The last lottery pick for the Washington Capitals has really come into his own. Jakub Vrana had an incredible weekend, starting with two goals on eight shots against the Sabres. He followed it up with a hat trick on five shots against the Flames on Sunday. That brings Vrana to 9+5 in 16 games with just under three shots per game. He’s a main stay on the second line and second power play unit, so the question is whether or not he’s a hold. For now, I lean towards yes. I don’t think it’ll last all season, but Vrana is playing excellent hockey right now and I want to take advantage of it. The 23 year old has made a jump in every season of his career and looks to be down that path again. Given that he had 24+23 last season, another slight improvement will get right right onto the fringe. Vrana isn’t an automatic add given that Washington has only two games this week, but I’m holding onto him while Vrana has his foot on the accelerator. Let’s take a look at what else happened this weekend:
Tom Wilson – Goal and two assists with two shots. Wilson is on the second line now, but I’m still holding him in all formats.
Michal Kempny – Three assists with a shot. I don’t expect this offense to continue, but I don’t mind grabbing Kempny while he’s a hot schmotato. Given that he’s playing with Carlson who is lighting the world on fire, he should stumble into a career high in points.
Braden Holtby – 29 saves on 30 shots in the 6-1 win over the Sabres. Easy night for Holtby who is piling up wins despite horrible percentages. I was low on Holtby going into the season, and I still have him as a #2.
Roope Hintz – Two goals on five shots. Hintz is a top end streamer but I’m not holding.
Anton Khudobin – 38 saves on 39 shots in the 2-1 win over the Avalanche. Khudobin has allowed only one goal in three straight, albeit against two bad teams and an injured Colorado squad. I’m streaming him in most matchups.
Sean Couturier – Goal and an assist with two shots. Not the best start in terms of points for Couturier but I like what I’m seeing. I don’t think you can necessarily buy low, but he’s a nice trade target.
Oskar Lindblom – Goal and an assist with three shots. Solid streamer while on the second line.
Kyle Palmieri – Two assists with a shot and 17 PIM. What a great start across the board for Palmieri. Given that Hughes and Hischier should continue to improve, it should even get better for Palmieri.
Taylor Hall – Goal and an assist with two shots. Back to a point per game as expected.
Anders Lee – Goal and two assists with four shots. The shot rate has really dropped off for Lee which makes me a bit worried going forward. I think he’s on the fringe now instead of an easy hold, and I kind of lean towards elite streamer.
Sebastian Aho – Two goals and an assist with four shots and two PIM. Props to Matt for picking him in the Three Point Challenge! I’m been saying that I have no concern about Aho for weeks so hopefully this eliminates some doubt for everyone that was worried.
Dougie Hamilton – Three assists with two PIM and a shot. Jaccob Slavin also had three assists and a shot. Brind’Amour is finally using these two as the top pair and the offense is coming through for both of them. Given Gardiner’s struggles, I wonder if Slavin eventually gets a chance on the power play. Either way, he’s an easy hold, while Dougie could end up a top 5 D.
Andrei Svechnikov – Goal and an assist with three shots. Hotter than a pistol!
Anthony Mantha – Two goals on five shots. He’s getting killed at even strength, but Mantha is crushing the rest of the categories.
Andreas Athanasiou – Two assists with two shots. It was nice to see him play over 17 minutes, but Athanasiou was also -4. That brings him to -18 on the season, woof. I think he’ll get back to being a solid streamer, but I’m not using him at the moment.
Oliver Bjorkstrand – Goal and an assist with five shots. I wish Torts would trust Bjorkstrand and play him more minutes. He’s only a bottom end streamer as of now.
David Perron – Goal and an assist with two shots. Perron is on a massive tear and with Tarasenko out for 5 months, I think we see Perron’s workload increase.
John Gibson – 39 saves on 40 shots in the 2-1 OT win over the Canucks. Best goalie in the world.
Connor Hellebuyck – 51(!) saves on 53 shots in the 3-2 win over the Sharks. This is the definition of stealing a game. Hellebuyck has been incredible for Winnipeg. Without him, the Jets would be at the bottom of the standings. I called him a schmohawk in the preseason and he’s proving me wrong through the first month.
Semyon Varlamov – 27 save shutout in the 1-0 win over the Sabres. Varly had some luck with a couple posts, but he’s been great for the Isles. Trotz is a god with his system making both Isles goalies must start every time out.
Carter Hutton – 20 saves on 21 shots as the tough luck loser. Hutton has been excellent and should be held for the time being.
Darcy Kuemper – 33 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Avalanche. Speaking of being a god for his defensive system, how about Rick Tocchet? Kuemper is playing his way into elite status.
Phil Kessel – Goal and an assist with three shots. Kessel is one of my favorite trade targets right now. He’s been brutally unlucky in October yet he has still been decent. I think he’s going to go on a heater really soon.
Mike Smith – 51(!) saves on 52 shots in the 2-1 OT win over the Penguins. I still do not trust him, but like two seasons ago in Calgary, you have to use Smith while he’s playing well.
Alexandar Georgiev – 32 saves on 33 shots in the 2-1 win over the Predators. Georgiev has played very well this season following up a strong performance last year. I would stream him in most matchups.
David Pastrnak – Goal and two assists with three shots. He’s been remarkable so far and sits as the #2 overall player behind his linemate Brad Marchand (1+1, 6 PIM).
Ben Bishop – 35 saves on 36 shots in the 4-1 win over the Canadiens. He’s not getting the wins but Bishop has been very good with a 2.33/.922. The Stars are starting to play better and I buy into their team defensively so I do expect Bishop to push towards being a top 5 goalie for the rest of the season.
Denis Gurianov – Two goals on seven shots. I’m a big fan of Gurianov long term and he’s a solid streamer right now.
Sergei Bobrovsky – 22 save shutout in the 4-0 win over the Red Wings. It’s been a rough start for Bob in Florida, although he does have 6 wins in 11 games. I still expect him to figure it out and post his usual strong numbers.
Jonathan Huberdeau – Two goals and an assist with eight shots. Huberdeau has managed to somehow be better than last season which I did not see coming.
Keith Yandle – Two assists. Still selling Yandle while he’s on the third pair getting far less minutes than under Boughner.
David Rittich – 43 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Blue Jackets. Damn, there were a lot of excellent goaltending performances this weekend. Rittich is the clear workhorse in Calgary making him a solid #2.
Elias Pettersson – Two goals on three shots. This first line is flourishing in Vancouver with Pettersson as the focal point. If his shot rate can jump, the sky is the limit.
Kyle Connor – Goal and two assists with two shots. Connor is getting four shots on goal per game right now which is truly elite. He’s playing great and should continue to do so.
Evgeny Kuznetsov – Two assists with three shots and two PIM. Kuz has had a very nice start centering the second line and playing on the first power play unit. He’s carrying that line with Vrana and Wilson and I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets back to being a point per game player.
Jonathan Toews – Two assists with two shots and four PIM. He scored his first even strength goal of the season over the weekend which is horrible given Toews’ workload. He’s played his way onto the fringe and I lean towards streaming him.
Patrick Kane – Goal and an assist with three shots. Slow start by Kane’s standards but unlike Toews, I am not worried.
Three Point Challenge: For those who aren’t familiar, for each Tuesday and Thursday of the season, you can make a pick in the comments section. That player needs to get 3+ points for you to win. You cannot take a player in the top 10 in points in the league. For the first month to six weeks of the season, we will use last season’s top 10 in points. That means no McDavid, Kucherov, Kane, Draisaitl, Crosby, Marchand, Gaudreau, MacKinnon, Stamkos, or Barkov. I will update the standings later today and include that here. I will also make my pick later today or Tuesday morning. Feel free to make your own pick below.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Wednesday recapping the action from the next two nights. Feel free to ask any questions, give any comments, or leave any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care!