One of my favorite late round gambles on the blue line this season was Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson played 35 games last season and has 16 points and two shots per game. That doesn't sound great, but that was with zero power play time and limited minutes. Keith and Seabrook were falling off a cliff giving Gustafsson prime opportunity. He took advantage of it and then some. Gustafsson dished three assists on Monday night while putting a shot on goal and adding 4 PIM. That brings Gustafsson up to a whopping 17+42 with 34 PIM and almost exactly two shots per game. That's with 18 STP, a number which could be higher if he played on PP1 all year. So what do we make of Gustafsson for next season? Well, it's early to say. I think these numbers are mostly sustainable as long as Chicago doesn't add a PP specialist in the offseason. I don't expect them to with the young guys they have coming, especially Jokiharju, but there's always a chance. Gustafsson looks like he'll be a solid #3 next season, possibly a bottom end #2. The goals will probably come down a bit, but 40+ assists should be a near lock with Chicago's style and strong PP, and he's average in PIM and shot rate. If he's going to be better, it's because he takes a few more shots. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
From an individual standpoint, this season couldn't be going any better for John Tavares. That continued on Monday night as Tavares scored 4 goals in the 7-5 win over Florida. That brings Tavares to 45 goals and 86 points, both career highs. Obviously we know to roll Tavares every time out, but where does he rank going into next season? He's bumped his shot rate back up to an elite level and his plus-minus is by far a career best. Is that sustainable? It might be given how good Toronto is. This, of course, assumes that Marner returns next season. I don't think he'll make my top 10, but it will be very close. At the least, Tavares will be in consideration for the wheel in a 12 team draft come September. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We have a new candidate for craziest game of the year. Chicago and Ottawa was a 5-4 game... with 2 minutes left in the first! The game finished with a ridiculous 8-7 score with Alex DeBrincat leading the way on the score sheet. The 21 year old scored a hat trick and added two assists, bringing him up to 32+28 on the season. Not bad for anyone, let alone a 21 year old. In the preseason, I wrote this: "Everything is in place for DeBrincat to score 35+ goals… if Quenneville plays him the minutes he deserves. DeBrincat scored 28 goals and 24 assists as a rookie despite playing only 14:48 per game. It was infuriating that DeBrincat’s minutes down the stretch didn’t drastically increase with the Blackhawks out of the playoff race. He’s a natural goal scorer who needs to get more playing time for the Blackhawks to have any chance at a bounce back. The penalty minutes won’t be there, but 30+30 is well within reason, and there’s still upside from there." Well, Quenneville was fired, but everything else came to fruition. I love DeBrincat now and going forward. Sure, he'll never give PIM, but he should be an annual 30 goal scorer who has some years pushing 40 like this one. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
It's hard to find a bigger fan of Blake Wheeler than yours truly. He's been excellent for years, and while he is showing some signs of aging, he's remained incredibly productive. Wheeler scored a goal and dished three assists in the 7-4 win over the Avalanche, adding two penalty minutes. Wheeler now has 7+48 in 42 games, a very strong point total. So where's the concern? Well, seven goals obviously isn't great, and his shot rate is closer to 2.5 now than 3 per game. Add in a career low shooting percentage and you can see why he's on pace for only 14 goals. He's still solid in PIM and has been a quality +/- player for a long time, so he'll still be a top 50 player for a few years. However, it would be a mistake to expect Wheeler to be a top 20 player again going forward. Here's a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hey guys! Sven back with 31 in 31 and my analysis of the Tampa Bay Lightning! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
We're moving on to the top 40 defensemen (you can find a list of the top 20 here.) More than likely, these guys will all be holds all season, but there won't be many past this list. This will be some upside in this list, but for the most part, it'll be safe guys to fill out the middle of your blue line. Let's get right to it!
Instead of my usual Monday daily notes, I am going to update my list of holds and streams for every NHL team. This should help everyone out quite a bit in companion with my Playoff Schedule Manifesto. I will also add in some notes where I feel like they're necessary, either to explain myself, or some quick thoughts on a player. Let's get right to it!
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:
First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year's! As much as I personally don't care for New Year's Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs. I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn't be better. Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss! Anyways, let's get to what you're here for... I've talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire. That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department. Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. That brings Karlsson's totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating. Sure, it will regress some because he's not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let's give Karlsson his due. In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals. He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games. His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference. Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it's not a complete fluke. Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year: