The Devils don’t have to worry about a Nico Hischier contract negotiation dragging out next summer, as they have signed the 2017 first overall pick to a seven-year, $50.75 million contract extension. The new contract has an AAV of $7.25 million and kicks in next season. This might seem like a large sum of money to pay now, but if Hischier eventually becomes an elite option, this might seem like a bargain.
Teams with players set to become RFAs next summer already seem to be proactive in order to repeat what happened this past offseason, as Thomas Chabot, Samuel Girard, Clayton Keller, and Alex DeBrincat have all been signed to long-term deals. Whether salary cap leaguers like these deals or not, at least they can begin planning for next season earlier if they own any of these players.
James Neal just keeps on rolling. The resurgent veteran scored another goal on Friday, giving him a league-leading nine goals (to go with just one assist). Neal is also tied for the league lead with six power-play goals. Neal is the early favorite for comeback player of the year, as he’s already surpassed his goal total from all of last season and it’s only mid-October. Even if he hits a major slump soon, he seems to be a lock for 20 goals and possibly a lot more.
In case you’re curious, Neal has fetched the likes of Artemi Panarin, Timo Meier, Vladimir Tarasenko, Gabriel Landeskog, Pavel Buchnevich, and Mika Zibanejad in recent one-for-one trades on Yahoo. Seems kind of all over the map, but that group is chock full of top 100 value. I know it can be difficult to part with players that carry the mail for your team like Neal is now, but why not test the market with a player that likely didn’t cost you much to acquire in the first place?
In helping the Oilers earn yet another win on Friday, Mikko Koskinen has improved his record to 4-0. If the Oilers are the real deal (or at least a playoff team), then you’ll want to grab Koskinen if you have room for an extra goalie. Koskinen is still unowned in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.
After spending all of last season in the AHL, Ethan Bear is back with the big club this season, and he’s producing. With a goal on Friday, Bear now has goals in back-to-back games. More importantly, he seems to have new coach Dave Tippett’s confidence, as he’s currently on second-unit power-play duty and has received at least 21 minutes in four of his past five games. He’s a one percenter who could provide value in deeper formats.
One projection that I believe Dobber pointed me in the right direction on was that of John Carlson, as he projected him to be the third-highest scoring defenseman. I made a point to grab Carlson in multiple leagues, and so far he’s been money. Carlson added three more helpers on Friday to give him 17 points in just nine games, which includes two consecutive three-point games. And oh yeah, he’s just tied Connor McDavid for the scoring lead. Yes, McDavid has played two more games, but that shouldn’t take away from Carlson’s scorching start.
With two goals on Friday, T.J. Oshie is already up to six goals (three power play) in nine games. His shooting percentage is high as you’d expect (nearly 30 percent), but Oshie is normally well into the double-digits in shooting percentage anyway. Oshie makes his shots count, which is both good and bad in multicategory leagues. Although he’s reached 20+ goals multiple times, Oshie has never taken 200 shots in a single season.
When you were searching for players that you thought were going to surprise this season, I bet Patric Hornqvist wasn’t on your list. So what if I told you that with a goal and two assists on Friday, Hornqvist has four goals and seven points in eight games? Maybe he’ll be off the first-unit power play once Evgeni Malkin and Alex Galchenyuk return from injury, but for now there’s still some juice to squeeze out of the 32-year-old winger.
Here’s one of Kris Letang’s two goals on Friday.
— HD365 (@HockeyDaily365) October 19, 2019
Letang now has points in seven of his first eight games, with multiple points in three of his last four games to go with a plus-7 over that span. Very few fantasy d-men are better than Letang when he’s healthy.
With an assist on Friday, Jake Guentzel now has a seven-game point streak.
The Stars are slumping big time. The 1-7-1 start should mean that coach Jim Montgomery is clearly on the hot seat. Joe Pavelski has just a goal and an assist in nine games, while Jamie Benn and John Klingberg each have just three points over the same number of games. Klingberg is also a minus-6. It’s still early and I’d expect the Stars to figure things out at some point, so there’s some potential buy-low options here. However, Pavelski’s lack of shots taken (13 SOG in 9 GP) is at least mildly concerning, especially since he’s on a new team and the numbers suggest he isn’t adjusting well so far. Pavelski is also now 35, so it's also possible that age has caught up to him just in time for his arrival in Dallas.
The one bright spot for the Stars has been Roope Hintz, who scored his fifth goal of the season on Friday. As Grant mentioned in this week’s Frozen Tools Forensics, the Stars’ power play has been abysmal. With the Stars’ power play now 1-for-25 and counting, a potential shakeup could benefit Hintz even further, as he has been on the outside looking in when it comes to first-unit minutes.
Colorado upgraded its secondary scoring this past offseason, and they reaped the benefits on Friday. Andre Burakovsky and Joonas Donskoi each scored three points in keeping the Avalanche undefeated in regulation. Burakovsky in particular has benefitted from the move to Colorado, scoring four goals and eight points in seven games.
The goaltending isn’t bad in Colorado either.
Philipp Grubauer just committed grand larceny 👮♂️ pic.twitter.com/tmXcRdpTc9
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 19, 2019
Jonathan Huberdeau was firing on all cylinders on Friday, scoring a pair of goals on nine shots on goal. Huby now has a six-game point streak.
Deciding what to do with Frank Vatrano? He scored his first goal of the season (a SHG) on Friday, and he also took seven shots. Vatrano took over 200 shots last season, so it’s a positive sign if he keeps shooting the puck.
The Oilers might be grabbing the headlines for their quick start, but their Pacific Division rivals in Anaheim are making some hay of their own. With a goal on Friday, Adam Henrique now has four goals and five points and a plus-7 over his last three games. Never mind the youth movement in Anaheim, as Henrique has formed what has turned out to be a strong veteran unit with Rickard Rakell and Jakob Silfverberg, who also recorded points on Friday. Currently these linemates are the top three scorers for the Ducks.
Erik Haula scored again on Friday (already his seventh goal), but he also left Friday’s game with an upper-body injury. Coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t seem too concerned about the injury, though. The Canes aren’t in action again until Thursday, which will give Haula plenty of time to rest assuming the injury doesn’t require an extended absence.
Also for the Canes: Haydn Fleury scored his first NHL goal in his 96th career NHL game.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.