As we continue Fantasy Week here at RLD, we take a look at five players that will make the greatest fantasy impact with their new teams. 1. Brad Richards
The New York Rangers have lacked a true No. 1 center for quite some time. Newly signed Brad Richards will fill that void quickly and his impact in the stat sheet should be about the same it was in Dallas (or greater). He has been one of the most productive centers in the last two years. Richards will now get to play next to the talented, yet enigmatic, Marian Gaborik, who is a legitimate threat to score 40 goals when healthy. With ‘Gabby’ by his side, the 80-90 point mark is more-than-reachable for Richards if both of them can stay healthy.
2. Jeff Carter
Columbus decided to open up the checkbook this summer and take a shot at the playoffs. Their biggest addition was Jeff Carter, who scored 36 goals in 2010-11 and will play alongside Rick Nash. The ex-Flyer has ranked in the top five of the NHL’s shot leaders in each of the last three years. He and Nash will be the Blue Jackets’ main source of offense; with a below-average back end, they could get into some high-scoring games. It may take a little time to adjust, but Carter promises to have a big year for fantasy.
3. Tomas Vokoun
The Tomas Vokoun signing with Washington was the most shocking of the free agent frenzy. If the $1.5 million goalie plays to his potential, he will be a great fantasy goaltender. Though Vokoun is 35 years old, you cannot overlook the Capitals’ regular season success over the last three years. If Vokoun starts 55-60 games, he should be able to get close to 40 wins. Also, if Bruce Boudreau keeps the defense-first system in store, Vokoun could record a goals-against average lower than 2.40 for the first time since 2002-03.
4. Dany Heatley
Dany Heatley isn’t the 50-goal scorer he once was. However, he’s only 30 years old and can still threaten to strike for 40. In Minnesota, coach Mike Yeo and company will be banking on Heatley to be their big-time go-to scorer, something the Wild haven’t had since Gaborik left. With the Sharks, there weren’t enough pucks to go around to let Heatley produce like he did in Ottawa. That changes in Minny, where Mikko Koivu will be passing the puck to Heatley and not much of anyone else. Look for ‘Heater’ to score at least 35-40 and be a power play machine.
5. Mike Richards
I’m more hesitant than others when it comes to Mike Richards’ fantasy value in Los Angeles. I think he’ll be a great cornerstone of the Kings franchise for the future, but he may not a point-per-game player consistently year after year, like he was in Philadelphia a couple years ago. Simon Gagne and Dustin Brown are good line-mates, but they’ll each be lucky to crack 30 goals. Richards’ role on the man advantage, and whether he gets to team up with Anze Kopitar, may determine his fantasy value. 70 points is a safe bet for Richards, but I wouldn’t expect much more.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.