The William Nylander watch finally came to an end on Saturday, and the Leafs came through with a buzzer beater. Whether the last-minute drama was intentional or not, the RFA forward agreed to six-year contract with an average annual value of $6.9 million. If you’re in a salary cap league, you’ve had literally all offseason plus two months to prepare for this, and you knew that Nylander would get paid from someone. I personally thought (guessed) bridge deal, but now that Nylander is signed long term, it will be interesting to see how Kyle Dubas manages superstar RFAs Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, not to mention whether Nylander is eventually traded.
Some comparable contracts to Nylander’s, which will no doubt be cited by agents of pending RFAs in the very near future:
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) December 1, 2018
In the Fantasy Guide, Nylander was projected to score 60 points in 75 games. Assuming he returns right away, Nylander has only 55 games to play, which over that span would put him at 44 points. He will likely need a few games to get back up to NHL speed, so don’t expect immediate returns if you’ve been hanging onto him all this time.
Nylander’s imminent arrival, which could occur as early as Tuesday against Buffalo, could mean that Kasperi Kapanen is bumped off the Matthews line. At least we now know that Kapanen is NHL-ready (10 goals and 18 points in 27 games), but his fantasy value could take a hit with the Nylander return.
If not for Nylander, the Erik Karlsson return to Ottawa would have been the main news story of the day. As it turned out, Karlsson tried to will his way to a win against his old team, firing nine shots on goal. However, he was held without a point with a minus-2 in the Sharks’ 6-2 loss.
If you evaluated the offseason trade by simply watching this one game, you would have assumed that the Senators won the deal because of Mikkel Boedker. He also appeared to have something to prove against his old team, scoring a goal and adding three assists with a plus-3. Boedker had been held without a point in his previous four games and without a goal in over a month. So you can’t really be blamed if you missed out on that one.
The NHL has decided not to apply supplemental discipline to Tom Wilson for his Friday night hit on Brett Seney. Whether you believe a suspension should have been applied is up for debate, but I don’t feel like falling down that rabbit hole here.
From a fantasy standpoint, though, it’s clear that Wilson has not abandoned pushing the envelope in his style of play, even after his lengthy suspension to start the season. That means he’s still a suspension risk going forward, similar to Brad Marchand. Despite that, he is a must-own in fantasy leagues, particularly those that count hits and penalty minutes. Wilson’s contribution in leagues that count only goals and assists cannot be ignored. His 1.44 P/GP, which includes seven goals in nine games, is currently fourth in the NHL among players who have played at least as many games as he has.
Devan Dubnyk has for the most part been a fantasy goalie that you could rely on since he was claimed by the Wild off waivers during the 2015-16 season. Goalies can be prone to struggles, though, and Dubnyk is no different. He has allowed four goals in each of his last four games. Since November 13 he has struggled mightily with a 3.56 GAA and .856 SV%. Before you move him to your bench, though, keep in mind that he and the Wild have a date with the struggling Canucks on Tuesday.
Mark Scheifele scored two goals including the overtime winner for the Jets on Saturday. Since mid-October he has been a points machine, racking up 27 points over his last 18 games and 8 points over his last 4 games.
With Dustin Byfuglien sidelined with a concussion, Josh Morrissey accumulated 29 minutes of icetime, Jacob Trouba logged 28 minutes, and Tyler Myers 26 minutes on Saturday. Morrissey in particular has benefitted from Big Buff’s absence with icetimes of 28:59 and 29:02 over his last two games and a goal on Saturday, his first in over a month. Byfuglien could return next week, but for now Morrissey is a great short-term pickup.
In his second game back from injury, Shea Weber scored two goals on five shots on goal in the Canadiens’ 5-2 win over the Rangers. Since his return Weber has three points in two games, so far appearing to be what the Habs hoped they were trading for. And in an ironic twist, the guy he was traded for is currently on IR.
Jeff Petry, who has been filling in for Weber on the first-unit power play, totaled just 19:38 in icetime on Saturday. Petry is definitely trending downward, having been held without a point in his last five games.
Artturi Lehkonen also scored two goals for the Habs. He appeared to be a snakebitten sniper at times last season before a late-season surge pushed him close to the 20-goal mark. His luck has been even worse this season, shooting at just 3.7 percent entering this game. He’s a deep sleeper in my keeper league, so I’ll continue to exercise patience.
In case you were worried about Jonathan Huberdeau’s value because he was bumped down to the second-unit power play earlier this season, don’t be. With a goal and an assist on Saturday, Huby now has five consecutive multipoint games with 11 points (2g-9a) over that span. That puts him at over a point per game (28 points in 25 games) this season. And with Vincent Trocheck out for a while with a fractured ankle, Huberdeau is back on the Cats’ first-unit power play. Even if very few fans are showing up to notice that.
Nikita Kucherov looks at Huberdeau’s recent run and says “hold my beer.” With a goal and two assists in the same game, Kucherov has now averaged two points per game over his last ten games (4g-16).
The Predators placed scorer Filip Forsberg on IR with an upper-body injury that is expected to sideline him for the next 4-6 weeks. Forsberg will join two other Predators’ top-six forwards on IR in Viktor Arvidsson and Kyle Turris.
In related news, top prospect Eeli Tolvanen was called up to the Predators on Saturday, and he wasted no time in making an impact. Tolvanen scored a goal and added an assist in debut, where he skated on a line with Craig Smith and Calle Jarnkrok and logged 15:48 of icetime, including second-unit power-play time. Tolvanen’s numbers in the AHL were good but not great (11 points in 21 games), but the Preds’ injury situation likely accelerated his recall. There’s a definite short-term opportunity for him, so you could make a speculative grab for him in deeper single-season leagues. Keeper leagues will already be on to him.
All the injuries meant that Colton Sissons led all Preds’ forwards in both total icetime (20:27) and power-play time (3:37). He is a player who is getting his opportunity, but he hasn’t been able to cash in. Since his hat trick on November 7, Sissons is now 12 games without a goal.
Another day, another highlight-reel goal from Connor McDavid:
Since the defense whisperer, aka Ken Hitchcock, took over as coach, the Oilers are now 4-1-1. There’s no doubt that Hitch’s system is helping Mikko Koskinen. He’s my hottest goalie at the moment on a team that includes the aforementioned Dubnyk, the injured Antti Raanta, and John Gibson. Saturday marked the first time he has started three games in a row, proof that he’s earned the starting job over Cam Talbot for the foreseeable future. Koskinen has now started five of the six games that Hitchcock has coached, posting four wins including one shutout, a 1.58 GAA, and a .944 SV% over that span. He’s still unowned in over half of Yahoo leagues and in fewer leagues than Talbot.
Adin Hill might not be a household name, but he’s been getting the job done this week, posting three consecutive wins. Hill took over for Raanta after he left Tuesday’s game with an injury, earning a come-from-behind win. Then Hill shutout the hobbled Predators on Thursday. On Saturday he then stopped 25 of 26 shots he faced against a struggling Blues’ squad. So in four games Hill has a sparkling 0.38 GAA and a .984 SV%. In case you’re wondering whether to snag Hill off the waiver wire, Raanta could be back as early as Tuesday. If not, Hill would be in a great spot for that game against a struggling Kings’ squad.
So far the Coyotes are happy with their return on investment on Nick Schmaltz. Acquired by the Coyotes a week ago from Chicago, Schmaltz recorded two assists on Saturday to give him four points in three games as a Coyote. In addition, Schmaltz took five shots on goal, which gives him nine over his three games as a Yote. Schmaltz averaged barely above a shot per game as a Blackhawk. In addition, Schmaltz’s fantasy value has been boosted by his placement on a line with Clayton Keller, who scored a goal and added two assists on Saturday.
For more fantasy hockey information, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.