While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend. Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3. This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville. In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each. That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success. Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I have been pumping up Roope Hintz for the past couple weeks as one of the best streamers around. He finally had a big game on Tuesday, scoring both goals in the 2-0 win over the Sabres. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Max Domi slowed down quite a bit in the middle of the schedule, but he's found his game once again. Domi had a massive game on Tuesday, scoring two goals and three assists with three shots in the 8-1 beatdown of Detroit. Obviously I don't want to put too much stock into one game against one of the league's bottom teams. My guess is that this is the best season we ever seen from Domi, but he's become an easy top 100 player. The penalty minutes are outstanding and now the shot rate has inched towards an average level, 70 points is all Domi needs to become a strong fantasy asset. With the Canadiens battling for the playoffs, look for Domi to get big minutes down the stretch and continue to produce. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday:
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and we saw our first big move happen over the weekend. Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann were traded to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, and three draft picks. So what does this do to their values? Well, let's start with the easy ones. Sheahan is fantasy irrelevant as a fourth line center. McCann is currently playing as the third line center for Pittsburgh with Malkin down, having Pearson and Hornqvist on his wings. With no power play time, he's a bottom end streamer, but there is some upside here. Bjugstad is centering the second line, but even when Malkin comes back, the plan is for Kessel to be on his wing. I'd say this gives him a small boost to his value, but I wouldn't rush to own him. Bjugstad's situation in Florida was pretty good from a fantasy perspective. Brassard gets the biggest boost here, but to what level? Obviously he was a disaster in Pittsburgh since they acquired him. Florida is starting him on the wing with Trocheck and Hoffman. This is a huge upgrade for Brassard who becomes an elite streamer. However, this might only last for a while as I expect Florida to flip Brassard closer to the deadline. That means big minutes for now which is obviously great, but who knows where he gets moved. Maybe it's somewhere that would be good for his value (e.g. Winnipeg, who tried to get him last year before Pitt did), but it could also be somewhere like Colorado or Boston which wouldn't be great. In a deep league, I would grab Brassard immediately. In standard leagues, I'd use him tonight against the Blues and go from here. Here's some other observations I've made over the last few days:
One of my best calls in my four years of writing at Razzball was the breakout for Vincent Trocheck. His ability to hit all of the categories at a very strong rate was underrated by many. Sadly, it looks like he could be done for the season after a gruesome injury Monday night against the Senators. Best case scenario, it's going to be a few months. We don't have an update yet, but either way, you either have to put Trocheck on IR if you have the room or cut him. It's a tough loss for the Panthers who really ride their top six. It's unclear who is going to play 2C now. Perhaps Nick Bjugstad slides there or Jared McCann moves up. I think Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau take a slight hit to their value without Trocheck, while the guys on the first line get a small boost. It wouldn't shock me to see those guys pushing 23 minutes a night on a regular basis. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Quick, who is the only team without a loss? Shockingly, it's the New Jersey Devils. They've had all home games, but they have been strong in all facets of the game, winning by a total of 17-4 in those games. Outside of the Sharks game, they've made life easy on Keith Kinkaid and he's taken care of business. Kinkaid shut out the powerful Stars on Tuesday stopping 24 shots faced. Do I expect the Devils to be a powerhouse? No. Should Kinkaid be owned everywhere? Absolutely. Goaltending is a mess right now after the top 20ish guys, so there's no reason Kinkaid should be on the waiver wire, even if he's just a hot schmotato. He's available in over 2/3rds of leagues right now, so grab him while he's hot. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
If you follow my writing at all, you know how much I love Brent Burns. I mean, how can you not love this face? He's been among the most disappointing players in fantasy hockey to this point, mostly because he's found a way to have a horrible shooting percentage. Well, since my last set of daily notes, Burns is finally back on track! In his past three games, Burns has three goals and three assists with a whopping 22 shots on goal. There's still plenty of time for Burns to deliver an elite fantasy season with a monster second half. I certainly won't put it past the reigning Norris Trophy winner. I'm going to change things up a bit with this post. Since I'm a bit behind, mainly because of the site going down last Thursday night, I'm going to list every player, by NHL team, that I think is a hold or streamer in standard leagues, guys who become in play with hits, blocks and faceoffs added, and then add some information where necessary. Let's get to it!
Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks. Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost. Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday's game. Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks. Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury. With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin. So who gets a boost? Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12'ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar. We'll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term. Here's what else happened the last two nights around the league:
All everyone talked about in the preseason was wondering how bad Vegas was going to be in their expansion year. Sure, it's only two games, but boy did they have some excitement. On Friday, Dallas was dominating Vegas in their franchise opener but was only up 1-0 in the third. Down goes Ben Bishop which opened up the door for James Neal to give the people of Las Vegas some relief in an awful time. Neal scored two goals in the third period to propel the Golden Knights to victory. To top off the weekend, Neal scored another goal, this time the game winner in overtime, to give Vegas two wins to start the season. Neal is still available in over 40% of leagues and if you are in one of them, grab him. The shot rate is going to be elite along with solid penalty minutes and goals. At least for now, I'm not overly concerned about the top guys on Vegas having bad plus-minuses either. Let's take a look at what else happened in the first (long) weekend of the NHL season:
Here's what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: "Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues... Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance." And that's me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn't provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn't hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it's helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault's totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don't think there's more upside than what he's doing this season but there's no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he's not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league: