It's not exactly breaking news that John Tavares moves the needle for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He showed why he was worth the mammoth contract on Sunday, scoring a hat trick on seven shots with two PIM in the 7-6 win over the Blackhawks.  The main thing that I want to talk about here is Toronto in general.  This offense is incredible, but they also remain a sieve defensively.  I have a hard time treating them among the truly elite teams in the league until that is tightened up, at least somewhat.  That's why I picked them to finish third in the division again.  But for us in fantasy, stream everyone you can for the Leafs, and against them for that matter.  I'd have a hard time playing any goalie against them right now; it better be someone that's damn good.  They're a fantasy gold mine on both sides.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine.  That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season.  Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night.  Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings.  That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser).  Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties.  Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season.  Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy.  The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game.  On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain.  There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up.  Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
There have been a few big games by individuals this season but Patrice Bergeron's on Saturday is the new leader for the best of the year.  Bergeron scored four goals and added an assist with seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Hurricanes.  Bergeron was the second player this year to score four goals after Alex Ovechkin.  Per usual, Bergeron is crushing all of the categories.  He's playing around a 40+35 pace while already having a +19 rating, solid PIM and pushing four shots per game.  Bergeron is a slam dunk top 50 player for the rest of the season who should push towards the top 25.  Again, the top line in Boston is as good as it gets and Bergeron is at the forefront of their success.  That line just gave up their first goal against at even strength all season!  Remarkable stuff.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Here's what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: "Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues... Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance." And that's me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn't provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn't hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it's helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault's totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don't think there's more upside than what he's doing this season but there's no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he's not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
In the marquee match of the night in Washington, both goalies played extremely well. At the end of the game, Braden Holtby came out on top saving 29 of 30 shots in the 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets. He's managed to find a way to improve his goals against and save percentage the season after winning the Vezina Trophy. His counterpart in this game may be the favorite to win the Vezina this year but Holtby has solidified himself as the #1 goalie in hockey, both in real life and fantasy. I highly doubt that I will draft him next season solely because I'm anti-goalie in the first round but there's no doubt that Holtby will be the first goalie on my board. It looks like this will be the second season in a row that he finishes as the #2 overall goalie and that consistency is exactly what you're looking for in your top goalie. If you can find an issue with Holtby, let me know because he's seemingly perfect. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
In the Razzball realm, the panel of writers (total of one) has been down on Jonathan Toews since I've been writing in this space. There were plenty of questions about his overall place 10 days ago when he had 33 points in 46 games. Whatever Toews has been doing over the last four games, he needs to keep that routine going. Toews has been coming on but had the game of the season on Tuesday scoring a hat trick on four shots while adding 2 assists and a +5 rating in the 5-3 win over the Wild. Let's just say the Wild trying to use Matt Dumba against him didn't work well. Now, Toews has 42 points giving you the value you hoped for taking him in the early to middle rounds. The new wingers with Toews (more on them later) have brought an offensive surge that Toews owners can only hope continues. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
Remember how poor Max Pacioretty was playing the first six weeks of the season? Despite the incredible start from the Canadiens, Patches was struggling to find the back of the net, mostly due to his shot rate falling off a cliff. While he's not at his normal levels, he's back over three shots per game and on Tuesday, Patches had a huge night. He scored on all three of his shots leading the way in Montreal's destruction of the Sabres. All of a sudden, Pacioretty is tied for second in the league in goals (at the time of this writing) being a plus contributor in all categories. While he's not pushing the top 25 like he was a couple years ago, Patches is firmly in the top 50 going forward. Here's what else I saw around the league on a massive Tuesday slate:
Kyle Okposo is a player that tends to get overlooked despite becoming an elite scorer in the NHL. In his last 3 seasons with the Islanders, Okposo played well over a 60 point pace per 82 games including 2013-14 when he had 69 points in 71 games. Even now that he's in Buffalo, Okposo is still looked at as a complimentary piece even though he's a bonafide first liner. In Tuesday night's 6-3 win over the Kings, Okposo moved onto Jack Eichel's wing and immediately delivered with three assists and a shot. That gives Okposo 21 points in 27 games with elite power play points and strong shots. Yes, the penalty minutes have dried up for now, but with how well he possesses the puck plus his scoring prowess, Okposo is on his way to another 60+ point season. Even if the penalty minutes don't come back, he's looking at another top 100 overall fantasy season. Pretty, pretty good . Here's 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.
Last season, the Nashville Predators won a playoff series for the first time since 2012 beating the division champion Ducks before losing to the Sharks in 7 games. The first blockbuster trade for Ryan Johansen gave the Preds a bonafide #1 center while still maintaining a strong defensive core. Then in the offseason, David Piole pulled off one of the most lopsided trades ever acquiring P.K. Subban for Shea Weber. Now, the Predators are absolutely loaded and if Pekka Rinne has one of his good years, they're among the favorites to win the Cup. Let's take a look at what Peter Laviolette has to work with: