Quick, who is second in the NHL in points? The question would be harder to answer if you guys couldn’t see the title of this post. Phil Kessel has been absolutely incredible all season and he’s certainly not getting the credit he deserves. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Monday night was a short slate, but there were a couple great games. Florida and Edmonton decided that defense (and goaltending) was optional leading to a 7-5 barn burner. Vincent Trocheck took over the game late, scoring three goals in the third period on six shots to record his first career hat trick. No matter what format you play, Trocheck has been incredible this season. By the end of the month, there's a great chance that Trocheck has set career highs in goals, assists, PPP (already did that) and SOG. The 24 year old is also a monster in faceoffs, hits, and blocks for a forward as well. For those of us in standard leagues, Trocheck looks like a top 35 player for this season and in the future, if not even better. He's basically Jamie Benn with a better shot rate and a lower floor for penalty minutes (obviously plus-minus can shift year-to-year). The only potential downside going forward is that Trocheck is already averaging 21:33 per game, which has nowhere to go but down. Either way, that's of no concern for me; Trocheck is still underrated in my eyes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine. That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season. Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night. Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings. That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser). Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties. Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season. Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy. The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game. On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain. There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up. Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The way young players have stormed the league in recent seasons, people just assume Sam Reinhart won't get much better and be a bust. If Reinhart wasn't the second overall pick, he'd be impressing everyone with his improvement. While I don't think he'll ever be a true superstar, I'm still a big fan of Reinhart going forward. Reinhart was on the ice for all four Sabres goals on Thursday, scoring a goal and two assists with two shots in the win over the Islanders. That puts Reinhart at 15 points in his past 16 games making him an elite streamer at the moment. For those in dynasties, Reinhart should develop into a top 100 player eventually but towards the bottom end. He'll be a beast in real life, but the lack of PIM will keep his value down. For those in redrafts, use him while he's hot. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
This is year three of me writing daily notes for Razzball, and at this point, I don't think it provides a ton of value for me to write the intro paragraph on superstars. That said, four goal games are a different animal. Connor McDavid crushed the best team in the NHL on Monday, scoring a whopping four goals on nine shots and adding an assist in the 6-2 win over the Lightning. We know McDavid is as good as it gets and he's the best player in fantasy for the foreseeable future. This is just a reminder about how good he is (let's not take him for granted) and how bad of a job Peter Chiarelli has done as a GM that McDavid isn't going to be in the playoffs this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
He hasn't been talked about much but as far as disappointments go, Ryan Johansen is near the top of the list. It wasn't that long ago that he was a 22 year old scoring 33 goals and 30 assists, followed up by 26+45. Johansen had 4 straight 60+ point seasons before this year and to be blunt, he's been awful compared to his high standards. Johansen had his best game in quite some time Thursday, dishing three assists and putting three shots on goal in the 5-0 win over the Kings. The main reason I'm encouraged by this? Filip Forsberg. The Swedish star returned from injury on Thursday and immediately went onto Johansen's wing. Still, five goals and under 1.5 shots per game on the season isn't going to get it done for Johansen owners. In the last three games, Johansen has at least three shots on goal, so I think he's going to keep building. I don't think we see Columbus Johansen again, but I don't see why last season's Johansen can be back for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
You don't need me to tell you how good Evgeni Malkin is at hockey. I'm still flabbergasted that he wasn't one of the players in the NHL 100 because he's clearly one of the best 100 players ever. Certainly better than Toews or Keith. I also wanted to use the word flabbergasted in a sentence. Oh, yeah, so about that Malkin fella. He scored his 12th career hat trick on Tuesday night as the Penguins kept rolling against the Sharks. Malkin is well over a point per game, gives great penalty minutes, and the shot rate remains over three points per game. As I always say about Malkin, just stay healthy! As noted here, the playoff schedule is rough for the Pens, but Malkin should definitely help you get to that point. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
This is year 2 of breaking down the playoff schedule for head to head fantasy hockey playoff leagues. I'm going to follow the same format as last year (you can look at last year's here). That means I'm going to look at the 4 weeks of RCL playoffs although I will not combine the totals from each individual week of the playoffs. For example, last season, I posted this for Montreal: Montreal Canadiens (3,3,3,4). That means they have 3 games the first 3 weeks of the fantasy playoffs and 4 games for the last week of the season. I also graded each team's schedule for both their holds and for streaming. I will be doing that again with one additional grade: goaltending grade. That means how I grade the schedule for this team's #1 goalie. I will also include the list of light days at the bottom of this post. A light day is a day where there are 4 or less games on the schedule, making players on those teams preferable streaming options. This post is going to end up incredibly long so without further adieu, let's get to it!
The Chicago Blackhawks are in last place in their division for the first time in what seems like an eternity. They are lacking in the scoring department in a big way. There's one easily move that Joel Quenneville can make to help their cause: play Alex DeBrincat more. The 20 year old scored his second hat trick of the season on Thursday while adding an assist. He's now tied for third on the team in points and second in goals. However, on a per-minute basis, he scores more goals than anyone on the team by a country mile and he's incredibly close to Kane in points per minute. DeBrincat is averaging under 15 minutes per game on the season and to be blunt, that makes no sense to me. The Blackhawks aren't completely dead in the water, especially if Corey Crawford eventually returns (it's been reported that he could return to the ice "soon"). Either way though, getting DeBrincat more ice time helps the team now and helps his development. He's playing at a 28 goal pace with bottom six ice time! DeBrincat is an elite streamer in 12'ers right now but if his minutes increase as they should, I would bet he becomes a hold down the stretch. Let's take a look at what happened in the NHL over the last two nights:
As always, Reid joins me to start our trade deadline previews. We open the podcast at looking at the latest injuries and suspensions around the league with the focal points being Edmonton with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins out, Brad Marchand's vicious elbow to Marcus Johansson, and Jonathan Quick skipping the All-Star game and getting the automatic one game suspension for it. After that, the Atlantic Division is the first division we cover for the trade deadline. What are the buyers at the top of the division looking for? What will Mike Green and Evander Kane return in a trade? Will Montreal or Ottawa move their star wingers? It is a thorough in-depth conversation breaking down every team's current and long-term situation. From there, we make Three Point Challenge picks for Thursday. Make your pick below. All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!
In my second half predictions post, I said that Jack Eichel would be in the top 5 in scoring for the rest of the season. He's certainly started on the right track. Eichel scored the OT winner on his seventh shot against the Flames on Monday before exploding against the Oilers with a goal and three assists with five shots on Tuesday. The Sabres power play looks like last season's unit again, the unit that was #1 in the entire NHL. Eichel is leading the way there but has also been dominant in all phases. He's currently in the midst of a 7 game point streak totaling a whopping 14 points in those 7 games while averaging almost 5 shots per game. This game put Eichel above a point per game for the season and I expect him to finish there. Sure, the plus-minus is poor, but everything else is outstanding. He's a first round pick for me next season, no doubt about it. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Am I shocked at how well the Jets are doing? No. Reid and I talked about the Jets' ceiling on the Central Division podcast and we said that second place is certainly within the realm of possibility (I guess we sold them a little short, first is in play). Long term readers know how much I love Connor Hellebuyck. The only reason I was scared off a bit for redrafts is that Kevin Cheveldayoff said that Steve Mason would be their starter to open the season. Well, Mason was lit up in his first game as a Jet and the rest is history. Hellebuyck continued his outstanding breakout season over the weekend, saving 30 of 31 shots in the 2-1 SO win over the Flames on Saturday, then a 29 save shutout in the 1-0 win against the Canucks on Sunday. Hellebuyck is currently the #2 goalie on the season, and while there's a chance he falls off a little bit (I'm certain he'll finish as a #1G), I think he's solidified himself as the #2 goalie in dynasty leagues. The Jets are going to be really good for a long time and Hellebuyck will be a big reason and also a beneficiary of the talent around him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: