It wasn't that long ago that Ben Bishop was the #1 goalie for an entire season of fantasy hockey. It's been two years since, but Bishop showed his upside on Thursday night, posting a 30 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Coyotes. I'm not going to overreact to one game; I think Bishop is a bottom end #1 fantasy goalie. That said, there's a chance that the Stars make big strides with Montgomery running the show instead of Hitchcock, which would make Bishop the main beneficiary. The Stars' play over the first few weeks of the season is worth monitoring to decide whether Bishop is worth targeting in a trade. Let's take a look at what else happened over the first two nights of the season:
No, I'm not talking about the musical. I've used "Teach Me How to Dougie" before, so I needed to change it up. Dougie Hamilton scored the first hat trick of his career on Saturday, albeit in a 6-3 loss to the Panthers. He probably won't match last season's 50 point total, but Hamilton has been just as good. He's over three shots per game, the plus-minus is solid, the PIM are there, and a career high in goals is a near-certainty (he needs one more). As someone who has a betting ticket on the Flames to win the Cup, I just wish Glen Gulutzan would play Dougie more. Their first pair is so damn good that there's no reason for Hamilton to be under 25 minutes per game. Regardless, he's a solid #2 fantasy D for the all-around contribution with upside to be a bottom-end #1. With his recent play (11 points in his last 10 games), hopefully that happens. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
In my second half predictions post, I said that Jack Eichel would be in the top 5 in scoring for the rest of the season. He's certainly started on the right track. Eichel scored the OT winner on his seventh shot against the Flames on Monday before exploding against the Oilers with a goal and three assists with five shots on Tuesday. The Sabres power play looks like last season's unit again, the unit that was #1 in the entire NHL. Eichel is leading the way there but has also been dominant in all phases. He's currently in the midst of a 7 game point streak totaling a whopping 14 points in those 7 games while averaging almost 5 shots per game. This game put Eichel above a point per game for the season and I expect him to finish there. Sure, the plus-minus is poor, but everything else is outstanding. He's a first round pick for me next season, no doubt about it. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Nothing like a revenge game against your former team to get your current team back on track. Local Razzball favorite Mike Smith saved all 28 shots against his former team leading the Flames to a 3-0 win over the Coyotes. Smith has been outstanding this point becoming one of the greatest values in fantasy hockey to this point. The save percentage is among the league's best and the wins are more than solid. Since I'm all in on the Flames this year, I don't see why the team in front of him would get worse. To make things better, the Flames don't have a quality backup goalie. Smith is going to be a massive workhorse going forward and should be a borderline #1 fantasy goalie. Not bad for someone drafted in the very late rounds. Let's take a look at what else happened over the previous two nights:
Yes, I know that the first round of the playoffs just ended and we're six months away from next season starting. We'll talk about the second round matchups on a podcast that will drop on Tuesday. I don't believe that people will get much out of me posting notes about the playoffs so what better time to drop my first sleeper post for next year? Bo Horvat, also known as Dr. Bo in these parts, has been talked about for months as a fantasy sleeper for next season by yours truly. What can we expect from Horvat next season and why is he a sleeper?
For the majority of his professional career, Connor Hellebuyck has gone up and down more than an elevator. He's bounced around the NHL and AHL along with starting and being the backup in Winnipeg despite the fact that he's clearly their best option between the pipes. That's not to say Hellboy has been a great goalie throughout. In fact, he's had plenty of times where he looks rough. That's simply the nature of the beast in the NHL being a young goalie. Hellboy was at the bottom last week allowing five goals in consecutive starts. Naturally, he turns things around this weekend with a 29 save shutout against the Blues and saving 22 of 23 shots in the 6-1 win over the Avalanche. The numbers are poor on the whole but he has won half of his games. Should he be owned right now? I think you have to gamble on the upside in 12'ers. The main point is that this season has done nothing to dissuade me from loving Hellebuyck in dynasties. We all know that the Jets are loaded with offensive talent that is only going to get better and Hellebuyck will be a beneficiary. The prospect cupboard remains full despite all of their recent graduates and most importantly, there are a bunch on the blue line. What do I expect him next season? Probably a #2 goalie with upside to be a #1 who should be owned in all leagues. Long term? He should eventually develop into a guy who is a middling to bottom end #1 year in and year out. Bottom line, I'm still driving the Hellboy bandwagon! Here's what else happened around the league last 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:
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.
In non-breaking news, Connor McDavid is really good at that hockey game that millions of people enjoy. In this space, we give credit where it's due and McDavid did something on Saturday for the first time in his young NHL career. In the 5-2 win over Dallas, McDavid had his first career hat trick scoring three goals on four shots while adding two penalty minutes. That game gives the wunderkind 22 points (8+14) in 19 games so far this season tying him for the league lead. He's a decent bet to end up leading the league in points and he's still only 19 years old. The future for him is so bright that it's blinding. Here's what else happened around the league this weekend: