There are plenty of great story lines going around the NHL right now.  Vegas' incredible start, Kucherov and Stamkos dominating, the Blues top line taking off, the Jets breaking out, etc.  Even the Oilers dreadful start is a major talking point but we haven't talked much about their best player.  Connor McDavid is still only 20 years old and despite the Oilers being a dumpster fire and these other players being the talk of the town, McJesus is only 3 points from the league lead.  In Edmonton's demolition of Columbus Tuesday, McDavid had a goal and three assists with five shots.  The shot rate is marginally down from last season but he's well on track to repeat last year's 30+70.  No matter what awful set of players Peter Chiarelli fills the roster with, it's good to know McDavid won't be stopped.  Look for him to win his second scoring title and potentially go for the Hart Trophy again if he can lead the Oilers back to the playoffs (seemingly a long shot).  Let's take a look at what else happened Tuesday night:
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:
If you've watched the Jets play this year, you don't need me to tell you how talented Patrik Laine is. His shot is among the best that I've ever seen and his skating is explosive in its own right. The Jets top six was in a slump so Paul Maurice shuffled the lines on Tuesday. Granted, they play against the Stars, but the early returns were outstanding. Laine led the way scoring another hat trick on six shots while adding two penalty minutes. This puts him at 26 goals and 21 assists in 51 games, the second best goal rate in the league behind Sidney Crosby. I had him ranked in my top 100 going into the season but the days of getting him in that area of drafts is over. Hell, his days of going outside the first two rounds are over. The Jets are loaded with talent around him and Laine will only get better being 18 years old. Is he a first rounder next year? Right now, I'd lean towards no but he's firmly in the second round and it could certainly change over the next six months when I put my rankings out for next season. Regardless, watch this kid when you get the chance because it's remarkable. Here's what else I saw 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:
Cory Schneider has been a mainstay among the top of goaltending rankings for the past few years in fantasy hockey. To say this year has been a disappointment to this point would be quite the understatement. The good thing is that there's plenty of time for him to turn the tide. Schneider had his first shutout of the season on Thursday making 16 saves in the 4-0 win over the Flyers. Yes, it was a great spot for the Devils but regardless, they took it to the Flyers and Schneider stepped up when called upon. I would ask Schneider's owner about a trade and see if you can buy low on him. He's established himself as a true #1 fantasy goalie for years and I think he plays that way the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two days:
I think most fantasy hockey players would agree that Antti Raanta is worth streaming every time he gets the start. The problem has been that Raanta rarely plays because he's behind one of the best goalies in the world, Henrik Lundqvist. A healthy Lundqvist never sat three games in a row while healthy. Until this weekend. After a game on Thursday, Vigneault turned to Raanta again and he posted a 26 save shutout in the 1-0 win over his former team in Chicago. To the surprise of everyone, Raanta started again on Sunday and posted another shutout, this time an easy 5-0 win over the Devils in which Raanta posted 19 saves. If you streamed Raanta on Sunday, hold him until Tuesday to see if he gets another game. This certainly isn't going to last, this is Lundqvist's team, but ride the hot wave while you can. At the least, Raanta is a must-stream every time he gets the nod. Let's take a look at everything else that happened over the weekend:
The general rule of thumb in these parts is when you score a hat trick, you're getting the lede. Vladimir Tarasenko was a clear first round pick this season (at least for me) and that's because of his consistency plus upside. Before Thursday night, Tarasenko was sitting at a point per game with elite shots. The penalty minutes have disappeared but overall, his owners had to be happy. Thursday night he showed his game to game upside scoring a hat trick and adding an assist in the 5-4 win over Tampa. After tonight, Tarasenko sits third in the league in goals and points. The scary thing is that he doesn't turn 25 for a couple weeks; we haven't seen his prime yet. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league the last two nights:
After a hat trick over the weekend, Michael Frolik came back with another monster game on Wednesday night scoring a goal and adding two assists in the 4-1 win over the Jets. Despite this recent hot streak, I'm still leaving Frolik on the waiver wire. His numbers on the season are still pedestrian and the consistency is lacking. That said, I can guarantee you Frolik will be one of my Friday streamers (spoiler alert!) because you might as well ride the hot streak in your playoff run. Here's what else I saw around the league on Wednesday night:
For the last few years, Connor Hellebuyck has been one of the best goaltending prospects in hockey. The former fifth round pick blossomed after being drafted and starred for the United States team in the World Junior Championships last year with a record of 7-1 and a GAA of 1.37 and .948 sv%. While that's clearly unsustainable, he posted a .921 sv% last year in the AHL on an IceCaps team that played wide open. With the injury to Ondrej Pavelec, Hellebuyck was called up to Winnipeg and promptly won two games giving up one goal in each. Yesterday, he stopped 32 of 33 shots in the Jets beatdown of Toronto. I don't have much to base this off of but I have a feeling Hellebuyck takes this opportunity and runs with it. I'm picking him up everywhere I can on the chance that he does; if he doesn't, he'll at least be a great fill-in in the meantime. Here's what else I saw on a short Wednesday slate: