Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine. That’s the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season. Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night. Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings. That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser). Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties. Regardless, he’s blown away my expectations this season. Now, it’s not all rosy for fantasy. The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game. On the other hand, he’s 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it’s hard to complain. There’s a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal’s future if he can get that shot rate up. Regardless, he’ll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it’s only going to get better from there. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
He hasn’t been talked about much but as far as disappointments go, Ryan Johansen is near the top of the list. It wasn’t that long ago that he was a 22 year old scoring 33 goals and 30 assists, followed up by 26+45. Johansen had 4 straight 60+ point seasons before this year and to be blunt, he’s been awful compared to his high standards. Johansen had his best game in quite some time Thursday, dishing three assists and putting three shots on goal in the 5-0 win over the Kings. The main reason I’m encouraged by this? Filip Forsberg. The Swedish star returned from injury on Thursday and immediately went onto Johansen’s wing. Still, five goals and under 1.5 shots per game on the season isn’t going to get it done for Johansen owners. In the last three games, Johansen has at least three shots on goal, so I think he’s going to keep building. I don’t think we see Columbus Johansen again, but I don’t see why last season’s Johansen can be back for the rest of the season. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:Please, blog, may I have some more?
There have been a few big games by individuals this season but Patrice Bergeron’s on Saturday is the new leader for the best of the year. Bergeron scored four goals and added an assist with seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Hurricanes. Bergeron was the second player this year to score four goals after Alex Ovechkin. Per usual, Bergeron is crushing all of the categories. He’s playing around a 40+35 pace while already having a +19 rating, solid PIM and pushing four shots per game. Bergeron is a slam dunk top 50 player for the rest of the season who should push towards the top 25. Again, the top line in Boston is as good as it gets and Bergeron is at the forefront of their success. That line just gave up their first goal against at even strength all season! Remarkable stuff. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year’s! As much as I personally don’t care for New Year’s Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs. I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn’t be better. Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss! Anyways, let’s get to what you’re here for…
I’ve talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire. That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department. Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. That brings Karlsson’s totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating. Sure, it will regress some because he’s not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let’s give Karlsson his due. In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals. He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games. His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference. Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it’s not a complete fluke. Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Reid and I talked about Tristan Jarry extensively on last week’s podcast. We said that he should be picked up immediately with Matt Murray out for at least a few weeks, mostly because the Penguins had a back-to-back against the hapless Sabres. Well, Jarry delivered and then some in both games. He started off with a 34 save shutout in Buffalo before allowing 1 goal on 33 shots in Pittsburgh on Saturday. The schedule isn’t great this week with the Rangers, Islanders, and Maple Leafs on deck, but they’re all at home. At the least, Jarry is a nice spec add to see how things go against better competition. He’s still available in over 70% of leagues so go grab him now. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Has Sam Reinhart lived up to being the second overall pick in his draft? Definitely not. Is the book closed on him becoming a great player? I don’t think so. Reinhart has shown flashes this season but his quality of linemate has been quite poor. Last game, Reinhart moved to the first line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. This move paid dividends on Tuesday night where Reinhart scored a goal and two assists with four shots playing 18:36 in the 5-4 OT loss to the Penguins. What does this mean going forward? Well, Reinhart becomes an elite streamer and potential hold as long as he’s playing with Eichel and Kane. Subjectively, I think Reinhart has been much stronger on the puck this year and if not for Eichel missing a glorious chance and another point blank save, Reinhart could have easily reached 4-5 points in this game. Obviously we can’t expect that on a nightly basis but there’s no reason Reinhart can’t play around a 25+35 pace going forward. Here’s to hoping Phil Housley does what’s right and keeps him there. Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league the past two nights:Please, blog, may I have some more?
Add another goalie to the list of guys who struggled in the opening month only to turn it around. Braden Holtby, the consensus #1 goaltender going into the season, showed us why this weekend with two big performances. Holtby saved 27 shots in Friday’s 4-1 win over the Penguins and followed it up with 29 saves in the 2-1 SO win over the Oilers. Just like that, his save percentage is back to its normal level. Sure, the goals against average is still a little high, but goals are up around the league and it’s not out of the realm of possibility it goes back down. With the massive win total as well, expect Holtby to get back to the #1 goalie by season’s end. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:Please, blog, may I have some more?
I normally don’t give the extended intro to the same player twice in a short period of time but my boy Blake Wheeler gets the honor tonight. Wheeler’s excellent play continued on Monday night dishing four assists in the 4-1 win over the Stars, adding four shots and a +3 rating. All of a sudden, Wheeler is quietly creeping up on the Tampa duo sitting third in the league in points. 5+16, +7, 14 PIM, 9 STP, 46 SOG is Wheeler’s line through 14 games. I don’t know what you guys think of that but it seems like an okay start to the season. Loyal readers know I’ve long praised Wheeler as the most underrated superstar in the game and there are simply few players who consistently play at the level he does. Let’s take a look at what else happened in the 6 game slate on Monday:Please, blog, may I have some more?
The difference between Mark Scheifele being a first round fantasy pick and a middling to late second round pick comes down to his shot rate. He scored 32 goals last season but his 20% shooting percentage was due to regress. While the shots haven’t been coming in, they did on Thursday and the goals were flowing. Scheifele scored a hat trick on four shots in the 5-2 win over the Stars. That brings him to 7 goals and 8 assists in 12 games, an excellent start for Scheifele. Still, I have to assume the goals are going to drop since he has only 23 SOG on the season. Scheifele should be a point per game regardless but again, shots are what we need for him to jump into superstar fantasy status. Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:Please, blog, may I have some more?
We’ve reached the halfway point in my rankings and it’s time to approach the finish line. I will keep updating this with info for players as Friday progresses but I wanted to get the top 150 out as soon as possible. Also, sorry for the delay, but the RCL’s will launch this coming Monday in the afternoon. I’ve had a few technical difficulties setting it up but that should be taken care of by then. Without further adieu, here is my top 150:Please, blog, may I have some more?