Fantasy Hockey
Sean Allen, Special to 400d

Rest-of-season fantasy hockey rankings: Evaluating the Matt Duchene trade

Fantasy NHL, Fantasy, NHL

It took a little bit longer than expected, but Matt Duchene has a new home. And by holding out a little longer, the Colorado Avalanche got a terrific return as part of a three-way deal over the weekend, including goalie Andrew Hammond, defenseman Samuel Girard, forwards Vladislav Kamenev and Shane Bowers and three draft picks (including a first-rounder). The Nashville Predators continue to trade from their organizational depth at defense to strengthen their historical weakness at center, securing Kyle Turris as part of the trade, and the Ottawa Senators of course got a potential upgrade at center in Duchene. This was a win-win-win trade for NHL purposes, but what is the fantasy fallout?

Duchene basically replaces Turris in Ottawa as the other scoring-line center not named Derick Brassard. But Duchene also comes with some baggage, having not scored like star player since 2013-14 and having not turned in a fantasy relevant season since 2015-16. Duchene has been a 25-goal, 60-point center over the past two years, and if that's what he's going to provide -- just like Turris did -- this is a complete sideways move.

However, there is still a chance that Duchene is a 70-point forward who was struggling for more than a year on a team he didn't want to be on. We don't often consider it for fantasy purposes, but a player's happiness and desire to win is still a factor in their success. I'm not going to assume the clouds have cleared and the 26-year-old Duchene is suddenly a star again, but a modest shift up the rankings while hoping for better results is not unreasonable. Duchene is only playing 15:46 per game for the Avalanche this season and is on pace for 60 points. Assuming he jumps closer to 19 minutes of ice time per game, he could make a decent leap in value from that alone. The Senators have lots of skilled wingers, giving more than enough support for both Brassard and Duchene.

Meanwhile, Turris immediately takes over No. 2 center duties for the Predators, no longer requiring the team to shoehorn Nick Bonino into the role (when healthy). Depending on the current depth chart alignment, that could mean ice time with the likes of Scott Hartnell, Filip Forsberg, Kevin Fiala or Craig Smith. However, he likely loses out on power-play time in Nashville, as he would play a similar role on the man advantage to incumbent Ryan Johansen. I don't think the move has any real impact on Turris' fantasy value, unless it turns out he has unexpected chemistry with one of the aforementioned wingers.

The Avalanche get possible right-now contributors in both Girard and Kamenev, but both players could also be kept out of the NHL for more development. Girard had three points in his first two games this season while playing significant minutes for an injured Roman Josi, but he's been in and out of the press box in a reduced role since Josi came back. He's still eligible to go back to juniors if the Avs don't think they need him right now. Either way, he's a slick puck mover from the blue line and a name to file away for when this Avalanche rebuild is nearing completion. Kamenev has eight points in 10 games in the AHL so far this season and arguably could fill a role for the Avs going forward, but they don't need him to. He'll probably have to start scoring at an even higher rate in the AHL to force his way to the Colorado roster.

Bottom line: Duchene gets a slight upgrade in the rankings, but also still has a very high ceiling that shouldn't be forgotten about. Turris holds his value, while Girard and Kamenev are on the radar for next season and beyond.

Forwards on the move

Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks (down two spots to No. 7)

Forget being at the top of the ESPN Player Rater for value this season, Patrick isn't even the top Kane on the list, with Evander Kane checking in as a top-25 skater so far this season. Kane is on pace for a paltry (for his standards) 77 points and ranks in as the 57th-best skater on the ESPN Player Rater to date. But don't get cute, he's still a top 10 fantasy asset. Don't overlook the fact that this "slow" start still includes 14 points in 15 games. Kane is admittedly playing about a minute-and-a-half less in ice time per game than last season, but 19:42 is still plenty for any forward to deal with. Really, I'm not so much "dropping" Kane down the rankings as much as promoting others, including Tyler Seguin and Vladimir Tarasenko. Still, it's telling that life without Artemi Panarin at his side isn't quite the same for Kane. The Hawks put Brandon Saad next to Kane for their last three games to try and kickstart him into action.

Brock Boeser, RW, Vancouver Canucks (up 36 spots to No. 160)

Think this kid is ready to take on the role of offensive catalyst for the Canucks? A hat trick plus a helper on Saturday against the Pittsburgh Penguins certainly put some icing on the cake that has been Boeser's first 10 games of the season. He has five goals, eight assists and 34 shots on goal, pushing a new top line for the team (with Bo Horvat and Sven Baertschi) into the limelight.

Defensemen on the move

Brent Burns, D, San Jose Sharks (down 13 spots to No. 27)

Taking a month of action and turning it into an 82-game pace can sometimes be telling. However, taking that sample size from a dozen games and stretching it by a factor of six or seven can also sometimes be ridiculous. Such is the case with Burns, who is on pace this season to score zero goals, collect 44 assists and finish with a minus-50 rating. If Burns were scoring at his career shooting percentage so far, he'd have four goals. But even if he had four goals, he'd still rank 21st on the ESPN Player Rater among defensemen (instead of his current 25th). If your league isn't a standard league and doesn't use plus/minus, feel free to ignore all this, as Burns is going to be just fine, but his current minus-8 and potential for further poor ratings does impact his overall value for standard leagues.

Nick Leddy, D, New York Islanders (enters ranks at No. 244)

If all defenseman Ryan Pulock ends up doing this year is scaring Leddy into performing at a respectable rate on the power play, I guess we'll take it. Pulock, the Isles' perennial AHL star defender, has started to get some occasional looks with the NHL club during the past two weeks, including some decent power-play time. It sure seems like Leddy could feel him breathing down his neck. Since Pulock set up the Islanders' first power-play goal of the season on Oct. 19, Leddy has nine points in seven games, including four power-play points. Up to and including Oct. 19, Leddy had one assist in seven games.

Goaltenders on the move

Carey Price, G, Montreal Canadiens (down five spots to No. 43)

Price copped to an injury this weekend to take some time off, but we don't have any particulars about his "lower-body" ailment. Al Montoya hasn't looked any better than Price in the Canadiens' crease, sporting an identical 3.77 goals-against average to that of Price. But what's this? Charlie Lindgren, called up from the AHL, posted a shutout against the Blackhawks on Sunday. Price's overall numbers are confounding, and the natural thing to do is attribute his poor stats to this injury he is rehabbing, but there was little indication that something was physically wrong before this past weekend. Still, it's a chance for Price to hit the reset button on what has been an atrocious season. Given his track record, his descent down the rankings is going to be slow as molasses if this trend continues. If he ends up being held out a week or more, look for him to hold his current value: Fantasy benchwarmer with an infinitely high ceiling. In the meantime, Lindgren is a much preferred choice to Montoya for spot starts.

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