It's Christmas in February! I'm going to hit on all of the trades that I haven't discussed to this point and then update this post with every trade that takes place today. These are all my instant thoughts from both a real life and fantasy perspective. Let's get right to it!
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine. That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season. Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night. Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings. That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser). Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties. Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season. Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy. The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game. On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain. There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up. Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Hey, everyone. I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas, wonderful time with family and friends, and solid New Year’s Eve plans lined up. Your extended-play streamer column is here, albeit a little reduced due to the holidays. We’re on the downhill stretch for most fantasy seasons, and for most leagues this is a short week. As you might know by now, my managing style and what I discuss in my advice column is maximizing games played and putting more skaters on the ice that your opponent. I don’t have access to my desktop right now, but the abbreviated version of what I want to reiterate every thread is this:
Jake DeBrusk was the second of three consecutive first round picks by the Bruins in the 2015 draft. The other two players are still in the AHL developing but DeBrusk is starting to make his mark with the big squad. In the 7-2 beatdown of the Blue Jackets, DeBrusk scored a goal and two assists with four shots and two penalty minutes. He followed that up by scoring the only non-empty net goal against the Sabres on Tuesday. As you can see below, snipe city: That brings DeBrusk up to 8 goals and 10 assists in 28 games with solid penalty minutes and a decent shot rate. The crazy thing is that he's producing despite getting poor minutes (he's averaging 14 per game on the season). DeBrusk has shown me plenty this season to improve his stock in dynasties. He looks like a lock to be a top six player going forward while having plenty of upside from there. In redrafts, I wouldn't hold him right now, solely because of the lack of minutes. That said, DeBrusk is still a great streamer while he's producing. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights in the NHL:
When talking about the Carolina Hurricanes schedule in my Playoff Breakdown piece, I said the following: "The Godfather of playoff schedules, the Hurricanes are going to be great on volume alone. They don’t have three games in three nights like Detroit but there’s a pile of back to backs here. There has to be with 17(!!!) games in 28 nights to close the season. That’s two more games than anyone else in the league. Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask should be monsters in the playoffs while Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm will be among the best streamers in the league." And that's me quoting me! All of this had held true except for Rask being mediocre. Not bad. Skinner has been the best of the bunch and that continued on Tuesday night. Skinner had two goals and an assist with five shots in the 5-3 loss to the Wild. He's been hotter than a pistol bringing his totals to 35 goals and 26 assists on the season. With the elite shot rate, Skinner is pushing towards a top 50 player going forward. The team around him is getting much better and Skinner is nearing his prime as he turns 25 in May. I don't think we've seen his best yet. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
There comes a point in the season where teams are desperate for their superstars to carry them towards the playoffs. That time is now and it's happening in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov has been spectacular all season but he had his best game Monday night scoring a hat trick on seven shots and adding an assist in the 5-1 win over the Senators. Look how remarkably similar all three goals are: He now has nine points in his last three games and twenty-five shots on goal over the pats four. Kucherov is producing points at the fourth highest rate in the league this season (min 20 GP) and sits as a top ten forward on the season despite missing some time. I had him as a high second round pick going into this season but he's been ever better than that. I expect to have Kucherov ranked as a first rounder going into next season and given that he's still 23 years old, we may not have seen the best from him. Let's take a look at what else has happened in the game around the league the last two nights: NOTE: There is a separate post going up regarding trades that will be updated throughout the trade deadline. For instant analysis, go here
For most of the season, I've talked about why I wouldn't want to own Semyon Varlamov. Long story short, I don't trust the Avalanche to play defense well enough to prevent Varlamov from having a high goals against average. Well, the counter to that is Varlamov is a very good goaltender who can carry his team to wins. It happened twice this weekend. On Friday, he stopped 33 of 34 shots to beat the Blues 2-1 in a shootout, then he came back Saturday to make 42 saves against the Stars in a 3-1 victory. Even after these games, his goals against average is below league average but his save percentage is strong and he's top 10 in the league in wins. There's still plenty of value in a goalie like Varlamov, you just need to balance it by having an elite goalie to carry you in goals against average. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
What Pesos is so eloquently saying is we are around the quarter mark (or pole, or mile, or whatever) of this hockey season and this is typically the time where we can get a good handle on a player’s stats. Hot streaks have started to cool and players that have had cold starts have finally started to help their fantasy teams out (just in time). This is also the time when the owners in your league tend to show their true colours. So it's time to look at how you can save your season!