As President of the “Mark Stone Fan Club” going back to 2014, it’s great to see him playing at an all-world level. Stone had two assists with two shots on Friday before adding a goal and an assist with three shots on Sunday, both against the Ducks. Please, blog, may I have some more?
We're moving out from the crease to the blue liners in my rankings. Today, I'll be going through the top 20 defensemen with the Top 40 coming out later in the week. Let's get right to it! 1) Cale Makar - Covered in the Top 20 overall here. 2) Dougie Hamilton - The top defenseman last season by a fairly wide margin, Hamilton moved from Carolina to New Jersey. It's a little worrisome, but I still expect big things from Dougie. I wouldn't be surprised if Hamilton ends up getting more minutes than he did while he was in Carolina.
The Washington Capitals have received plenty of criticism for their blockbuster trade on Monday. If things go like they did on Tuesday, I'm sure they'll have no complaints. Anthony Mantha scored a goal and added an assist with six shots in the 6-1 win over the Capitals. If it wasn't for a spectacular Elliott save, Mantha would have had a three point game right off the rip. I wrote in the trade deadline blog that I would have added Mantha right away after the trade for the upside. If you were slow to pull the trigger, odds are somebody else in your league already grabbed him, but go check. He's still available in about 25% of leagues and he needs to be owned everywhere, especially with Washington playing the Sabres tonight. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
"Joonas Donskoi is pushing towards being an elite streamer. Donskoi has eleven points in the past nine games while he received some shifts on the top PP unit on Monday as well." And that's me quoting me from two days ago! Well, Donskoi is certainly at that level now. Donskoi had a hat trick in the first period on Wednesday, adding an assist and six shots in the 9(!)-3 win over the Coyotes. Donskoi's third goal was on the PP with the top unit which does wonders for his value. While he's this hot, Donskoi is worth holding. I don't necessarily expect it to last, but he could easily stay an elite streamer for the rest of the season. The way the Avalanche are playing right now, I want as much to do with their offense as possible. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL. Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected. On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating. He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes. I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL. Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward. Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now. I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers. Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that. Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Look, to be honest with you, there wasn't a ton of eventful things that happened in the NHL on Thursday night. We're leading off with Sam Gagner for a couple reasons. One, he had a trick on four shots in the 5-2 win for the Red Wings. Sure, one was an empty netter, but a hat trick is a hat trick and that deserves recognition. Never mind that Gagner came into the game with zero goals on the season and the three points in this game were more than he had all season. The other reason I started off with Gagner is to give him some appreciation. He had a solid career for over a decade now, constantly as an elite streamer while having a few years where he was a bottom end hold. With all of the big games McJesus is having lately, you can try to stump your friends with a trivia question in terms of who the last player was that had seven points or more in a game? As you could guess, it was Gagner, but did you know he actually had 8!? He's one of only eleven players in history to have eight points in a game and for that, I thank Gagner for the memory of that wild night in Chicago. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday:
Nino Niederreiter's first season in Carolina couldn't have gone any better with 14+16 in 36 games. Last season really couldn't have gone worse with 11+18 in 67 games. Well, this year has certainly been closer to 2018-19 and we can be thankful for that in fantasy. Niederreiter scored two goals and an assist with three shots on Friday before dishing an assist on Saturday, adding six shots. That brings Nino to 9+3 in 16 games with over three shots per game, 13 PIM, and a great +11 rating. The second line in Carolina has been incredible, sparked by Niederreiter and Trocheck's revival. He's an easy hold in all formats for the time being. I wish that the minutes were a bit higher, but considering what Nino is doing with what he's getting, there can be some growth with additional minutes, namely in the assist department. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Injuries and COVID absences didn't stop Carolina from shutting down the Lightning on Tuesday night. It started with Petr Mrazek in net who stopped all 32 shots that he faced to earn the win. That's two shutouts already in three starts already for Mrazek. It's to the point where I feel comfortable playing him in every start where going into the season, I didn't want to use him against the other top teams in the Central. We've seen the upside before in Detroit and even though that was a while ago, the system in place in Carolina should make Mrazek's burden relatively easy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Your early leader in goals two weeks through the season is Max Pacioretty. Patches had a hat trick on Tuesday putting eight shots on goal in the process while adding two penalty minutes. That gives Patches six goals in seven games, along with a whopping 32 shots in 7 games. His linemate, Mark Stone, has arguably been the best player in the league to this point, so the opportunities are going to be there for Patches to have a monster season. After a disappointing first year in Vegas, Patches has really found his game again. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
For one night at least, the hype was real. We've been hearing about Kirill Kaprizov for a few years now and his long awaited NHL debut couldn't have gone any better. Kaprizov scored the game winning goal in overtime, finishing with an additional two assists and two shots on goal with a +3 rating in 21:52. Cheers to all of you who have been sitting on him in dynasties and everyone who took him in DFS while he was still incredibly underpriced. The first eight games for the Wild are against the three California teams so I'm expecting a big start from Kaprizov. I'd have to say he's the Calder favorite if Evason is going to play him over 20 minutes in his first game. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night: