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Jones acquired by Blackhawks from Blue Jackets
The Chicago Blackhawks acquired Seth Jones from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Adam Boqvist. The move makes Jones a top 10 fantasy option at the position for next season with even-strength and power-play exposure to elite right wing Patrick Kane and valuable forwards Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews and Kirby Dach.
Having showcased his fantasy potential in the past by scoring 57 points (16 goals, 41 assists) for Columbus in 2017-18, Jones could reach or even exceed that total with Chicago. Jones should be targeted among the top 75 overall players in a standard fantasy draft with the ceiling of finishing among the 50 best.
The Blackhawks, who traded veteran defenseman Duncan Keith to the Edmonton Oilers on July 5, will likely be back in Stanley Cup Playoff contention after upgrading at their position of greatest need. Kane can be considered a top 10 overall player again, DeBrincat among the top 40 overall and goalie Kevin Lankinen among the top 15-20 at the position after this significant upgrade to his supporting cast.
Boqvist and Jake Bean (acquired from Carolina Hurricanes) are promising young defensemen with deep sleeper appeal ahead of bigger roles with Columbus. Boqvist scored 16 points (two goals, 14 assists) in 35 games this season, a 37-point pace over 82 games. With Boqvist’s pedigree (No. 8 pick in 2018 NHL Draft), he could score 35-40 points next season with the Blue Jackets, especially if he plays on the top pair with Zach Werenski. Bean (No. 13 pick in 2016 NHL Draft) scored 12 points (one goal, 11 assists) in 42 games last season on mostly Carolina’s third pair, giving him untapped potential as well.
Power to Sabres at No. 1; Kraken pick Beniers at No. 2
— The Buffalo Sabres selected defenseman Owen Power with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft. Power scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 26 games during his first season at University of Michigan and had three assists and 17 shots on goal in 20:07 per game for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Championship. It’s unknown whether Power will play in the NHL next season, but he remains a valuable choice in keeper and dynasty leagues, projecting to eventually play on a young defense with Rasmus Dahlin (No. 1 pick in 2018 NHL Draft) for rebuilding Buffalo.
— The Seattle Kraken selected forward Matthew Beniers with the No. 2 pick. He scored 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists) in 24 games for University of Michigan this season and two points (one goal, one assist) in six games for the United States at the World Championship. Beniers could play for Seattle as early as this season and is a safe choice in keeper and dynasty formats considering he has a great chance of playing in the top six upon his NHL arrival.
Canucks acquire Garland, Ekman-Larsson from Coyotes
The Vancouver Canucks are one of the most intriguing teams in fantasy after acquiring wing Conor Garland and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson from the Arizona Coyotes. Each skater gains significant fantasy appeal from the move to the Canucks, who have one of the best young cores in the NHL.
Garland will likely capture a top-six spot with exposure to a valuable center in either Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat, a clear upgrade compared to his linemates with the Coyotes, and is a safer fantasy wing option compared to the younger Nils Hoglander and rookie Vasily Podkolzin. Garland scored 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 49 games this season, the best points-per-game average (0.79) of his career. Garland could feasibly exceed that scoring rate (65-point pace over 82 games) next season given the elite exposure Vancouver provides.
Since scoring an NHL career-high 55 points (21 goals, 34 assists) in 2015-16, his second consecutive 20-goal season (23 in 2014-15), Ekman-Larsson has struggled to maintain fantasy relevance but now has renewed upside with the Canucks. Even though Ekman-Larsson likely won’t see time on the top power-play unit because of elite defenseman Quinn Hughes, the veteran is still an intriguing late-round fantasy pick in standard 12-team drafts with even-strength exposure to valuable forwards Pettersson, Horvat, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser and Hoglander. Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko, who had a .915 save percentage in 35 games this season, also gets a big fantasy boost from the addition of Garland and Ekman-Larsson.
Rangers trade Buchnevich to Blues for Blais
The St. Louis Blues acquired right wing Pavel Buchnevich from the New York Rangers for forward Sammy Blais. Buchnevich, a fantasy breakout player last season with an NHL career-high 48 points (20 goals, 28 assists) in 54 games, will remain a fringe top 100 overall player after the trade with a chance to play on one of the first two lines with a valuable center in either Ryan O’Reilly or Brayden Schenn.
Buchnevich is coming off his best points-per-game average (0.88; 72-point pace over 82 games) playing on mostly the top line with elite center Mika Zibanejad. Buchnevich could see his rate of production decline at least slightly with the Blues but could still score 60-65 points next season. But there’s also a chance Buchnevich could lose more significant fantasy appeal if the Blues don’t trade valuable right wing Vladimir Tarasenko, who has two seasons left on his contract. The Buchnevich trade strengthens St. Louis’ wing depth regardless, but his fantasy value would change for the worse if he lands on the third line behind Tarasenko and David Perron (led St. Louis with 58 points in 56 games this season).
Blais has an outside chance to factor into the top six for New York but joins one of the most crowded wing pictures in the League with the Rangers having elite left wing Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider, young wings Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko and Vitali Kravtsov under new coach Gerard Gallant (hired June 16 to replace David Quinn). Blais can be viewed as a deep sleeper or early season waiver-wire target unless he starts training camp on one of the top two lines.
NHL.com’s Pete Jensen and Rob Reese contributed to this fantasy analysis. NHL Draft reaction will be added once the top picks are made.
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