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:
Remember how poor Max Pacioretty was playing the first six weeks of the season? Despite the incredible start from the Canadiens, Patches was struggling to find the back of the net, mostly due to his shot rate falling off a cliff. While he's not at his normal levels, he's back over three shots per game and on Tuesday, Patches had a huge night. He scored on all three of his shots leading the way in Montreal's destruction of the Sabres. All of a sudden, Pacioretty is tied for second in the league in goals (at the time of this writing) being a plus contributor in all categories. While he's not pushing the top 25 like he was a couple years ago, Patches is firmly in the top 50 going forward. Here's what else I saw around the league on a massive Tuesday slate:
I think most fantasy hockey players would agree that Antti Raanta is worth streaming every time he gets the start. The problem has been that Raanta rarely plays because he's behind one of the best goalies in the world, Henrik Lundqvist. A healthy Lundqvist never sat three games in a row while healthy. Until this weekend. After a game on Thursday, Vigneault turned to Raanta again and he posted a 26 save shutout in the 1-0 win over his former team in Chicago. To the surprise of everyone, Raanta started again on Sunday and posted another shutout, this time an easy 5-0 win over the Devils in which Raanta posted 19 saves. If you streamed Raanta on Sunday, hold him until Tuesday to see if he gets another game. This certainly isn't going to last, this is Lundqvist's team, but ride the hot wave while you can. At the least, Raanta is a must-stream every time he gets the nod. Let's take a look at everything else that happened over the weekend:
At this point in the season, we've seen a ton of players bounce back from poor years in 2015-16. There are a couple guys in the forefront and one of them is Jakub Voracek. He went from 81 points to 55 (only 11 goals) in part to a dreadful first 20 games. Well, the people that bet on a return to his previous status are reaping massive dividends in the early going. In the 6-5 win over the Oilers Tuesday night, Voracek scored a goal and three assists with five shots. He's now sitting on 28 points in 29 games; add in a 90 PIM and ~300 shot pace and Voracek looks like he's on the verge of being a top 25 player again. Given the quality of the Flyers power play unit and his linemates, I don't see Voracek slowing down. Shoutout to Veritas for picking him to get 3 points! Here's what else happened over the last two nights:
Halloween is always a good reminder to do a check in with your team, and in particular the rookies, to see who is the real deal and who is just a dude walking around with an ax and wearing a cheap goalie mask. One reason to look at the rookies at this point is because of the Collective Bargain Agreement rules on entry level contracts. Essentially, once a rookie plays 10 games for the big league club, their entry level contract begins. If, however, the team decides to send them to their minor league team (or to Juniors), then the contract start slides to next year. At this point, most of the rookies have hit around eight games played, so it’s the perfect time to assess whether or not they can help your team out. The first few guys here aren’t going anywhere, obviously. But what about those closer to the fringe…?
I have a question for everyone reading this. Is two 4 point games in a week good? That's what Nikita Kucherov has done after Tampa's blowout of the Islanders on Tuesday. Kucherov stuffed the stat sheet with two goals, two assists, five shots and two penalty minutes in the 6-1 win. That now puts him in a tie for the league lead in points with 12 in 9 games. Yeah, this kid is really good and at 23 years old, it's only going to get better. That's why he was 18th overall for me in the preseason and is a borderline top 10 player in dynasties. With his time on ice and the power of the Lightning offense, it's going to be a great year for Kucherov owners. Let's take a look at what happened around the league on Tuesday night before we close things out with Wednesday streamers.