It has been a terrible year for Kris Letang on and off the ice, but mostly off. He suffered a stroke and his father passed away shortly after. After almost a month away from the team, Letang returned on Tuesday and carried the Penguins to victory. Letang had a vintage performance, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots, four hits, and two blocks in the 7-6 OT win over the Panthers. I’m not going to say Letang will have a monster second half based on one game in his age 35 season. The good news is that there’s a lot of games left for him to make an impact, and we know how big the upside is. If I said Letang was a top five defenseman the rest of the way, would you be shocked? I wouldn’t. Now, the floor is much lower in the past, even assuming he can stay healthy. However, Pitt is starting to round into form, offensively at least, and the opportunity is there for a big finish. If your team is in position where you need to take a gamble, I would float some offers to the Letang owner. If I had him and was patient through the first three months, fingers crossed that he can salvage the season. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Tage Thompson – Goal and four assists with three shots and two PIM over two games. All of a sudden, the Sabres are only three points out of the playoffs with three games in hand. Thompson continues to lead the charge.
Jeff Skinner – Goal and two assists, as did Alex Tuch. The top line continues to mash, with Skinner and Tuch in the midst of career years. I see no reason to expect it to change. They’re generating amazing opportunities.
Joe Pavelski – Two assists with two shots. It’s boring at this point in his career, but Pavelski is still an easy hold. It was nice to see Roope Hintz back in the lineup as well.
Aaron Ekblad – Goal and two assists with nine shots over two games. It’s been a rough go for Ekblad after last season’s huge performance, but I am encouraged by his big shot totals over the last weeks. The opportunity is still there for Ekblad to bounce back, much like Letang.
Aleksander Barkov – Goal and two assists with nine shots over two games. Nine game point streak from Barkov as the Panthers really start in a playoff battle. It’s going to take a big streak for them to push back into a playoff spot.
Carter Verhaeghe – Three goals on eight shots. Verhaeghe already set a career high in goals as he plays at a 40+ goal pace. Now if only Maurice would actually give him PP1 time instead of playing 2D…
Matthew Tkachuk – Goal and two assists with seven shots and two PIM. Points in nine of the last ten for Tkachuk as he exceeds his lofty expectations in his first year in Florida.
Mika Zibanejad – Two goals and an assist with three shots. Zibanejad has rediscovered his goal scoring prowess on sheer volume. His shooting percentage is almost the same as last season, yet he’s on pace for 10 more goals.
Artemi Panarin – Three assists with a shot. Panarin has taken a step back this season. It’s still over a point per game, but with the lack of PIM/hits and a mediocre shot rate, it’s not top 25 material right now. Of course, he’s capable for a 50 points in 35 game stretch too.
Adam Fox – Goal and two assists. Fox has easily been the best player on the Rangers this season, and is at the forefront of the Norris discussion. He’s a middling #1 in fantasy.
Filip Chytil – Goal and an assist with four shots. Chytil is in the solid streamer range now.
Kaapo Kakko – Two assists with two shots. Kakko makes his linemates better, but that doesn’t do anything for us in fantasy. He’s a bottom end streamer.
Anders Lee – Two goals on four shots. I view Lee as an elite streamer, but I’ve had him stashed on my bench in roto in case I need some PIM with solid offense. Probably a good case that he’s on the fringe.
William Nylander – Two goals and two assists with four shots. I didn’t see Nylander having a top 15 season for forwards so far, but here we are. It looks sustainable as well. Back up the Brinks truck!
John Tavares – Goal and an assist with eight shots. Tavares’ goals are up, but the assists are down. Seems like a fair trade. He should end up right around a point per game again.
Justin Holl – Two assists with a shot and two PIM. And there’s your annual Holl update!
Patrik Laine – Goal and two assists with four shots. I have no doubts about the offense, just be aware of the plus-minus.
Johnny Gaudreau – Two assists with five shots. Gaudreau was excellent in his return to Calgary. He was pretty unlucky not to get a goal. I’d expect more of the same from him for the rest of the season.
Andrew Mangiapane – Goal and two assists with five shots. A nice little run from Mangiapane has him with 10 points in the last 10 games. Even still, I can’t bump him past middling streamer.
Justin Faulk – Two assists with a shot. Faulk is closer to the fringe now, although I lean towards bottom end hold still.
Torey Krug – Two assists with two shots in his return. The plus-minus was a disaster through his first 31 games, but he did provide a bunch of assists. It comes down to your league format here.
Erik Karlsson – Two assists with a shot. He’s making a real run at a 100 point season from a defenseman. I really hope that he gets there.
Michael Rasmussen – Goal and an assist with four shots. Nothing to see here outside of the deepest of leagues.
David Pastrnak – Goal and three assists with seven shots. All of the money will be going into Pasta’s bank account really soon. He’s been the #2 skater so far this season, and the gap from him to Robertson is almost as big as the gap from him to McDavid. It’s the clear #2.
David Krejci – Goal and an assist with two shots. Pure team needs call.
Kirby Dach – Two goals on three shots. Dach is looking the part in Montreal as a 22 year old. It’s a solid streamer for now, but long term, the upside is quite high. With Caufield out, we can see a shot rate jump.
Anze Kopitar – Two goals on seven shots. A nice surge from the future Hall of Famer has Kopitar in the elite streamer range.
Kevin Fiala – Goal and an assist with three shots. Fiala has been everything that the Kings hoped for this year. Why the Wild were so willing to let him go, even pre-dating the Parise and Suter buyouts, I have no idea.
James van Riemsdyk – Goal and an assist with two shots and four PIM. Could a team in contention take a chance on JVR at 50% retained? The offense is still there. For now, he’s a solid streamer.
Ivan Provorov – Two assists. Unless you’re desperate for blocks, nothing here.
Evgeni Malkin – Goal and two assists with three shots. Malkin keeps scoring his points in bunches. Great for those that play GPPs in DFS. Just stay healthy!
Sidney Crosby – Goal and two assists with four shots. What Crosby is doing in his age 35 season is remarkable. He’s got a realistic chance at 100 points again.
Danton Heinen – Goal and two assists with three shots. One of these Penguins is not like the others… Heinen is an easy pass.
Ryan Poehling – Two assists with four shots. Nothing to see here.
Drew O’Connor – Goal and an assist with two shots. The fourth line really did it for Pittsburgh on Tuesday. And that’s that.
Joel Eriksson Ek – Goal and an assist with four shots and two PIM. Nothing has really changed for JEEK; I see him on the fringe leaning towards a hold.
Corey Perry – Two goals on three shots. Perry is regularly under 10 minutes per game right now. Can’t do anything with that.
Nikita Kucherov – Goal and an assist with five shots. Another ho-hum 121 point pace for Kucherov. His floor is up there with everyone not named McDavid.
Mikhail Sergachev – Two assists with four shots and two PIM. Sergachev has cooled off quite a bit with Hedman’s resurgence, but I’m still holding without hesitation.
Ross Colton – Two assists with a shot. I’d like to see what Colton could do with more minutes on a bad team, but on Tampa, he’s a deep league only option.
Dougie Hamilton – Two goals on six shots. Another overtime winner from Dougie, who is approaching his peak levels from the past. ROS, I’d have him only behind Dahlin and Makar. As the President of the Hamilton fan club, you love to see it.
Jack Hughes – Two assists with four shots. Hughes is on a casual 52+52 pace as a 21 year old. Is that good? We’re looking at a potential fantasy first round pick for a decade in non-hits leagues.
Jesper Bratt – Two assists with a shot. The Devils kicked the can down the road last season, leaving Bratt an RFA again a year from UFA. Whether he can strike a deal with the Devils, and for how much, will be fascinating.
Juuse Saros – 32 saves on 33 shots in the 2-1 win over the Jets. It’s going to take a lot for Nashville to get back into the playoffs, but with Saros back in form, you can’t rule it out.
Logan O’Connor – Two assists. Nice bottom six player in real life, but nothing for fantasy.
Cam Fowler – Two goals and an assist with three shots. It’s been a nice resurgence from Fowler, which I never saw coming. I couldn’t hold in 12’ers because of the plus-minus, but there’s some deep league value again.
Troy Terry – Goal and two assists with five shots. Terry is on the fringe depending on your league format.
Frank Vatrano – Goal and an assist with four shots. This season has been the year from hell for the Ducks. I can see Vatrano bouncing back next year if the Ducks get lucky in the lottery, plus natural growth from Zegras and McTavish. For now, he’s for deep leagues.
Barrett Hayton – Goal and an assist with three shots. Hayton is getting massive minutes right now as the Coyotes try to figure out what they have in him. That said, there’s little fantasy value here. Bottom end streamer at best.
Andrei Kuzmenko – Two goals on five shots. It was scary, but the Canucks pulled out Tocchet’s debut against the worst team in the league. Kuzmenko remained with Elias Pettersson (2A) which keeps Kuzmenko on the fringe. I would lean hold despite the low shots and PIM.
Luke Schenn – Two assists with two shots and two PIM. Schenn is piling up all of the hits, and that’s all he does.
Three Point Challenge: Thursday’s games per usual. No McDavid, Draisaitl, Kucherov, Robertson, Pastrnak, Karlsson, Thompson, Hughes, M. Tkachuk, or Rantanen. I’ll go with Kyrou against the Coyotes.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Friday recapping the action from the next two nights. As always, feel free to ask any questions, give any comments, or make any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care!