I've been pumping Ondrej Kase's tires for a while now. The former 7th round pick scored his first career hat trick on Wednesday, putting five shots on goal against the Stars with a +4 rating. That brings the 23 year old Dane to 8+6 in 15 games with well over three shots per game. He's eliminated any doubt as to whether or not he's a hold; Kase needs to be owned in all formats. Sure, he's bounced around the first line and other spots, but it doesn't really matter at this point. There's no penalty minutes, but everything else looks great. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I've long been a fan of Juuse Saros saying that he's the best goaltending prospect in hockey. His time to be a #1 is coming sooner than later, but for the short term, it's his crease in Nashville. Pekka Rinne is on injured reserve meaning he will miss at least the next three games, and that opens the door for Saros. He came in relief for Rinne in a 3-3 game and didn't allow a goal on nine shots, before posting a 31 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Oilers. He's available in over 80% of leagues and quite frankly, I don't understand it. Goaltending is awful around the league right now, so pretty much every fantasy team could use him as their G3. That said, Saros should be a #1 option when he starts, so go grab him immediately. He's going to get plenty of starts this year even when Rinne is back, so Saros can make a huge difference for you. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The way young players have stormed the league in recent seasons, people just assume Sam Reinhart won't get much better and be a bust. If Reinhart wasn't the second overall pick, he'd be impressing everyone with his improvement. While I don't think he'll ever be a true superstar, I'm still a big fan of Reinhart going forward. Reinhart was on the ice for all four Sabres goals on Thursday, scoring a goal and two assists with two shots in the win over the Islanders. That puts Reinhart at 15 points in his past 16 games making him an elite streamer at the moment. For those in dynasties, Reinhart should develop into a top 100 player eventually but towards the bottom end. He'll be a beast in real life, but the lack of PIM will keep his value down. For those in redrafts, use him while he's hot. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Chicago Blackhawks were the best team in the Western Conference during the 2016-17 regular season but unlike in years past, the postseason had no success. The Blackhawks were demolished in the first round by the Predators leading them to make some radical offseason changes. Out goes Artemi Panarin, back comes Brandon Saad. Out goes Marian Hossa due to injury, back comes Patrick Sharp. Out goes Niklas Hjalmarsson, Connor Murphy comes back in return. Overall, I really don't like the direction that Chicago is going as I discussed on this podcast. Despite the fact that I think they could be in a battle this season just to make the playoffs, there's still plenty of fantasy talents worth discussing. Let's take a look at what they're working with:
Jake Guentzel was on an absolute tear before he suffered a concussion after a hit from Rasmus Ristolainen. He was owned by most of Razzball Nation as we got on top of it before Guentzel broke out. Thankfully, Guentzel recovered quickly and returned on Friday night. He scored a goal on three shots in his return and then repeated that performance on Sunday. The Penguins have a decent schedule this week with four games, including a back to back on Saturday and Sunday to close the regular season. You can wait a day since the Pens don't play tonight but I'd look to grab Guentzel again if you cut him when he went down. The minutes and role are right back to where they were pre-concussion so I'm looking for Guentzel to finish the season strong before he contributes to a potential playoff run for Pittsburgh. Here's what else happened on the penultimate weekend of the season:
For the majority of his professional career, Connor Hellebuyck has gone up and down more than an elevator. He's bounced around the NHL and AHL along with starting and being the backup in Winnipeg despite the fact that he's clearly their best option between the pipes. That's not to say Hellboy has been a great goalie throughout. In fact, he's had plenty of times where he looks rough. That's simply the nature of the beast in the NHL being a young goalie. Hellboy was at the bottom last week allowing five goals in consecutive starts. Naturally, he turns things around this weekend with a 29 save shutout against the Blues and saving 22 of 23 shots in the 6-1 win over the Avalanche. The numbers are poor on the whole but he has won half of his games. Should he be owned right now? I think you have to gamble on the upside in 12'ers. The main point is that this season has done nothing to dissuade me from loving Hellebuyck in dynasties. We all know that the Jets are loaded with offensive talent that is only going to get better and Hellebuyck will be a beneficiary. The prospect cupboard remains full despite all of their recent graduates and most importantly, there are a bunch on the blue line. What do I expect him next season? Probably a #2 goalie with upside to be a #1 who should be owned in all leagues. Long term? He should eventually develop into a guy who is a middling to bottom end #1 year in and year out. Bottom line, I'm still driving the Hellboy bandwagon! Here's what else happened around the league last weekend:
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:
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:
Holy smokes, over 5000 words! This is quite the recap of the last 5 days of hockey. I had a introduction all set to go around Milan Lucic but I had to erase it and give the lede to Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri mysteriously missed six games in a row before returning on Wednesday night. It turns out that his 5 year old daughter Chloe had severe pneumonia which eventually required surgery. On this Thanksgiving weekend, we're thankful that she's going to make a full recovery. Dad returned and had a three game stretch for the ages. He started with a remarkable goal and three assists with 9 SOG in the 5-4 shootout win over Toronto. Cammy followed it up totaling a goal, assist, four shots and two PIM in the 5-4 loss to Detroit before scoring 2 goals on 4 shots in the 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh. Just a measly 8 points in 3 games, no big deal. He's almost back to a point per game (just like last season) with three shots per game and solid penalty minutes. Cammalleri is still available in over 50% of leagues and to be blunt, that's a huge mistake. If you're in one of those leagues, go grab him now. Here's a look at the last five days around the league. I'm going to go through day by day but in the format most people like; just note that a player may be mentioned multiple times.
It's no secret that coming into the season, I loved the best players on the Jets. While the team itself is of to a mediocre start, the forward in my top 50 that I was highest on compared to consensus was Mark Scheifele. After a monstrous second half last season, I wrote repeatedly how much I liked him for 2016-17 and dynasties going forward. It was evident looking at Fantasy Pros where I was 16 spots higher than anyone else and 19 spots above consensus, quite a margin for a player who I had ranked 32nd overall. Well, it's been a terrific start to the season for Scheifele and it continued over the weekend. On Friday, Scheifele had a goal, two assists and two shots while being +3 in the 5-3 win over Detroit. He followed that up with a goal and an assist with two shots and +1 on Sunday despite the Jets losing 5-2 to the red hot Rangers. That gives Scheifele a total of 7 goals and 7 assists in 13 games with a +5 rating, 10 PIM and almost 3 shots per game. It puts him easily in the top 20 skaters on the season in the player rater and is making me look smart! I salute you, Mr. Scheifele. With the workload that he's receiving, I have little doubt that he will produce going forward at an elite rate. Let's take a look at what else went on around the league over the weekend.