Dating all the way back to the preseason, I called Pekka Rinne the biggest wild card of the fantasy hockey season. In some seasons, he plays like the #1 goalie. In other seasons, he's been a detriment to fantasy rosters. This year, he's settled more in the middle but closer to the good side. We saw that top end ability once again on Thursday night when Rinne posted a 31 save shutout in the 2-0 win over the Oilers. So what do we do with him going forward? Honestly, nothing really changes. One, Peter Laviolette has already said that he wants to play Juuse Saros more down the stretch. Two, his variance is so high that any game or even any month doesn't change his long term prognosis. Basically, if you want to gamble, Rinne is someone worth the shot based on the high upside. If you want stability, stay the hell away. In dynasties, I'm down on him only because I'm a huge believer in Saros but for the rest of the season, I'm more on the side of Rinne being a top 10 goalie the rest of the way. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
We're changing things up with the lede today, and by we I mean me! Carey Price was definitely the least valuable player of Thursday night. The superstar goaltender was lit up like a Christmas tree by the Wild allowing 7 goals on 24 shots. In his last 6 starts, Price has allowed, 7, 4, 3, 1, 4, and 4 goals. To say it's been a rough two weeks would be like saying repealing Obamacare is a bad idea. No kidding! Sorry, couldn't help myself. Anyways, how high is the panic meter on Price in my eyes from 1 to 10, 10 being highly concerned? Maybe a 3? We know how good of a goalie he is, I'm not overly concerned over a poor stretch. I doubt you'll be able to buy low on him but it's at least worth kicking the tires and finding out. Look for Price to get back on track sooner than later. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league the last two nights:
Brad Marchand was one of the biggest breakout players in 2015-16 scoring 37 goals drastically increasing his shot rate to 3.5 per game while adding 90 PIM. While all of those numbers are taking a slight step back this season, he's improving the weaknesses in his game to become a well rounded player. Marchand returned to his old ways this weekend with three goals on six shots over two games to give him 12+22 on the season. He's only six assists from a career high and we've just reached the halfway point. Marchand also has nine power play points which is already a career high. Instead of being a three or four category stud (depending on plus-minus), he's become a big plus in five categories with the potential for all six if the plus-minus improves. These totals have him 15th in the player rater among forwards and that shouldn't come as a shock coming off a top ten season. It might not be exactly what you wanted but it's been excellent across the board. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
In my preseason rankings, I wrote the following about Chris Kreider: "He’s good for 20+20 with strong penalty minutes but I’m not expecting much more even though he has a ton of potential." What I meant to include was 20+20 at the halfway point! For years, Kreider has been talked about as an elite talent but somebody who hasn't been able to put it together. Like a few other players on the Rangers, Kreider has seemingly put it all together at this point and the results are outstanding. In the 6-2 win over the Avalanche on Saturday, Kreider scored a hat trick on six shots extending his point streak to 4 games (8 total points). In 33 games, Kreider now has 15+14 with 19 PIM and 91 shots. Add in Kreider being +6 and you're looking at a contributor in all categories. At this point, we're looking at a guy who should push towards the top 50 at the end of the season and going forward; he's still only 25 years old. Let's take a look at what happened to close 2016 and the opening day of 2017:
As far as players that I've enjoyed watching hockey over the years go, Jaromir Jagr is at or near the top of the list. The adjustments he's made to his game over the years while the NHL has become a young man's game is incredible. When you look in the record books under points, now there's only one player ahead of him: Wayne Gretzky. Jagr led the way for the Panthers on Tuesday posting 3 assists and 3 shots placing him second all-time in points. It's a shame he went to Russia for 4 years because he'd probably be #1 all-time in goals. While he's nowhere near last season's 66 point pace, Jagr's shots and PIM are up quite a bit and now that the first line is picking it up over the last few weeks, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if Jagr is a top 100 player the rest of the way. We salute you, Jaromir Jagr. Let's take a look at everything that happened around the league the last two nights:
I certainly didn't think I'd be writing about Peter Budaj at any point this year. After all, he played in a whopping one game over the past two seasons combined. Alas, we're here in December with Budaj being a major talking point of the NHL season. After Jonathan Quick went down, the expectation was that offseason signing Jeff Zatkoff would get the majority of the starts but when he went down as well, Budaj stepped in and has kept the job. He had arguably his best two performances over the weekend. Budaj posted a 39 save shutout in the 1-0 OT win over the Penguins before making 29 saves on 30 shots in the 1-0 loss in Boston. Budaj is currently #12 in the ESPN player rater among goalies making him a bottom end #1 or elite #2. With the news that Quick is going to be out until at least March, it's Budaj's job going forward. Despite that, Budaj is still available in over 40% of leagues. Can I explain it? No, not one bit. If you don't already own him and he's available in your league, grab Budaj. Let's take a look at everything that happened around the league the last three nights:
Holy smokes, over 5000 words! This is quite the recap of the last 5 days of hockey. I had a introduction all set to go around Milan Lucic but I had to erase it and give the lede to Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri mysteriously missed six games in a row before returning on Wednesday night. It turns out that his 5 year old daughter Chloe had severe pneumonia which eventually required surgery. On this Thanksgiving weekend, we're thankful that she's going to make a full recovery. Dad returned and had a three game stretch for the ages. He started with a remarkable goal and three assists with 9 SOG in the 5-4 shootout win over Toronto. Cammy followed it up totaling a goal, assist, four shots and two PIM in the 5-4 loss to Detroit before scoring 2 goals on 4 shots in the 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh. Just a measly 8 points in 3 games, no big deal. He's almost back to a point per game (just like last season) with three shots per game and solid penalty minutes. Cammalleri is still available in over 50% of leagues and to be blunt, that's a huge mistake. If you're in one of those leagues, go grab him now. Here's a look at the last five days around the league. I'm going to go through day by day but in the format most people like; just note that a player may be mentioned multiple times.
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 hasn't even been two weeks since the regular season started and the hat tricks are already piling up! On Saturday, we had our most recent hat trick in Calgary as new Blue David Perron scored a hat trick on six shots and added an assist in the 6-4 win for St. Louis. Ken Hitchcock shuffled the lines before the game and the biggest beneficiary was Perron getting to play with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. Obviously it worked out better than anyone could have imagined. Perron was horrible to start last season in Pittsburgh but took off in Anaheim so there is fantasy potential here. For now, if I had room, I would grab Perron just to be able to stream him on Tuesday to see what happens. The Blues play the Flames again who are a complete dumpster fire defensively at the moment so it's an excellent spot for Perron to produce and there's a chance he turns into a hold. Let's take a look at what else happened around the NHL this weekend:
Last season, the Nashville Predators won a playoff series for the first time since 2012 beating the division champion Ducks before losing to the Sharks in 7 games. The first blockbuster trade for Ryan Johansen gave the Preds a bonafide #1 center while still maintaining a strong defensive core. Then in the offseason, David Piole pulled off one of the most lopsided trades ever acquiring P.K. Subban for Shea Weber. Now, the Predators are absolutely loaded and if Pekka Rinne has one of his good years, they're among the favorites to win the Cup. Let's take a look at what Peter Laviolette has to work with: