Quick, who is second in the NHL in points? The question would be harder to answer if you guys couldn’t see the title of this post. Phil Kessel has been absolutely incredible all season and he’s certainly not getting the credit he deserves. Please, blog, may I have some more?
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:
In Wednesday's daily notes, I said that if I could, I would be looking to buy low on all of the elite goalies. Obviously some at different levels than others, but everyone knows my love for Devan Dubnyk and the Wild as a regular season team. I own plenty of Dubnyk stock again this year and it's been nowhere near as fun as last season when he took the league by storm. Dubnyk was a monster on Thursday night stopping all 41 shots he faced in the 3-0 win over the Canadiens. Four of Dubnyk's last eight starts (yes, one has bad against Toronto Wednesday but that's Toronto) have been strong so perhaps there's something building here. Expect things for Dubnyk, and the Wild in general, to keep improving sooner than later. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Goals were plentiful around the NHL on Thursday night, none more than in Florida where the Panthers went eight ball, corner pocket on the Ducks. The Panthers won 8-3 with Radim Vrbata leading the way. Vrbata netted his seventh career hat trick and his first three goals as a Panther on six shots. That brings him to 9 points in 10 games with elite shots and solid PIM. I wouldn't expect the PIM to last but the points and shots should be plenty to make him a hold. He's available in over 50% of leagues right now so grab Vrbata while you can. He's a clear must own in 12'ers and probably should be owned in 10'ers as well. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The streak has finally ended. After 26 consecutive seasons of making the playoffs, the Detroit Red Wings missed the playoffs last season. They are a team that seems to be stuck in no man's land. They have an exciting young forward core in place (although some of them disappointed last season) but they also have a older set of players that are approaching the end. Additionally, they have one of the worst bluelines in the league. In a division full of teams on the rise, Detroit seems to be lagging a step behind. Let's take a look at what Detroit is working with:
The Philadelphia Flyers have nothing to play for besides being a spoiler. Their season is effectively over but they basically ended their division rivals on Thursday. The Flyers blitzed the Islanders on Thursday going up 5-0 in the first period and winning 6-3. With the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Lightning and Hurricanes all winning, the Islanders are toast. There were many players who stood out for the Flyers in this game but the one with the biggest fantasy impact is Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds had a Gordie Howe hat trick and then some totaling a goal, two assists, five penalty minutes and four shots. The goal was Simmonds' 30th of the season allowing him to reach the 30 goal plateau for the second straight season. With four straight seasons of 28+ goals and massive penalty minutes, we know who Simmonds is in those departments. The shots are solid and the PPP are elite but there are some concerns. One, he's been a minus player every season in Philly with this year being his worst ever, a -20. The other issue is that he's never topped 31 assists. I thought this season he would set a new career high but he's not coming close. So where does that leave us? I had Simmonds in my top 25 last season which turned out to be too high. I love Simmonds for what he is but it's not worth taking him in the top of the third round when he's only getting 55-60 points. He'll certainly be in my top 50 but since he's on the verge of turning 29, my hopes of Simmonds taking another step seem incredibly unlikely. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
There comes a point in the season where teams are desperate for their superstars to carry them towards the playoffs. That time is now and it's happening in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov has been spectacular all season but he had his best game Monday night scoring a hat trick on seven shots and adding an assist in the 5-1 win over the Senators. Look how remarkably similar all three goals are: He now has nine points in his last three games and twenty-five shots on goal over the pats four. Kucherov is producing points at the fourth highest rate in the league this season (min 20 GP) and sits as a top ten forward on the season despite missing some time. I had him as a high second round pick going into this season but he's been ever better than that. I expect to have Kucherov ranked as a first rounder going into next season and given that he's still 23 years old, we may not have seen the best from him. Let's take a look at what else has happened in the game around the league the last two nights: NOTE: There is a separate post going up regarding trades that will be updated throughout the trade deadline. For instant analysis, go here
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.
I said on Friday that I don't like leading off with the same person back to back, let alone the same month. Well, Devan Dubnyk deserves to be the lede again with his third consecutive shutout on Saturday stopping all 29 shots against the Stars. For those of you who own Dubnyk in weekly head to head leagues, congrats on winning the goaltending categories this week! Three starts, three shutouts for my most frequently owned goaltender, go me! In the big picture, this doesn't really change things for me; Dubnyk is a #1 goalie and will continue to be so. While it matters less in fantasy hockey (it still has an impact for streaming and matchups), this shows me that the Wild are for real this season. I harped on it in the preseason and on the podcasts (mostly the over-under) but Bruce Boudreau does amazing things for hockey teams. I'm sure we'll be talking about it on Tuesday's podcast. Anyways, let's take a look at everything that happened around the league this weekend.
In my preseason rankings, this is what I wrote about Mitch Marner and his teammate William Nylander. "Putting them back to back because I’m unsure which one will be on the second and third line. Either way, I think there is value there in redrafts but the one in the top six could end up a hold." Well, it turns out Marner was that guy but both are clear holds at this point. Nylander has been getting the attention with Auston Matthews but Marner has equally impressed me. In my season preview for the Leafs, I said the following: "Marner, the fourth overall pick in 2015, is an incredible offensive talent. He had over two points per game this season in the OHL with 39+77 in 57 games along with 68 PIM. In standard redrafts, I like drafting Marner late. He won’t have the hype that the other young guys do but could be just as good as a rookie, if not better." And that's me quoting me again! In the 3-2 Leafs win on Thursday, Marner dished three assists and added two shots and two penalty minutes. This brings his totals up to 6 points in 7 games with above average shots and great PIM in the early going. Clearly he needs to be held right now and is elite in all dynasty formats. Also, shoutout to frequent commenter Shitwolf for being the first person to ever get a player correct for the Three Point Challenge! Nothing like somebody getting it on the first night we do it. Shitwolf and Mitch Marner go down in Razzball history! Here's what else happened the last two nights in the NHL: