While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend. Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3. This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville. In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each. That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success. Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The way young players have stormed the league in recent seasons, people just assume Sam Reinhart won't get much better and be a bust. If Reinhart wasn't the second overall pick, he'd be impressing everyone with his improvement. While I don't think he'll ever be a true superstar, I'm still a big fan of Reinhart going forward. Reinhart was on the ice for all four Sabres goals on Thursday, scoring a goal and two assists with two shots in the win over the Islanders. That puts Reinhart at 15 points in his past 16 games making him an elite streamer at the moment. For those in dynasties, Reinhart should develop into a top 100 player eventually but towards the bottom end. He'll be a beast in real life, but the lack of PIM will keep his value down. For those in redrafts, use him while he's hot. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year's! As much as I personally don't care for New Year's Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs. I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn't be better. Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss! Anyways, let's get to what you're here for... I've talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire. That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department. Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. That brings Karlsson's totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating. Sure, it will regress some because he's not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let's give Karlsson his due. In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals. He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games. His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference. Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it's not a complete fluke. Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year:
Nothing like a revenge game against your former team to get your current team back on track. Local Razzball favorite Mike Smith saved all 28 shots against his former team leading the Flames to a 3-0 win over the Coyotes. Smith has been outstanding this point becoming one of the greatest values in fantasy hockey to this point. The save percentage is among the league's best and the wins are more than solid. Since I'm all in on the Flames this year, I don't see why the team in front of him would get worse. To make things better, the Flames don't have a quality backup goalie. Smith is going to be a massive workhorse going forward and should be a borderline #1 fantasy goalie. Not bad for someone drafted in the very late rounds. Let's take a look at what else happened over the previous two nights:
Reid and I talked about John Tavares extensively on Tuesday's podcast. We both saw him as a viable option for The Three Point Challenge but decided to go elsewhere since it's rare for someone to post consecutive three point games. Well, Tavares shoved it up both of our you-know-wheres! He scored a hat trick and added an assist in the 5-3 win over the Coyotes. All of a sudden, a slow start (3 points in 7 games) has been erased with Tavares at 10 points in 9 games. This is why we wait at least a month before we panic about players, especially studs like Tavares. Look for him to be his usual self going forward, which means being a top 20 forward. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
Holy smokes, over 5000 words! This is quite the recap of the last 5 days of hockey. I had a introduction all set to go around Milan Lucic but I had to erase it and give the lede to Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri mysteriously missed six games in a row before returning on Wednesday night. It turns out that his 5 year old daughter Chloe had severe pneumonia which eventually required surgery. On this Thanksgiving weekend, we're thankful that she's going to make a full recovery. Dad returned and had a three game stretch for the ages. He started with a remarkable goal and three assists with 9 SOG in the 5-4 shootout win over Toronto. Cammy followed it up totaling a goal, assist, four shots and two PIM in the 5-4 loss to Detroit before scoring 2 goals on 4 shots in the 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh. Just a measly 8 points in 3 games, no big deal. He's almost back to a point per game (just like last season) with three shots per game and solid penalty minutes. Cammalleri is still available in over 50% of leagues and to be blunt, that's a huge mistake. If you're in one of those leagues, go grab him now. Here's a look at the last five days around the league. I'm going to go through day by day but in the format most people like; just note that a player may be mentioned multiple times.
At the end of last season, we started to see flashes of Aleksander Barkov's potential. This season, he started to string games together until he went down with an injury. Since he's been back, he's been on a torrid pace culminating with two goals and an assist with four shots in the 3-1 win over the Canadiens Tuesday. The win extended the Panthers win streak to seven and put the Panthers in first place in the Atlantic Sasha now has four goals in the last two games and ten points in the last seven games putting him close to a point per game on the season. Not bad for somebody who can't drink in the U.S. for eight months. He's doing so much already that he's solidly in my top 20 in dynasty rankings and pushing the top 50 for the rest of the season despite the lack of penalty minutes. Here's what else I saw on a busy Tuesday night:
Jakub Voracek had a hat trick and Wayne Simmonds added two goals as the Flyers held Pittsburgh at bay in a 6-5 win. Voracek scored the game-winner with 91 seconds left in regulation for Philadelphia. Please, blog, may I have some more?