Don’t forget to set your lineups on this holiday Monday. There are three afternoon games that feature a lot of fantasy-relevant players so you don’t want to fall behind in your head-to-head leagues.
A full day of hockey was kicked off with a wild game between the Flyers and Rangers. There were three fights in the first period alone, the first coming just 15 seconds into the frame between Shayne Gostisbehere (?) and Pavel Buchnevich (!). Kevin Hayes opened the scoring 90 seconds into the game and the two teams traded goals to a 5-4 score before Philadelphia pulled away in the third for a 7-4 win.
Philly’s top line had another big game as Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, and Travis Konecny combined for seven points. Tough luck for Jakub Voracek and Gostisbehere fantasy owners as those two were among the six players to not register at least a point.
Rick Nash tallied for the Rangers, his 18th marker of the season, giving him three goals in his last six games.
Henrik Lundqvist definitely wasn’t his sharpest in this game, but neither team felt much like playing lockdown defence. Case in point:
Peter Holland had his first multi-point game in a Rangers uniform and it was his first in any uniform since December of 2016.
Connor McDavid stole the show in Nathan MacKinnon’s first game back registering his third hat trick of the season. According to the NHL, it’s the first time an Oilers player has managed three hat tricks in a single season in over 25 years. He is now just four goals off his 30-goal season last year.
MacKinnon wasn’t really eased into things as he played over 22 minutes, his second-highest total for a regulation game this season. He didn’t get on the scoresheet but he looked fine to me on the ice.
Contrary to what the power-play setup had been prior to the MacKinnon injury, it was Tyson Jost and not JT Compher skating on the top unit. Jost had just 10:39 of ice time, though, the sixth time in two months that he finished a game with fewer than 11 total minutes. He’s still a teenager so there’s a lot of growth to come, but I don’t know how much fantasy value he can have even if he’s playing the prime PP minutes.
With two assists, Leon Draisaitl is now just under a point-per-game this year with 52 in 53. Given how little PP production he has (just six points), this has been a stellar follow-up season to his 77-point campaign a year ago.
Speaking of low ice time, Jesse Puljujarvi was given just 8:22 in ice time in this game. That’s the second time in three games he’s failed to crack 10 minutes. I don’t know why Todd McLellan is doing this; if you count Draisaitl as a centre, Puljujarvi is probably the team’s most talented winger.
Taylor Hall continues his push for a Hart Trophy has he scored the overtime-winning goal for the Devils in their 3-2 win over Carolina. He now has tallied at least a point in every game since the calendar turned 2018.
Assuming Hall remains on this production trajectory over the final third of the season – and there’s not much reason to think he won’t – he’ll be in the running for fantasy MVP among skaters. He’s top-10 right now on ESPN’s player rater among forwards and he was routinely going around the 75th pick in drafts. It’ll be curious to see what his ADP will be this coming September. Nico Hischier is only going to get better and Kyle Palmieri on the top line has added another goal-scoring dimension. Were I to hazard a guess right now, he’ll be a top-30 pick next year.
Lost in the Hall shuffle is the fact that Jeff Skinner scored his 20th of the season which also happened to be the 200th of his career. He has now scored at least 20 goals in six of his seven 82-game seasons and has cracked 200 shots in all seven. He’s still just 25 years old so it seems a 500-goal career is not out of the question. If he gets to 500 goals, we’re talking a Hall Of Fame career. Pretty crazy, right?
Remember when Riley Sheahan couldn’t score? He’s now up to eight goals in 51 games since joining the Penguins thanks a two-goal effort on Sunday night in Pittsburgh’s 5-2 win. Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists in this one as well. All the attention has (rightly) been on other Penguins skaters for their production over the last couple of months, but Guentzel is starting to heat up in his own right eight four goals and four assists in his last eight games.
Guentzel’s is a pretty funny case of expectations. After his season last year, speculation was running wild that Guentzel was a future 40-goal scorer and living up to that level is really hard to do. I don’t imagine there’s a single fantasy owner out there who is happy with the 23-year old winger’s production but he’s on pace for 26 goals playing second/third line minutes with inconsistent power play time. That is really, really good. And yet, he’s a disappointment in fantasy this year. Funny, that.
Zach Aston-Reese scored his fourth goal in seven games since being called up by the team but be wary here as he’s shooting 36.4 percent. Unless his shot volume picks up, I can’t imagine there being consistent fantasy value over the balance of the season.
A late goal from Auston Matthews boosted the Leafs to a 3-2 win over Detroit. At first glance, it looked like William Nylander lost control of the puck, but it kind of looks like he meant to slide it to Matthews at a sharp angle:
Those two sure are fun to watch.
Anthony Mantha scored his 20th goal of the season on a beautiful deflection off a shot from Tomas Tatar. That was his ninth power-play goal of the season.
I know there is a lot of work to do in Detroit as far as the roster is concerned, especially on the blue line. But with guys like Mantha, Dylan Larkin, and Andreas Athanasiou, there are good young forwards to build around.
Nazem Kadri registered an assist on Mitch Marner’s second-period goal which gives Kadri his third career season with at least 20 goals and 20 assists. After a lull around the holidays, Kadri has posted 17 points in 14 games going back 30 days. Marner joining his line has truly been a godsend for fantasy owners.
San Jose’s top line had a monster night in the team’s 5-2 win over Dallas. Joe Pavelski had a goal and two assists, Melker Karlsson had goal and an assists, and Timo Meier had two assists to help pace the Sharks.
The big news, though, was that Brent Burns left the game in the third period after just two shifts. There were no post-game comments as to the nature or severity of the injury, or if it was an illness, or something else entirely. We’ll pass along more information as we get it.
Well, I guess the Jets are back. After absolutely pasting the Avalanche 6-1 on Friday night they absolutely pasted the Panthers 7-2 on Sunday night. The usual suspects did all the damage:
This team is an absolute juggernaut.
As a small aside, Michael Matheson registered a power-play assist in the first period giving him 20 total points on the season. Given his infrequent use on the top power-play unit, Matheson might crack 30 points. It’s a shame he’s essentially blocked from ever really gaining PP traction, he has a lot of offensive upside.
The trade deadline in the real world is just a week away so I thought I’d go over some of the bigger names we can expect to be moved and where I’d like to see them go from a fantasy perspective.
With the fire sale expected to come from Melnyk, Brassard’s name has started appearing more and more in trade speculation. You know who could use him? St. Louis. They have Paul Stastny’s contract expiring so they’re going to need a number-2 centre next year if they don’t re-sign him. They’re right up against the cap so they’d have to move some money out, but it would make sense for them to shore up their second line centre if they want to remain a Cup contender.
It would also greatly improve Brassard’s situation. The Senators are a garbage truck set on fire driving off a cliff and it would really help Brassard reach the 60-point plateau yet again if he could slide onto that top St. Louis PP unit. It’s a longshot, I know.
A lot of the speculation surrounding Green has him going back to Washington but I’m not sure how much it’ll help his fantasy value if he does. He wouldn’t supplant John Carlson on the top PP unit and should the Caps’ five-on-five scoring dry up (they do lead the league in shooting percentage), it wouldn’t leave much hope for Green to be a significant fantasy contributor.
The New Jersey Devils could use Green, I think. Will Butcher has one power-play assist and just four total points going back a month. That team, as they head into the playoffs, could use a true power-play quarterback. It could only help all the Devils forwards on the top PP unit and could even help Green boost his numbers a bit. I don’t think the Devils will actually do it but it would make sense if they want to add an offensive defenceman at the deadline.
I would absolutely love to see Maroon traded to Tampa Bay. He’s a play-driving winger who could do the dirty work playing on a line with Steven Stamkos and it would allow Yanni Gourde to move down to the third line and help bolster the depth.
Maroon has proven both in Anaheim and Edmonton that he can play very well with elite players even if his goal scoring took a dip from last year to this year with the Oilers. He would be a very good net-front presence on the power play, helping block the vision of the goalie and clearing the cross-ice passing lanes.