All of the people who have read me since I started writing here three seasons ago (it's going by quick!) knows how big of a fan I am of Dr. Bo Horvat.  In a game where the Canucks were massive underdogs in Boston, Horvat led the Canucks to a major upset, scoring two goals and two assists with four shots and six PIM in the 8-5 win over the Bruins.  That brings Horvat's totals to an outstanding 9+6 in 17 games with 19 PIM and around 2.5 shots per game.  All of the attention is going to Elias Pettersson, and he deserves plenty of it, but Pettersson's arrival finally puts Horvat in a role that he can thrive in.  Yes, Horvat has been fairly luck to this point in terms of on-ice shooting percentage, but he's doing the heavy lifting and still producing plenty offensively.  The question isn't whether Horvat is a hold or not, it's how high his ceiling is.  I don't see a top 50 player, at least not until his linemates improve, but with how the Canucks are playing, he should be a top 100 player.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year's!  As much as I personally don't care for New Year's Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs.  I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn't be better.  Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss!  Anyways, let's get to what you're here for... I've talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire.  That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department.  Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs.  That brings Karlsson's totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating.  Sure, it will regress some because he's not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let's give Karlsson his due.  In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals.  He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games.  His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference.  Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it's not a complete fluke.  Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year:
There were seven early games on Tuesday night, all of which hit the under.  That didn't stop a few superstars from having a big night.  Among that select group was Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored a goal and two assists with seven shots in the 3-1 win over the Devils.  He came into the game with an upper body injury making him unclear for the game last night but that didn't stop him from keeping up his excellent play.  Tarasenko has been a five category monster in the early going, scoring 8 goals and 11 assists through 16 games with a whopping +14 rating and over four shots per game.  He's done actually what you hoped for using a late first round pick on him, or a second round pick if you were lucky enough that Tarasenko fell to you.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
On the most recent podcast, Reid and I talked about the impending return of Jack Eichel. You can get extensive coverage at the link above but to summarize, everything that we expected showed its face in Tuesday's game. In the 5-4 win in Ottawa on Tuesday, Eichel stuffed the score sheet totaling a goal and an assist, both on the power play, in addition to five shots and two PIM. The "Big 5" for the Sabres all had multiple points in this game and it's not a coincidence. I'll get to the rest of them later but with Eichel returning, all of the top Sabres on the first power play unit get a major boost. Now is the time to either add (Sam Reinhart), buy low (Rasmus Ristolainen, maybe Ryan O'Reilly) or hold tight (Kyle Okposo) to the big guns. This should be a top 5 PP unit going forward and with Eichel returning along with 2 of their best 3 defensemen sooner than later, the depth on this team increased drastically benefiting everybody. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights along with some big news for the readers / listeners of the podcast:
In my season preview for the Chicago Blackhawks, I projected that Richard Panik would be the new player that slides into the Blackhawks' top 6. "Panik should get a chance in the top 6 because quite frankly, the Blackhawks don’t have anybody else. He could be a decent streamer but I can’t expect anything more from the 25 year old." And that's me quoting me doing what Grey does! In the long term for the season, I still think that'll be the case, but for now, Panik is must-own. After scoring in the season opener, Panik had an assist on Friday and came back with a hat trick on four shots on Saturday, both against the Predators. He's getting power play time right now and with 5 points in 3 games, Panik should be held for the time being as he rides the hot streak. Here's what else I saw this weekend around the NHL:
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.
Yikes. That's the first word that comes to mind when I think of the Vancouver Canucks. After years of making the playoffs and being one game away from a Stanley Cup, the Canucks are starting a rebuild. Granted, they still have a very good first line but otherwise the roster is full of young guys and players who aren't fantasy relevant. My early pick to finish last in the NHL, there are no teams in the league with fewer fantasy assets than the Canucks. That said, there are still some guys worthy of being drafted in standard leagues so let's take a look at what they're working with:
It’s that time of year again. You’re in or you’re out. You’re contending in hockey or you’re mock drafting for baseball. You’re hunkered at the computer reading advanced stats or you’re naked and running crazily among the spring daffodils. Why are you naked? Who knows, it just seems to fit the picture. You’re either getting outta my car or into my dreams. Okay, this is now getting weird. Let’s get to the point.
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: