He's always piled up the assists but Jason Spezza has never been known as a goal scorer. This year, it's a different story because if he wasn't injured, he'd have set a career high in goals. On Friday, Spezza scored a goal and an assist on four shots against the Blackhawks before Spezza scored for the fifth consecutive game Saturday, burying two goals on seven shots against the Blues. Spezza now has 28 goals and 25 assists in 64 games; his career high is 34 goals. Spezza is now a top 50 skater on the year and with the talent the Stars have, he should be around there next year. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
The Florida Panthers have had so many high draft picks that among their young core, Vincent Trocheck tends to be forgotten. The 22 year old has taken a massive step forward in his progression this season and he had his best game to date on Thursday, scoring a goal and three assists in the 6-2 win over the Senators. Trocheck now has 20+25 with solid numbers in all categories with 15 games to go. He's 90% at this point (I'm surprised it's not 100%) and should make a nice target in the mid to late rounds in drafts next season. Here's what else I saw around the league on Thursday night:
Semyon Varlamov is the epitome of a goaltender who is the ultimate wild card. Insert Forrest Gump quote here, etc. One day he can give up 2 goals on 2 shots and get pulled like he did against Buffalo a few weeks ago and then you can get a 37 save shutout like he had against the red hot Ducks on Wednesday night. It was the first regulation loss for the Ducks in over a month. Patrick Roy has shown the willingness to go to Calvin Pickard if necessary but that's two monster games in a row for Varlamov so expect him to ride the Russian for the near term. Here's what else I saw on Wednesday night:
Everyone knew that Shayne Gostisbehere wasn't going to get a point in every game like he was when he was first called up. He's an amazing offensive talent but everyone goes through rough patches, especially 22 year olds. Ghost broke his recent slump in a big way scoring twice on three shots to lead the Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Lightning snapping their nine game winning streak. Shockingly, the Flyers are only two points out of the playoffs right now and they can thank Ghost and the first line for carrying them. The shots are great, the power play points are elite and so are the goals. Where will Gostisbehere rank among defensemen for next season? It's a very tough question to answer at this point. More than likely it's in the top 20 which is outstanding for somebody who was in the AHL to start the season. Here's what else I saw on Monday night around the league:
If you've been following along with me all year, or at least the last month, you know how much I like Mark Scheifele. The 22 year old was having an excellent start to the year until an injury sidelined him for 11 games. He came back and started well only to take off when he moved up to the first line in the wake of Bryan Little's injury. Scheifele is in the midst of his best stretch to date. After his two goal performance on Thursday, Scheifele topped it with his first career hat trick on four shots in the 4-2 win over Montreal on Saturday. He then scored a goal on five shots in the 2-1 defeat against the Oilers. Scheifele now has 21 goals and 20 assists in 54 games with an excellent plus-minus, solid PIM and a near-elite shot rate. Scheifele is conservatively a top 50 player for the rest of this season and going forward. As I've said before, I want him on all of my teams next year. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
On Wednesday night here, I recommended Jamie McGinn as a streamer in his first game as a Duck, saying "early indications are that he’s going to play with Rickard Rakell and Corey Perry tonight. I like his chances to get a point if that’s the case." Well McGinn on both Wednesday on Thursday. On Wednesday, McGinn scored a goal on four shots against the Canadiens. He came back on Thursday scoring a goal and an assist with two shots against the Coyotes. This is the best opportunity that McGinn has had in his career so it's nice to see him produce right off the bat. This should help him keep this role putting him right on the fringe of 12'ers with how well the Ducks are playing. At the least, he's a top end streamer from this point moving forward. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights:
Both players talked about how the game was bigger than them but all eyes were on Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel on Tuesday night. McDavid stole the show scoring 22 seconds into the game and then scoring the overtime winner to lead the McDavids over the Eichels Oilers over the Sabres 2-1. McDavid added five shots and pushed his total to 31 points in 28 games. It's remarkable how good the wunderkind is already and I think it's fair to say he'll be a first round pick in fantasy drafts starting next year already. Here's what I saw around the league on Tuesday night: