It's no surprise that an ex-Sabre destroyed the Sabres in their first game against their former team. I've seen it for the better part of the decade. The surprise was that the Sabres stormed out to a 3-0 and 4-1 lead, only to blow the game. Sam Reinhart had a goal and three assists with two shots in the comeback, but that's not what makes me excited. Four points doesn't make me excited? Well, it does, but what really excites me is that Reinhart moved onto the first line once the game was 4-1. The line change sparked the Florida comeback, and I'd have to think they keep Reinhart there to start next game. I've already been holding Reinhart, but he is available in a fairly large number of leagues. I'd grab him now because if he stays on the top line, we could see him push towards a point per game.
The Blues have cooled off a bit since their hot start, but that doesn't mean that all of their players have. Pavel Buchnevich tore it up over the weekend, scoring a goal and an assist with three shots and two PIM on Friday before coming back with two goals and an assist with five shots on Saturday. Buch is crushing it across the board on the seasons now with 8+8, 18 PIM and 58 shots in 19 games. Add in a +8 rating and he's a top 20 forward at the moment. Do I expect that to last? No, but his fit in St. Louis couldn't be better and now he's getting plenty of minutes, especially with David Perron out of the lineup. Somehow, he's still available in over 20% of leagues which is blasphemous. He has a real chance at being a top 50 player this year. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The hits keep coming for Tampa Bay. Brayden Point is now out indefinitely after an ugly crash into the boards on Saturday. The Tampa lineup is starting to get pretty thin. Stammer has been forced to go back to center, with Alex Barre-Boulet getting time on the top line. Barre-Boulet scored in Sunday's game against the Wild. He's a decent streamer now. The more interesting player is Anthony Cirelli, who scored two goals on five shots with two PIM on Sunday playing over 24 minutes. It's pretty clear that Cirelli is going to be the top minute getter for Tampa for the time being. I think he becomes a must hold in all formats. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league this weekend:
Jeff Skinner scored 40 goals in 2018-19 playing on the first line with the Sabres. Then, for no reason at all, Ralph Krueger decided that Skinner shouldn't play on the first line anymore. Last season, Krueger thought that Skinner, on a team devoid of talent, should play on the fourth line, or even be scratched. Needless to say, Krueger was one of the worst coaches in the league and quickly lost his job. Since Don Granato took over, Skinner has been back in the role he should be, and he's been thriving in the early part of this season. Skinner scored two goals and added an assist on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. He has 5+4 in 14 games so far with a whopping 47 shots on goal. The shot volume will go a long way towards Skinner finding his goal scoring touch again. I don't think he's a slam dunk hold in 12'ers just yet, but he's an elite streamer with clear upside in his role. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The move that we've all been waiting for finally happened on Thursday. Jack Eichel was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights for Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, and draft picks. The impact of this trade in the short term is minimal. Eichel will have his surgery next week and will be out at least three months. Tuch is out for at least a couple more months with his shoulder surgery, and Krebs was sent down to Rochester for now. Long term, this could be big for all parties involved. First off, if Eichel comes back and gets to play with Stone, he'll have the best linemate he's ever had. We've seen this upside before, and now it's only a matter of getting healthy. This will be a big hit for Chandler Stephenson down the line. Tuch will finally get consistent top six minutes once he returns. With his shot rate, I could see him becoming a hold at the end of this season or next season. Krebs will also end up a top six player, although the time line is a bit more iffy. For fantasy purposes, it's a bit rough that he's a poor finisher, but every other part of his game is above average or higher, so I still suspect he'll be a hold in due time. All in all, I hoped for a slightly better return for Eichel, but given the injury and how long this dragged out, I can't complain about getting a couple top six players and what should end up a middling first round pick. Let's hit on a few other things around the league to bring people up to date:
I certainly won't be doing any victory laps after the first weekend, but Sam Bennett made me look good on Saturday, scoring a hat trick on six shots in the 5-1 win over the Islanders. Bennett finds himself in the same role as last season when he blew up after the trade deadline. Remarkably, he's still available in 40% of leagues on ESPN. I assume nobody that reads my posts would be in a league where Bennett is on the waiver wire, but if he is, grab him right now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The best goal scorer of all-time started off the season on the right foot. Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and added two assists in the Washington 5-1 win over the Rangers. Please, blog, may I have some more?
We wrap up the forward rankings today with the Top 100. If you've missed the early parts, you can start with the Top 60 here and go backwards from there. In a few days, I'll have my Top 200 list out and before you know it, the season will be starting. Let's get to it!
61) Bryan Rust - The point per game season will probably be an outlier, but Rust has a high floor no matter who his center is. Like Guentzel, I wouldn't be surprised if the shot volume goes up a tad while Crosby and Malkin are out because the Penguins will need the puck on their sticks more.
It’s not too often that a goalie gives up more goals than he makes saves, especially playing a full period. Hunter Miska, come on down! The good news for Colorado is they have a ton of firepower and they still managed to win by four goals after allowing four in the first. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL. Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected. On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating. He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes. I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL. Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward. Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now. I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers. Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that. Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: