There comes a point in the season where teams are desperate for their superstars to carry them towards the playoffs. That time is now and it’s happening in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov has been spectacular all season but he had his best game Monday night scoring a hat trick on seven shots and adding an assist in the 5-1 win over the Senators. Look how remarkably similar all three goals are:

He now has nine points in his last three games and twenty-five shots on goal over the pats four. Kucherov is producing points at the fourth highest rate in the league this season (min 20 GP) and sits as a top ten forward on the season despite missing some time. I had him as a high second round pick going into this season but he’s been ever better than that. I expect to have Kucherov ranked as a first rounder going into next season and given that he’s still 23 years old, we may not have seen the best from him. Let’s take a look at what else has happened in the game around the league the last two nights:

NOTE: There is a separate post going up regarding trades that will be updated throughout the trade deadline. For instant analysis, go here

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I call Joe Pavelski “Mr. Consistency” because every season you can make him down for 30 goals, 40 assists and solid contributions elsewhere. It’s generally not flashy, just a consistent point with three shots, but at the end of the year it’s good enough to justify a first round pick on him. Pavelski showed on Wednesday night that he’s capable of dominating a game. Pavelski had a monster outing, scoring two goals and two assists with four shots in the 6-5 OT loss to Florida. The Sharks looked like they were dead before Pavelski scored 2 goals in the last 3:21 to force overtime. He’s on pace for right around 30 goals, a small stepback, but he’s compensating by playing at a career high assist rate. The shots are also over three per game, he’s +9 and the PPP are coming in per usual. Expect Pavelski to provide the value you hoped for drafting him in the back end of the first round and for him to be ranked in that same ball park going into next season. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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On the last podcast, Reid and I looked at a bunch of players who were under 50% that I thought were must-own. I made a massive oversight leaving somebody off that list: Conor Sheary. I just looked and saw that he’s 45% owned which absolutely blows my mind (I thought he was in the 70’s or 80’s). Sheary had an excellent weekend scoring twice on three shots on Friday and then getting two goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. That brings Sheary’s totals to 17+17 while being +17 in 39 games. Seventeens are wild! Anyways, Sheary is on pace for 35+35 over 82 games with an excellent plus-minus and decent enough shots. That’s closer to a top 50 player than someone who is on the waiver wire. We’ve seen guys in the past be excellent fantasy values being a passenger on Crosby’s line so if you’re in one of the leagues where Sheary is available, pick him up immediately (I’d put him ahead of everyone discussed on the podcast). Then come back and read what else happened around the league this weekend!

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On the most recent podcast, Reid and I talked about the impending return of Jack Eichel. You can get extensive coverage at the link above but to summarize, everything that we expected showed its face in Tuesday’s game. In the 5-4 win in Ottawa on Tuesday, Eichel stuffed the score sheet totaling a goal and an assist, both on the power play, in addition to five shots and two PIM. The “Big 5” for the Sabres all had multiple points in this game and it’s not a coincidence. I’ll get to the rest of them later but with Eichel returning, all of the top Sabres on the first power play unit get a major boost. Now is the time to either add (Sam Reinhart), buy low (Rasmus Ristolainen, maybe Ryan O’Reilly) or hold tight (Kyle Okposo) to the big guns. This should be a top 5 PP unit going forward and with Eichel returning along with 2 of their best 3 defensemen sooner than later, the depth on this team increased drastically benefiting everybody. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights along with some big news for the readers / listeners of the podcast:

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Halloween is always a good reminder to do a check in with your team, and in particular the rookies, to see who is the real deal and who is just a dude walking around with an ax and wearing a cheap goalie mask.

One reason to look at the rookies at this point is because of the Collective Bargain Agreement rules on entry level contracts. Essentially, once a rookie plays 10 games for the big league club, their entry level contract begins. If, however, the team decides to send them to their minor league team (or to Juniors), then the contract start slides to next year. At this point, most of the rookies have hit around eight games played, so it’s the perfect time to assess whether or not they can help your team out.

The first few guys here aren’t going anywhere, obviously. But what about those closer to the fringe…?

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Hey everyone! Reid and I are back looking at the first week of the season with a focus on the last few days. We start by looking at the high scoring around the league and the teams that will keep playing in wide open games, the dire situation in Los Angeles, Connor McDavid going pointless for two games (bum!) and the ceilings for Brent Burns and Joe Pavelski. After that, we breakdown Thursday and Friday night’s games looking at a few different things, namely whether they’ll be high or low scoring, what players are worth targeting for streaming and who the best daily fantasy candidates are. All of that and more in the newest addition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!

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Everyone who reads this space knows my love for Brent Burns. His beard brings about a magisterial power that guides him on the ice. The Sharks played on Monday and Tuesday to open the week and their all-world defenseman delivered. In Monday’s loss to the Rangers, Burns scored two goals and an assist with seven shots. He followed it up with 2 assists and three shots against the Islanders putting him in the early league lead for points. Burns and Erik Karlsson are in a class of their own right now among defensemen and should battle each other season for top dog status on the blue line. Here’s what else I’ve seen around the league the last two nights:

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The Minnesota Wild are one of the most interesting teams to watch this coming season. They have a strong older core that is supplemented by an up and coming young group ready to make a consistent impact. Their defense is among the best in the league and they have a goaltender who has settled in as a true #1 goalie since his arrival. Add in the hiring of Bruce Boudreau, one of the best coaches in the league, and you have a team that could surprise in the best division in hockey (and it’s not even close). Let’s take a look at what the Wild are working with from top to bottom:

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Let’s play a quick game. Goalie A, in 32 games and 29 starts, won 18 games with a 2.27 GAA and .924 save percentage. Goalie B, in 54 games and 53 starts, had 23 wins, a 2.51 GAA and .918 sv%. Looks like you’d choose A pretty easily, correct? Just 5 less wins in 24 less starts with better percentages. Goalie A is Michal Neuvirth and Goalie B is Steve Mason. I have been calling for Neuvirth to get more action all season (half of those starts were when Mason was out) and after Mason made a fool of himself in game 2 and was lit up for 6 in game 3, Neuvirth got a chance with the Flyers’ season on the line. He stopped 31 of 32 shots in the 2-1 win and kept the team alive for at least a couple more days. Neuvirth played very well on a tanking Sabres team and continued his success in Philly this year. I think there’s a starting goalie here so it’ll be interesting to see what happens with him in the offseason. Here’s what else around the league Wednesday night:

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