Merry Christmas Dobber readers.
As many of us gear up for three days of no NHL action, it’s a great time to give thanks to those players who were dynamite for us in 2018. This would encompass the second half of the 2017-18 season and the first half of this season.
I always find looking across two seasons can give you a better idea of players who are quickly turning elite. Players who have been able to have sustained success over parts of two seasons lead me to believe they are in the midst of a trajectory that will continue to rise.
You can use the custom generator in Frozen Pools to see all the players within a specific date range. I simply looked at the players points total from Jan. 1 until Sunday.
For this list, we’re not looking at the obvious players that have been elite in 2018 (Connor McDavid, by the way, has the most points in 2018 with 129, slightly ahead of Nathan Mackinnon’s 125). Instead, the players listed are more of players that you wouldn’t have expected to be this good for this long in 2018. Even if you expected big things out of some of these players, they still wildly exceeded expectations.
10. Claude Giroux
There are only 14 players that have hit 100 points in 2018, and one of the biggest surprises of all of them has to be Giroux. Remember, most fantasy owners had pretty much given up on Giroux 15 months ago. His numbers were declining every season and the Flyers were focusing on building for the future. Even after a hot start in 2017-18, many of us didn’t expect it would last. However, he had 56 points in 44 games to finish last season, and has continued his torrid pace with 42 points in 35 games so far this year.
9. John Carlson
I may be a little biased as I own him in a points-only pool, but it never feels like Carlson gets his due as a top point-producing defenseman. There’s always someone else that seems to be stealing the spotlight. Brent Burns is the only defenseman to have more points in 2018 than Carlson (91 compared to 85). Since the start of the 2016-17 season, Carlson is fourth among defensemen for points. But sure, keep focusing on the likes of Mark Giordano.
8. Matt Duchene
I’ve never been a fan of Matt Duchene (I peg him as a 55-60-point player), but even I have to admit that’s he’s been impressive in 2018 with 84 points. He has 36 points in 31 games this season and is on pace for 95, which would easily be a career high. It will be interesting to see how he fares the rest of the season, especially if he is dealt by the trade deadline.
Much attention has been paid to linemates MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen (who have 125 and 123 points in 2018). However, Landeskog deserves some love for his performance this calendar year. Sure, with 88 points, he doesn’t have the gaudy point totals as his teammates, but the NHL is littered with players who couldn’t hack it on the top line and was eventually put in a more unfavourable position. For Landeskog to keep up this pace after a few poor seasons deserves to be applauded.
6. Joe Pavelski
Pavelski is a bit of a strange duck to have on this list. He posted 66 points last season, is on pace for 65 points this season, but has somehow netted 84 points in this calendar year. This is thanks to a strong finish to last season, when he had 43 points in 46 games from Jan. 1 to April 7. At 34 years old, he’s also the oldest player to have more than 77 points. You can’t count on Pavelski being an 80-point player anymore, but it is nice to see that he can put up excellent numbers over a good stretch of games.
I remember back in September of 2016 when hockey legend Teemu Selanne said second-round pick Aho was a better all-around player than second-overall pick Patrik Laine and fourth-overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi. With 85 points in 2018, Aho has more points than both of those guys (although Laine is right behind with 83). The Hurricane winger has indeed been an excellent player for the Hurricanes, and for fantasy general managers as well.
Huberdeau is already a superstar in the league. It’s just that many people don’t recognize it. Huberdeau has 86 points in 2018, but he’s really turned it up a notch lately. This season he has 42 points in 35 games, and has 25 in his last 14. He’s well on his way to his first-ever point-per-game season
(currently on pace for 98 points) despite seeing his ice time down 45 seconds per game from a year ago.
Trying to figure out who the next great Tampa Bay player has always been tough. They are so deep and have so many good players that almost any of them could step up and be the next big thing (J.T. Miller and Yanni Gourde have been popular picks over the last couple of years). Point has really been the one to step up. His 92 points in 2018 are exceptional, and not many fantasy general managers would have predicted this time last year that Point would be in the top 25 for points in 2018.
As great as Pastrnak is, I think he’s still a little underrated in fantasy hockey. His 106 points are the 10th-highest in 2018, putting ahead of players like Sidney Crosby, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Jack Eichel and Patrick Kane. So far this season, he’s top 10 in goals, points and shots, plus leads the league in power-play goals and power-play points. And he’s only 22 years old.
1. Mitch Marner
I often wonder if every time Marner has a multi-point game, he’s adding an extra 10 grand onto his next contract. The soon-to-be restricted free agent has 103 points in 2018, and he and McDavid are the only 21-year-old players to reach the century mark in 2018. Marner now has 50 points this season, and it doesn’t seem to matter who he lines up with, he’s going to produce.