Deals on the first day of the NHL free-agency period came fast and furious Sunday, and although most of the big signings were players re-upping with their current clubs, a small handful of guys are poised to see their fantasy value increase exponentially in new settings.
Whether it's because of increased roles or improved quality of teammates, here are the three free-agent signings whose fantasy value is set to skyrocket.
Before you start button-mashing and spewing vitriol across all theScore's social media accounts, we are well aware that Hutton is set to hold down the blue paint for the Buffalo Sabres, one of the more inconsistent teams in the NHL in recent years.
However, Hutton is going from a backup who sees 20-30 starts a year to being the de facto No .1 playing in 50-60, so his value as a starter compared to as a backup is obviously much more significant. He also proved last season with the St. Louis Blues that he is more than capable of putting up starter-type numbers.
Hutton temporarily stole the crease away from starter Jake Allen midway through the season, but ended up ceding the net back to him for the rest of the campaign. Hutton still managed an excellent overall record of 17-7-3, as well as a stellar 2.09 goals-against average, and a sensational .931 save percentage.
There really is no sugarcoating how awful the Sabres have been over the last decade, and it's not exactly looking like they are ready to turn things around just yet. Buffalo allowed the third most goals-against per game last season, averaging 3.39 per contest, so Hutton will obviously have his work cut out for him.
Regardless, there are only 31 starting netminders in the league, so Hutton should be a relatively hot commodity come draft time. He may not have a save percentage north of .930 next season, but his value as a legitimate No. 1 is undeniable.
Sure, Van Riemsdyk is coming from a Toronto Maple Leafs squad that also boasted a potent offensive attack, finishing the year tied for the third-most goals in the league (270). But Van Riemsdyk averaged only 14:54 of ice time (his lowest such mark since his sophomore season), a number that should significantly increase in the City of Brotherly Love.
His increased role and minutes will obviously drive up his overall fantasy value, but Van Riemsdyk's stock may really skyrocket on the power play, where he will have the opportunity to play with proven offensive studs Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Sean Couturier, not to mention former No. 2 overall draft pick Nolan Patrick and budding star Travis Konecny.
Last season's 36-goal performance is obviously not easy to replicate, but given the experienced group he's about to slot into, coupled with his potential to eat a lot more minutes, Van Riemsdyk is a fantasy target whose value is primed for takeoff.
Parade plans in Toronto might have been in full swing for the last 24 hours, but a more realistic plan would be to have a seriously keen eye on Tavares at the top of your draft. Tavares will be injected into a top-six Maple Leafs forward group that already boasts some of the best young talent in the game in Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner. Add Tavares, and Toronto has a potentially lethal mix of offensive weapons.
Johnny T is coming off the second-most productive offensive campaign of his career, registering 37 goals and 47 assists across a full 82-game slate with a New York Islanders squad that finished in the top 10 in league scoring. And while the Islanders might have some nice pieces in Calder Trophy winner Mathew Barzal and criminally underrated forwards Josh Bailey and Anders Lee, Tavares is joining a power play that features some of the best offensive youngsters in the NHL, so a 90-point season really isn't much of a stretch.
Stanley Cup qualification, on the other hand, is probably a reach for a Leafs club still missing a piece or two on the back end, but that won't hold Tavares back from being an absolute beast when it comes to fantasy value.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)