I've never seen an organization do more to sabotage their own team and coach as the Canucks have over the last six weeks. They've been openly interviewing coaches for two months while Boudreau was still employed. It was already reported that Rick Tocchet was going to take over the Canucks before the Canucks played on Saturday night. It was highly emotional for the fans, players, and coaches, as Zach Hyman had a goal and three assists with five shots to lead Edmonton to a 4-2 win over the Canucks in Boudreau's last game. He was 50-40-13 in his Vancouver, a 90 point pace per 82 games, much better than it should be with their roster. Boudreau is one of the best coaches of the last 20 years, and I hope he gets another chance. Fantasy wise, Tocchet steps in and well, he was really bad when he coached the Lightning and Coyotes. His only playoff appearance was in the bubble because of an expanded playoffs. The schedule does lighten up quite a bit for the Canucks in the short term, which obviously helps. The distraction of the entire situation being gone also helps, but at the same time, they're going to trade Horvat sooner than later, and this could end up a slight negative for the value of their players. If anything, I lean neutral to their values, but I really don't like the way things are trending in Vancouver. Shame on Aquilini and Rutherford for handling this situation as poorly as possible. As for the Oilers, they're on fire finally starting to solidify their playoff positioning being carried by their superstars. The big thing I would say is never panic about their lines, Hyman and RNH will score plenty regardless, and will end up taking extra shifts with McDavid and Draisaitl anyways. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
If you asked most NHL fans outside of Manitoba who the best Connor in the NHL is, there wouldn’t be many differing opinions. As I said in this space before, a certain Oiler is on pace for some pretty eye-popping numbers this season. But what if I said there’s a skater that is almost as skilled as Mr. McDavid, and has been so ‘under the radar’ this season that even our friends at DraftKings haven’t boosted his salary yet? Yep. I’m talking about Kyle ‘The Other' Connor. Kyle Connor (DK: $8,000) has been as productive a winger as any in the NHL this season, but has consistently been priced around $1,000 lower than his elite peers. Connor has 55 PTS in 46 GP and is second on his team in goals scored (23) to only Mark Scheifele. He has missed the scoresheet just once in the Jets’ last 12 games. Now, I will admit that he won’t chip in many blocked shots, but that’s not what we’re looking for here. If you can 'catch' this Connor, you're getting an elite winger at a less than elite price.
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:
As good as the Jets have been, Friday was a huge boost for their team. Not only did they get Wheeler, Schmidt and Perfetti back, Nikolaj Ehlers returned for his first game since the second game of the season. He immediately went onto a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor, and it worked out as well as it has in the past. In the 4-2 win over the Lightning, Dubois scored two goals with four shots and four PIM, with Connor having a goal and an assist plus four PIM of his own. Sunday was even better with Connor scoring a hat trick, Dubois dishing four assists, and Ehlers scoring a goal and two assists. This line has the potential to be one of the best in hockey yet again, and with Dubois playing the best hockey of his career right now, it can be even better than last season. All of them are easily top 50 players with Connor in the top 20, and the other two with the potential to push towards that, but probably a step behind that. 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:
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:
Mikhail Sergachev had the game of the weekend, scoring two goals and two assists on three shots in the 6-3 win over the Capitals. However, I was starting this post with Sergachev after watching the first ten minutes of the game. Sergachev moved to the first power play unit and immediately delivered, with one goal and one primary assist coming there. That is a massive boon to his value. Whether it lasts, who is to say? I would bet against it staying that way for the whole season, which is why I wouldn't panic if I owned Victor Hedman. However, in the short term, this is enough to make Sergachev a #2 defenseman in a 12 man league, with upside to be a #1. Getting to feed Stamkos and Kucherov for shots over and over again is a godsend to fantasy value. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Vancouver has managed to blow multi-goal leads in each of their first four games. Pretty remarkable stuff that already has Boudreau on the hot seat. The good news is that there's still been some offensive bright spots for the Canucks, and Elias Pettersson is leading the way. Pettersson had five points over the last two nights, totaling two goals, three assists, and six shots in the two games. That brings Pettersson to 3+3 in four games, along with 3.5 shots per game. That's a good start to one of my bold predictions of the season, which is that Pettersson will score 45+ goals this year. Time will tell if that pans out, but I have no doubt that Pettersson can be a top 25 player despite the low penalty minutes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
One of the highest variance players for fantasy hockey this season is Logan Thompson. You can't ask for much of a better start. Thompson had a 27 save shutout on Thursday, and the Golden Knights needed every bit of it in the 1-0 win over the Blackhawks. He also had 27 saves on 30 shots in the first Vegas win, 4-3 over the Kings. I liked Thompson as a #2 this year, and this start makes me feel better about it. It's not going to be smooth, but that happens for only a few goalies in the entire league. Outside of the worst matchups, I feel good about rolling Thompson against everybody for the time being. Let's see what else happened on Thursday:
Today, I move from overall rankings to goaltenders only. I'm going to cover my first four tiers today out of eight. This will take me through 16 goalies. These guys all have a realistic chance of finishing as a top 10 goalie this season to varying degrees. There are some guys in the lower tiers who have an outside chance, but a lot will have to go right for them. That post will not be as detailed as the previous three posts. It will be in part, but when we get to tiers that are beyond desperation, it will be more of a list. But enough about tomorrow's post, let's get to the top goalies!
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: