It’s at the point of the season where I start off posts with guys who aren’t trivial holds and can make a difference down the stretch run. I’ve always been enamored with Nick Bjugstad‘s potential, especially after his 24 goal season three seasons ago. Please, blog, may I have some more?
There were plenty of positives and negatives for the Buffalo Sabres last season. Injuries were a big reason why they stayed at the bottom of the Atlantic Division. Their defense was as bad as anyone's in the league. Sam Reinhart failed to take a step forward. On the other hand, they had the best power play in the league, Jack Eichel was outstanding and their goaltending, notably Robin Lehner, was excellent. Out went Dan Bylsma and Tim Murray, in comes Phil Housley and Jason Botterill. It's time for a return to the playoffs for the Sabres and they have the talent to make it back. How the team improves tactically under Housley and how much the defense improves will be the major factors. Let's see what my hometown team are working with:
In the afternoon Monday, there was talk that recent Penguins callup Jake Guentzel was going to play on the second line with Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel in his NHL debut. Needless to say that it was a damn good debut, at least from an individual perspective. Guentzel scored a goal one minute into the game and added another one later on in the first period to go up 2-0. He finished the game with two goals on five shots playing over 15 minutes. Yeah, the Rangers came back to win 5-2 but that doesn't take away from Guentzel's debut. So I did some digging on Guentzel. The former third round pick was a stud in college at Nebraska-Omaha (a damn good college hockey school, believe it or not) including putting up 46 points in 35 games his junior year before going pro. He finished off 2015 with Scranton and had 6 points in 11 games before posting 5 goals and 9 assists in 10 playoff games. Guentzel was over a point per game in Scranton this season before getting called up. Basically, this kid can score and getting to play with Malkin and Kessel should do him wonders. In deep leagues, definitely add him where you can. In standard 12'ers, I'll probably look to stream him again on Wednesday to see if this role is legitimate. I don't want to overreact to one game but Guentzel has potential to be a waiver wire darling if he sticks. Here's what else happened around the league on Monday night:
I have a question for everyone reading this. Is two 4 point games in a week good? That's what Nikita Kucherov has done after Tampa's blowout of the Islanders on Tuesday. Kucherov stuffed the stat sheet with two goals, two assists, five shots and two penalty minutes in the 6-1 win. That now puts him in a tie for the league lead in points with 12 in 9 games. Yeah, this kid is really good and at 23 years old, it's only going to get better. That's why he was 18th overall for me in the preseason and is a borderline top 10 player in dynasties. With his time on ice and the power of the Lightning offense, it's going to be a great year for Kucherov owners. Let's take a look at what happened around the league on Tuesday night before we close things out with Wednesday streamers.
After two years of being in the basement of the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres made a large improvement in 2015-16. They finished one game below the NHL's version of .500, finishing with 81 points. This coming season, the Sabres should be ready to make a push for a playoff spot, especially considering that they are in arguably the weakest division in the NHL at the moment. At least that's what I'm hoping for being a Sabres fan! Let's take an in-depth look at the Sabres current roster and a few of their top prospects for those of you in dynasty leagues:
The end of the NHL regular season, and therefore the normal fantasy season, is upon us. Insert all of the sad face emojis here. Once the regular season is finished, I will set up a bracket challenge for all of us Razzballers on nhl.com so be sure to be on the lookout for that next Monday. But for now, more important things, winning your championship! I'm going to put some basic guidelines for what I'd be looking to do with your team the last few days to position yourself as best as possible. Let's get right to it!
After his remarkable first half, it looked like Patrick Kane reaching 100 points was a formality. Then he struggled mightily in the second half, enough to the point where he needed 6 points in the last 5 games to get there. Kane got there with time to spare in style, scoring a goal and an assist with five shots on Friday and followed it up with three goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. He's the overwhelming favorite for the Hart Trophy now and now has an outside shot of the Richard Trophy. As for where he's ranked for next season, I will probably have Kane ranked #3 or #4 overall. Despite the amazing year, Kane is more of the second half player where he was closer to a point per game than the first half monster. Here's what I saw over the weekend:
For the second time in a week, Jeff Carter had a monster game. On Thursday, Carter had two goals and an assist with 3 shots in the 3-0 win over the Flames. After this game, Carter passed the 60 point plateau while being +17 and over 3 shots per game on the season. The penalty minutes keep him from the truly elite but Carter will still be firmly in the top 100 going into next season. Keep rolling him for the last 10 days of this season. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights:
I've been talking about Nazem Kadri's shooting percentage for the entire season. To be blunt, it's not possible for a forward to be shooting 5% for an entire season; regression will always find you for better or worse. He finally saw a big boost on Tuesday scoring his third career hat trick on four shots in the 5-2 win over the Panthers. There aren't many guys who have an excellent shot rate and supply great penalty minutes but Kadri is one of them. I love players like these to fill out the middle or bottom of my roster and I'm sure I'll be higher on Kadri than most next season. Add in the young talent Toronto is adding around him and wouldn't shock me if Kadri approached 30 goals next season. Here's what else I saw around the league on Tuesday night:
Coming off an ugly loss to the Predators, it was a near certainty that the Kings would come out firing on Tuesday night. They certainly did but it wasn't enough because of Devan Dubnyk. Dubnyk had arguably his best start of the season stopping 38 of 39 shots, including a few massive point blank saves, in the 2-1 win over the Kings. After laying a huge egg against the Devils, Dubnyk has had three excellent starts in a row with this one being the best. The win puts the Wild one point ahead of the Avs for the last playoff spot in a battle that should come down to the wire. This is perfect for Dubnyk owners because he should start at least 7 of the Wild's final 8 games, if not all of them. Keep him in your lineup every time he starts. Here's what else I saw around the league on a busy Tuesday night: