From an individual standpoint, this season couldn't be going any better for John Tavares.  That continued on Monday night as Tavares scored 4 goals in the 7-5 win over Florida.  That brings Tavares to 45 goals and 86 points, both career highs.  Obviously we know to roll Tavares every time out, but where does he rank going into next season?  He's bumped his shot rate back up to an elite level and his plus-minus is by far a career best.  Is that sustainable?  It might be given how good Toronto is.  This, of course, assumes that Marner returns next season.  I don't think he'll make my top 10, but it will be very close.  At the least, Tavares will be in consideration for the wheel in a 12 team draft come September.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We have a new candidate for craziest game of the year.  Chicago and Ottawa was a 5-4 game... with 2 minutes left in the first!  The game finished with a ridiculous 8-7 score with Alex DeBrincat leading the way on the score sheet.  The 21 year old scored a hat trick and added two assists, bringing him up to 32+28 on the season.  Not bad for anyone, let alone a 21 year old.  In the preseason, I wrote this: "Everything is in place for DeBrincat to score 35+ goals… if Quenneville plays him the minutes he deserves.  DeBrincat scored 28 goals and 24 assists as a rookie despite playing only 14:48 per game.  It was infuriating that DeBrincat’s minutes down the stretch didn’t drastically increase with the Blackhawks out of the playoff race.  He’s a natural goal scorer who needs to get more playing time for the Blackhawks to have any chance at a bounce back.  The penalty minutes won’t be there, but 30+30 is well within reason, and there’s still upside from there."  Well, Quenneville was fired, but everything else came to fruition.  I love DeBrincat now and going forward.  Sure, he'll never give PIM, but he should be an annual 30 goal scorer who has some years pushing 40 like this one.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL.  Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position.  The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion.  First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back.  Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league.  I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out.  I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being.  Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's hard to find a bigger fan of Blake Wheeler than yours truly.  He's been excellent for years, and while he is showing some signs of aging, he's remained incredibly productive.  Wheeler scored a goal and dished three assists in the 7-4 win over the Avalanche, adding two penalty minutes.  Wheeler now has 7+48 in 42 games, a very strong point total.  So where's the concern?  Well, seven goals obviously isn't great, and his shot rate is closer to 2.5 now than 3 per game.  Add in a career low shooting percentage and you can see why he's on pace for only 14 goals.  He's still solid in PIM and has been a quality +/- player for a long time, so he'll still be a top 50 player for a few years.  However, it would be a mistake to expect Wheeler to be a top 20 player again going forward.  Here's a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
In the game of the night, a stealth Hart Trophy candidate led his team to glory.  Johnny Gaudreau scored a hat trick on four shots in the 4-1 win in Winnipeg.  Just like that, he's 5th in the NHL in scoring with by far the best shot rate of his career.  Couple that with a career high shooting percentage and Johnny Hockey is well on his way to a career high in goals.  I've generally been lower on Gaudreau than most, but this year he has proven me wrong.  That line is among the best in hockey and Gaudreau is at the forefront.  I don't expect him to slow down much in the second half making Gaudreau is a good bet to finish as a top 20 player in fantasy.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
Eichel and Skinner are getting tons of credit for the great start to the season for the Buffalo Sabres, but Sam Reinhart isn't getting the love he deserves.  Reinhart had five assists in two games over the weekend, extending his point streak to 10 and reaching 32 points in 34 games.  I've long been a Reinhart supporter but this jump is to an unprecedented level.  The former second overall pick does all of the little things so well and this year, he's finally being rewarded for it.  I don't see why he can't get 70+ points come season's end.  His goals are actually down from last season and with how well the top line is playing, there's no reason why Reinhart can't end up pushing last season's total of 25.  He was always expected to be a playmaker going back to his junior days and now, he might set a new career high in assists by New Year's.  If you're in one of the 25% of leagues that Reinhart is still available, go grab him immediately.  For those who own him, I would definitely hold tight and enjoy the breakout.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It wasn't that long ago that people were talking about a Stanley Cup hangover for the Capitals.  Now, the defending champs have won 10 out of 12 on the backs of their captain, Alex Ovechkin.  Ovechkin recorded the 21st hat trick of his career on Tuesday extending his league lead in goals.  He now has 25 goals and 14 assists in only 30 games this season to go along with 116 shots.  That means he's below four shots per game, a rarity for The Great Eight, but still an elite rate.  Sure, his shooting percentage is going to drop a bit, but there's no reason at all to expect a regression.  I've seen a few articles on other sites that say you should sell high on Ovechkin, and I'd have to disagree.  He gets drafted in the first round for his incredibly high floor, and nothing has changed to reduce that floor.  Let the good times roll and enjoy what should be his eighth 50 goal season of his career.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
All of the people who have read me since I started writing here three seasons ago (it's going by quick!) knows how big of a fan I am of Dr. Bo Horvat.  In a game where the Canucks were massive underdogs in Boston, Horvat led the Canucks to a major upset, scoring two goals and two assists with four shots and six PIM in the 8-5 win over the Bruins.  That brings Horvat's totals to an outstanding 9+6 in 17 games with 19 PIM and around 2.5 shots per game.  All of the attention is going to Elias Pettersson, and he deserves plenty of it, but Pettersson's arrival finally puts Horvat in a role that he can thrive in.  Yes, Horvat has been fairly luck to this point in terms of on-ice shooting percentage, but he's doing the heavy lifting and still producing plenty offensively.  The question isn't whether Horvat is a hold or not, it's how high his ceiling is.  I don't see a top 50 player, at least not until his linemates improve, but with how the Canucks are playing, he should be a top 100 player.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Mark Stone has been a favorite of Razzball Hockey (aka me) for a few years now.  One of the most underrated players in hockey, Stone is an above average first liner, no doubt about it.  Somebody is going to pay him a ton in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and he'll be worth every penny.  Stone had an incredible game on Tuesday scoring two goals on seven shots while adding in three assists as well.  That brings him to 6+12 in 15 games.  He's somehow available in 25% of leagues on ESPN, which is crazy.  Stone should be owned everywhere, and while I've been clamoring for him to be traded so he's even better, it's become abundantly clear that he'll produce just fine in Ottawa this season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: