We've reached the home stretch with three weeks left in the season. Today, I'm going to hit on some notable things that'll help you for your fantasy playoffs and other things just to watch for future gain. Let's get to it! Owen Power signed with the Sabres and should make his NHL debut on Tuesday against the Maple Leafs. It's not the best matchup obviously, but if you need defensemen help, I'm good with adding him. The Sabres finish the week with a back-to-back against the Flyers which is pretty advantageous.
Fifty-six goals. That's how many Auston Matthews has on the season after another two goal performance on Thursday. Not only does he have the most goals in a season in Maple Leafs history, he now holds the record for most goals in a season by an US-born player. Matthews has 49 goals on 49 games, a run that hasn't happened in this millennium. He's locking up the Hart Trophy with this run, and the fantasy question is where he goes in drafts next season. I still couldn't bring myself to take Matthews over McDavid because the floor for McDavid is the highest we've seen in the fantasy hockey era, but I think Matthews has played himself into tier one being worthy of the second pick overall. Can't wait to see how Toronto performs in the playoffs this year. Let's take a look at what happened over the last two nights:
If I was going to pick a team to back up an eight goal game with a nine goal game, it would obviously be The Desert Dogs! The last few weeks have been very strange as a whole in the NHL, but this takes the cake. Arizona scored eight on Ottawa before scoring a nine ball, corner pocket on Detroit Tuesday. They were led by the one, the only, Nick Schmaltz, who had two goals and two assists in this game. That's 11 points and a +11 in two games! He's the best thing since Gretzky! While I like to joke, Schmaltz was on fire a week ago and then decided to get 11 points in two games. He clearly needs to be held for the time being. Let's see what else happened over the last two nights:
Who would have thought that a seven point game wouldn't get the opening? It would take something extravagant and that's what happened, with Jason Robertson scoring back-to-back hat tricks. R0bertson carried the Stars to victory on Friday scoring three on seven shots, including the overtime winner. He capped it off with an empty netter to seal the game against Minnesota on Sunday, totaling six shots and two PIM with his hat trick. That brings Robertson to a whopping 29+25 in 47 games and three shots per game. Robertson seemingly came out of nowhere last season to earn a second place finish in the Calder race. Now, the sky appears to be the limit. Robertson is still only 22 years old and has his center of the present and future already with him. It looks like the Stars have their new Benn and Seguin. They can only hope Hintz and Robertson reach that level, but it's not out of the realm of possibility. I don't think Robertson quite cracks the top 20 for the rest of the season and next year, but he's a slam dunk top 50 player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
We have our first big named moved prior to the trade deadline. It appears that teams want to get their business done early this season, especially Montreal, and they did on Monday sending Tyler Toffoli to Calgary for a prospect and picks, including a first. In Toffoli's first game, he scored a goal on four shots in 12:18 of ice time. The game was lopsided so it's hard to make a lot of judgments yet. Toffoli started the game on the third line, but his goal was assisted by Lindholm and Gaudreau as Sutter was trying out different looks. Given how well the first line has played, I can't imagine Toffoli stays there, but it's worth noting. If he's on the third line and second PP, he's capable of being a hold like Mangiapane has been in that role in the past, but it also caps his ceiling quite a bit. I'm not rushing to hold him, but his underlying numbers are still quite good this season despite Montreal being a dumpster fire. I wouldn't be surprised if he does turn into a hold at some point again, so if you want to make the spec add, I'm completely fine with it. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Not everybody can step into the league and score 105 points like Crosby or 52 goals like Ovechkin did. Even for #1 overall picks, it can take some time for them to learn the league and figure out how to play to their strengths. If the last week is any indication, it looks like Jack Hughes has started to figure it out. After a three point game earlier in the week, Hughes followed that up with another three point game; two goals and an assist with seven shots against the Oilers. On Sunday, Hughes kept the multi-point streak going with two assists against the Capitals. That brings to 8+8 in 16 games. You don't need a math major like me to tell you that's a 41+41 pace over 82 games. The minutes are starting to reach first line minutes on a regular basis. Missing a lot of time will keep his overall value down, but Hughes has a reasonable chance to be a top 50 player this season on a per-game basis, and he'll be ranked extremely high from yours truly in 2022-23. Let's take a look at what else happened over what was hopefully a great New Years weekend for everyone!
As a Sabres fan, I've tortured myself for the better part of a decade watching this team. In the last few years in particular, they would play a ton of games that were over halfway through the game because of how poor their goaltending was (besides Ullmark, who was constantly hurt). Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen was considered the goalie of the future for the past few years, but in the eyes of most, he was passed this year by Portillo and Levi in college. Well, UPL was called up out of desperation ten days ago, and opinions are quickly changing. Luukkonen saved 30 of 32 shots in the 3-2 SO win over the Wild on Thursday. Since being recalled, UPL has started five games and allowed exactly two goals in all of them, making over 30 saves in the past four games. Even with the acquisition of Subban, UPL is going to stay up and should get most of the starts. Granato has made it clear that they need to reward guys who play well and Luukkonen is keeping them in games. I'm not rushing to grab him in redrafts, but he's certainly worth considering in his next start, presumably against Columbus on Monday. In dynasties, I'm still a big fan. Who knows what happens with the other goalies, but both are 2-3 years away, and the time for UPL is now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It wasn't hard to figure out who to feature in the opening paragraph tonight. Andre Burakovsky started off the weekend with two goals on six shots against the Red Wings and finished it off with a hat trick on six shots against the Panthers. That brings Burakovsky to 12+8 in 24 games on the season, quite the respectable total. He's still available in 40% of leagues and that needs to change immediately. With Gabriel Landeskog out for two weeks, Burakovsky is playing on the top line and top power play unit. That's enough to make him must own in all formats, and he showed why on Sunday, getting a hat trick in a tough matchup. It should be an excellent December for Burakovsky and hopefully it continues into the New Year. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
One of the best coaches of the past two decades finally received another chance. Bruce Boudreau was hired by the Canucks and promptly won his first game 4-0. Thatcher Demko had a 31 save shutout and looks to be the biggest beneficiary of the coaching change. Boudreau has always had a great defensive system that inflated the numbers of his goaltenders. Dubnyk was never that good of a goalie, but he was great in fantasy. Same goes with the Washington guys earlier, or the other Wild goaltenders. Demko has the chance to be a bottom end #1 now. I'd also expect the stars on the Canucks to start turning things around. I still think the roster is incredibly flawed, but this is a huge win for the Canucks in real life and for us in fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Blues have cooled off a bit since their hot start, but that doesn't mean that all of their players have. Pavel Buchnevich tore it up over the weekend, scoring a goal and an assist with three shots and two PIM on Friday before coming back with two goals and an assist with five shots on Saturday. Buch is crushing it across the board on the seasons now with 8+8, 18 PIM and 58 shots in 19 games. Add in a +8 rating and he's a top 20 forward at the moment. Do I expect that to last? No, but his fit in St. Louis couldn't be better and now he's getting plenty of minutes, especially with David Perron out of the lineup. Somehow, he's still available in over 20% of leagues which is blasphemous. He has a real chance at being a top 50 player this year. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The hits keep coming for Tampa Bay. Brayden Point is now out indefinitely after an ugly crash into the boards on Saturday. The Tampa lineup is starting to get pretty thin. Stammer has been forced to go back to center, with Alex Barre-Boulet getting time on the top line. Barre-Boulet scored in Sunday's game against the Wild. He's a decent streamer now. The more interesting player is Anthony Cirelli, who scored two goals on five shots with two PIM on Sunday playing over 24 minutes. It's pretty clear that Cirelli is going to be the top minute getter for Tampa for the time being. I think he becomes a must hold in all formats. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league this weekend:
Jeff Skinner scored 40 goals in 2018-19 playing on the first line with the Sabres. Then, for no reason at all, Ralph Krueger decided that Skinner shouldn't play on the first line anymore. Last season, Krueger thought that Skinner, on a team devoid of talent, should play on the fourth line, or even be scratched. Needless to say, Krueger was one of the worst coaches in the league and quickly lost his job. Since Don Granato took over, Skinner has been back in the role he should be, and he's been thriving in the early part of this season. Skinner scored two goals and added an assist on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. He has 5+4 in 14 games so far with a whopping 47 shots on goal. The shot volume will go a long way towards Skinner finding his goal scoring touch again. I don't think he's a slam dunk hold in 12'ers just yet, but he's an elite streamer with clear upside in his role. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: