I have to admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for¬†Thomas Vanek.¬† I saw him win the NCAA Championship as Minnesota’s best player as a freshman and fell in love with his offensive abilities before the Sabres drafted him 5th overall.¬† Vanek was excellent for many years in Buffalo and while his game isn’t where it once was, he can still put up points at a fairly high level.¬† Vancouver switched their lines recently with Vanek playing with¬†Brock Boeser¬†and¬†Sam Gagner.¬† They exploded against Chicago on Thursday with Vanek leading the way.¬† In the 5-2 win over the Blackhawks, Vanek scored two goals and three assists with five shots and two PIM finishing +5.¬† Vanek now has 10 points in his past 4 games giving him 12+16 in 38 games this year.¬† The shot rate has been up over the past ten games (3 per) so I’d grab Vanek while he’s on fire, at least as a streamer.¬† I’m sure his name will be discussed as a trade target again at this year’s deadline and unlike last year in Florida, I think Vanek will make a difference.¬† Injuries really hurt Florida and Vanek was mostly relegated to 12 minutes on third line duty.¬† We’ve seen in Detroit last season and Vancouver this year that Vanek is still capable of putting up points.¬† Let’s take a look at what else happened Thursday night around the league:
Andrei Vasilevskiy¬†– 31 saves on 32 shots in the 3-1 win over Montreal.¬† He just keeps rolling and is the #1 overall goalie by a fairly large margin as we near the halfway point.
Steven Stamkos¬†– Two goals on seven shots.¬† As crazy as it sounds, Stamkos’ season could get a bit better since his shooting percentage will go up a bit, especially if he maintains his recent surge in shot rate.
Ondrej Palat¬†– Two assists with a shot.¬† Solid streamer but unless you need the plus-minus boost, I wouldn’t hold Palat.
David Backes¬†– Two goals on five shots.¬† I wrote this on Backes yesterday: “Lackeydrinksonme has been talking about Backes for a while, most recently in his latest¬†post.¬† I agree with him that Backes would be a nice add if he‚Äôs still available.¬† I wouldn‚Äôt call him must own but if you need PIM, Backes is a great choice since he‚Äôs due for some positive regression in the goals department.”¬† And that’s me quoting me!¬† And there’s that positive regression.¬† I’d grab Backes now.
Dalton Heinen¬†– Two assists with three shots.¬† Heinen is really pushing towards being a hold.
Lars Eller¬†– Goal and an assist with five shots.¬† Eller has little fantasy value outside of the deepest of leagues.
Nick Bjugstad¬†– Two assists with two shots.¬† The minutes are dropping so Bjugstad is a bottom end streamer at the moment.
James Reimer¬†– 29 saves on 31 shots in the 3-2 win over the Flyers.¬† He’s started 11 straight with Luongo out and has put together a nice stretch.¬† I’d own Reimer right now in all formats.
Patrick Marleau¬†– Two goals and an assist with four shots.¬† I’d stream Marleau but I wouldn’t hold him.¬† He didn’t have an assist in ten games before this and he’s not exceptional in any category.
Mitch Marner¬†– Goal and two assists with two shots.¬† Here comes the heater for Marner.¬† That buy low window has shut completely.
Morgan Rielly¬†– Two assists with four shots.¬† The minutes aren’t great and it’s a big AAGNOF but Rielly should be owned everywhere.
William Nylander¬†– Goal and an assist with two shots.¬† That’s a four game point streak for Nylander who is starting to get rolling again.¬† I expect Nylander to finish right around last year’s totals (22+39).
Tobias Rieder¬†– Two assists with two shots.¬† He doesn’t have the role at the moment to have much fantasy value.¬† Rieder is an RFA at the end of the season and while the Coyotes definitely don’t have to trade him, he could be an interesting trade target.
Jordan Martinook¬†– Goal and an assist with two shots.¬† Meh, nothing to really see here.¬† Martinook showed some signs last season but he hasn’t taken any steps forward this year.
Reilly Smith¬†– Two assists with two shots.¬† I’d lean towards holding Smith for the raw point total but the shot rate is getting extremely troubling (2 shots or less in 8 straight).
Marc-Andre Fleury¬†– 26 saves on 28 shots in the 3-2 OT win over the Kings.¬† Fleury has a great chance to be a #1 the rest of the way with how Vegas is playing.
Drew Doughty¬†– Goal and an assist with five shots and two PIM.¬† Doughty has been even better than usual this year.¬† Amazingly, he’s pushing towards being the #1 fantasy defenseman.¬† I’d consider selling high if you could.¬† Obviously he’s not going to fall off a cliff but Doughty won’t finish as the #1D either.
Anton Forsberg¬†– 26 saves on 31 shots.¬† I’d look to stream guys against Chicago every game while Forsberg is starting.¬† The Blackhawks are in serious trouble if Crawford misses any significant time.
Brock Boeser¬†– Goal and three assists.¬† That’s a goal in four straight and eight of the past ten for Boeser.¬† What a season he’s having.
Sam Gagner¬†– Two goals and an assist with three shots.¬† I’d stream Gagner as well as he’s heating up playing with Boeser and Vanek.
Jacob Markstrom¬†– 30 saves on 32 shots in the 5-2 win over the Blackhawks.¬† He’s been hit or miss so I’d only use Markstrom if you’re desperate.
Martin Jones¬†– 32 saves on 34 shots in the 3-2 SO win over the Flames.¬† After a really rough stretch, Jones has had two quality starts in a row.¬† I would try to buy low if his owner is still worried about his dreadful run of 4+ against in 6 straight.
David Rittich¬†– 30 saves on 32 shots losing in the shootout.¬† He looked kind of awkward in this game but he got the job done.¬† Unfortunately, the Flames missed some glorious chances in overtime.¬† Rittich has played well in all four of his starts so I’d stream him going forward until he struggles.
That’s all for now guys.¬† I will be back on January 2nd recapping all of the action between now and then.¬† As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below.¬† I am going to the USA-Canada World Juniors outdoor game today so I will answer any questions posted before I leave around noon and then get to everything from the afternoon and early evening when I’m home.¬† After that, I’ll be able to answer all weekend and Monday like normal.¬† I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year’s.¬† Thanks for reading and I’ll be back in 2018!