By Jason Chen, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The first domino finally fell. After weeks of speculation, the Canucks finally dealt captain Bo Horvat to the Islanders, signaling that trade season is officially open. It was a blockbuster in the sense that the top trade piece was off the board, and some fantasy analysis on that will follow below. The trade deadline is a little more than a month away — note Yahoo's default trade deadline is Feb. 22 — but it's time to check in on which players are on the block and how their potential moves will affect your fantasy team.
Here are this week's trade targets.
Bo Horvat, C (91% rostered) and Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders (67% rostered)
There are some split decisions on how the trade will affect Horvat's fantasy value. Let us all first agree that despite his improved wrist shot, which has become his best weapon other than his toe drag, his shooting percentage was absurdly high. His goal-scoring rate was bound to come crashing down at some point, whether it was later this season or the next, and it showed in January when he scored "only" five goals in 13 games with a 14.3 shooting percentage.
The pessimists will say that Horvat's scoring will dip, especially on the power play, because he's going to a team that doesn't have as much scoring talent as the Canucks and that sits dead last with the man advantage. However, those are the exact reasons — along with a lot of faceoff wins — the Isles acquired Horvat and, if anything, the addition of Horvat should elevate the play of everyone around him. Noah Dobson has another finisher he can pass to on the power play, bumping the ineffective Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Kyle Palmieri from the top unit, and Anders Lee and Brock Nelson might draw easier matchups at even strength.
Barzal, a potential linemate for Horvat and an elite right-handed playmaker, will finally have a good left-handed finisher on his line. On a 2-on-1 rush, the Horvat-Barzal combo could be unstoppable. As an added bonus, playing them on the same line might push Barzal to the right wing, giving him C/RW eligibility. In the past, Barzal's fantasy value has taken a hit because he doesn't take or win many faceoffs; playing in an RW slot will solve that problem.
Timo Meier, LW/RW, Sharks (99% rostered)
The rumored suitors for Meier are the Devils, Leafs, Canes and Sabres, all four of which would be a huge improvement over the Sharks. Meier retains a lot of fantasy value even when he's playing on a bad team because he's one of the best high-volume shooters in the league, and now he'll potentially be moving to a team with one of the league's best offenses. The time to trade for Meier is now before his fantasy value jumps with a move to a more competitive team.
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Blues (85% rostered)
Tarasenko asked for a trade from the Blue two years ago, and he'll be much easier to move now that his contract is almost up. It's been a pretty disastrous season for St. Louis, but Tarasenko has continued to be productive, scoring 29 points in 34 games prior to his injury. His plus-minus is down for obvious reasons, but his shooting percentage has also regressed and sits lower than his career average.
Perhaps a change of scenery will help Tarasenko find his scoring touch again, and Jordan Kyrou has already moved past him on the depth chart, further limiting Tarasenko's ice time. Considering that Noel Acciari has been his center recently, Tarasenko's fantasy upside is capped with the Blues until he lands elsewhere.
Brock Boeser, RW, Canucks (42% rostered)
I keep bending the rule that any player featured in this space has to be rostered in at least 50 percent of leagues, but it's worth noting that Horvat's departure leaves a massive void on the Canucks' power play. The most logical candidate to jump on is Boeser, who had been bumped to the second unit with the arrival of Andrei Kuzmenko.
Boeser will either line up on the half wall like he has in the past or take Horvat's spot in the bumper position; in either case, it puts him in a prime shooting area. Boeser has struggled with his shot in recent years due to numerous wrist injuries, but this is his chance to put up some big numbers on a power play that should still be pretty effective even without Horvat.
Cam Talbot, G, Senators (60% rostered)
Talbot is currently injured but is not expected to miss much time. A pending UFA, Talbot should draw plenty of interest as a veteran goalie in a season in which good goaltending has been difficult to find. Talbot's name hasn't been mentioned much in the rumor mill, but his trade might end up having the most significant fantasy impact. Todd McLellan's Kings are one possible destination, as McLellan coached Talbot when he finished fourth in Vezina voting with the Oilers six years ago.
Talbot has generally been very good playing behind a young and shallow defensive corps, and a move to a more stout defensive team should help him post better numbers across the board. He may end up being in a timeshare, which he had wanted to avoid with the Wild, but Talbot should nonetheless have more fantasy value after a potential move because the quality of his starts will be much better.
Chris Kreider, LW/RW, Rangers (97% rostered)
That second-half bump is likely not coming, especially if the Rangers somehow land Meier or Patrick Kane, adding more competition for playing time. A regression was likely in store for Kreider after he scored 52 goals on an absurdly high shooting percentage last season, and for the third straight month, Kreider has seen his shooting percentage dip. It's gone from 17.4 percent in November to 13.2 percent in December and now 12.9 percent in January.
Kreider has plenty of value still in banger leagues for his hits, but without the goal-scoring, he's simply depth. Fantasy managers might be able to bank on Kreider's reputation to net a forward with more upside such as Jake DeBrusk or Matt Boldy.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Capitals (81% rostered)
Other than the dramatic drop-off in goals, with just six in 51 games this season after scoring 24 last season, note Kuznetsov has seen his playing time diminish recently playing on the third line. He's played less than 16 minutes in three of his past five games and eclipsed 19 minutes just four times in January.
Dylan Strome is the preferred center next to Alex Ovechkin, and the return of Nicklas Backstrom has bumped Kuznetsov further down the lineup. Anthony Mantha and Sonny Milano are both wingers who can finish, but both are also incredibly inconsistent. Kuznetsov's fantasy value is almost purely derived from his assists; with limited ice time and without an elite scoring winger to finish his plays, Kuznetsov's fantasy value is unlikely to climb higher.