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NHL: CULLEN – 20 FANTASY POINTS – Guentzel, Hertl, Tarasenko, Kuznetsov, Toffoli, Henrique & More

CALGARY, AB - APRIL 12: San Jose Sharks Center Tomas Hertl (48) looks on during the first period of an NHL game between the Calgary Flames and the San Jose Sharks on April 12, 2023, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire)

Each week, I dive into the numbers to help make decisions when it comes time to make fantasy hockey decisions.

Following the biggest moves ahead of the NHL trade deadline, including Jake Guentzel, Tomas Hertl, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tyler Toffoli, Adam Henrique and much, much more!

#1 Perhaps the biggest name to be available at the deadline, Jake Guentzel was dealt from Pittsburgh to Carolina. The 29-year-old winger has recorded 385 points (181 G, 204 A) in 381 games across the past six seasons. Moving to Carolina probably isn’t an upgrade for Guentzel, even if it is a better team. It’s tough to land somewhere better than Sidney Crosby’s wing, after all. However, Guentzel is out of the lineup with an upper-body injury, though maybe not for too much longer. The timeline for the injury, when it occurred on February 14, was four weeks. While the Penguins landed a few prospects in the trade, they also got an established NHLer in Michael Bunting. A two-time 20-goal scorer, Bunting has 13 goals and 36 points in 60 games this season but is looking at the opportunity to skate on Sidney Crosby’s wing. For a player who is not shy about going to the net to clean up the garbage, it could be a good opportunity for Bunting to finish strong. At the very least, he is the player whose fantasy value for this season is most likely to benefit from this trade.

#2 In a move that dropped just before the deadline, the Vegas Golden Knights landed centre Tomas Hertl from the San Jose Sharks. While it is a big splash kind of move that could have an impact on the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Hertl is still recovering from knee surgery. Reports have said that he is ahead of schedule and could be back before the end of the regular season, but that uncertain timeline does not make Hertl especially valuable for fantasy managers. If that timeline changes, well, that could change Hertl’s fantasy appeal.

#3 At 32 years old, Vladimir Tarasenko is no longer the premier sniper that he was in his best days with the St. Louis Blues.  However, he could have a prime opportunity in Florida, where he could fit alongside Aleksander Barkov and Sam Reinhart on the top line. With 33 even strength points, Tarasenko is tied for 78th in the NHL this season, and if he sticks on Florida’s top line, those numbers should get even better. With Tarasenko departing Ottawa, Mathieu Joseph looks like he will slide into a role in the Senators’ top six, a decent opportunity for a winger who has tied his career high with 30 points (10 G, 20 A) in 50 games.

#4 Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stay in the American Hockey League was brief as the Washington Capitals traded their veteran centre to the Carolina Hurricanes. Kuznetsov, 31, is having a miserable season with just 17 points (6 G, 11 A) in 43 games. The Capitals were outscored 27-14 at five-on-five with Kuznetsov on the ice, so it is not surprising that they were looking for a way to get out from under the rest of his contract, which expires after next season. He should have a chance to fit as Carolina’s second-line centre, where his competition is really Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Jack Drury, neither of whom has made a strong claim on the position. Kuznetsov is at least worth consideration as a longshot type of pickup. With Kuznetsov departing, the Capitals are now prepared to run with Hendrix Lapierre, Connor McMichael, and Dylan Strome down the middle of the ice.

#5 Across the past two seasons, right winger Tyler Toffoli has scored 60 goals, tied for 28th in the league. The New Jersey Devils were not disappointed in Toffoli’s production but their team was under-performing and they could not justify keeping Toffoli. That works out to the benefit of the Winnipeg Jets, who bring in this proven veteran scoring winger, which will further enhance Winnipeg’s scoring depth. He probably slides next to recently acquired centre Sean Monahan on the second line and slumping sophomore Cole Perfetti could get moved further down the lineup.

#6 The Colorado Avalanche were busy leading up to the deadline, and that included making two deals that involved defencemen and centres. The Avs dealt defenceman Bowen Byram to the Buffalo Sabres for centre Casey Mittelstadt. Byram was the fourth pick in the 2019 Draft and despite his obvious skill level, he has also been hampered by concussions early in his career. Nevertheless, he has shown great flashes of talent and played nearly 25 minutes in his Sabres debut Thursday, recording a goal and an assist. He will fall behind Rasmus Dahlin when it comes to quarterbacking the power play, but if Byram is going to get big minutes in Buffalo and can stay healthy, then he will be able to surpass what he has produced in his career to this point. Mittelstadt has stepped into a bigger role this season, playing a career-high 18:16 per game and contributing 47 points (14 G, 33 A) in 62 games. He should slide into a second-line centre role with the Avalanche and that could be a positive once Colorado gets fully healthy, with Valeri Nichushkin nearing his return to action. Mittelstadt’s departure could open the door for Dylan Cozens to possibly see a little more ice time down the middle for the Sabres.

#7 Another Avalanche trade saw them deal centre Ryan Johansen to Philadelphia along with a first-round pick for defenseman Sean Walker. The Flyers are apparently not interested in Johansen and have demoted him to the American Hockey League, and Walker will be a strong third-pairing option on the Colorado blueline, behind Cale Makar and Josh Manson on the right side. Walker has the ability to contribute offensively, but his role in Colorado does not immediately suggest that will be part of the expectations. With Walker leaving Philadelphia, Egor Zamula should see more minutes on the Philadelphia blue line. He played 20:20 at Florida on Thursday night, the third time all season that he logged more than 20 minutes in a game.

#8 The Edmonton Oilers continued to improve their forward depth by adding Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick in a deal with the Anaheim Ducks. Carrick is a fourth-line depth addition with little to no fantasy appeal, but Henrique is a six-time 20-goal scorer who is looking at the possibility of skating on Leon Draisaitl’s wing, which is a better situation than he had in Anaheim. At the same time, Henrique becomes more of a supporting piece in Edmonton. If he’s productive, he could be a prominent supporting piece, but Edmonton has a lot of forwards who are capable of contributing secondary offence behind the superstars.

#9 Before they even ventured to acquire Tomas Hertl from San Jose, the Vegas Golden Knights already brought in winger Anthony Mantha from the Washington Capitals and defenceman Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames. Mantha has run hot and cold in his career but had already tallied 20 goals in 56 games for Washington, the first time that he had hit that threshold since 2018-2019. While Mark Stone remains out, there is still a good opportunity for Mantha to fill a right-wing spot in Vegas’ top six, potentially on the flank of Hertl once he is healthy. In any case, Mantha could see his ice time decrease in Vegas, but the quality of his linemates will most likely offset that decrease. The thing to be wary of with Mantha is that his shot rate is down quite a bit this season, to 1.58 shots per game, but he has been scoring on 22.2 percent of his shots, a rate that is not likely to last, but maybe Mantha can elevate his shot rate because he was a much more prolific shooter just a few years ago. Mantha’s departure does open up more ice time in Washington, and maybe someone like Aliaksei Protas is going to be a late-season sleeper for fantasy managers. Hanifin has been a steady and productive blueliner for Calgary and that will likely continue in Vegas. He is not going to have a prominent role on the power play so long as Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo are in the lineup, so that does put a limit on Hanifin’s fantasy ceiling.

#10 The red-hot Nashville Predators might not have been buyers a month ago but after winning nine of their past ten games, they added a couple of forwards before the deadline, getting Jason Zucker from Arizona and Anthony Beauvillier from Chicago. Beauvillier is having the worst season of his career, with just 14 points (4 G, 10 A) in 45 games, but he has scored at least 18 goals in four seasons. He may get a look in a middle six role with Nashville but it is far too soon to put any real expectations on him. Zucker offers more upside. He had 25 points (9 G, 16 A) in 51 games for Arizona but is a six-time 20-goal scorer who should fit comfortably in a top-six role with Nashville. That might increase Zucker’s value a little, but his value will lie in deeper leagues.

#11 Still battling to secure a playoff spot, the Tampa Bay Lightning bolstered their roster by getting winger Anthony Duclair from San Jose and defenceman Matt Dumba from Arizona. Duclair has had a mediocre season in San Jose but was heating up before the deadline, tallying 10 points (7 G, 3 A) with 24 shots on goal in his last eight games for the Sharks. He is a three-time 20-goal scorer who has 27 points (16 G, 11 A) in 56 games this season. In Tampa Bay, he should fit in a second-line role and while he might see his ice time dip, that should be offset somewhat by higher-quality linemates. Duclair’s departure from San Jose will help ensure that forwards like Fabian Zetterlund, Filip Zadina, and William Eklund continue in prominent roles down the stretch. That still might not be enough for them to have value in most fantasy leagues. It has been a few seasons since Dumba had much fantasy value and he has just 10 points (4 G, 6 A) in 58 games this season. It’s conceivable that Dumba would get second-unit power play time for Tampa Bay, but Darren Raddysh could still hold that spot, so Dumba is not a big draw for fantasy managers.

#12 Trying to bolster a team that they believe to be a championship contender, the New York Rangers acquired centre Alex Wennberg from the Seattle Kraken and right winger Jack Roslovic from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Wennberg is a natural fit as a third-line centre, filling the role that had been occupied by Filip Chytil before concussion woes put him on the shelf. Wennberg had 25 points (9 G, 16 A) in 60 games for the Kraken this season, which is not enough to draw interest from fantasy managers. Roslovic had a modest 23 points (6 G, 17 A) in 40 games for Columbus, but he was on a tear, with 13 points (4 G, 9 A) and 44 shots on goal in his last 12 games for the Blue Jackets. He could be an intriguing option if he gets a shot alongside Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider on one of the Rangers’ top-scoring lines. With Roslovic leaving Columbus, recently acquired winger Alex Nylander should have a more secure spot in a scoring role with the Blue Jackets for the rest of the season.

#13 Goaltending has been a massive problem for the New Jersey Devils this season and they chose the trade deadline, which might be too late, as the time to address it. The Devils brought in Jake Allen from Montreal then traded goaltender Vitek Vanecek to acquire Kaapo Kahkonen from San Jose. Allen had a .875 save percentage in his last nine appearances for Montreal, so he is hardly a sure thing as the solution in net for the Devils. Kahkonen had a .895 save percentage in 31 games for the Sharks, but considering the quality of shots that the Sharks surrendered he did have 0.51 Goals Saved Above Expected during five-on-five play, so there are at least hints of positive performance there that could work behind a Devils team that, for all of its defensive concerns, is not as bad as the Sharks.

#14 After two-plus seasons of subpar performance as the starting goaltender for the Seattle Kraken, it appears that Philipp Grubauer has found his form. He struggled again at the start of this season before getting hurt in December. While he was out, Joey Daccord performed well, but as Daccord’s performance has fallen off, Grubauer has been reclaiming the Kraken crease. Since returning from injury, Grubauer has appeared in seven games and has a .943 save percentage. Since the All-Star break, Sergei Bobrovsky (.946) and Igor Shesterkin (.945) are the only goaltenders to appear in at least five games and have a better save percentage than Grubauer. The question is whether Grubauer can continue at a high level, which has not been standard for him since joining the Kraken.

#15 The Carolina Hurricanes have been playing well and it seems that their biggest concern down the stretch will be goaltending. The hope is that the return of starter Frederik Andersen, who started in Thursday’s 4-1 win against Montreal, will help stabilize the position. Andersen stopped 24 of 25 shots in his return to action. Pyotr Kochetkov has stepped up his game, too, posting a .927 save percentage in 14 games since Christmas.

#16 Dallas Stars centre Wyatt Johnston had a strong rookie campaign in 2022-2023, scoring 41 points (24 G, 17 A) in 82 games, finishing fifth in Calder Trophy voting. He has been given a jolt by the Stars calling up winger Logan Stankoven, who has put up eight points (5 G, 3 A) with 19 shots on goal in his first six games. Johnston had a five-point night in Tuesday’s 7-6 overtime win against San Jose, giving him 24 points (11 G, 13 A) with 78 shots on goal in his past 23 games.

#17 Arizona Coyotes winger Matias Maccelli, who finished just ahead of Johnston in the Calder Trophy voting last season, continues to put up points, even on a bad Coyotes team. Maccelli has 11 points (3 G, 8 A) with 23 shots on goal in his past 11 games. He is skating on Arizona’s second line, alongside veterans Nick Bjugstad and Alex Kerfoot. Coyotes veteran Nick Schmaltz remains with the club past the trade deadline and he has been heating up. He has nine points (4 G, 5 A) and 21 shots on goal in his past eight games. He is skating on Arizona’s top line with Clayton Keller and Barrett Hayton.

#18 Since the All-Star break, there have been 20 defencemen that have recorded at least 10 points and while that group includes many of the usual suspects, it also includes Torey Krug, Gustav Forsling, Travis Sanheim, Bowen Byram, Noah Hanifin, Mike Matheson, and Ryan McDonagh.

#19 Although Buffalo Sabres centre Tage Thompson has not scored anywhere near his breakout season last year when he scored 47 goals and 94 points, he is showing some signs that he could be ready to break out. Thompson has just 35 points (18 G, 17 A) in 53 games, but he has generated 59 shots on goal in 14 games since the All-Star break. Players who are putting more than four shots on goal per game tend to find their way to the scoresheet with some consistency.

#20 As the season has slipped away from the New Jersey Devils, it appears that Timo Meier is finally coming alive. He has nine points (6 G, 3 A) and 22 shots on goal during a five-game point streak. It’s about time, and he is on a quality two-way line along with Nico Hischier and Ondrej Palat. Maybe the next project for the Devils will be getting Alexander Holtz on track. The 22-year-old winger has just one point (1 G, 0 A) in 16 games since the All-Star break.