I was all in on the Tampa Bay Lightning again this year picking them to make the Stanley Cup Finals. Obviously they don’t crown champions 3 weeks into the season but Tampa has started off incredibly well. They’ve had some depth players step up but at the end of the day, their studs have been incredible. The top two players in points in the NHL by a wide margin are both Lightning players with Steven Stamkos. Tampa Bay blitzed Pittsburgh 7-1 on Saturday and Stamkos led the way with a goal, three assists and four shots on goal. That gives Stamkos a whopping 17 points (3+14) in 9 games. Stamkos was a player who consistently dropped in my drafts into the third round and while it’s too early to celebrate given Stamkos’ injury, it’s been the dream start. Fingers crossed that he stays healthy because Stammer could be a top 10, maybe even top 5 player. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Derek Dorsett – Two goals and an assist with four shots. The Sabres should lose an extra game for allowing Dorsett to get three points; I don’t care that one was an empty netter. And there’s your annual Derek Dorsett update!
Michael Del Zotto – Assist and five shots on goal playing almost 25 minutes. The minutes are huge right now and he’s cleaning up in hits and blocks so if you have those categories, MDZ is firmly in play.
Martin Jones – 28 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Devils. After a rough start, that’s three solid games in a row for Jones. I’m not a huge fan but he’s still a bottom end #1.
Justin Braun – Two assists. Don’t really see much here outside of deep leagues that include hits and blocks.
Andre Burakovsky – Goal and an assist with three shots. He’s super inconsistent but is prone to hot streaks so monitor Burakovsky over the next game or two.
Tomas Tatar – Two goals on six shots. Tatar is right on track to be right on the fringe of hold or streamer again. The shot rate has been better to start which makes it closer but I still barely leans towards streamer.
Evgeni Malkin – Goal and an assist with six shots. Just stay healthy!
Phil Kessel – Two assists, six shots, two PIM. Kessel is at a point per game, four shots per game, and 18 PIM already. Excellent start for the President of the Round Face Club.
Jason Zucker – Two assists with two shots on goal. If you’re in a league with a handful or more weekly moves, I would grab Zucker right now. The minutes are excellent while everyone else on the Wild are injured.
Patrik Laine – Two goals on eight shots. While he hasn’t had the amazing start that the other wunderkinds from the 2015 and 2016 drafts have had, Laine has been strong.
Blake Wheeler – Goal and an assist with seven shots. Wheeler has been his usual solid self so far outside of the goal department. He’s still over three shots per game so they’re coming.
Dustin Byfuglien – Two assists with a shot and two PIM. The shot rate has been poor since he returned from a brief injury absence but I have no doubts that Big Buff will right that ship.
Mark Scheifele – Two assists. After a strong start in terms of shot rate, Scheifele has only 5 SOG in the past 5 games. That will have to change for him to be a top 15 player, getting a point per game again won’t be enough.
Carey Price – 39 saves on 45 shots in the 6-2 loss over the Ducks. A lot of people have asked me about Price in the comments section. I wouldn’t be panicking yet and would consider him to be a buy low candidate right now. I don’t love Montreal as a team (I picked them 7th in the division on the podcast) but the ratios should get fixed.
Brandon Montour – Goal and an assist with two shots. He’s bottom end but I would grab Montour if you need blue line help.
Derek Grant – Two goals on four shots. It took 93 games for Grant to score an NHL goal and then he scores two in the same game! Obviously there’s not much here.
Filip Forsberg – Goal and an assist with two shots. Excellent start to the year for Forsberg with 11 points in 8 games. That full breakout I predicted to 70+ points could finally be on the horizon.
Kevin Hayes – Goal and an assist with two shots. Rough start for Hayes but he’s picked it up over the last five games. He’s probably an elite streamer for now but I suspect he’ll be a hold for extended stretches.
Jimmy Vesey – Goal and an assist. To be blunt, I couldn’t care less about Vesey for fantasy purposes.
Henrik Lundqvist – 23 saves on 25 shots in the 4-2 win over the Predators. Like a bunch of other goalies that I rated high, I’m not panicking yet with The King.
Wayne Simmonds – Goal and an assist with two shots. Simmonds has been everything you could hope for in the first eight games.
Brian Elliott – 23 saves on 24 shots in the 2-1 win over the Oilers. He has 4 wins in 5 starts but has a sub .900 save percentage meaning his team is bailing him out. Elliott is fine as a third goalie but I’m hesitant to say he’ll be better, especially since Michal Neuvirth has been much better in his first three starts.
Ryan O’Reilly – Goal and an assist with five shots. RoR has really turned it around with six points in the past four games. I have no doubts that he gets back to where he’s been for the past two years in Buffalo, if not better.
Jason Pominville – Goal and an assist with four shots. Must own while he’s en fuego.
Brad Marchand – Two goals on five shots. The penalty minutes aren’t there yet but Marchand is crushing everywhere else. Look for it continue with Bergeron back.
David Pastrnak – Two goals on four shots. Four game goal streak for Pastrnak who is showing that last year wasn’t a fluke by any stretch of the imagination. Forty goals is within reach.
Charlie McAvoy – Two assists with two shots. McAvoy has been outstanding with 7 points (1+6) in 7 games with 10 PIM. The shots aren’t great but with the minutes over 25 per game lately, McAvoy could be on the verge of the Calder Trophy caliber season many forecasted.
Logan Couture – Hat trick making his three shots count. It’s on the back of two massive games but the notable member of Bills Mafia is back to where he used to be 3-4 years ago.
Brent Burns – Two assists with eight shots. Brent Burns back to doing Brent Burns things!
Joe Thornton – Two assists with a shot. Meh. You guys know I hate players like Thornton for fantasy.
John Tavares – Goal and two assists with two shots. Frustrating start for Tavares who has a point in only 2 of 8 games, albeit three in each of those two games. He’s been very consistent in the past so it’ll work itself.
Anders Lee – Two goals and an assist. The five goals in eight games is great but no penalty minutes is quite the shock after 50+ the past two. It’s a large part of Ders’ value so let’s hope the goals keep flowing and he starts to visit the sin bin.
Josh Bailey – Goal and an assist with two shots. Right on the edge although I still lean towards elite streamer. The shot rate is poor and there are no penalty minutes.
Auston Matthews – Goal and an assist with three shots. Great start although Matthews needs to get back to his big shot totals to balance out shooting 32%. He’s had three games with one shot on goal in his first eight; if those get eliminated, it goes a long way towards cancelling out some inevitable regression.
Ron Hainsey – Two assists with a shot. Decent deep league option if you need assists because of his minutes and how wide open Toronto is playing.
Frederik Andersen – 29 saves on 34 shots in the 6-3 loss to Ottawa. The wins should be great but the ratios are taking a beating the way Toronto is playing. It should get better but I’m starting to have my doubts that Andersen can have better than his 2.67 GAA from last season.
Erik Karlsson – Three assists with two shots. Is it possible that the general hockey fan greatly under-appreciates Karlsson? I feel like they do.
Mark Stone – Two goals and an assist with seven shots. Man, if Stone can come close to getting 3 SOG per game, he’s a lock for a top 75 season, potentially top 50.
Derick Brassard – Two goals and an assist with four shots. Okay, I’m grabbing Brassard now if I have the room. He looks like NYR Brassard again.
Nikita Kucherov – Two goals and an assist with six shots. He’s far and away the number fantasy player right now. As evidenced by ranking him 3rd overall, I don’t think there’s anything fluky about this. Kucherov is looking like a great bet for 90+ points.
Brayden Point – Goal and an assist with two shots. I’m still not a big believer in Point for this year so if you can sell high, I probably would.
Mikhail Sergachev -Goal and an assist. Sergachev is must-own right now with 8 points in 9 games. I like him a lot more long term than for this season but I don’t see why he can’t fall into the 40-50 point range.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – 28 saves on 29 shots in the 7-1 win. Vasilevskiy has been a top 5 goalie to this point and has the upside for this to be real.
Dustin Brown – Goal and three assists with five shots. I am in complete shock that this is happening. Brown has become a must-own for the time being while he is this hot. I mean, he’s looked lost for dead four straight seasons and now he has 11 points in 7 games with an elite shot rate!?
Anze Kopitar – Two goals and an assist with three shots. Getting Brown to play at this level again deserves all of the praise and then some for Kopitar. How good is this guy?
Jake Muzzin – Goal and two assists with two shots. Muzzin has been terrific to start like the rest of the Kings. He’s going to regress a lot but Muzzin is still worth owning everywhere with the ugliness that is defensemen.
Alex Iafallo – Two assists with three shots. Solid streamer while he is with Kopitar and Brown.
Nick Foligno – Goal and an assist with three shots. Very good start across the board for Foligno, he just needs to marginally boost the shots.
James Reimer – 41 saves on 42 shots in the 4-1 win over the Caps. Roberto Luongo is out at least for a week so grab Reimer everywhere.
Evgeny Dadonov – Goal and an assist with four shots. My aggressive Top 100 ranking of Dadonov has paid off in the early going with 7 points in 7 games.
Aleksander Barkov – Goal and an assist with three shots playing 26:18. Over 26 minutes!? That is absolutely insane for a forward. If Barkov sees anywhere near this type of ice time all year, put him down for 70 points.
Vincent Trocheck – Goal and an assist with four shots and two PIM. Trocheck is a great player for the middle of your roster since he could be a plus in all six categories.
Jeff Skinner – Two goals on five shots. As predicted a week ago, Skinner worked out of his early slump very quickly.
Brock McGinn – Two assists. The four assists in five games is nice but two total shots on goal makes him a hard pass.
Radek Faksa – Two assists with two shots. I wish Faksa was playing additional minutes but for now, there’s not much here.
Tyler Pitlick – Two goals. I wouldn’t expect many more Pitlick updates this year.
Duncan Keith – Two assists with two shots. Keith has been his usual AAGNOF self in the early going with the addition of strong shots for a blueliner.
Clayton Keller – Goal on three shots. This kid is the real deal and should be the Calder favorite.
Ryan Suter – Goal and two assist with three shots and two PIM. Despite the Wild injuries throughout the lineup, Suter has provided an excellent start for fantasy owners. Can’t say that about many, if any, other guys on this team. Brutal luck to open the year for Minny.
Jared Spurgeon – Goal and an assist with three shots. Excellent player in real life, bottom end fantasy asset unless your league includes blocked shots.
Luke Kunin – Two assists with a shot. The former first round pick received some run with Staal so there may be some short term streamer value here in deeper leagues.
T.J. Brodie – Two assists with three shots playing almost 29 minutes. Brodie should be owned everywhere right now although I’d be tempted to sell high if possible. The PIM are always bad and his shot rate is generally horrendous. If he can keep this 2 per game rate, he’s looking at potentially being a bottom end #2. Usually it’s so bad that he’s borderline un-ownable. I can’t say either way with any conviction but his past history suggests this rate goes back down.
Jaromir Jagr – Left the game with a LBI. Please don’t deprive us from seeing his greatness for any extended period.
Reilly Smith – Goal and two assists playing almost 22 minutes. I have my doubts that he can come anywhere close to maintaining this pace but Smith remains a quality streamer.
Malcolm Subban – Out a month. Oh boy. It’s a shame that Vegas waived Calvin Pickard because they desperately need him right now. It would make a ton of sense for them to make a trade for a goalie but for now, Oscar Dansk is their guy if you’re desperate for starts.
Jacob Markstrom – 20 saves on 21 shots in the 4-1 win over the Red Wings. Markstrom has been solid in the early going with only one bad game. Wins will probably be hard to come by but Markstrom should be owned right now, if only for the volume.
Bo Horvat – Two assists with three shots. Dr. Bo has started slow but the shots are at three per game and the minutes are starting to get back up. I still have faith that he can reach 60 points this year.
Sven Baertschi – Two goals on three shots. Streamer through and through.
THE LOOK AHEAD
It’s been suggested by a few commentors to post a look ahead at the upcoming week’s schedule for those of you that play in weekly lineup leagues. Thanks to lackeydrinksonme, here is this week’s list of teams that play either 2 or 4 games:
There’s only two games tonight so pickings are slim. I’d target guys in the Kings – Leafs game the way those teams are playing so I’m looking to use Zach Hyman or Alex Iafallo. If you’re in a league where Hayes or Tomas Hertl are available, feel free to grab them as well.
That’s all for now guys. With only two games on the slate, my next set of daily notes will go up on Wednesday. The plan is to have a podcast out Tuesday afternoon so be on the lookout for that. If you want to make a pick in the Three Point Challenge for Tuesday’s games, feel free to do that in this post. Remember, you can’t take the top 10 scorers from last year. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Thanks for reading, take care!