Another week, another notable trade well in advance of the deadline in the NHL. The Rangers, who have looked quite good lately, went for a big addition in acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko and Niko Mikkola from the Blues in exchange for Sammy Blais and Hunter Skinner. There's not a whole lot to break down here -- Tarasenko's the only fantasy-relevant player in the deal, and it's looking pretty good for him.
It took Tarasenko just one shift into his Rangers debut to get a goal. He's added two shots on net, three hits and a plus-1 rating in two contests since the trade. What has me encouraged about his rest-of-season outlook is the intangible factor. Tarasenko is friends with Artemi Panarin, and they're flanking Mika Zibanejad on the Rangers' top line now. Whether Zibanejad sticks there or the center spot ultimately goes to Vincent Trocheck doesn't matter -- there's chemistry with those two wingers together. The Rangers' offense has been dynamic since the All-Star break, so there's a lot of goals to go around.
On the flip-side of the deal, Blais returns for a second stint with the Blues. He'll have a better outlook in St. Louis than he ever did in New York -- he was acquired as part of the Rangers' search for toughness a couple of summers ago. With the Blues, he could be more of a middle-six winger, though his hitting will be more effective than his offense, especially if they continue to sell off veteran forwards.
Mikkola looks set for a third-pairing role with the Rangers. He provides some size and physicality, and his offense could tick up modestly, but there's not enough there to attract fantasy attention. Skinner, meanwhile, has bounced between the AHL and ECHL this season. The 21-year-old is a fourth-round pick from 2019, but he's a few years from even having a chance, let alone sticking, at the NHL level.
For fantasy purposes, this can get to be a tricky time. There's a lot of moving parts, and the wear and tear of the season is starting to show up for some players. Here's some players that can help you as the league gets back up to full and regular speed.
Boone Jenner's already been in this column a number of times this year, but he's probably the most underappreciated Blue Jacket in fantasy. He's posted six points, a plus-6 rating, 34 shots and 23 hits over his last eight games. That's enough all-around work to help in a lot of formats, and it comes with a top-line role. He's got a good shot at getting over 40 points for the season despite missing some time, so show him some trust if you need a depth forward.
Ondrej Palat had his share of poor luck to start the season -- three goals in six games before a groin injury makes that look like an understatement. He was quiet once he returned in January, but now he's got three goals and seven assists over his last 10 games. The 31-year-old is the Devils' mentor, a championship-winning forward on a young team. With Jack Hughes (upper body) out week-to-week, Palat will get a chance to lead by example for a while.
You want a piece of the Lightning's offense? Anthony Cirelli's your top option right now. He's got five points over his last two games, and those were against the Avalanche and the Stars, two teams with sturdy defenses. The 25-year-old hasn't really lived up to the hype of the rest of Tampa's top six, but with 16 points, 64 shots, a plus-10 rating and 26 blocked shots in 29 outings this season, he can help you in a lot of ways, especially when his offense is hot.
There's a heat alert in the desert, and it's for Juuso Valimaki. I've long liked his play, but he's had a tough time showing it off. Saturday's four-assist game was a taste of his best-case scenario, but it's the fact he's produced six helpers over his last three contests that has my attention. The 24-year-old was taken 16th overall by the Flames in 2017 -- that suggests top-four potential. He's getting that shot now with the Coyotes, and their top power-play unit, while not a dominant force by any means, has enough talent to help him thrive. He can be a decent fourth or fifth defenseman in most formats.
William Carrier will finally get his moment in the spotlight here. The 28-year-old needed just 48 games this season to set a new career high in points with 22. He's still a high-end hit machine, but right now he's getting some exposure to talent on a line with Chandler Stephenson and Phil Kessel. The puzzle pieces appear to have fallen into place for the Golden Knights, and Carrier is set to benefit as long as the lines stay the same. With nine points in his last 10 games, he's even earned some second-unit power-play time, though he's yet to do anything with it. He's also been clutch this season -- six of his 14 goals have been game-winners.
Alexander Barabanov's another unheralded winger that can help your scoring depth. He's picked up seven points over his last four games while adding six shots on net. The 28-year-old sees time on Logan Couture's line, but it's a well-earned spot for him. Barabanov had 39 points in 70 outings last season, and he's already at 35 points in 49 contests this season. He'll chip in modest hits and the plus-minus is hard to stomach, but the offense is there for this playmaker.
The ascent of Rafael Harvey-Pinard from obscurity to the top line is something else. He's helping fill the void left behind in the wake of Cole Caufield's season-ending shoulder injury. In nine contests, Harvey-Pinard has racked up six goals and two assists. He's added 17 shots on net, so the small sample and high shooting percentage warnings apply here. He's also posted 27 hits. If the 24-year-old seventh-round pick from 2019 can stay in a top-six role, he may have some widespread appeal, but there's definitely room for him on rosters in deep formats.
Another Canadien of interest is Mike Matheson, he of a goal and three assists in his last three contests. It's more of a lack of better options on the roster, but Matheson is quarterbacking the Habs' first power-play unit now. Four of his 11 points this season have come on the power play, and he's done all that in just 19 appearances. This is more about the role and less about the player -- top minutes are hard to come by.
It's a no-brainer to add Adin Hill if you need goaltending help -- I'm looking at those of you with Logan Thompson on your roster. Hill's been plenty serviceable in a backup role this season with a 2.55 GAA and a .911 save percentage. His 12 wins are a career high. The Golden Knights' offense is clicking, and Hill will step in behind a solid defense that's finally fully healthy. It's a great spot for him to pick up wins, and he won't hurt the ratios at all. Thompson is week-to-week, and after the shaky play from the last couple of years, I'm not willing to trust Laurent Brossoit without a few games under his belt at the NHL level despite his strong numbers with AHL Henderson.
For those in extreme need in goal, Jaxson Stauber could help you out in the near term. He has yet to lose an NHL appearance, picking up three wins while allowing seven goals on 93 shots. Petr Mrazek is still the Blackhawks' No. 1, and they may not be tempted to ride a hot hand since they're in the draft lottery race this year. Still, Stauber is holding his own. At a minimum, he looks like a passable streaming option when he gets the nod.
By this time next week, there's a good chance a couple more dominoes will have fallen on the trade market -- general managers are not leaving it all for the deadline this year. Jakob Chychrun's getting the most talk right now. His healthy scratch for trade-related reasons Saturday means you can probably see the smoke from this fire by now. The insiders are saying he'll likely end up with the Kings, but nothing's certain until the deal is done. Whatever happens, I'll be here to shake out what matters and what doesn't for your fantasy roster. Good luck this week, and don't get lost in the noise as you manage your team through silly season.