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.
It has been a terrible year for Kris Letang on and off the ice, but mostly off. He suffered a stroke and his father passed away shortly after. After almost a month away from the team, Letang returned on Tuesday and carried the Penguins to victory. Letang had a vintage performance, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots, four hits, and two blocks in the 7-6 OT win over the Panthers. I'm not going to say Letang will have a monster second half based on one game in his age 35 season. The good news is that there's a lot of games left for him to make an impact, and we know how big the upside is. If I said Letang was a top five defenseman the rest of the way, would you be shocked? I wouldn't. Now, the floor is much lower in the past, even assuming he can stay healthy. However, Pitt is starting to round into form, offensively at least, and the opportunity is there for a big finish. If your team is in position where you need to take a gamble, I would float some offers to the Letang owner. If I had him and was patient through the first three months, fingers crossed that he can salvage the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
As fun as it is to make fun of Toronto's Stanley Cup drought, it's very impressive when somebody breaks one of their major records. On Saturday, Mitch Marner did just that, getting a point in his 19th consecutive game, scoring twice on five shots. Toronto fans love to make Marner their whipping boy, but this should give him a respite until the playoffs come along. The shot rate is slowly creeping back up for Marner, which is a necessity if he's going to approach last season's point total. He's a bit behind at even strength, but he's managed to be even better on the power play. Marner is as safe as it gets in fantasy at this point and remains in the top 20. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
As someone who is a big believer in Jason Robertson and had him ranked 32nd overall, a bit ahead of consensus, I did not see this coming. Robertson scored a hat trick on Thursday versus the Ducks, bringing him to 22+17 in 24 games. Is that good? Then you see Robertson is averaging under 18 minutes per game and realize that given a normal superstar workload, it would be even better! He's been absolutely incredible to this point and if the season ended today, he'd be the Hart Trophy winner. Is it going to last like this? Probably not. But he's clearly a top 10 player at this point, which is insane considering that two seasons ago, he was a second round pick rookie. Whatever scout led Dallas to picking Robertson deserves all of the money. Let's see what else happened over the last two nights:
I swear that I haven’t been taken hostage by Sabres fans and forced to write exclusively about those Buffalonian Beasts of the NorthEast. But every week seems to provide a new opportunity to work in one of the Sabres as we head back to KeyBank Center to peek at some wingers and ‘See More Skinner’.
At risk of working in a Simpsons reference or two here, Jeff Skinner, (DK: $5,200) seemed like he was doomed to be deemed a huge overpay when he signed that 9 million AAV extension in 2019. Coming off a 40 goal season, he certainly got paid like a top tier winger…then followed up that season with 14 goals and 7 goals respectively (albeit in less than 60 GP for each year). This year, he seems to have found a home on the top line with Tage Thompson and Alex Tuch. 14 points in 17 games with nearly 3 SOG per game qualifies as a good start, and his PP1 time could pay off against Matt Murray and the Leafs tonight. More importantly, unlike his Springfield namesake, I don't think even ‘SuperNintendo Chalmers’ could rattle this Skinner.
Kevin Fiala's first two games for the Kings left a lot to be desired. He didn't generate much in terms of chances, he took a stupid penalty in their opener against Vegas, and his ice time suffered as a result. His old team, the Wild, were coming off giving up seven goals against the Rangers and were big favorites to get their first win of the season. Instead, the Wild gave up seven goals again, with the Los Angeles top line leading the way. Fiala scored a goal and two assists with six shots in the 7-6 win, while Anze Kopitar dished three assists and Adrian Kempe scored two goals and an assist with three shots and four PIM. My biggest takeaway from this trio in the early going is that I was too low on Kempe this season. While he's not the focal point of the power play anymore, he's still vital to its success, and the addition of Fiala strengthened the top line. All of them are easy holds at the moment and I don't expect that to change. Let's take a look at what else happened on Friday and Saturday:
Igor Shesterkin has been long anointed as "the next one." It turns out he's even better than I expected, and I have him at +1200 to win the Vezina. Shesterkin saved 36 of 37 shots in the 4-1 win over the Capitals on Thursday, losing his shutout with one minute left to an Ovechkin flubbed deflection. Let's face the facts. The Rangers are the good bad team. Yes, the power play is great, but they're a below average even strength team being propped up by how good Shesterkin. He's certainly the best goalie in dynasties, and for this season, it's a two man tier of Shesterkin and Vasilevskiy. If NHL players were in the Olympics, one of these guys would have been stuck backing up, probably Igor. Pretty absurd. Regardless, I'm not a first round pick goalie guy, but starting next season, I wouldn't be surprised if Igor stays in that territory for the next 5+ years. Let's take a look at the last two nights:
We have our first big named moved prior to the trade deadline. It appears that teams want to get their business done early this season, especially Montreal, and they did on Monday sending Tyler Toffoli to Calgary for a prospect and picks, including a first. In Toffoli's first game, he scored a goal on four shots in 12:18 of ice time. The game was lopsided so it's hard to make a lot of judgments yet. Toffoli started the game on the third line, but his goal was assisted by Lindholm and Gaudreau as Sutter was trying out different looks. Given how well the first line has played, I can't imagine Toffoli stays there, but it's worth noting. If he's on the third line and second PP, he's capable of being a hold like Mangiapane has been in that role in the past, but it also caps his ceiling quite a bit. I'm not rushing to hold him, but his underlying numbers are still quite good this season despite Montreal being a dumpster fire. I wouldn't be surprised if he does turn into a hold at some point again, so if you want to make the spec add, I'm completely fine with it. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Those of you that have been patient holding Evander Kane for almost four months were rewarded on Saturday night. Kane played his first game of the season with the Oilers and went right on McDavid's wing. Kane scored in the first period and finished with three shots in the 7-2 win over the Canadiens. He's still available in 50% of ESPN leagues and very close to that on other sites. Kane is a must own immediately, and if you use FAAB, you should bid a large amount of your budget. Yes, he could do something stupid and be banished, but the upside is too high for him to be on waivers. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Columbus was in an absolutely miserable spot on Tuesday. They were missing their #1 goalie, their best defenseman, arguably their second best defenseman, and one of their hottest forwards. Their backup goalie was playing his first game in three weeks, and they were facing the healthiest version of Tampa that we've seen in months. Needless to say, it did not go well. Tampa was in control from the very beginning and won 7-2, led by Ondrej Palat and Brayden Point. Palat scored two goals and an assist with four shots, while Point had a goal and two assists with two shots. These two haven't spent too much time together this season as Palat has been with Stamkos for the vast majority. They didn't miss a step from playing together in the past. Point is a fringe top 20 player while Palat is solidified himself as a hold again. If he's available, grab him now, because I have no doubt that Palat will be a no brainer hold once Nikita Kucherov comes back, which should be in a couple weeks. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
A week without hockey in December did not seem right at all. Thankfully, the NHL is back up and running. Sure, there are plenty of postponements, but I'll take what we can get. There's not a lot of games over the past two nights, but I'm going to do a quick recap of everything that happened. Goaltending was mostly optional, especially in Wednesday's games. The highlight was a 8-7 SO win by the Sharks over the Coyotes, where Arizona scored two goals in the last three minutes of the game to send it to overtime. Phil Kessel had four assists and four shots in the game, and was dominant throughout the entire game. He's an elite streamer for now, but he can end up a hold depending where he goes at the trade deadline. Yes, I'm assuming he's traded, but that seems like a formality. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays!
Going into the season, I was high on Aaron Ekblad because the reports out of Florida were that Yandle was going to get scratched to open the season and his future was in doubt. One bout of COVID later, and Yandle was in opening night and scored. For the bad luck I've had on rankings this year , Yandle has not impacted Ekblad one bit. Ekblad had hit a bit of a rough patch over the last week, but he fixed that in a big way on Thursday. Ekblad scored two goals and added two assists with six shots in the 5-4 win over the Predators. That brings Ekblad to 8+7 in 22 games, an incredible rate of goals for a defenseman. Add in three shots per game and strong PIM, and Ekblad has a chance at finishing as a #2D this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: