Today brings a nice 10 game slate with a lot of lopsided matchups and two marquee games.  Let's get right into what we learned from the last two nights around the league and what to look forward to tonight: THREE THINGS WE LEARNED ON 3/27 AND 3/28 1) Connor McDavid is the best player in hockey.  Okay, this isn't exactly groundbreaking, but it's worth bringing up that McDavid now has back to back 100+ point seasons at 21 years old, along with his first 40 goal season.  It's sickening how good he is.  Almost as sickening as his GM:
It seems like forever and a day since Matt Duchene requested a trade from the Colorado Avalanche.  His wish finally came true on Sunday in a massive three-way trade between the Avs, Senators, and Predators.  The Sens acquired Duchene, the Predators received Reid's favorite Kyle Turris and the Avs get a ton of future assets.  For the Senators, I'm not a big fan.  Is Duchene better than Turris?  I would say so and Duchene had one more year on his contract than Turris.  However, adding a ton here, including a first round pick and Shane Bowers, their first round pick from the 2017 draft, is a lot to add.  For Smashville, adding Turris without losing anyone from the current roster besides Samuel Girard is a nice move for a team positioned to go for it.  It may be more futures heavy than Colorado originally wanted but boy, did they get a ton in this move.  They effectively received 2 1sts, 3 2nds, a third and Andrew Hammond for goaltender depth in the organization.  I love this move for Colorado long term, like the aggressiveness of Nashville using futures to push (and like signing Turris immediately to a 6/36 deal), and question Ottawa's decision here. For fantasy, Duchene probably gets a small boost because he should slide onto a line with Hoffman and Stone right away.  Assuming Turris plays with Forsberg, I think this move could help him as well (at the least it's neutral).  I'm very interested to see if Girard plays for the Avs right away.  He looked great in his brief stint for Nashville and the former second round pick could becomes fantasy relevant immediately if he's in Denver.  I'll be sure to talk more about this trade with Reid on Tuesday's podcast.  Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
There have been plenty of defensemen this season who have frustrated their owners due to lack of performance. A player who looked on the verge of a breakout after last season was Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres agreed with that take giving him a 5 year deal and early dividends were not there. Risto was accumulating assists but not much else. However, things are starting to change and it's no coincidence that it has occurred when Jack Eichel returned to the lineup. On Tuesday night, Ristolainen scored his first goal of the season, an amazing slapshot in overtime, and added two assists and three shots in the 4-3 OT win against the Oilers. That gives Ristolainen 1 goal and 6 assists in the 5 games with Eichel in the lineup. He played almost 30 minutes in each of the last two games showing how important he is to the Sabres depleted blue line and with how the top power play unit moves the puck, I expect Ristolainen to be a #2 defenseman the rest of the way with the upside to be a #1. Let's take a look at what else developed over the last two nights.
Everyone who reads this space knows my love for Brent Burns. His beard brings about a magisterial power that guides him on the ice. The Sharks played on Monday and Tuesday to open the week and their all-world defenseman delivered. In Monday's loss to the Rangers, Burns scored two goals and an assist with seven shots. He followed it up with 2 assists and three shots against the Islanders putting him in the early league lead for points. Burns and Erik Karlsson are in a class of their own right now among defensemen and should battle each other season for top dog status on the blue line. Here's what else I've seen around the league the last two nights:
So I’m in this one league that drafts way too early each year. On top of that, it’s an email draft that typically takes up to 3 weeks to complete. And it’s deep. Very deep. Twenty teams, with 20-man rosters. So why do I torture myself year after year, with this slow-as-molasses-and-way-too-soon draft? Because it preps me for all the others I will take part in leading up to the season. They’re still playing World Cup games, for crying out loud. How is anyone supposed to be ready for this?
As a Sabres fan, I thoroughly enjoy the dysfunction of the Ottawa Senators. When I look at them from a neutral point of view, they're incredibly frustrating. The Senators have arguably the best player in the NHL in Erik Karlsson in his prime and have done a horrible job filling out the rest of their roster. They have made brief playoff appearances in recent years but last year's 85 point season is about what they can expect again. The Sens will struggle to remain in the playoff race barring a revival between the pipes or a surprise breakout or two. That said, they have some quality fantasy pieces that are worth discussing so let's get to it!
For the second time in a week, Jeff Carter had a monster game. On Thursday, Carter had two goals and an assist with 3 shots in the 3-0 win over the Flames. After this game, Carter passed the 60 point plateau while being +17 and over 3 shots per game on the season. The penalty minutes keep him from the truly elite but Carter will still be firmly in the top 100 going into next season. Keep rolling him for the last 10 days of this season. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights:
The story of the weekend around the league was the goaltending performances. There were quite a few duds and a bunch of outstanding starts, including 3 shutouts Friday, 4 shutouts Saturday and one more on Sunday. The best of the bunch was a 38 save shutout by Fredrik Andersen in the 4-0 win against the Bruins on Friday. It's rare for the Ducks to be outshot but they buried their chances and were continually bailed out by Andersen. We all know that Andersen is very good at this point so the most telling thing was that in their next game, John Gibson received the start despite Andersen coming off a shutout. Bruce Boudreau is giving both of his goalies plenty of action and seemingly has a set schedule so you have to pay attention every day and start whoever gets the nod. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend, starting with Friday's games:
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:
The trade deadline looms, leaving some things uncertain, but for the most part we are getting to the part of the season where we know what we know what we know: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. Sometimes it’s hard to admit that your top ranked goalie just has not come out of his funk (Pekka Rinne, anyone?); or that the offensive juggernaut your goalie plays for just can’t buy a goal (Hello, Ben Bishop!). There are still surprises to watch out for, especially for those in keeper leagues, so keep an eye on the middle tiers if you’re looking to upgrade your goaltending situation. The top tier are likely untouchable; and for other reasons entirely, so are the bottom tier.