021 NHL Free Agency

July 27 | Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals agree on a five-year $47.5M ($9.5M AAV) contract extension. 

July 27 | Gabriel Landeskog re-signs with the Colorado Avalanche for 8 years and $56M ($7M AAV). Landeskog gets paid as much as $9M in years 3 and 4. 

July 27 | The Chicago Blackhawks acquired G Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights. 

    • 📉 Fleury should see the bulk of the starts for Chicago and will face more shots (Chicago was 2nd worst in the league last season at 33.7 Shots Against/Game); However, Flower will be challenged to produce the same peripherals he had during his Vezina-winning season with Vegas (26 Wins, .928 SV%, 1.98 GAA, 19.99 GSAA, 6 S0). The Blackhawks had just 24 wins with a -24 goal differential, compared to Vegas who completed a 40 win season with a +67 goal differential. Fleury will still be solid next season, but I would “buy” with caution. 

July 27 | Winnipeg Jets acquire defenseman Nate Schmidt from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft.

    • 📈 Nate Schmidt. The blue line is not particularly deep in Winnipeg, and they’ve been rotating between Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk on the power play. More opportunity for Schmidt in Winnipeg, particularly if there are injuries. 
    • 📈 Connor Hellebuyck. Solidifies the Jets defense, and should help keep Hellebuyck’s peripherals where we would expect them. Not convinced there is a major impact for Schmidt’s fantasy prospects. 

July 27 | The Chicago Blackhawks acquire forward Tyler Johnson and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for Brent Seabrook.

  • I like this deal for both sides. Tampa Bay takes on Seabrook’s contract for LTIR purposes and unloads Tyler Johnson in the process. For Chicago they get a solid third-line C/RW with essentially the same cap hit as Seabrook’s contract. Tampa Bay was so deep already, I’m really not sure there will be a major fantasy hockey impact here for Tyler Johnson.

July 28 | Jaden Schwartz signed a 5-year $27.5M contract ($5.5M), and Philipp Grubauer signed a 6-year $35.4M ($5.9M AAV) with the Seattle Kraken

    • 📉 Jaden Schwartz
    • 📉 Philipp Grubauer

July 28 | Petr Mrazek signs a 3-year $11.4M ($3.8M AAV) contract. 

    • 📉 Petr Mrazek. Better or worse for the Maple Leafs? I would argue that Mrazek’s fantasy stock takes a hit here. Carolina may have lost Dougie Hamilton, but the top 6 D now includes Slavin, Pesce, Skei, Bear, DeAngelo, and Ian Cole. In 2020-2021, the Canes had the fewest 5v5 goals against in the league at 81. 😲 For comparison, the Leafs were 8th at 96.  

July 28 | The Carolina Hurricanes signed RD Tony DeAngelo to a 1-year $1M contract. They followed that up by signing Antti Raanta to a two-year $4M contract ($2M AAV); and Frederick Andersen to a two-year $9M contract ($4.5M AAV)

    • 📈 Tony DeAngelo
    • 📈 Frederick Andersen
    • 📈 Antti Raanta

July 28 | The Edmonton Oilers sign Tyson Barrie to a 3-year contract extension with an AAV OF $4.5M. The team also signed Zach Hyman to a 7-year contract worth $38.5M ($5.5M AAV); Traded Ethan Bear for Warren Foegele; and signed Cody Ceci to a 4-year contract with a $3.25M AAV. 

    • 📈 Tyson Barrie. Barrie led all NHL defenseman in points last season with 48 points (8 goals) in 56 GP (70 point pace over 82 GP). Barrie will again play with Connor McDavid at even-strength and on the league-leading power play. Barrie had 23 PPP this past season, and I would expect more of the same next season. Certain fantasy hockey GMs are going to reach for Barrie, given his exposure to McDavid and Draisaitl; so be mindful of his ADP heading into drafts. 
    • 📈 Zach Hyman. Hyman’s shot rate per game and overall production has been improving since 2017-2018. Last season he scored 33 points (15 goals) in 43 GP (65 point pace) with Auston Matthews and the Leafs. Hyman only played an average of 1:31 on the power play (34.1% PP share), and started 65% of his shifts in the defensive zone. Playing on McDavid’s wing, and placement on PP1 would immediately lead to improved production; 12 of Hyman’s 15 goals were scored at even strength. Pat Maroon scored 27 goals on McDavid’s wing; would it be unreasonable to expect 30 goals and 30 assists out of Hyman next season?   
    • 📈 Warren Foegele

July 28 | Darcy Kuemper is traded to the Colorado Avalanche for defender Connor Timmins, a 2022 1st round pick and a conditional 3rd round pick from the 2024 draft.

    • 📈 Darcy Kuemper. Kuemper’s fantasy stock takes a quantum leap forward with a move from perennial bottom-feeder Arizona, to perennial contender in Colorado. With Grubauer signing in Seattle, this won’t be a timeshare either; so assuming that he can stay healthy, Kuemper has an opportunity to be one of a few workhorse goaltenders next season. Over the past 3 seasons, Kuempers averages look like this: .922 SV%, 2.35 GAA,  22.8 GSAA. 

July 28 | The Washington Capitals traded a 2023 second round pick to re-acquired Vitek Vanecek

    • 📈 Vitek Vanecek. Vanecek returns to Washington where he had moderate success last season. No question that Washington is a better team than the expansion Kraken at this point; so the move should help in terms of wins and peripheral stats. 
    • 📉 Ilya Samsonov. It looked like Samsonov was going to have the Caps net to himself; but we may be looking at more of a timeshare in goal now. Vanecek outperformed Samsonov last season as the latter struggled with COVID/Injuries. Keep an eye on training camp to see who the preferred option in goal is. I would still handcuff Samsonov with Vanecek regardless of what we see in September. 

July 28 | Alex Edler signs a 1-year contract for $3.5M with the LA Kings

July 28 | Alec Martinez signs a 3-year contract for $15.75M ($5.25M AAV) to stay with the Vegas Golden Knights

July 28 | Phillip Danault signs a 6-year $33M ($5.5M AAV) contract with the LA Kings. 

    • 📈 Phillip Danault. His best season came in 2018-2019 when he put up 53 points (12 goals) in 81 GP. He will never really be known for his offense (41.81% offensive zone starts); but rather for being a very effective two-way center that can kill penalties. Danault would be an excellent option for head-to-head category leagues where he could contribute face-off wins, blocks, hits, and assists. 3-year avg production: 12 Goals, 38 Assists, 50 Points, 134 SOG, 116 Hits, 54.5 FOW%.  

July 28 | The Dallas Stars signed UFA defenseman Ryan Suter to a 4-year $14.6M contract ($3.65M AAV); and UFA goaltender Braden Holtby to a 1-year $2M contract. Both players were bought-out of their existing contracts prior to free agency. 

    • 📉 Ryan Suter
    • 📉 Braden Holtby. Things didn’t go well for Holtby in Vancouver for a number of reasons, and many expected the final year of his contract to be bought-out. He now finds himself in Dallas, where Ben Bishop, Anton Khudobin, and Jake Oettinger are all under contract. Assuming Bishop starts the season on IR, and Oettinger is sent to the minors; Holtby would likely be part of a tandem with Khudobin. Does Dallas want to move Bishop for cap reasons, and go with Holtby/Khudobin? On a positive note, the Dallas Stars gave up the 6th fewest 5v5 goals in the league (1.66/GP), and ranked 8th with 2.64 GA/GP in all situations. 

July 28 | Dougie Hamilton signs a 7-year $63M ($9M AAV) contract with the New Jersey Devils. 

    • 📉 Dougie Hamilton. This was the biggest surprise of the day for me. Hamilton could have stayed with Caroline for less money, but chose to sign in Jersey. Hamilton will be the number one defenceman for the Devils and will be given every opportunity to exceed. However, his fantasy stock takes a hit next season and possibly beyond. New Jersey had the 6th lowest GF/GP in the league last year at 2.59 and the 11th worst GF% at 45.3%

July 28 | Linus Ullmark signed with the Boston Bruins for 4-years at $5M AAV.

    • 📈 Linus Ullmark

July 29 | The St. Louis Blues signed UFA Brandon Saad to A 5-year $22.5M ($4.5M AAV) contract. 

    • 📈 Brandon Saad. Saad should do well in St. Louis given that he will play with at least one or two of Ryan O’Reilly, David Perron, Brayden Schenn, Torey Krug, and possibly Vladimir Tarasenko. Not, Saad has never scored more than 10 PPP in a single season.  

July 29 | Tampa Bay signed Brayden Point to an 8-Year $76M ($9.5M AAV) contract extension; and RFA defenseman Cal Foote to a 2-year one-way contract with an $850,000 AAV.  

July 29 | Ryan Reaves was traded to the New York Rangers for a 2022 3rd round pick. Expect to see some fireworks between Reaves and Tom Wilson next season! 

July 29 | Zack Werenski signs a 6-year contract extension worth $57.5M dollars ($9.583M AAV). How did he get paid more than Makar? 

July 29 | Mike Hoffman signed a 3-year contract ($4.5M AAV). 

    • 📈 Mike Hoffman. Hoffman should see time on the second line with Jesperi Kotkiniemi and Brendan Gallagher; along with time on the first unit power play. Look for a bounce-back from Hoffman next season.

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