The Devils have built arguably the best young core in the league. There's a lot of talk about Hughes and Hischier leading the way now, with Nemec and L. Hughes on the way. There's Meier and Bratt also playing a huge role. However, there's another former first round pick making a huge charge in his sophomore season. Dawson Mercer scored a hat trick on Tuesday in the 5-1 win over the Penguins. I had to do a double check because I did not realize this, but Mercer now has 27 goals on the season. I knew he was having a good year, but man, that's a huge jump for the 21 year old. Mercer is a natural center, but with the two former #1 picks in the fold, there's no reason to put Mercer on the third line right now. He's thriving on Hischier's wing, and is definitely worth a middle to late round pick in drafts next season. I'm not sure how much better it will get other than a potential increase in ice time because his skating is below NHL average, but his playmaking in traffic is so good and his compete level is so high that incremental increases help a lot to get into the 70 point range. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Oilers are peaking at the right time, as they've gone from battling for a playoff spot to battling for the Pacific Division. It started with a 5-4 win over the Coyotes on Monday, before a dominating 7-4 win over the Golden Knights on Tuesday. The man leading the way was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who continued his career season. RNH had a goal and an assist on Monday, before following that up with a goal and four assists with two shots against Vegas. That brings RNH up to a whopping 96 points (35+61), blowing away his previous career high of 69 points. 96, much nicer than 69. McDavid and Draisaitl justifiably get most of the attention surrounding the Oilers, but the impact that RNH has made this season can't be understated. Adding a third 100+ point player to the mix is insane, and Edmonton has as good of a set of forwards as there is in the league. They're a bit light on games the rest of the way, but their schedule is among the softest in the league, so look for the studs to continue to crush. As for where RNH will rank next season, that's an extremely difficult question to answer. I have to expect some regression, but how much? Given the mediocre shot rate, I assume I'll have RNH towards the bottom of the top 50? If he's only a PPG guy, there's plenty of value but it would be a bit underwhelming compared to other guys in his range i.e. his floor is lower. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
This year couldn't be going any worse for the Columbus Blue Jackets. A horrible record, terrible injuries to key players, and dreadful goaltending have sunk them from the beginning. Now that they're in the Bedard race, their fans probably aren't even happy that they won on Tuesday night. Their prize free agent signing, Johnny Gaudreau, dominated the game with two goals and three assists, plus six shots on goal. That brings him up to 62 points in 64 games, a far cry from last season, but not a complete disaster. The question isn't about what to expect from Gaudreau for the rest of this season, but going forward. He turns 30 in the summer, but I'm not expecting drop off in the short term. Can he approach 100 points again? I have my doubts, but if Columbus is lucky enough to get Bedard, it can't be ruled out. Bedard would be the perfect compliment, and Fantilli wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. I was lower on Gaudreau than consensus so I don't have any of him this year, but there's always a chance that with his talent, he makes a huge difference over the last month. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We had a game of the year performance on Monday night by Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck saved 50 of 51 shots in the 4-1 win over the Rangers, ending their winning streak. One of my best rankings this season over ADP was banking on Hellebuyck to bounce back after last season's disaster. I even said in my bold prediction that he'd win the Vezina, which Ullmark will probably ruin, but his season has certainly been Vezina worthy. But enough of patting myself on the back. Hellebuyck is sitting with a 2.39/.926, putting him in a battle with Oettinger for the #2 overall goalie to this point (the gap to #4 is massive). He's as good of a bet as any to finish the best goalie for the rest of the season considering the top end volume. Bottom line, Hellebuyck is entering his prime now and since he gets to play in a Bowness system, he should stay in tier one for the indefinite future. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
While the NFL steals the spotlight during Championship Week, the Rangers started the weekend blowing out two top teams in Seattle and Carolina. They scored six goals in both games to bring their winning streak up to five. While it was a group effort on Friday, Artemi Panarin stole the show on Saturday. The Breadman scored four goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM against Carolina, after dishing an assist against the Kraken. Gallant shuffled the lines after Tarasenko's arrival, with Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Vesey playing with Panarin again, setting up two of his goals. It was Panarin's third three-point game in his last eight, as he starts to heat up. While he hasn't approached his point production of his first three seasons in New York, Panarin is still on pace for 90+ points. That shows what kind of floor he has and why he's worthy of an early draft pick every year. Despite lower shots and PIM/hits, even his below average year (by his standards) is a top 50 player. Who knows, Panarin could finish the season on a massive heater and finally get to 100 points. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Senators have been a disappointment this season despite their big forward acquisitions in the summer. Turns out that you can't get away with completely ignoring the blue line and being forced to give bad players big minutes. Anyways, we don't care about that for fantasy, we care about their scoring, and their top players have largely delivered. Claude Giroux had a great weekend, totaling three goals and two assists with ten shots over two games. Giroux is having his best goal scoring season since his monstrous 34 goal, 102 point season in 2017-18. Unsurprisingly, that season and this season are Giroux's two highest shooting percentages, but it seems a bit more sustainable in this environment in Ottawa. Even with an inconsistent PP1 role, Giroux has still played his way into being a bottom end hold in all formats. The one problem is that after Ottawa's game on Tuesday, they don't play again until February 11th. My biggest point here with bottom end holds over these bye weeks is that you need to know your league format and whether the waiver wire is strong enough that you can drop someone like Giroux to get more games. In head to head leagues, volume is king, so you can make a case after Tuesday that you can let him go for players with a bunch of games after the All-Star break. In roto, I would hold onto Giroux without hesitation. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
In a game that was overshadowed by Provorov's refusal to wear the Pride jersey in warmups, Kevin Hayes continued his All-Star season with a hat trick against the Ducks. With his six shots, Hayes is approaching three shots per game, and playing at a 75 point pace, easily the best of his career. The Flyers have been much better over the last month, with Hayes being one of the focal points. He's erased his horrible plus-minus which is enough to make him a bottom end hold in all format. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
As good as the Jets have been, Friday was a huge boost for their team. Not only did they get Wheeler, Schmidt and Perfetti back, Nikolaj Ehlers returned for his first game since the second game of the season. He immediately went onto a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor, and it worked out as well as it has in the past. In the 4-2 win over the Lightning, Dubois scored two goals with four shots and four PIM, with Connor having a goal and an assist plus four PIM of his own. Sunday was even better with Connor scoring a hat trick, Dubois dishing four assists, and Ehlers scoring a goal and two assists. This line has the potential to be one of the best in hockey yet again, and with Dubois playing the best hockey of his career right now, it can be even better than last season. All of them are easily top 50 players with Connor in the top 20, and the other two with the potential to push towards that, but probably a step behind that. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
This Nashville Predators team plays nothing like the style we've come to expect from them over the years. They're hemorrhaging chances left and right, especially against top competition. So needless to say, it was always going to be difficult for them to get a result in Carolina. Luckily for them, they have Juuse Saros. Saros had the second most saves in a non-OT game in NHL history on Thursday saving 64(!) shots in the 5-3 win over the Hurricanes. I bet over 30.5 saves for Saros, can I get paid double for him going over twice? Ha! It's going to be hard for Saros to improve in GAA considering the team in front of him, but he's been playing much better lately to the point where the save percentage should be an elite asset once again. Saros is still a #1 fantasy goalie, both for this season and in dynasties. Amazingly, despite making his debut seven seasons ago, he's still only 27 years old. Let's take a look at what else happened the last two nights:
What better way to become the third player ever to 800 goals than to score a hat trick? Alex Ovechkin did just that on Tuesday, scoring three times and adding an assist against the Chicago Blackhawks. He's only one goal behind Gordie Howe for second all-time, and then the real chase towards Gretzky starts. Ovechkin already has 20 goals this season in 31 games, a mere 53 goal pace for the 37 year old. He's over four shots per game, and while the plus-minus is disappointing, it's starting to turn around a bit. My love for Ovechkin is well known in these parts, so I don't need to belabor the point, but I can't wait for the greatest goal scorer ever to push towards 895. Here's to hoping he keeps battling father time and gives hockey fans a great chase. Let's see what else happened over the last two nights:
As fun as it is to make fun of Toronto's Stanley Cup drought, it's very impressive when somebody breaks one of their major records. On Saturday, Mitch Marner did just that, getting a point in his 19th consecutive game, scoring twice on five shots. Toronto fans love to make Marner their whipping boy, but this should give him a respite until the playoffs come along. The shot rate is slowly creeping back up for Marner, which is a necessity if he's going to approach last season's point total. He's a bit behind at even strength, but he's managed to be even better on the power play. Marner is as safe as it gets in fantasy at this point and remains in the top 20. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
There were a few choices for the lede today, but I’m going to go all in on Stackin’ The Kraken despite them lining up against a tough opponent in the Florida Panthers. Seattle is riding a 7 game winning streak and is 8-1-1 in its last 10 games. They don’t have a flashy superstar to write up but they’ve got a pretty cohesive group of players that are definitely getting results.
One of the leaders of said skater group is center Matty Beniers, (DK: $4,800). I had Beniers slotted in as one of our mid-value picks for today as early as Thursday afternoon, and he did not disappoint in that night’s matchup. The Kraken gave up 2 first period goals to the Caps Thursday night, but stormed back to tie it in the 3rd and won it on a Beniers goal just 7 seconds into OT. Taking a peek at some other picks today, you’ll see just how hot the west coast’s newest NHL addition has been.