Today brings a nice 10 game slate with a lot of lopsided matchups and two marquee games.  Let’s get right into what we learned from the last two nights around the league and what to look forward to tonight:

THREE THINGS WE LEARNED ON 3/27 AND 3/28

1) Connor McDavid is the best player in hockey.  Okay, this isn’t exactly groundbreaking, but it’s worth bringing up that McDavid now has back to back 100+ point seasons at 21 years old, along with his first 40 goal season.  It’s sickening how good he is.  Almost as sickening as his GM:

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He won’t win the Hart, but Anze Kopitar’s season should not go unnoticed.  He had his best game of the season scoring four goals on seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Avalanche.  That brings Kopitar to 33 goals and 53 assists in 75 games.  That’s a new career high in assists and points, and goals may not be too far behind.  Not so bad for a guy people were worried about after last season’s 52 points.  He’ll never be in the top tier of fantasy players because of the lack of PIM and average shot rate, but Kopitar has reestablished himself as a fringe top 25 guy.  Here’s to hoping he keeps it rolling over the last two weeks.  Let’s take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:

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Evander Kane is a player that I aggressively rank every season.  The shot rate is always elite, the penalty minutes are great, and the goals should come along with those shots.  Thankfully for his owners this year, Kane has managed to stay healthy.  Kane had the best game of his career on Friday, scoring four goals on seven shots and adding two penalty minutes.  He followed that up with eight shots on goal and two PIM on Saturday.  That brings Kane’s totals to 25+25 with 65 PIM and almost 4 shots per game.  Obviously he’s must own, but what is his ceiling going forward?  I don’t think his point totals are going to change much depending on where he signs in the offseason.  What can change is his plus-minus.  Sure, plus-minus is generally hard to predict, but there are some situations that you can feel better about.  Obviously Buffalo was almost worst case for that, and Kane is +5 in San Jose to this point.  Yes, it’s a small sample, but we’ve seen around the league this year that a lot of teams are loaded with big plus-minus totals.  Kane has never been much of a power play guy either, but maybe he goes somewhere that he plays on the top unit and improves.  I feel like he’ll be in the bottom of my top 50, but obviously things can change between now and then.  For those who have him for this year, enjoy him down the stretch.  With his shot volume, Kane can be a massive difference maker if he has some good fortune.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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As far as disappointments for this season go, Cam Atkinson is near the top of the list.  After his breakout last season with 35+27, Atkinson has struggled mightily on the ice and with an injury.  We’re finally seeing signs of Atkinson getting back to last season’s level.  Atkinson scored a shorthanded goal and added two power play assists with five shots on goal in the Columbus win on Monday. That gives Atkinson 4+4 in his last 9 games with at least three shots on goal in each game during that span.  The minutes are strong so that hasn’t been a problem.  The issue has been that Columbus’ power play has been so bad that Atkinson had only 3 STP before this game (which he doubled in this one).  Columbus has been better on the man advantage lately, and the arrival of Thomas Vanek should help them even more.  Atkinson is still available in over 40% of leagues and in a 12’er, I’d grab him right now while he’s finding his groove again.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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It took a few injuries, but we finally had some goaltender movement.  Petr Mrazek, who appeared to be Detroit’s franchise goalie less than two years ago, is now a member of the Flyers.  In return, Detroit received two conditional draft picks.  Best case scenario, they’ll get a 2nd and 3rd round picks.  Worst case, they only get a 4th.  So what is the fantasy impact?  I’ve been writing for a few weeks that Mrazek should be owned everywhere because he was finally playing well.  That’s clear as day now going to a much better situation in Philly, so grab him if he’s still available.  As for in Detroit, it should be Jimmy Howard’s show.  He has a .910 save percentage this season, which is closer to his career norm than last season’s .927 in 26 games.  I don’t see him as being much more than a desperation play going forward outside of the best matchups.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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Monday night was a short slate, but there were a couple great games.  Florida and Edmonton decided that defense (and goaltending) was optional leading to a 7-5 barn burner.  Vincent Trocheck took over the game late, scoring three goals in the third period on six shots to record his first career hat trick.  No matter what format you play, Trocheck has been incredible this season.  By the end of the month, there’s a great chance that Trocheck has set career highs in goals, assists, PPP (already did that) and SOG.  The 24 year old is also a monster in faceoffs, hits, and blocks for a forward as well.  For those of us in standard leagues, Trocheck looks like a top 35 player for this season and in the future, if not even better.  He’s basically Jamie Benn with a better shot rate and a lower floor for penalty minutes (obviously plus-minus can shift year-to-year).  The only potential downside going forward is that Trocheck is already averaging 21:33 per game, which has nowhere to go but down.  Either way, that’s of no concern for me; Trocheck is still underrated in my eyes.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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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:

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You don’t need me to tell you how good Evgeni Malkin is at hockey.  I’m still flabbergasted that he wasn’t one of the players in the NHL 100 because he’s clearly one of the best 100 players ever.  Certainly better than Toews or Keith.  I also wanted to use the word flabbergasted in a sentence.  Oh, yeah, so about that Malkin fella.  He scored his 12th career hat trick on Tuesday night as the Penguins kept rolling against the Sharks.  Malkin is well over a point per game, gives great penalty minutes, and the shot rate remains over three points per game.  As I always say about Malkin, just stay healthy!  As noted here, the playoff schedule is rough for the Pens, but Malkin should definitely help you get to that point.  Let’s take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:

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The Chicago Blackhawks are in last place in their division for the first time in what seems like an eternity.  They are lacking in the scoring department in a big way.  There’s one easily move that Joel Quenneville can make to help their cause: play Alex DeBrincat more.  The 20 year old scored his second hat trick of the season on Thursday while adding an assist.  He’s now tied for third on the team in points and second in goals.  However, on a per-minute basis, he scores more goals than anyone on the team by a country mile and he’s incredibly close to Kane in points per minute.  DeBrincat is averaging under 15 minutes per game on the season and to be blunt, that makes no sense to me.  The Blackhawks aren’t completely dead in the water, especially if Corey Crawford eventually returns (it’s been reported that he could return to the ice “soon”).  Either way though, getting DeBrincat more ice time helps the team now and helps his development.  He’s playing at a 28 goal pace with bottom six ice time!  DeBrincat is an elite streamer in 12’ers right now but if his minutes increase as they should, I would bet he becomes a hold down the stretch.  Let’s take a look at what happened in the NHL over the last two nights:

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After a massive breakout in which he scored 72 points in 77 games and Tampa Bay made the Cup Finals in 2014-15, everyone expected Tyler Johnson to push his way into superstardom.  Then he struggled massively in 2015-16 scoring 38 points in 69 not-so-nice games.  “It’s okay, he’ll bounce back!”  Kind of, but 45 points in 66 games wasn’t necessarily what people hoped.  “Write him off, that was a fluke!”  Nope, Johnson is back on track.  Johnson scored a hat trick on Tuesday putting six shots on goal in the 5-4 win over Carolina.  He now has 16 goals and 18 assists in 42 games with a +11 rating.  The shot rate on the whole doesn’t look great, but Johnson has 33 shots on goal in his past 9 games, in which he has 8 goals.  The player that was tied for the team lead in points during the regular season and led a Cup finalist in points in the playoffs looks to be back.  If he is, Tampa is going to be even more unstoppable.  Johnson is available in around 25% of leagues and if you’re lucky enough to be in, grab him immediately.  If you own him, props for grabbing him and don’t look to sell high because we know the upside.  Let’s take a look at what else happened the last two nights:

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