Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks. Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost. Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday's game. Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks. Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury. With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin. So who gets a boost? Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12'ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar. We'll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term. Here's what else happened the last two nights around the league:
All everyone talked about in the preseason was wondering how bad Vegas was going to be in their expansion year. Sure, it's only two games, but boy did they have some excitement. On Friday, Dallas was dominating Vegas in their franchise opener but was only up 1-0 in the third. Down goes Ben Bishop which opened up the door for James Neal to give the people of Las Vegas some relief in an awful time. Neal scored two goals in the third period to propel the Golden Knights to victory. To top off the weekend, Neal scored another goal, this time the game winner in overtime, to give Vegas two wins to start the season. Neal is still available in over 40% of leagues and if you are in one of them, grab him. The shot rate is going to be elite along with solid penalty minutes and goals. At least for now, I'm not overly concerned about the top guys on Vegas having bad plus-minuses either. Let's take a look at what else happened in the first (long) weekend of the NHL season:
It hasn't even been two weeks since the regular season started and the hat tricks are already piling up! On Saturday, we had our most recent hat trick in Calgary as new Blue David Perron scored a hat trick on six shots and added an assist in the 6-4 win for St. Louis. Ken Hitchcock shuffled the lines before the game and the biggest beneficiary was Perron getting to play with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. Obviously it worked out better than anyone could have imagined. Perron was horrible to start last season in Pittsburgh but took off in Anaheim so there is fantasy potential here. For now, if I had room, I would grab Perron just to be able to stream him on Tuesday to see what happens. The Blues play the Flames again who are a complete dumpster fire defensively at the moment so it's an excellent spot for Perron to produce and there's a chance he turns into a hold. Let's take a look at what else happened around the NHL this weekend:
Wednesday night saw the first showdown between the first two picks of the 2016 NHL draft, Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine. It looked like Matthews was going to have the best of it when the Leafs were up 4-0 in the second period but then the Jets, led by Laine, turned things around to win 5-4 in overtime. Laine stole the show with his first career hat trick on five shots, including the tying goal with 55 seconds left and the overtime winner. He was moved up to the first line a couple games ago solidifying his minutes and has delivered ever since. I picked him as the better rookie for fantasy over Matthews (assist, seven shots) and still feel strongly about that. Laine is easily a top 100 player for this season and by next year, he's going to be a top 50 player and eventually a top 20 player. Every time he's on the ice, you can see the potential as an Ovechkin-lite. Let's take a look at everything that happened in the Wednesday and Thursday night games:
I both love and hate the first few weeks of the season. Love, because the excitement of the start of the NHL season makes me feel like I’m twelve again, collecting Pepsi bottle caps with the faces of all my favourite players on the under-side; and memorizing all the stats on my hockey cards – that my step-mom will eventually sell without my permission, in a box for $2 at a garage sale. Yeah, Gretzky rookie card and all. Sigh.
When players get interviewed before their first game, they always give the same boring mundane answers. "I'm focused on keeping things simple out there." "I'm just going to play my game," etc. They dream of scoring a goal in their first game. Well, Auston Matthews did just that in his first game. And then he did it again. And again, and again. The first overall pick from this year's draft became the first player in NHL history to score 4 goals in his debut, doing so on 6 shots playing 17:37 against the Senators. And the Leafs still lost! Man, they are horrible. Everyone is going to overreact to this game so I'll be the one to say that you need to lower expectations. Yes, there will be flashes from Matthews but like any rookie, consistency will come and go. He also won't get to play a team as hopeless defensively as the Senators are again any time soon. There's no doubting that Matthews will be a superstar but in the fantasy realm that we live in, don't think he's going to be a top 50 player this season or anything outlandish after one game. Here's what else happened around the league in the first two nights of the season:
Hey everyone! We are only two days away from the season starting and the preseason is in the books. Today, I'm going to take a quick look at all 30 teams in regards to lines, injuries and surprise players who may make the team. Players officially have to go down by Tuesday so there will be a little guess work on my part for the last couple guys to make the roster but at least for standard leagues, nearly everything is clear at this point. Let's get right to it!
It took the Oilers getting incredibly lucky to win the Connor McDavid sweepstakes to give the franchise a sign of life for the first time in at least half a decade. While their 2015-16 was a failure, the young studs all looked great, especially McDavid who had over a point per game in his 45 games. Then in a draft with three studs, they ended up getting one of the three picking fourth (well done Columbus). I don't want to say they erased it all with one move because McDavid is well on his way to being the best player in the league but then Peter Chiarelli traded Taylor Hall, an elite left winger, for a second pair defenseman. At least the defense will be better!
After McDavid, there are a few fantasy assets and a lot of question marks; let's take a look!
It's been very up and down this year for Sean Monahan but as we approach the end of the year, his numbers are exactly in line with last season. After scoring a goal and adding two assists on Monday night against the Coyotes, Monahan is sitting at 27+32 with 184 shots on goal after 31+31 and 191 last season. With six games left, it looks like he will slightly best last season's big breakout. The 21 year old isn't going to end up a top 20 player, that's not his offensive ceiling and he doesn't contribute in penalty minutes (16 this year is a career high) but he should be around 50th overall in drafts next year since there's a good chance he can get to 70 points with some progression. Here's what else I saw around the league on Monday night:
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: