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
If you've watched the Jets play this year, you don't need me to tell you how talented Patrik Laine is. His shot is among the best that I've ever seen and his skating is explosive in its own right. The Jets top six was in a slump so Paul Maurice shuffled the lines on Tuesday. Granted, they play against the Stars, but the early returns were outstanding. Laine led the way scoring another hat trick on six shots while adding two penalty minutes. This puts him at 26 goals and 21 assists in 51 games, the second best goal rate in the league behind Sidney Crosby. I had him ranked in my top 100 going into the season but the days of getting him in that area of drafts is over. Hell, his days of going outside the first two rounds are over. The Jets are loaded with talent around him and Laine will only get better being 18 years old. Is he a first rounder next year? Right now, I'd lean towards no but he's firmly in the second round and it could certainly change over the next six months when I put my rankings out for next season. Regardless, watch this kid when you get the chance because it's remarkable. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights: