On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL. Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position. The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion. First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back. Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league. I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out. I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being. Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Penguins have been on quite a tear lately, and it's not just their All-Stars. Over the weekend, Jake Guentzel destroyed the Ducks and Kings. In the Penguins comeback against the Ducks, Guentzel had a hat trick on seven shots with two penalty minutes, before scoring two more goals on six shots against the Kings. That brings Guentzel to 23 goals, which is already a career high. The shot rate has taken a big jump as well, although we can't expect him to shoot 19% all season. Regardless, Guentzel has settled into being a top 100 player who is a clear hold in all formats. As long as he continues to play with Crosby, things will be just fine. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
When we think about Tom Wilson going wild, it usually refers to him doing something dirty and piling up penalty minutes. Don't get me wrong, he's still getting penalty minutes, but he's been fabulous offensively since returning from suspension. Wilson scored two goals and an assist with six shots and two PIM in the 4-1 win over the Islanders on Monday. In his eight games, Wilson has 6+6 with a +6 rating, 11 PIM and 21 SOG. He's also averaging over 20 minutes per night. There's no doubt about it, Wilson should be owned in all formats right now. He's still available in about 1/3rd of leagues, so if you're lucky enough to be in one of them, pounce immediately. Obviously he's not going to stay at a point per game, but the offensive will be solid with this workload, and we know the PIM will be glorious. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Now is the time of the year where we see college players decide to forgo their collegiate career and sign an entry level contract. There have been a bunch of players in recent years who have made an immediate impact, such as Chris Kreider and Brock Boeser. We could have another name to add to the list. Ryan Donato signed an ELC with Boston and had quite the NHL debut, scoring a goal and two assists with six shots playing almost 20 minutes.. With all of the graduates the Bruins have had over the last year, Donato is currently their #1 prospect (at least in my eyes). He was a great goal scorer at Harvard and did very well in the Olympics scoring five goals in five games. His shot is his best attribute but he's also a strong skater. I don't see superstar upside, but Donato can definitely become a top 6'er. He's a streamer for now depending on who he's with and how many minutes he's getting, but he's certainly a solid dynasty target. Donato played on the first power play unit and the second line on Monday, so here's to hoping that's what we get for the rest of the season, at least until Patrice Bergeron returns. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
After an amazing start, Patrick Eaves has slowed down quite a bit lately. Despite being in the league since 2005, Eaves never topped 32 points so it wasn't a surprise. That said, he's been given the best opportunity to produce points he's ever had in his career this season and Eaves has taken advantage on the whole. Eaves had his strongest game in over a month on Tuesday scoring a goal and two assists with three shots. He's been on the first power play unit all season (his goal was on the PP) and Eaves moved back to the first line during this game. It's time to stop dropping Eaves and hold him in 12'ers. I'm okay with using him as a streamer if you don't have the room but Eaves has an outside shot of scoring 30 goals this year. Here's what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:
It's no secret that coming into the season, I loved the best players on the Jets. While the team itself is of to a mediocre start, the forward in my top 50 that I was highest on compared to consensus was Mark Scheifele. After a monstrous second half last season, I wrote repeatedly how much I liked him for 2016-17 and dynasties going forward. It was evident looking at Fantasy Pros where I was 16 spots higher than anyone else and 19 spots above consensus, quite a margin for a player who I had ranked 32nd overall. Well, it's been a terrific start to the season for Scheifele and it continued over the weekend. On Friday, Scheifele had a goal, two assists and two shots while being +3 in the 5-3 win over Detroit. He followed that up with a goal and an assist with two shots and +1 on Sunday despite the Jets losing 5-2 to the red hot Rangers. That gives Scheifele a total of 7 goals and 7 assists in 13 games with a +5 rating, 10 PIM and almost 3 shots per game. It puts him easily in the top 20 skaters on the season in the player rater and is making me look smart! I salute you, Mr. Scheifele. With the workload that he's receiving, I have little doubt that he will produce going forward at an elite rate. Let's take a look at what else went on around the league over the weekend.
At this time last year, the Columbus Blue Jackets were a trendy pick to make a jump into the playoffs. Let's just say that almost any chance of that was shot down in the first two weeks of the season. The Blue Jackets starting 0-8 and lost the first 7 by at least 2 goals. The team was a complete mess leading them to fire their coach and hire John Tortorella, who let's just say belongs nowhere near an NHL bench. They also altered the core of their franchise with the Seth Jones - Ryan Johansen blockbuster and look for the team to breakout post-hype. The Jackets have a lot of interesting young forwards along with some older guys who still carry plenty of value so let's take a look!
How good is Joe Thornton? The answer is pretty, pretty good <Larry David voice>. The future Hall of Famer is back in the top 10 in the league in scoring after a big night against the Blues on Monday. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The all-star break is a great time to assess your team and get ready for the stretch run. Feels like mid-season, but it’s really not. Most leagues are about four weeks from their trade deadline and six weeks away from playoffs (assuming H2H format, that is). You should be able to assess your needs pretty clearly at this point, by looking at the standings and overall stats. First, you are either in contention or you’re not. For the purpose of this article, I’m going to assume you are. Because really, six weeks out, you should have at least a mathematical chance to sneak into the post-season.
Welcome back to the Defenseman portion of Assume the Position. We’ll be taking a look at D-men that can help you, primarily in deeper leagues. Sneaky free agent pickups and buy low candidates that you should be targeting in trades.