20 Fantasy Thoughts: Tarasenko trade suddenly turning Rangers into an offensive juggernaut

Vladimir Tarasenko is paying instant dividends for the New York Rangers and your fantasy team.

It didn’t take long for Tarasenko to get on the scoresheet in the Big Apple, scoring in the first few minutes of his debut on Broadway. The trade is going to have a number of ripple effects that will impact the value of multiple players, the obvious being Tarasenko himself, who found himself playing with Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin right away. That’s a huge step up for who he was playing with in St. Louis, as Tarasenko was recently skating with Noel Acciari and Ivan Barbashev because the Blues forward group was so depleted.

What’s interesting, though, is the Rangers juggled their lines the next night, moving Panarin down to play with Vincent Trocheck and to say that clicked, would be an understatement. Panarin scored four times and the duo combined for seven points against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. The Rangers have now scored 12 goals in two games since Tarasenko arrived.

The biggest question around this deal was would Trocheck get bumped off the top power play unit? He did, but not in favour of Tarasenko. Instead, Filip Chytil moved up to the top group and Trocheck and Tarasenko will serve on the second unit, making both very balanced.

Then there’s how this all impacts Patrick Kane. It seemed like the Rangers would be a perfect fit for his services, but this swap likely puts them out of the sweepstakes for the Chicago Blackhawks forward. I thought a move to New York would be the best for Kane’s value and it’s hard to picture another landing spot that would be just as fruitful.

This is the time of year where someone’s value can change in an instant.

1. If there’s one player that’s really exceeded expectations this season, it’s Matthew Tkachuk. The Florida Panthers forward is on pace for a whopping 115 points, thanks to a huge five-point night earlier this week against the rival Tampa Bay Lightning. Tkachuk has managed all of this while playing mainly on the Panthers second unit and spending the majority of his time away from Aleksander Barkov. That’s a far cry from last season where his line with Johnny Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm was one of the best in the league and Tkachuk cruised to 100 points. I’ll admit, I didn’t think Tkachuk would get anywhere close to 100 points this season without those linemates, but he’s proving he can generate plenty of offence all on his own. If you were re-drafting this year, Tkachuk would easily be a top 10 pick.

2. If you’re looking ahead to the fantasy playoffs, keep Semyon Varlamov in mind. Varlamov has a .919 save percentage since the new year and is up to a .917 on the season. The New York Islanders also have a very friendly schedule in the middle of March, which includes a couple of back-to-backs and games against the likes of Anaheim, San Jose and Columbus. Varlamov could play an important role in you advancing in your league if utilized correctly.

3. Very quietly, Kyle Palmieri has seven points in nine games since returning from injury. Bo Horvat has received most of the attention since arriving to the New York Islanders, but Palmieri’s line with Anders Lee and Brock Nelson has been red hot for a couple of weeks now. Palmieri could be a good short-term pickup while this lasts.

4. I’m amazed Evan Bouchard is still 50% rostered. He barely played 12 minutes last Tuesday and hasn’t picked up a point in 10 games. It’s also important to keep in mind the Edmonton Oilers will likely target a defenceman at the deadline, which would hurt Bouchard’s value even more. There’s just no point in holding onto Bouchard anymore.

5. Ryan Hartman has two points in his past seven games and Sam Steel hasn’t found the scoresheet in his last 10. It’s incredible how little production the Minnesota Wild have gotten from whoever is centring Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello. Do they give Joel Eriksson Ek a shot there? The Wild have always resisted this to give their lines more balance, but they are desperate for goals. Something has to give.

6. More injury issues for the Vegas Golden Knights, as Logan Thompson went down this week and it didn’t look good. That could make Adin Hill an important add if Thompson is forced to miss significant time. Waiver wires are very thin where goalies are concerned and Hill was quite effective early in the season. If you need help between the pipes Hill is worth a shot.

7. In addition to Thompson, there were a handful of other injuries to key players around the league this week, including Jack Hughes. It doesn’t sound like Hughes will be out that long, but even a few games without Hughes is a big loss. He sits in the top 10 in the entire NHL in points and third overall in shots. There are maybe 20 or so players that are absolutely irreplaceable and Hughes is one.

8. Rasmus Andersson is another big loss on defence. MacKenzie Weegar got bumped up to the top power play unit, but I wouldn’t expect much there. Weegar has just one goal and 15 assists on the season and the Calgary Flames have the league’s 24th ranked power play. He also didn’t manage a point when the Flames scored seven times on Saturday. I’d look at external candidates if you’re trying to replace Andersson.

9. I’ve noticed Cole Caufield is down to 40% rostered. It’s obviously because he’s lost for the season but it’s a good practice if you’re in a keeper league and already turning your attention to next season to have a gander at the waiver wire to see who’s available. There could be some gems like Caufield that you might want to snatch up for next season that were discarded because of a roster crunch.

10. We’ve officially reached the point in the season where late-round picks are getting a look from teams that are long out of the playoff race. Rafael Harvey-Pinard, a seventh-round pick, is up with the Montreal Canadiens and has caught fire for five goals and seven points in eight games. He’s playing up on the top line with Nick Suzuki, so if your squad is desperate for offence, Harvey-Pinard might be calling your name for a waiver wire pickup.

11. If you picked up Filip Chytil for his great schedule this week, you may want to keep him around for the foreseeable future. Chytil is now up to seven goals and nine points in his past seven games and is getting scooped up in a lot of leagues. He’s more than just a streamer at this point.

12. I really think Bowen Byram could be a difference maker for you down the stretch if he can stay healthy. We’ve talked a lot about how good Colorado’s playoff schedule is, so Byram could definitely help out there, and he might be in for a bigger opportunity in the short-term with Cale Makar sidelined. If you are looking for a replacement for the struggling Bouchard or injured Andersson, Byram is worth considering.

13. Speaking of good playoff schedules, the Nashville Predators have a real strong one. They play four games for three-straight weeks in the middle of March with opponents like Arizona, Anaheim and Chicago on the slate. If you’re eyeing a defenceman to stream for one of those weeks keep Jeremy Lauzon in the back of your mind if you’re in a multi-cat league. Lauzon is excellent for blocks, hits and PIM and could really make an impact on your categories playing four times.

14. Martin Jones’ value is plunging rapidly. The Seattle Kraken netminder has allowed at least four goals in five of his past seven starts and his wins are starting to dry up. Those victories were really the only reason Jones was a good option in the first half. Philipp Grubauer has been the better goalie lately and maybe the Kraken even have to consider a trade for a netminder if they get desperate. Their playoff fate may hinge on it. If you’re banking on Jones for the fantasy playoffs you should probably start looking at alternative options.

15. What a run Dougie Hamilton is on. Hamilton has 14 points and 31 shots in his past six games. Those are Roma Josi-esque numbers from a season ago. It can’t be overstated how beneficial it is to get that kind of production from a defenceman.

16. Anthony Beauvillier has kind of been the forgotten man in the Bo Horvat trade. The new Vancouver Canuck is in a prime spot skating with Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko, picking up two goals and three points in two games. I wouldn’t rush out and add him just yet, but put Beauvillier on your watch list.

17. Don’t look now, but Sergei Bobrovsky has six quality starts in his past seven outings. Bobrovsky looks like he’s taken over the Panthers net and has essentially rendered Spencer Knight fantasy irrelevant at the moment. I’m not sure how long he can keep this going but it would be nice if Bobrovsky could find some consistency for those that have stuck with him.

18. Jakub Vrana has six goals and 11 points in 17 games since heading to the AHL, but a return to the Detroit Red Wings doesn’t seem to be happening. If you’ve been stashing him, your best hope now might be that Vrana gets dealt to a team at the deadline that will use him more prominently.

19. When you think of the NHL’s best dynamic duos, the Arizona Coyotes are probably one of the last teams to come to mind. That may be changing, though, as Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz have combined for 14 points in the past three games. Schmaltz has been particularly underrated in fantasy, as he’s essentially been a point per game player over the past year and a half.

20. It sounds like a Jakob Chychrun trade could be imminent. Chychrun was a healthy scratch for trade reasons Saturday and that’s never ideal for those rostering him. Hopefully this gets cleared up soon, as Arizona plays four times next week, including Monday. These are crucial weeks for a fantasy playoff push and you don’t want players missing games while in trade limbo.


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