Trade deadline reactions came earlier this week without the benefit of tangible evidence regarding the deployment of new faces in new places -- as well as no clear data on how the "selling" teams would build their new depth charts with what's left.
But we've had the benefits now of a game or two from each club since then, so let's check back in on some of the relevant players.
Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Columbus Blue Jackets: OK, so we can all back away from the ledge. At least, a little. Coach John Tortorella used his new center, Matt Duchene, to replace Dubois on the top line with Artemi Panarin and Cam Atkinson for his first two games with the club (which were both shutout victories), but Dubois was back in the role for the past two games. Duchene was down on the third line with fellow former Ottawa Senator Ryan Dzingel. That said, Duchene has been getting the majority of the work on the top power play over Dubois. This is looking like a case where neither player is cashing in on their full fantasy potential, but both will have some value.
Marcus Johansson, W, Boston Bruins: There was a path to value here, especially with David Pastrnak still out, but it is not materializing. Johansson is skating 15 minutes (as opposed to 18 to 20 as he was with New Jersey) and isn't sniffing the power play. Pass.
Kevin Hayes, C/W, Winnipeg Jets: The Jets are using the addition of Hayes as an excuse to try to get three scoring lines onto the ice. Hayes centered a line with Nikolaj Ehlers and Mathieu Perreault in his debut, while Bryan Little stuck with Kyle Connor and they were going by Jack Roslovic. This deployment isn't exciting for Hayes, Ehlers, Connor or Little for fantasy purposes, but Connor is at least still on the top power play. It does give reason for passing interest in Perreault and/or Roslovic in deep leagues, but only when the weekly matchups look good. What this will do, however, is fuel a big finish for Patrik Laine on the top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler.
Kevin Fiala, W, Minnesota Wild: Fiala's gig in his first game was a good one -- playing with Zach Parise and Luke Kunin, both on and off the power play. This could be argued as the Wild's top line and is plenty of reason to pick up Fiala if you see the chance.
Drake Batherson, C, Ottawa Senators: While he anchored what looks like the Senators "top" line, Batherson is skating just 12 minutes per game since the trading of Duchene, Dzingel and Mark Stone. That's not enough for fantasy production. However, coach Guy Boucher is out and Marc Crawford will lead the squad for the remainder of the season. If you see Batherson start adding three or four minutes of power-play time to that, then it's time to reconsider. (As a quick aside, firing Boucher as coach of the Senators now is, in my mind, equivalent to hiring someone to build you a fence, telling them to do it using only the hammer, sandwich and shoehorn you provided, then taking away the hammer and firing them.)
Wayne Simmonds, W, Nashville Predators: Mikael Granlund hasn't made his debut yet, but looks to be on the second line with Kyle Turris on Friday, as expected. Simmonds did play for the Predators on Tuesday and only Filip Forsberg had more power-play ice time. The Predators were shutout by the Blues, but let's see how the power play responds with both Granlund and Simmonds in action.
Gustav Nyquist, W, San Jose Sharks: The groupthink was right on this one, too, as Nyquist's presence didn't break up the Sharks' top two lines. He skated on the third unit with Joe Thornton and Kevin Labanc, and saw time on the second power-play unit. That's not good enough for him to keep up his fantasy-relevant pace from this season. Shallower leagues can jump ship.
Mark Stone, W, Vegas Golden Knights: Poor Alex Tuch. Lead your team in scoring only to be demoted off a scoring line at the trade deadline. Stone skated on the second line with Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty (is this the top line now?), and on the top power-play unit with Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith. Big downgrade for Tuch, upgrades for Pacioretty and Stastny, and a slight downgrade for Stone. The 17 minutes he played on Tuesday were his fewest minutes in a game since October (He played 22 minutes on Thursday, but that game went to a shootout).
Fantasy Forecaster: March 4 to March 10
Teams playing four games: The Anaheim Ducks, Boston Bruins, Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins are the only teams with a four-game week on tap, and all seven teams have a back-to-back set in the mix. ... If John Gibson does return this weekend, he should be fresh for at least three of four games for the Ducks next week and the matchups aren't the worst. He could still help fantasy teams down the stretch. ... Dylan Larkin is questionable for the weekend and we don't know what the injury concern is. If he's out, there is nobody to consider for your fantasy lineup for the Detroit Red Wings, despite a four-game schedule. If Larkin is back in short order, Anthony Mantha is in the mix for your lineup, too ... Kris Letang continues to miss practice, which makes Justin Schultz a must-start fantasy defenseman until Letang returns.
Teams playing two games: The Chicago Blackhawks, Nashville Predators, Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks play a reduced schedule next week. There are a lot of players from these teams that are schedule-proof, but there are also plenty of secondary pieces that are not. Just don't bench your stars for a scrub during a key week of the season. The Blackhawks offense comes out OK on the Forecaster, while the Flyers and Sharks look only slightly below average for a rating. The Predators, however, face the Wild and Hurricanes, and don't rate well for the matchups.
Teams playing three games: Of the three-game week teams, only the Carolina Hurricanes, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights have back-to-back sets on tap. That does mean reduced starting potential for some key goaltenders, including Devan Dubnyk, Carey Price, Jordan Binnington and Marc-Andre Fleury. ... Currently among the injured for the New Jersey Devils are: Kyle Palmieri (week-to-week), Taylor Hall (arguably done for season), Jesper Bratt (lower body), Pavel Zacha (upper body) and Mile Wood (four weeks). Forget this team for fantasy purposes. ... Carter Hart could be back on the ice this weekend as he recovers from an ankle injury. He was awful in two games before the injury, but one has to wonder if the ankle played into that somehow. Brian Elliott has been more or less lights out in Hart's place and newly acquired Cam Talbot will start this weekend, setting the NHL record for the most goaltenders to appear in a single season for a franchise (eight). It's a mess in the Philly crease and if Hart helped get you to the fantasy playoffs or within striking distance of winning your league, you need to find a more reliable option to help close out the season. There's a chance this messy picture doesn't clean itself up nicely. ... Watch the St. Louis Blues lineup on Friday, as both Brayden Schenn and Jaden Schwartz have had success individually when playing on the top line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O'Reilly. Schenn could be back from an upper-body injury Friday and only one of them can be on the top line.
For those new to the forecaster chart, here are some explanations: "O" (offense), which is on the left for each game, and "D" (defense), on the right, matchup ratings are based upon a scale from 1 (poor matchup) to 10 (excellent matchup) and are calculated using a formula that evaluates the team's season-to-date statistics, their performance in home/road games depending on where the game is to be played, as well as their opponents' numbers in those categories. The "Ratings" column lists the cumulative rating from 1 to 10 of that week's offensive ("O") and defensive ("D") matchups.
In the notes below, the focus every week will be mainly on players that are available for potential use. Ownership below 50 percent of ESPN leagues is a good generalized cutoff. I'll try to also include players below 10 percent ownership whenever possible to cater to deeper formats.
New York Rangers: Since the trade deadline, the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings look almost like free squares on a bingo card. The Rangers play two of those teams next week, visiting the Red Wings and hosting the Devils (in addition to a visit to the Dallas Stars). Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad continue to pace this offense, so seeing Jimmy Vesey on the top line with them bodes well for his fantasy potential down the stretch. He's also playing on the power play with them, where Tony DeAngelo has slid into the role of power-play quarterback. Vesey has six points in his last three games, while DeAngelo has three helpers in that span (one on the power play).
New York Islanders: Speaking of free squares, the Islanders face the Senators twice next week (in addition to a home game against the Flyers). Now is the time to activate any shares of Ryan Pulock you may have, as the defenseman finished February with 12 points in 14 games. Brock Nelson has also shown signs of life, playing on a line with Anders Lee and Jordan Eberle. Nelson also finished February with 12 points in1 4 games, including seven in his past six.
Boston Bruins: Who is picking up the Pastrnak slack for the Bruins? Jake DeBrusk. Skating on the second line with David Krejci and (for now) Marcus Johansson, DeBrusk has also stayed on the top power play with the big dogs, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Since Pastrnak was hurt, DeBrusk has 12 points in eight games, with four of them coming on the power play. The Bruins have the top rating on the Forecaster next week and Pastrnak is expected to be out for all of it. And just because he's being overshadowed by DeBrusk, don't overlook Danton Heinen. For his part, Heinen has eight points in eight games on the top line with Marchand and Bergeron since Pastrnak was hurt.
Brandon Saad, W, Chicago Blackhawks: Drake Caggiula left Wednesday's game with a concussion and Saad took his place on the top line. He hooked up with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the game-winning goal with 17 seconds left, which is illustrative of his potential for the coming week. The Blackhawks have a break next week until Thursday, so you'll have to watch Caggiula's status, but if he's out, Saad should be in your fantasy lineup to close out the week.
Jamie Benn, W, Dallas Stars: Even if Jamie Benn returns from his upper-body injury, do you need to put him back in your fantasy lineup? He has points in only eight of 21 games since Jan. 1. Maybe he continues to ride the pine for you even after he's healthy.