Are top NHL Free Agents heading to the bottom of the fantasy hockey lists?

ST PAUL, MN - JULY 9: Chuck Fletcher, general ...

Minnesota Wild fans are understandably giddy over the signing of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, but in fantasy hockey terms, have these two stars marched right into quicksand?

The New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators, the two teams Parise & Suter are coming from, were both above-average offensive teams last season, while the Wild were dead last in Goals For by a long way. Even if they help Minnesota become more competitive, have these players taken a serious hit from a fantasy hockey perspective?

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While NHL fans are following the summer free agent market in the hopes that their favorite GM will collect the pieces need to assemble a winning team next season, Fantasy Hockey gurus are paying more attention to how all these moves might affect individual performance.

Keep in mind, of course, that we don’t know exactly what will occur, only what is most likely. Just like a savvy poker player, who is constantly re-evaluating the risk/reward balance in light of the cards which have hit the table and the behavior of other players, a smart fantasy hockey manager will keep track of free agency moves and consider how they will impact the upcoming draft.

Is there a Zach Parise fan in your league, who will assuredly draft him highly even though he’s gone from the 11th-highest scoring team to the 30th? Sorry, pal, but Dany Heatley is no Ilya Kovalchuk, and with a lesser supporting cast, Parise’s offensive production should take a hit. At the very least, one should temper individual projections for Parise next season, but also try to keep in mind whether there are individual managers in your league who are likely to draft with their heart, not their head.

After all, one of the keys to running a great fantasy hockey draft is not just know who to draft, but when. Splashy free agent signings may put some players’ names on the tip of your tongue this summer, but don’t let that fool you into putting them at the top of your draft list.

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