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Fantasy Hockey Weekly Newsletter: Week 17 Hello everyone. Welcome to the seventeenth edition of JOT This Down! Keep the questions, comments, and concerns coming. I’ll be here all week to answer any and everything you may have. The schedule is quite wonky this week. Multiple teams only play 1 or two games and the Sharks do not have a game. After this week, the schedule goes back to normal for a while. Keep tabs on your rosters as there will be many off days, and decisions will need to be made regarding whether or not to hang on to fringe players.
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:
It's hard to imagine the first half of the season going any worse for the Devils.  In terms of points percentage, they're in the second wild card spot in a season that many expected them to push for the Metro Division title and to be one of the Cup favorites.  They've been brutalized by injuries, but their main offseason acquisition rescued them on Monday.  After giving up four straight goals turning a 3-1 lead into a 5-3 deficit, Tyler Toffoli scored with 16 seconds left in the second period, and eventually completed a hat trick in overtime to beat the Golden Knights 6-5.  That brings Toffoli to 20 goals on the season, ahead of last season's 34 goal pace.  The loss of Hamilton for the regular season has been massive, and J. Hughes being out is too much for them to stomach.  The good news for the Devils is they only have two more games before they have 10 days off.  There's a chance that Hughes will be back at that point.  As for Toffoli, he's a bit behind the pace that I hoped for, but overall, it's hard to complain when he's on pace for 37 goals.  Here's to hoping he keeps the shot rate up, as getting back to last season's rate would give him a good chance of maintaining his current level of play.  It's the difference between being a potential top 50 player and a bottom end hold.  Let's take a look at what else happened the last couple of nights:
It's been a painful 13 years as a Sabres fan, but Tuesday's game might have been the worst.  There were tanking years, there were disappointing years, but for as bad as it's been, there can't be a worse loss than giving up nine goals at home to one of the worst teams in the league missing two of their best players.  "Kirill Marchenko is a lone bright spot lately.  I’m not holding, but the minutes are going up, the goals and shots are decent enough, and he currently is a key figure on their PP.  He’s a solid streamer."  And that's me quoting me from yesterday!  Well, it's time to give Marchenko a boost.  Marchenko had a natural hat trick in this game.  One of his goals was on the power play, he put four shots on goal, and he played 15 minutes despite the game being a blow out.  Marchenko is now an elite streamer.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
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:
We found a new level of ridiculousness on Thursday night.  The Canadiens were in Florida and they managed to tie the record for the most goals in a first period in modern NHL history, and they did it in barely over 13 minutes!  Both Montreal goalies allowed 3+ goals in the first 13 minutes, and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed goals on the first three shots he faced.  My god.  The Panthers ended up winning 9-5 to keep pace in the Eastern playoff race.  The only player who made more than two points was Matthew Tkachuk, who had a goal and three assists to keep up his torrid pace.  Thanks Aleksander Barkov for not getting three points when I pick him in the three point challenge!  Anyways, Florida is battling hard for a Wild Card spot, so expect their studs to get all of the minutes they can handle.  For playing all games against Eastern teams the rest of the way, Florida's schedule is fairly soft, so expect it to come down to the wire.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Another star player has made his way to the Eastern Conference well ahead of the trade deadline.  We already had Horvat and Tarasenko move, and now we have a former Conn Smythe winner.  Ryan O'Reilly was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with Noel Acciari, for a bevy of draft picks.  The Wild also acquired a pick for retaining salary, and there were prospects involved, but none of them are particularly relevant.  For fantasy, we care about RoR and Acciari.  Let's start with Acciari because it's easier.  Acciari moved right onto Toronto's fourth line.  He scored a goal against the Blackhawks on Sunday, and is piling up hits.  He'll be a deep league value for his hits and decent goal rate.  O'Reilly is an interesting debate.  He's easily having the worst offensive season in the last decade.  On the other hand, RoR has been playing much better lately, and he went right onto the second line with Tavares and Marner.  He dished an assist in his debut on Saturday playing just over 16 minutes in the 5-1 blowout against Montreal.  He also won 12 of 14 draws, which is notable that he bumped Tavares from the faceoff circle most of the time.  I'm not rushing to pick up RoR, mostly because we know that he's not cracking Toronto's first power play unit.  That said, there's upside in Toronto that he couldn't touch in St. Louis again.  If you want to stream him on Tuesday against the Sabres and see where it goes, I can get behind that.