Jordan Buckley, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
In advance of every new NHL campaign, it’s always a good idea to familiarize yourself with the most fantasy-relevant transactions of the offseason. This practice isn’t just important for the players who were traded or signed with different teams, but for their new teammates as well, given the impact roster changes have on team chemistry and depth charts. In fact, taking stock of the biggest moves of the summer should be a no-brainer exercise for any serious poolie prior to getting into pre-draft rankings and cheat sheets.
Questions abound heading into 2017-18. How well will Alexander Radulov perform in Dallas? What kind of player is the Islanders’ Jordan Eberle away from Oil Country? How close will Kevin Shattenkirk come to last year’s career-high 56 points under the bright lights of Broadway? These are just some scenarios that— if correctly predicted — could lead to fantasy success.
Let’s dive into a few of the biggest names set to don new sweaters when the puck drops in October.
Artemi Panarin, LW, CLM
The most offensively productive player to get a change of scenery this offseason, Panarin is taking his talents to Ohio with everyone wondering the same thing: How will he fare without superstar Patrick Kane (and to a lesser extent, fellow countryman Artem Anisimov) by his side? Granted, given the 151 points he’s racked up in his first 162 NHL contests, the 25-year-old should probably be considered a star himself, but it’s paramount to point out that Panarin started a whopping 80.5 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone last year. That dominated the entire league by a wide margin (the Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin was second at 70.4 percent), while John Tortorella’s Blue Jackets featured no forward above 60 percent. Having to play tougher minutes away from the other team’s crease could make it tough for the silky-smooth Panarin to reach the 75-point mark again in 2017-18.
Brayden Schenn, LW, STL
Schenn spent the first six full seasons of his NHL career in Philadelphia, topping out at an impressive 26 goals and 59 points in 2015-16. After being shipped to St. Louis in June, the durable center is poised to take another leap forward in his age-26 season. Tucked nicely behind Paul Stastny in the No. 2 pivot position — and surrounded by a number of capable wing options in Alexander Steen, Robby Fabbri, Jaden Schwartz and superstar Vladimir Tarasenko — Schenn should thrive thanks to his affinity for the physical game (between 189 and 200 hits in his last four seasons) and power-play prowess (19, 22, and most recently 28 points in his last three campaigns). Based on his track record for a middling Flyers squad, the 2009 first-round pick has 60-plus-point upside with the Blues and shouldn’t be slept on come draft day.
Alexander Radulov, RW, DAL
Radulov made his long-anticipated return from the KHL last year, putting up 18 goals and 54 points with the Canadiens after an eight-year hiatus from the NHL (excluding nine games with Nashville in 2011-12). He wasn’t nearly as prolific a producer as he was in Russia, but Radulov acquitted himself well, averaging 18:17 of ice time (including 2:51 with the man advantage) while finishing second on the team in scoring behind Max Pacioretty, with whom he spent most of his time on the team’s top line (along with center Phillip Danault). Those are fine linemates, but the idea of Radulov skating with Canadian studs Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn in Big D — not to mention Jason Spezza and John Klingberg on the power play — makes for one of the most tantalizing fantasy propositions heading into this season. The newly acquired Martin Hanzal will also be making his Stars debut, rounding out a solid pair of scoring lines. All in all, Radulov should be aligned for a shot at 60 points or better in his new digs.
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, NYR
Shattenkirk was arguably the biggest name to sign with a new team this summer, locking in a four-year deal worth $26.6 million with the Rangers on July 1 after a brief 19-game stopover with the Capitals. Coming off a career-high 56 points with St. Louis and Washington, Shattenkirk has joined a Blueshirts squad where he’ll be the undisputed top offensive blueliner, which could help elevate his game even further now that he doesn’t have to share the spotlight with guys like John Carlson and Alex Pietrangelo. Quarterbacking a talented power-play unit featuring Rick Nash, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad will help, but the potential for additional offensive growth based on Shattenkirk’s role as the top cook in the Rangers’ kitchen can’t be overstated. Look for the 28-year-old to take a run at finishing among the top three defensemen in terms of points this year.
Jordan Eberle, RW, NYI
A few miles south of Shattenkirk in Brooklyn, Eberle will be looking to get back on track in his first campaign with the Islanders after being traded for Ryan Strome in June. His 51-point campaign last year wasn’t terrible, but the 2008 first-round pick has failed to fulfill the expectations created by the 76 points he put up as a sophomore back in 2011-12 — not to mention his $6 million annual salary. The emergence of Leon Draisaitl as the perfect complement to Connor McDavid made Eberle somewhat expendable, but he’ll now get the chance to line up with one of hockey’s best all-around players in Isles captain John Tavares, who should have extra motivation to shoot the lights out in a contract year. It’s worth noting that Eberle threw more rubber on net than ever last year (208 shots), only to record a career-low 9.6 shooting percentage, so some statistical correction toward his NHL average of 13.4 percent should be in order.