Two division rivals exploded on Saturday, both winning in dominant 9-2 fashion. Not too often nowadays that you see two 9-2 scores. For Toronto, a 9-2 win against the Ducks certainly wasn't expected, but isn't actually shocking either. On the other hand, Florida blowing Tampa Bay out 9-2 after falling behind in the first 30 seconds of the game qualifies as jaw dropping. Florida is arguably the best team in the league right now, dominating in multiple ways. Matthew Tkachuk is fully back, scoring two goals and two assists with ten PIM in the victory, giving him 13 points in the last five games. Carter Verhaeghe scored two goals and an assist with six shots and two PIM against his former team. He's back on the point of the top unit and with Barkov, making him a top 50 player. Sam Bennett had two goals and two assists iwth three shots and ten PIM. Bennett is firmly on the fringe right now as long as he's with Tkachuk. For Toronto, Auston Matthews had a hat trick and two assists with four shots as he scores goals at an unprecedented rate. Bobby McMann had two goals and an assist with four shots, although I'm still not buying in with his workload. He's bumping up to decent streamer for the time being. Also, if you need short term defensemen help, Timothy Liljegren is on PP1 and dished three assists with Rielly still suspended. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
We're very close to the All-Star break with most teams starting their extended break on Sunday. If you look at defensemen production, specifically in goals, you see notable names at the top. Dahlin leads defensemen in goals, and then there's a four way tie behind him with notables like Makar and Hughes. None of that is a surprise. Weegar is one of those tied with Makar and Hughes, which is very surprising, but he went into the season locked into a big role, so let's assume he had some good fortune. But Thomas Harley? He's a player I really liked in dynasties, but to be one goal off the league lead for defensemen? Not even close to my radar. Harley scored two goals on Saturday, including the overtime winner for a second straight game, in the 5-4 win over the Capitals. That gives Harley a whopping 12 goals in 46 games. "Even with Heiskanen back, Harley was a factor. I’m still holding Harley even though I wasn’t expecting to when Heiskanen came back. He’s been that good for the Stars." And that's me quoting me from three days ago copying what Grey does! Somehow, Harley is still available in almost two-thirds of fantasy leagues. With the pool of defensemen dropping off hard at the bottom, Harley should be owned in all formats. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
For most of last season, Zach Hyman led the league in expected goals. By the end of the season, he had a career high with 36 goals, but didn't even sniff the league lead. This season, he's starting to finish at an elite level, resulting in him pushing towards the league lead in goals. Hyman had a hat trick on eight shots on Saturday, carrying the Oilers to a 3-1 win over the Senators. That gives Hyman 25 goals on the season to go along with 15 assists, a +13 rating, 32 PIM, and almost four shots on goal per game. He's been a top ten forward so far, and while I expect a bit of a drop off in the second half, I don't see much of one coming. That's how good Hyman has been. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's not too often that an NHL record that's stood for over one hundred years gets broken. That happened on Wednesday night. Despite his role shrinking, Kris Letang had the period of a lifetime. Letang dished five assists in the second period in a seven minute span, becoming the first defenseman in NHL history to record five assists in a period. He finished the game with six assists, all at even strength to give him a +6 rating in the 7-0 win over the Islanders. Even with this game, Letang is far from the defenseman he used to be, partially due to age, and partially due to the arrival of Karlsson. He's under two shots per game, and has only three goals as a result. However, the assists are still very good, the hits and blocks are solid, and the PIM are much higher than they've been. He's the perfect #3/4 defenseman on most teams since he's hitting most of the categories and piling up assists.
Before the season, if you told me I was going to be writing about an Ingram, I would have assumed I was needed to write about basketball in an emergency. Instead, we're two months into the season, and the #3 overall goalie is a 26 year old who played 30 mediocre to bad games in his NHL career. Connor Ingram posted a 26 save shutout in the 6-0 win over the Capitals on Monday. Ingram now has an 11-3 record with a 2.23/.930. I was bullish on an Arizona goalie in preseason, turns out I should have looked at the backup. Do I expect it to last? I would lean towards no, but crazier things have happened. Arizona is playing excellent hockey, and it's not only because of Ingram. Somehow, he's still available in over 50% of leagues. Even if he turns into a pumpkin in two weeks, it was worth the speculative add, because the upside is through the roof. Let's see what else happened over the last two nights:
It's safe to say that we've reached the point that nobody doubts Boston anymore. Their two top centers retired, and yet the team is chugging along at 16-4-3. Their new captain was the reason they won both games over the weekend. Brad Marchand scored the overtime winner against the Leafs on Saturday, his eighth shot on goal in the contest. He followed it up with a natural hat trick, scoring all three goals for the Bruins in their 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets. That gives Marchand 11+12 in 24 games, almost exactly a point per game. The big thing is his shot rate is at an all-time high. In my preseason rankings, I was uncertain on Marchand's ceiling, but speculated his shot rate could improve without Bergeron. He's at exactly 3.5 per game, and with his elite PIM as always, Marchand is still in the conversation for a top 20 player. At 35 years old, Marchand is showing no signs of slowing down. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
An easy win against the Kraken on Friday wasn't enough for Jay Woodcroft to keep his job. The most disappointing team in the league felt obligated to make a chance, and the easiest change is firing the head coach. Do I think this was the right move? Probably not. Woodcroft led the team to three playoff series wins over the last two seasons, losing to the eventual Cup champion both times. This season, McDavid rushed coming back to play the Heritage Classic and clearly isn't 100%. Ekholm looks hampered as well. Kris Knoblauch, who was their AHL coach and McDavid's former junior coach, takes over. I expect the team to improve because they've simply played well below expectations so far. So what does this impact in fantasy? Generally, teams play more focused on the defensive end when a new coach comes in. Is that even possible for the Oilers? Hard to say. If that does happen, Stuart Skinner could be the biggest beneficiary. He's been a disaster to this point, but it's clearly his job now (I have a hard time seeing Knoblauch turning to Pickard, even though he's been coaching him). We'll have to see tonight how the lines and usage change, but I suspect that he will ride the top players just like Woodcroft did. Let's take a look at the highlights of the weekend:
Even for Nikita Kucherov, the start to this season is on another level. Kucherov scored two goals and two assists with five shots and two PIM against the Maple Leafs, and then followed it up with a goal and an assist with six shots against the Canadiens. That brings Kucherov to 10+12 in 13 games, including 11 in the last three games. He also has 5+ shots in the last five games, and seven of the last nine. This game pushes him past Pettersson for the league lead in points. The top guys on Tampa look so much better, and I can't help but think that being eliminated in the first round of the playoffs helped them for this season. So many long playoff runs for the Lightning that a real offseason had to do them wonders. We can't expect this level, but Kucherov looks poised to give his 128 points from his Hart Trophy season a run for his money. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Mason McTavish had an ADP of 250 this season. I had him ranked at 176th overall. While I wasn't fully convinced he would make a huge leap in his sophomore season, his upside is so high that I thought he was a worthwhile gamble towards the end of your drafts. It's paid massive dividends in the early going, and McTavish had his best game to date on Monday. He scored two goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM, including the shorthanded winner with 13 seconds left in the game. McTavish now has 5+6 in 11 games with a good shot rate, plus-minus and PIM. McTavish is still available in almost 70% of leagues, which is blasphemous. I've been holding onto him since the draft in a ten man league, and think it's become clear that he needs to be held everywhere. In dynasties, he's a top 50 keeper. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We know that Jack Hughes has dominated the first three weeks of the season, but his older brother has started off extremely well, while his teammate and younger brother is starting to get going as well. Let's start with Quinn Hughes. On Friday, Hughes scored two goals on four shots, adding two PIM. Against the Rangers, he had three shots on goal, which sounds disappointing, but it illustrates a large change in Quinn's game. The one thing that has been holding Quinn back for years in terms of fantasy value is his shot rate. This was his sixth straight game with 3+ shots, and 7th in eight total games. It signifies a huge chance in his game, one that does fantasy owners wonders. He has eight points in eight games and certainly can come close to repeating last season's 76 points in 78 games, if not topping it. He was always an elite #2 with flaws, but now, he's a #1. Sure, the hits are dreadful, but everything else is magical.
It was quite the low scoring day on Thursday, with eight of the eleven games going under their betting total, two of which needed overtime to do so, plus there was a miracle in Boston (more on that later). There were four shutouts on the night, all of which were quite surprising. I'll go in chronological order. The Avalanche were undefeated on the season, so naturally Tristan Jarry shut them out, making 31 saves. Jarry now has two shutouts, two dreadful starts, and one mediocre start. He's one of the highest variance goalies around. I'm lower on him than most, but I acknowledge that he could be a bottom end #1. Next, Jonas Johansson had his second consecutive shutout, making 23 saves against the Sharks. He's clearly must own for now, although like Jarry, the downside is undeniable. Joel Hofer shutout the Flames, making 27 saves. I was high on him because I don't believe in Binnington. Both have been off to a hot start, but I'm skeptical of the Blues being good defensively. I'm bullish in Hofer for dynasties, but in redrafts, he's a selective streamer with upside. Lastly, Jonathan Quick shut out the Oilers, making 29 saves. He made a couple spectacular saves, but color me skeptical. I think this says more about the Oilers without McJesus than anything. Quick is a reasonable streamer in plus matchups for now, but know that it could blow up in your face. Let's see what else happened on Wednesday and Thursday night:
Steve Yzerman can't ask for a better start from his big offseason swing. After his first game without a point as a Red Wing, Alex DeBrincat followed it up with a hat trick and an assist with five shots in Sunday's win over the Flames. That brings DeBrincat to a whopping eight goals and four assists in his first six games with Detroit. He's clicked with Dylan Larkin (two goals and three assists over two games) to give Detroit an elite first line. We've seen DeBrincat score 41 goals twice before playing with Kane, so it's not like this is completely out of nowhere. While this shooting percentage won't last, given how much Detroit is rolling the first line, I'm expecting career highs across the board for DeBrincat. There's a real chance Detroit plays its way into the playoff picture this season if the first line can win its matchups on a regular basis. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: