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Fantasy Hockey Weekly Newsletter: Week 17 Hello everyone. Welcome to the seventeenth edition of JOT This Down! Keep the questions, comments, and concerns coming. I’ll be here all week to answer any and everything you may have. The schedule is quite wonky this week. Multiple teams only play 1 or two games and the Sharks do not have a game. After this week, the schedule goes back to normal for a while. Keep tabs on your rosters as there will be many off days, and decisions will need to be made regarding whether or not to hang on to fringe players.
We're very close to the All-Star break with most teams starting their extended break on Sunday.  If you look at defensemen production, specifically in goals, you see notable names at the top.  Dahlin leads defensemen in goals, and then there's a four way tie behind him with notables like Makar and Hughes.  None of that is a surprise.  Weegar is one of those tied with Makar and Hughes, which is very surprising, but he went into the season locked into a big role, so let's assume he had some good fortune.  But Thomas Harley?  He's a player I really liked in dynasties, but to be one goal off the league lead for defensemen?  Not even close to my radar.  Harley scored two goals on Saturday, including the overtime winner for a second straight game, in the 5-4 win over the Capitals.  That gives Harley a whopping 12 goals in 46 games.  "Even with Heiskanen back, Harley was a factor.  I’m still holding Harley even though I wasn’t expecting to when Heiskanen came back.  He’s been that good for the Stars."  And that's me quoting me from three days ago copying what Grey does!  Somehow, Harley is still available in almost two-thirds of fantasy leagues.  With the pool of defensemen dropping off hard at the bottom, Harley should be owned in all formats.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's been a disastrous season for the Wild, and it's hard to imagine them digging out of this hole.  Monday was a lone bright spot, both for the team and their oldest player.  The Wild beat the Islanders 5-0, with Marc-Andre Fleury posting a 21 save shutout.  The win gave Fleury the second most wins in NHL history, passing Patrick Roy.  It's been a very up and down career for Fleury.  He was incredible in the 2008 playoffs getting Pittsburgh to the finals.  His most iconic moment clinched the Cup the year after.  There were a handful of years right after that where his poor play was the reason the Penguins were eliminated early in the playoffs.  They won a Stanley Cup with him as the backup.  He also saved them the next year when Murray struggled early in the playoffs to lead Pittsburgh to back-to-back cups.  He carried Vegas to the Cup finals in their inaugural season.  That's how I'm going to remember MAF.  There were too many down years for him to be in that inner circle of all-time goalies, and his best generally wasn't among the current elite, as evidenced by him being a Vezina finalist once in 20 seasons.  However, when he was at his best, it was incredible to watch, and that will put him in the Hockey Hall of Fame sooner than later.  For this season, Gustavsson is back, so I expect them to split the games fairly evenly.  He's a streamer in good matchups for now, but like most goalies, MAF can turn into a hold sooner than later, or be complete unusable.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's not too often that an NHL record that's stood for over one hundred years gets broken.  That happened on Wednesday night.  Despite his role shrinking, Kris Letang had the period of a lifetime.  Letang dished five assists in the second period in a seven minute span, becoming the first defenseman in NHL history to record five assists in a period.  He finished the game with six assists, all at even strength to give him a +6 rating in the 7-0 win over the Islanders.  Even with this game, Letang is far from the defenseman he used to be, partially due to age, and partially due to the arrival of Karlsson.  He's under two shots per game, and has only three goals as a result.  However, the assists are still very good, the hits and blocks are solid, and the PIM are much higher than they've been.  He's the perfect #3/4 defenseman on most teams since he's hitting most of the categories and piling up assists.
It's been a painful 13 years as a Sabres fan, but Tuesday's game might have been the worst.  There were tanking years, there were disappointing years, but for as bad as it's been, there can't be a worse loss than giving up nine goals at home to one of the worst teams in the league missing two of their best players.  "Kirill Marchenko is a lone bright spot lately.  I’m not holding, but the minutes are going up, the goals and shots are decent enough, and he currently is a key figure on their PP.  He’s a solid streamer."  And that's me quoting me from yesterday!  Well, it's time to give Marchenko a boost.  Marchenko had a natural hat trick in this game.  One of his goals was on the power play, he put four shots on goal, and he played 15 minutes despite the game being a blow out.  Marchenko is now an elite streamer.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
It's safe to say that we've reached the point that nobody doubts Boston anymore.  Their two top centers retired, and yet the team is chugging along at 16-4-3.  Their new captain was the reason they won both games over the weekend.  Brad Marchand scored the overtime winner against the Leafs on Saturday, his eighth shot on goal in the contest.  He followed it up with a natural hat trick, scoring all three goals for the Bruins in their 3-1 win over the Blue Jackets.  That gives Marchand 11+12 in 24 games, almost exactly a point per game.  The big thing is his shot rate is at an all-time high.  In my preseason rankings, I was uncertain on Marchand's ceiling, but speculated his shot rate could improve without Bergeron.  He's at exactly 3.5 per game, and with his elite PIM as always, Marchand is still in the conversation for a top 20 player.  At 35 years old, Marchand is showing no signs of slowing down.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: