Here's what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: "Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues... Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance." And that's me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn't provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn't hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it's helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault's totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don't think there's more upside than what he's doing this season but there's no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he's not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
In the marquee match of the night in Washington, both goalies played extremely well. At the end of the game, Braden Holtby came out on top saving 29 of 30 shots in the 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets. He's managed to find a way to improve his goals against and save percentage the season after winning the Vezina Trophy. His counterpart in this game may be the favorite to win the Vezina this year but Holtby has solidified himself as the #1 goalie in hockey, both in real life and fantasy. I highly doubt that I will draft him next season solely because I'm anti-goalie in the first round but there's no doubt that Holtby will be the first goalie on my board. It looks like this will be the second season in a row that he finishes as the #2 overall goalie and that consistency is exactly what you're looking for in your top goalie. If you can find an issue with Holtby, let me know because he's seemingly perfect. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
Anyone who reads my posts knows how much I love Evander Kane for fantasy hockey. You're probably sick of me writing about him at this point. Well, I'm leading off with him again today because of the following: a) He had three more points on Thursday night (2+1, 3 SOG), b) nobody else went off because Nino and I just led off with him, c) I watched the entire Sabres game to see Kane's impact, and d) there is no D. Well, there is, watch Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroeder joke about it but not in regards to this point. Anyways, you guys know what to do with Kane at this point. For those who are new here, pick him up and play him! It's an excellent combination of goals, shots and penalty minutes at the moment. Here's what else happened over the last two nights before the All-Star break:
I certainly didn't think I'd be writing about Peter Budaj at any point this year. After all, he played in a whopping one game over the past two seasons combined. Alas, we're here in December with Budaj being a major talking point of the NHL season. After Jonathan Quick went down, the expectation was that offseason signing Jeff Zatkoff would get the majority of the starts but when he went down as well, Budaj stepped in and has kept the job. He had arguably his best two performances over the weekend. Budaj posted a 39 save shutout in the 1-0 OT win over the Penguins before making 29 saves on 30 shots in the 1-0 loss in Boston. Budaj is currently #12 in the ESPN player rater among goalies making him a bottom end #1 or elite #2. With the news that Quick is going to be out until at least March, it's Budaj's job going forward. Despite that, Budaj is still available in over 40% of leagues. Can I explain it? No, not one bit. If you don't already own him and he's available in your league, grab Budaj. Let's take a look at everything that happened around the league the last three nights:
At this point in the season, we've seen a ton of players bounce back from poor years in 2015-16. There are a couple guys in the forefront and one of them is Jakub Voracek. He went from 81 points to 55 (only 11 goals) in part to a dreadful first 20 games. Well, the people that bet on a return to his previous status are reaping massive dividends in the early going. In the 6-5 win over the Oilers Tuesday night, Voracek scored a goal and three assists with five shots. He's now sitting on 28 points in 29 games; add in a 90 PIM and ~300 shot pace and Voracek looks like he's on the verge of being a top 25 player again. Given the quality of the Flyers power play unit and his linemates, I don't see Voracek slowing down. Shoutout to Veritas for picking him to get 3 points! Here's what else happened over the last two nights:
The general rule of thumb in these parts is when you score a hat trick, you're getting the lede. Vladimir Tarasenko was a clear first round pick this season (at least for me) and that's because of his consistency plus upside. Before Thursday night, Tarasenko was sitting at a point per game with elite shots. The penalty minutes have disappeared but overall, his owners had to be happy. Thursday night he showed his game to game upside scoring a hat trick and adding an assist in the 5-4 win over Tampa. After tonight, Tarasenko sits third in the league in goals and points. The scary thing is that he doesn't turn 25 for a couple weeks; we haven't seen his prime yet. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league the last two nights:
I both love and hate the first few weeks of the season. Love, because the excitement of the start of the NHL season makes me feel like I’m twelve again, collecting Pepsi bottle caps with the faces of all my favourite players on the under-side; and memorizing all the stats on my hockey cards – that my step-mom will eventually sell without my permission, in a box for $2 at a garage sale. Yeah, Gretzky rookie card and all. Sigh.
It took the Oilers getting incredibly lucky to win the Connor McDavid sweepstakes to give the franchise a sign of life for the first time in at least half a decade. While their 2015-16 was a failure, the young studs all looked great, especially McDavid who had over a point per game in his 45 games. Then in a draft with three studs, they ended up getting one of the three picking fourth (well done Columbus). I don't want to say they erased it all with one move because McDavid is well on his way to being the best player in the league but then Peter Chiarelli traded Taylor Hall, an elite left winger, for a second pair defenseman. At least the defense will be better!
After McDavid, there are a few fantasy assets and a lot of question marks; let's take a look!
Whether you’re in or you’re out of your league playoffs at this point, here are some d-men that can help you in the final weeks, and another few that, if you snap them up in your keeper league now, will make you the envy of everyone next year! My first piece of advice at this stage of the playoffs is to keep an eye on the transactions in your league on a daily basis. Fantasy owners are all kinds of desperate and you’d be surprised at who they’ll drop in order to gain an edge with streamers during the week. These drops can become your pickups, and if you do advance to the next week, your team will be even stronger for it. If you’re in a keeper league, you are either picking up as many young guns as possible right now, or you’re heading into the finals with great roster already. Some are better for NOW, while some are for LATER and will make great additions to your dynasty team.
On Thursday, for the third time this season, Zach Parise scored his third hat trick of the season, adding an assist and six shots in the 6-2 win over the Flames. While he's a step behind his usual pace, 22+25 in 64 games is nothing to sneeze at, especially with elite shots. However, I'll probably be staying away from him next year given where I suspect his ADP will be. He plays a heavy game, he turns 32 in the summer and is starting to miss chunks of the season more regularly. That's not to say I don't like his game but his days of a top 50 player, for me, are over. Here's what I saw around the league the last two nights: