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:
On its face, Evan Rodrigues having an assist with four shots and two PIM in the 4-3 win over the Devils doesn't stand out as anything special. However, it was another data point that the Panthers are going to heavily depend on Rodrigues. He's remained on the first line and first power play unit which alone puts you on the fringe. While I think he's a poor offensive finisher, Rodrigues loves to take horrible shots which is a big value in fantasy. Rodrigues is available in over 80% of leagues, but I've seen enough for him to be a hold in all formats. It could dry up when Bennett returns, but based on where Rodrigues is playing on the PP, I don't see Bennett taking that spot. There's a chance Rodrigues is the best fantasy player who went undrafted in most leagues, so get him now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're keeping things moving in the preseason with goaltending rankings coming today. All that I factor into rankings goaltenders are wins, GAA, and SV%. A big factor into determining wins is potential workload, so I give more value to workhorses than players in time shares. As I always preach in these parts, in head to head leagues, volume is king. In you're in a roto league where starts are capped, then you can give more value to the Gustavsson's of the hockey world. Let's get to it!
In a Pacific Division battle on Thursday, Stuart Skinner stole the show. Against the Kings, Skinner saved all 43 shots he faced in the 2-0 win. We all know about the firepower the Oilers possess, but they made the conference finals last season in large part because of Mike Smith getting hot as he was known to do. The Oilers replaced him with Campbell, but that has been an epic disaster. Skinner has established himself as the clear #1 and will be going into the playoffs. His numbers are that of a #2 in fantasy, and while I do like the 24 year old long term, I don't really see upside past that unless the Oilers completely revamp their defense. That said, for the Oilers to get on a run, they'll need solid goaltending, and Skinner has shown that he's capable of that. He's the goalie of the future and more importantly, the present. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Oilers are peaking at the right time, as they've gone from battling for a playoff spot to battling for the Pacific Division. It started with a 5-4 win over the Coyotes on Monday, before a dominating 7-4 win over the Golden Knights on Tuesday. The man leading the way was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who continued his career season. RNH had a goal and an assist on Monday, before following that up with a goal and four assists with two shots against Vegas. That brings RNH up to a whopping 96 points (35+61), blowing away his previous career high of 69 points. 96, much nicer than 69. McDavid and Draisaitl justifiably get most of the attention surrounding the Oilers, but the impact that RNH has made this season can't be understated. Adding a third 100+ point player to the mix is insane, and Edmonton has as good of a set of forwards as there is in the league. They're a bit light on games the rest of the way, but their schedule is among the softest in the league, so look for the studs to continue to crush. As for where RNH will rank next season, that's an extremely difficult question to answer. I have to expect some regression, but how much? Given the mediocre shot rate, I assume I'll have RNH towards the bottom of the top 50? If he's only a PPG guy, there's plenty of value but it would be a bit underwhelming compared to other guys in his range i.e. his floor is lower. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Surprisingly, we're having the most action ahead of the trade deadline that I can ever remember. There were a lot of trades over thee last two days that I'll be sure to cover below, but I have to start off with a four goal game. Anze Kopitar scored four goals in the 6-5 OT win over the Jets. I'm shocked that this was actually Kopitar's second four goal game of his career. Kopitar has a good chance for 30 goals now for the first time in six years. Kopitar has played his way into being a hold in all formats as he's closing in on a point per game. With the Kings in the thick of a playoff race, he should continue to get 20+ minutes a night. Kopitar has shown very few signs of slowing down in his age 35 season. He's one of the best players of his generation and doesn't get all of the credit that he deserves. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The rich keep getting richer. The Boston Bruins acquired Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from the Capitals on Thursday, sending draft picks and Craig Smith to Washington, and a pick to the Wild for retaining salary. I think this trade is far more interesting from the Washington perspective. They couldn't agree to a contract with Orlov, with the dispute being over the term of his next deal. Until a few days ago, it seemed farfetched that they would weaken their team for this season, but I actually think it's a smart move. Even if they snuck into the playoffs, they weren't going anywhere. They gained some additional ammo that they can flip in the offseason to make a push again next season. They have a lot of additional pending UFA's that could be on the way out, so it's hard to figure out who will be there in a week to benefit from this move. My guess is Trevor van Riemsdyk takes Orlov's spot on PP2, but he's also a UFA making 950k so he's a logical target for a lot of teams at that price, so he could be on the move too. Smith should crack the lineup, but I'm not expecting much at all. He's off the radar until we see him play. As for Boston, Orlov won't be getting PP time there with Lindholm holding down PP2, so he takes a slight hit to his value. The Bruins are so good that Orlov should stumble into enough points to be valuable in deeper leagues, but we're talking 14+ teams. Hathaway should do what he usually does, and that is pile up a bunch of hits and PIM with an okay goal rate for a fourth liner. All in all, this trade impacts real life more than fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Matthew Tkachuk entered the All-Star break on a massive hot streak. He continued it at the All-Star Game, winning MVP honors. Needless to say, it was continued on Monday night against their rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Tkachuk had two goals and three assists with six shots in the 7-1 win over Tampa, going +5 in the process. Tkachuk has managed to blow last season's 42+62 out of the water to this point. He's the #3 forward overall on the season and has the most balanced stat line of everyone in the entire league. Marchand was a top five forward for years because of his all-around contribution. Now, that spot is Tkachuk's. He's every bit of a top five player now and going forward. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Senators have been a disappointment this season despite their big forward acquisitions in the summer. Turns out that you can't get away with completely ignoring the blue line and being forced to give bad players big minutes. Anyways, we don't care about that for fantasy, we care about their scoring, and their top players have largely delivered. Claude Giroux had a great weekend, totaling three goals and two assists with ten shots over two games. Giroux is having his best goal scoring season since his monstrous 34 goal, 102 point season in 2017-18. Unsurprisingly, that season and this season are Giroux's two highest shooting percentages, but it seems a bit more sustainable in this environment in Ottawa. Even with an inconsistent PP1 role, Giroux has still played his way into being a bottom end hold in all formats. The one problem is that after Ottawa's game on Tuesday, they don't play again until February 11th. My biggest point here with bottom end holds over these bye weeks is that you need to know your league format and whether the waiver wire is strong enough that you can drop someone like Giroux to get more games. In head to head leagues, volume is king, so you can make a case after Tuesday that you can let him go for players with a bunch of games after the All-Star break. In roto, I would hold onto Giroux without hesitation. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Not a bad way for Kevin Fiala to follow up a hat trick. In a new rivalry developing between the Kings and Oilers, Fiala scored two goals and two assists with four shots. That brings Fiala to 10 points in his last five games with his shot rate jumping up quite a bit lately. The new line shuffle seems to be working, and the new Los Angeles All-Star has been fantastic in his first year with the Kings. It's a fantastic stat line across the board that has Fiala comfortably as a top 50 player with upside from there. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It was great to see Aleksander Barkov back in the lineup on Thursday, and if you didn't get him back into your lineup off injured reserve, well, that one is going to hurt for a while. Barkov scored a hat trick in the first period against the Canadiens and added two assists in the 7-2 win over the Canadiens. It hasn't been Barkov's best season to this point, but I'm buying Barkov going forward to get back to being well over a point per game. Florida has dug itself quite a hole in the playoff race and I expect Maurice to really ride their top six even more. Barkov's shooting percentage is also much lower than his career sh% (10.3 vs 14.0) so look for some positive regression in the New Year for the Panthers captain. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It feels like it's been forever since I've written daily notes. I guess being stuck inside due to a blizzard will do that. It was great to be able to watch the NHL on Tuesday night with a massive slate of games. He didn't have the biggest game of the day, but Erik Gustafsson can be a huge difference maker that impacts the vast majority of fantasy leagues. Gustafsson scored a goal and added a power play assist in the 4-0 win over the Rangers. This is notable because John Carlson is out "long term" after taking a puck to the face last Friday against Winnipeg. It seems like an eternity ago, but Gustafsson did have 60 points with Chicago four years ago with 18 coming on the PP. It's his top unit to run now, and the minutes have been decent even before Carlson's injury. The blocks are okay and the hits are below average, so in those formats he's still on the fringe, but without them, I think he's a no brainer hold. He's available in over 90% of leagues right now, so open another tab, put a claim in for Gustafsson, and then come back and see what else happened on Tuesday night!