After their situation looked murky earlier in the season causing public turmoil between the front office and their superstars, the Dallas Stars are close to becoming a lock for the postseason. Their super Stars (corny, I know) won the game for them on Tuesday against the Panthers. In the 4-2 win, Tyler Seguin dished four assists while putting six shots on goal and providing two PIM. Alexander Radulov scored two goals and an assist with five shots, while Jamie Benn scored a goal and two assists with two shots. The Stars have a great playoff schedule and these three guys should be massive difference makers in the fantasy playoffs. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What's the worst spot for a goaltender to start right now? Probably against Toronto on the road. Well, Matt Murray had that exact spot on Thursday, and did the exact opposite of what most expected. In a game where Toronto's expected goal total was pushing 4, Murray stopped all 38 shots he faced, shutting out the powerhouse Maple Leafs 3-0. Murray's upside is undeniable; it's just a matter of keeping him on the ice and the defense in front of him not being a total mess. For now, expect the Pens to give him the vast majority of the starts, meaning you can safely cut Casey DeSmith. The Penguins schedule is fairly soft over the next couple of weeks, so feel safe rolling Murray. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Now is the time of the year where we see college players decide to forgo their collegiate career and sign an entry level contract. There have been a bunch of players in recent years who have made an immediate impact, such as Chris Kreider and Brock Boeser. We could have another name to add to the list. Ryan Donato signed an ELC with Boston and had quite the NHL debut, scoring a goal and two assists with six shots playing almost 20 minutes.. With all of the graduates the Bruins have had over the last year, Donato is currently their #1 prospect (at least in my eyes). He was a great goal scorer at Harvard and did very well in the Olympics scoring five goals in five games. His shot is his best attribute but he's also a strong skater. I don't see superstar upside, but Donato can definitely become a top 6'er. He's a streamer for now depending on who he's with and how many minutes he's getting, but he's certainly a solid dynasty target. Donato played on the first power play unit and the second line on Monday, so here's to hoping that's what we get for the rest of the season, at least until Patrice Bergeron returns. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's Christmas in February! I'm going to hit on all of the trades that I haven't discussed to this point and then update this post with every trade that takes place today. These are all my instant thoughts from both a real life and fantasy perspective. Let's get right to it!
It's nice to have a bunch of superstars and a lot of luck on your side. The Penguins became the first team in almost two decades to win back to back Stanley Cups. On top of their usual fantasy studs, they had a few wingers emerge that look at the verge of becoming elite fantasy assets. Not much has changed on the whole but hey, why change a team that keeps winning? Let's take a look at the Penguins' roster and see what they're working with for fantasy hockey:
What looked like an amazing weekend for Mark Stone turned for the worst at the last minute. Stone had one of the biggest games of the year on Saturday scoring a goal and four assists with five shots in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. Stone followed that up by scoring a goal and taking a penalty against the Jets on Sunday before a hit to the head from Jacob Trouba knocked him out of the game. As if a hit to the head wasn't concerning enough, Stone has already had a concussion in the preseason, an injury that caused him to become a value in drafts. Stone has been terrific this season with 22 goals and 25 assists through 56 games but now, his fantasy owners are in a tough spot as are the Senators who were decimated by injuries over the weekend. Look for some news to come out later today on Stone's status but here's to hoping it's nothing serious like another concussion. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league this weekend:
In NHL history, two teams with a 12+ game winning streak have never played each other. That will change on Saturday as the Blue Jackets, winners of 14 straight, go to Minnesota to take on the Wild and their 12 game win streak. Both teams extended their streaks on Thursday in a different manner than usual. Their goalies have been the top 2 goalies to this point and it's not even close but last night, they scored 5 and 6 goals respectively. Their captains led the way with Nick Foligno scoring a goal and two assists with five shots while Mikko Koivu had two assists with a shot finishing +3. Foligno has been a top 10 forward this season bouncing back from a dreadful 2015-16 while Koivu has a solid 23 points and is +18. They're in different tiers at the moment but regardless they both need to be in your lineups night in and night out. I can't wait to watch these teams battle it out on Saturday. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
As far as players that I've enjoyed watching hockey over the years go, Jaromir Jagr is at or near the top of the list. The adjustments he's made to his game over the years while the NHL has become a young man's game is incredible. When you look in the record books under points, now there's only one player ahead of him: Wayne Gretzky. Jagr led the way for the Panthers on Tuesday posting 3 assists and 3 shots placing him second all-time in points. It's a shame he went to Russia for 4 years because he'd probably be #1 all-time in goals. While he's nowhere near last season's 66 point pace, Jagr's shots and PIM are up quite a bit and now that the first line is picking it up over the last few weeks, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Jagr is a top 100 player the rest of the way. We salute you, Jaromir Jagr. Let's take a look at everything that happened around the league the last two nights:
There have been plenty of defensemen this season who have frustrated their owners due to lack of performance. A player who looked on the verge of a breakout after last season was Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres agreed with that take giving him a 5 year deal and early dividends were not there. Risto was accumulating assists but not much else. However, things are starting to change and it's no coincidence that it has occurred when Jack Eichel returned to the lineup. On Tuesday night, Ristolainen scored his first goal of the season, an amazing slapshot in overtime, and added two assists and three shots in the 4-3 OT win against the Oilers. That gives Ristolainen 1 goal and 6 assists in the 5 games with Eichel in the lineup. He played almost 30 minutes in each of the last two games showing how important he is to the Sabres depleted blue line and with how the top power play unit moves the puck, I expect Ristolainen to be a #2 defenseman the rest of the way with the upside to be a #1. Let's take a look at what else developed over the last two nights.
When Johnny Gaudreau underwent surgery for his finger injury, the expectation was that he was going to miss six weeks. Flames fans and fantasy owners had to be thrilled when he came back on Sunday in less than three weeks. The team did surprisingly well in the 10 games Gaudreau missed, mostly due to Chad Johnson between the pipes, but they didn't score than 3 goals in any game during that stretch. That changed in a big way Sunday night against a strong Ducks team. The Flames scored a whopping 8 goals beating the Ducks 8-3 with Gaudreau scoring the opener and adding an assist later on. He was finally playing well before his injury so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. We know that he's a top end player but the impact of his return will be felt throughout the lineup. More on those guys later in the Sunday section, let's get to the games!