It feels like forever ago that Tomas Hertl took the league by storm as a rookie.  He's shown signs of promise since, but never really put it together.  Until.  Hertl had a hat trick on Tuesday to lead the Sharks over the Penguins.  That brings him up to 19+22 in 43 games, both numbers rapidly approaching career highs in mid-January.  He is providing no penalty minutes and a below average shot rate which caps his long term ceiling, but he looks to be a guy who is a fringe top 100 player for the next few seasons.  I would say if I had to say where I rank him next year, my guess is just outside the top 100 just because the downside is much higher for a guy whose sole value is coming from points and not the side categories.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
Here is what I wrote about J.T. Miller in Tuesday's post: "J.T. Miller is getting huge minutes in Tampa and has six points in six games for the Bolts.  The shot rate is rough, but Miller should be held despite that.  Everything else should be a clear plus and nothing is better than playing for Tampa.  Miller was on the fringe for the Rangers so this move is enough to move him to a hold."  And that's me quoting me!  Well, Miller exploded on Tuesday night, scoring his first career hat trick and putting ten shots on goal.  He played over 20 minutes, including on the top power play unit.  Long story short, if you had any doubt about whether Miller should be held, this game should eliminate that.  Pick the man up because he can be a huge difference maker down the stretch.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
I'll be honest, David Krejci has always been a Guy to me.  Not a guy, not a GUY, just a guy.  I even cut him on Thursday morning to stream a goalie, proof that I am human.  Krejci scored a hat trick on Thursday, scoring on all three of his shots in the 8-4 win over Pittsburgh.  That brings him to 14+19 on the season in 44 games.  He doesn't quite need that pace to be fantasy worthy, but it's close because his PIM and SOG are well below average.  In a 12'er, I probably lean towards holding but it's super close.  Shallower, he's a streamer, deeper it's an easy hold.  His playoff schedule is also great so use that to your advantage.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Am I shocked at how well the Jets are doing?  No.  Reid and I talked about the Jets' ceiling on the Central Division podcast and we said that second place is certainly within the realm of possibility (I guess we sold them a little short, first is in play).  Long term readers know how much I love Connor Hellebuyck.  The only reason I was scared off a bit for redrafts is that Kevin Cheveldayoff said that Steve Mason would be their starter to open the season.  Well, Mason was lit up in his first game as a Jet and the rest is history.  Hellebuyck continued his outstanding breakout season over the weekend, saving 30 of 31 shots in the 2-1 SO win over the Flames on Saturday, then a 29 save shutout in the 1-0 win against the Canucks on Sunday.  Hellebuyck is currently the #2 goalie on the season, and while there's a chance he falls off a little bit (I'm certain he'll finish as a #1G), I think he's solidified himself as the #2 goalie in dynasty leagues.  The Jets are going to be really good for a long time and Hellebuyck will be a big reason and also a beneficiary of the talent around him.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's nice to have a bunch of superstars and a lot of luck on your side.  The Penguins became the first team in almost two decades to win back to back Stanley Cups.  On top of their usual fantasy studs, they had a few wingers emerge that look at the verge of becoming elite fantasy assets.  Not much has changed on the whole but hey, why change a team that keeps winning?  Let's take a look at the Penguins' roster and see what they're working with for fantasy hockey:
There comes a point in the season where teams are desperate for their superstars to carry them towards the playoffs. That time is now and it's happening in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov has been spectacular all season but he had his best game Monday night scoring a hat trick on seven shots and adding an assist in the 5-1 win over the Senators. Look how remarkably similar all three goals are: He now has nine points in his last three games and twenty-five shots on goal over the pats four. Kucherov is producing points at the fourth highest rate in the league this season (min 20 GP) and sits as a top ten forward on the season despite missing some time. I had him as a high second round pick going into this season but he's been ever better than that. I expect to have Kucherov ranked as a first rounder going into next season and given that he's still 23 years old, we may not have seen the best from him. Let's take a look at what else has happened in the game around the league the last two nights: NOTE: There is a separate post going up regarding trades that will be updated throughout the trade deadline. For instant analysis, go here
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:
On a Thursday night that lacked in big performances in comparison to recent weeks, Tyler Toffoli's night was probably the best. In the dominating 4-1 win over the Red Wings, Toffoli found the back of the net twice on three shots and added an assist with two penalty minutes. That brings Toffoli's totals to 7 goals and 12 assists in 29 games with almost three shots per game and an elite +14. It's a significant decrease in goals for a 23 year old who buried 31 last year. Toffoli was one of the most polarizing players in preseason, at least to me because I had him ranked much lower than other experts (97th overall, highest rank was 29th, nobody else lower than 69th). It's nice to see the assist rate and shot rate up and apparently he'll be able to post a +20 or better every season of his career but Toffoli will need more games like this where he finds the back of the net to come anywhere near his 59th overall ADP. Can it happen? With the minutes his line is getting and with how much the Kings depend on his line for offense, definitely. I'd be a bit surprised if it happened though because the goals will probably come at the expense of assists and the penalty minutes are non-existent. Toffoli is a great example of a player who is better in real life than fantasy. That's not to say he's a dud in fantasy, he's a top 100 player, but Toffoli should be mentioned among the best young snipers in the game more frequently than he is. Let's take a look at what else happened around the NHL on Wednesday and Thursday night: