It was quite the weekend for last season's Calder Trophy winner. Mathew Barzal entered Friday's game against the Senators with five goals on the season, and he matched that in two games. Barzal scored two goals and an assist against the Senators before scoring a hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. That brings Barzal up to 10+25 in 37 games with solid PIM and an improved shot rate. He's still only 21 years old so clearly the best is to come. For the rest of this season, I think he's just inside the top 50 now that his shot rate isn't far from average. If he can eventually get that up towards three a game, it's game over. Barzal has top 20 player upside down the line; hopefully the Isles get some more talent around him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
He won't win the Hart, but Anze Kopitar's season should not go unnoticed. He had his best game of the season scoring four goals on seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Avalanche. That brings Kopitar to 33 goals and 53 assists in 75 games. That's a new career high in assists and points, and goals may not be too far behind. Not so bad for a guy people were worried about after last season's 52 points. He'll never be in the top tier of fantasy players because of the lack of PIM and average shot rate, but Kopitar has reestablished himself as a fringe top 25 guy. Here's to hoping he keeps it rolling over the last two weeks. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
It seems like forever and a day since Matt Duchene requested a trade from the Colorado Avalanche. His wish finally came true on Sunday in a massive three-way trade between the Avs, Senators, and Predators. The Sens acquired Duchene, the Predators received Reid's favorite Kyle Turris and the Avs get a ton of future assets. For the Senators, I'm not a big fan. Is Duchene better than Turris? I would say so and Duchene had one more year on his contract than Turris. However, adding a ton here, including a first round pick and Shane Bowers, their first round pick from the 2017 draft, is a lot to add. For Smashville, adding Turris without losing anyone from the current roster besides Samuel Girard is a nice move for a team positioned to go for it. It may be more futures heavy than Colorado originally wanted but boy, did they get a ton in this move. They effectively received 2 1sts, 3 2nds, a third and Andrew Hammond for goaltender depth in the organization. I love this move for Colorado long term, like the aggressiveness of Nashville using futures to push (and like signing Turris immediately to a 6/36 deal), and question Ottawa's decision here. For fantasy, Duchene probably gets a small boost because he should slide onto a line with Hoffman and Stone right away. Assuming Turris plays with Forsberg, I think this move could help him as well (at the least it's neutral). I'm very interested to see if Girard plays for the Avs right away. He looked great in his brief stint for Nashville and the former second round pick could becomes fantasy relevant immediately if he's in Denver. I'll be sure to talk more about this trade with Reid on Tuesday's podcast. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
The first few weeks of the season, Connor Hellebuyck was a polarizing figure in the fantasy hockey world. He made the Jets roster and was clearly the best goalie but Hellboy was struggling and splitting starts. Plenty of people were asking me if he was worth rostering and justifiably so. Well, things no longer look to be a mixed bag after the last week of games. Hellebuyck has won 4 straight starts allowing no more than 2 goals in a game. His best performance came last night recording a 27 save shutout at home against the Blackhawks. Hellebuyck is getting massive offensive support right now and the defense is gradually improving in front of him. At the end of the year, I believe he will finish as a top end #2 goaltender with the expectation that he will be a #1 in 2017-18 and beyond. Here's what else I saw around the league in a very busy Tuesday night slate.
It's no secret that coming into the season, I loved the best players on the Jets. While the team itself is of to a mediocre start, the forward in my top 50 that I was highest on compared to consensus was Mark Scheifele. After a monstrous second half last season, I wrote repeatedly how much I liked him for 2016-17 and dynasties going forward. It was evident looking at Fantasy Pros where I was 16 spots higher than anyone else and 19 spots above consensus, quite a margin for a player who I had ranked 32nd overall. Well, it's been a terrific start to the season for Scheifele and it continued over the weekend. On Friday, Scheifele had a goal, two assists and two shots while being +3 in the 5-3 win over Detroit. He followed that up with a goal and an assist with two shots and +1 on Sunday despite the Jets losing 5-2 to the red hot Rangers. That gives Scheifele a total of 7 goals and 7 assists in 13 games with a +5 rating, 10 PIM and almost 3 shots per game. It puts him easily in the top 20 skaters on the season in the player rater and is making me look smart! I salute you, Mr. Scheifele. With the workload that he's receiving, I have little doubt that he will produce going forward at an elite rate. Let's take a look at what else went on around the league over the weekend.
It's been quite a while since we've seen a shutout streak like the Blues are on. On Friday, Brian Elliott had one of the easiest shutouts of the season making 15 saves in the 4-0 win over the Canucks. The next day, Jake Allen recorded the fourth consecutive Blues shutout, stopping all 32 Capitals shots in the 4-0 win. Both have been outstanding this season and should be started every game the rest of the way. Get them in your lineup every time they start; the Blues will be highly motivated down the stretch to get home ice throughout the Western Conference Playoffs. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
On Wednesday, I said the following about Patrick Eaves: "He played on the first line and first power play unit right now so Eaves is a top end streamer while that’s the case. You could even hold him." Well, he showed why that's the case on Thursday night as Eaves had a hat trick in the first period against the Blackhawks. He finished the game with those three goals and six shots on goal. He has to be held now or picked up where available as long as he's on the first line. Here's what else I saw the last two nights around the league:
The all-star break is a great time to assess your team and get ready for the stretch run. Feels like mid-season, but it’s really not. Most leagues are about four weeks from their trade deadline and six weeks away from playoffs (assuming H2H format, that is). You should be able to assess your needs pretty clearly at this point, by looking at the standings and overall stats. First, you are either in contention or you’re not. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume you are. Because really, six weeks out, you should have at least a mathematical chance to sneak into the post-season.
Atkinson from Dubinsky and Jenner. Atkinson from Dubinsky and Jenner! Atkinson from Dubinsky and Jenner!!! That was the theme Monday night in Columbus as Cam Atkinson scored a hat trick on seven shots with Brandon Dubinsky getting the primary assist and Boone Jenner the secondary assist on all three goals. In recent games, the goals haven't been there but the shots have. He now has 21 shots in the last 5 games and more importantly, he's up to 16 goals and 14 assists on the season. Dubinsky keeps thriving in his increased role under Torts and almost has 30 points himself along with 39 PIM. Jenner has been the best of the bunch with almost identical stats to Atkinson, only with Dubinsky-level PIM (42). All 3 were already owned in the majority of leagues but if some reason any of these guys are out there, grab them. Here's what else I saw around the league on Monday night:
While there were only four games on the schedule on Wednesday, there was plenty of young talent showcasing their abilities around the NHL. Front and center among them all was Connor McDavid, who scored a gorgeous goal, his fourth of the season. I'd like to see a better shot rate but it's hard to find real complaints about an 18 year old having 6 points in 7 games, including 5 in the last 3. The Oilers next four games are all against excellent defensive teams so it'll be interesting to see if he can keep his point streak alive. Here's what else I saw on Wednesday: