October 24, 2015

steve laidlaw


What to make of Kuznetsov, Markov, Giordano and Toffoli after big nights, and more.

Boy, did Evgeny Kuznetsov ever benefit from Nicklas Backstrom’s offseason surgery. It opened the window enough for Kuznetsov to get a crack with Alexander Ovechkin and he’s absolutely running with it, leaving Backstrom to fill the proverbial second line duties.

A five-point night for Kuznetsov pushes him into the team lead for points with 11. He also grabbed his first three goals of the season for the hat-trick including this beauty.

It’s worth mentioning that when I checked last night, Kuznetsov remained available in 43% of fantasy leagues. I’ll guess that inches closer to 75% by the time you are reading this. But if you are an early bird and you can somehow still jump on him, Kuznetsov is pretty obviously a great pick up.

Of course, after a game like this you have to accept that that game is in the past. Focusing on future production, this is probably the high point of value for Kuznetsov. Even if this is all part of a breakout, that breakout probably looks like 60-65 points, not the 75-80 that you want to think he can hit. There’s just only so much offense to go around.

The big reason I pump the brakes is because Kuznetsov is not skating on the top power play unit. So his opportunity for easy points alongside Ovechkin aren’t there as much as they could be.

The flip side to that is how impressive it is that Kuznetsov has managed 11 points in seven games, while scoring only two points on the power play. Even more impressive is that even with all the even-strength scoring, Kuznetsov’s on-ice save percentage at five-on-five is not exorbitantly high at 11.11%. Instead, this is just Ovechkin, Kuznetsov and TJ Oshie absolutely beating on opponents for both volume and high scoring chances.

It’s really easy to get caught up in the scoring for the Capitals right now. Their power play is clicking at 27.8%, good for a tie for third in the league and overall they are scoring 3.67 goals per game, again good for third. They’ve got Backstrom, Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and John Carlson all scoring more than a point per game, while Oshie sits at seven in seven and