One of my favorite late round gambles on the blue line this season was Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson played 35 games last season and has 16 points and two shots per game. That doesn't sound great, but that was with zero power play time and limited minutes. Keith and Seabrook were falling off a cliff giving Gustafsson prime opportunity. He took advantage of it and then some. Gustafsson dished three assists on Monday night while putting a shot on goal and adding 4 PIM. That brings Gustafsson up to a whopping 17+42 with 34 PIM and almost exactly two shots per game. That's with 18 STP, a number which could be higher if he played on PP1 all year. So what do we make of Gustafsson for next season? Well, it's early to say. I think these numbers are mostly sustainable as long as Chicago doesn't add a PP specialist in the offseason. I don't expect them to with the young guys they have coming, especially Jokiharju, but there's always a chance. Gustafsson looks like he'll be a solid #3 next season, possibly a bottom end #2. The goals will probably come down a bit, but 40+ assists should be a near lock with Chicago's style and strong PP, and he's average in PIM and shot rate. If he's going to be better, it's because he takes a few more shots. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
It's no secret that the Ducks are a mess right now. I said in a post last week that they're the worst team in the league at the moment, but last night's game took the cake. Getting shutout by the Senators is as low as it gets. Sure, Anders Nilsson played great stopping 45 shots, but a lot of them were low quality like the team taking them. This isn't a post about Nilsson, he's barely usable. This is a reminder that you should stream against the Ducks every time you get. Anaheim plays against plenty of bad teams this month (Vancouver 2x, Edmonton, Chicago) yet I still wouldn't hesitate to use any of their goaltenders. Take advantage of the Ducks every opportunity that you get. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
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:
Hey guys! I'm going to recap all of the action for the first eight days of the playoffs. I'm not going to hit on every thing that's happening in each series but this is more of the big picture for the current season and then some smaller things that could have a fantasy impact going forward. Let's get right to it!
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:
In a move that can only be seen as trying to tank for a better position in the McDavid sweepstakes, Sabres GM Tim Murry pulled the trigger on a deal that sent Jhonas Enroth to the Dallas Stars for backup goaltender Anders Lindback and a conditional third-round pick in 2016 today. This move comes right on the heels of another that sent arguably their best defenseman Tyler Myers to the Jets for injured winger Evander Kane. Regardless of whatever the thinking behind this move was, it radically alters the goalie landscape in Dallas and the number one job is most definitely up for grabs with Enroth in town. Maybe the Stars are looking for a way to motivate the struggling Kari Lehtonen to start playing up to his usual standards, but one thing is for certain, Enroth has the ability to take the job from Kari and it sounds like the Stars are going to give him every opportunity to do so.
I’m pretty big on shooting percentage as a solid indicator of whether or not a guy is playing over his head offensively in a given season. Quality of competition is another number that I put a lot of stock in. Combine these two metrics and you’ve got yourself a recipe for understanding some shiz about why a player does what he does and why he won’t do what you’d like him to later. Make sense? No? Perfect! Carl Soderberg (2 A, 1 SOG, even) is a player that a lot of folks were high on going into this season because of a seemingly strong rookie campaign (48 points in 73 games? Yes please!). I submit to you, dear reader, that his campaign was not as solid as it seemed, at least from a fantasy standpoint. Last year he looked great, right? Well, he sported a shooting percent of 20%. That’s way too high and it’s going to come down, and so too should your expectations for him this season. His QoC TOI was 27.7% and he began in the offensive zone 55.5% of the time. That’s what you call “sheltered minutes” and baby, those minutes can be deceiving. Mostly what his QoC TOI and starting zone % have to say is that he spent much of his time playing against the opposition’s third and fourth lines. Third lowest on the B’s, in fact. Sods is a solid support guy with decent offensive upside, but don’t get carried away thinking he’s going to give you more than 15 goals and 40 some points. Yes, that means last season was likely his offensive ceiling. What do you want? The guy is already 28! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in fantasy hockey last night: