Tyson Barrie made his much-anticipated return to Colorado, received his jumbotron tribute video, then proceeded to score a power-play goal against his old team to help lead his new team to a 5-3 win. (Note: I didn’t watch much of this game, so I don’t really know whether the video actually occurred before the goal. Or if there was actually a video. Also, Barrie assisted on Auston Matthews’ goal prior to scoring his own. I just like the way the first sentence rolled off my keyboard.) Regardless, the important piece of information here is that Barrie now has goals in each of his past two games – his only two goals of the season. Which, as you might know by now, immediately followed the firing of Mike Babcock. Coincidence?
Before I jump at hyping the obvious narrative, it is worth noting that Barrie had recorded assists in Babcock’s final two games, which were the close 4-2 loss in Vegas and the blowout 6-1 loss in Pittsburgh. Even though it was announced on Thursday that Barrie would join the first power-play unit, the Leafs didn’t receive any power plays on Thursday. So Saturday was the first game we saw Barrie on the first unit with Morgan Rielly, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and John Tavares.
What a difference a week makes for Barrie. At this time last week, we discussed him being a potential bust. Now Babcock is fired, and Barrie is where his fantasy owners hoped he would be. However, this also begs the question as to whether Barrie will stay on PP1 when Mitch Marner returns. With most teams using a 4F-1D PP1, I wouldn’t count on it, even if Barrie’s value has already improved with Sheldon Keefe as the new coach.
One other note: the power-play goal was Barrie's first in 57 games. So technically, his struggles in that area have dated back to last season with Colorado.
Meanwhile, Nazem Kadri makes his return to Toronto in about a week and a half (December 4), but he also faced his old team for the first time on Saturday. He recorded two assists while playing on what is the current top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Joonas Donskoi. Each of these three logged at least 23 minutes in this game. Donskoi, who is 16 percent owned in Yahoo leagues, has been on the ice for at least 20 minutes in each of his last seven games. He is worth a waiver-wire grab for as long as both Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog are out.
Connor McDavid scored another two goals, Leon Draisaitl added another three assists, while the Oilers keep winning. McHockey is on a 10-game point streak, while Draisaitl had a 13-game point streak snapped in the previous game. Because the Oilers might actually be a playoff team thanks to their strong start, McDavid and Draisaitl are both potential Hart Trophy winners. Their start is not just amazing, it’s historic.
Teammates with 45 points in team's first 25 games: Last 35 seasons
Draisaitl & McDavid (#Oilers) 2019-20
Lemieux & Jagr (Penguins) 1995-96
Gretzky & Nichols (Kings) 1988-89
Lemieux & Brown (Penguins) 1988-89
Gretzky & Kurri (#Oilers) 1984-85
Bossy & Sutter (Islanders) 1984-85
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) November 24, 2019
Since we like to discuss line combinations so much here, it’s worth mentioning that there isn’t a player in the entire world that has better linemates at this very moment than Zack Kassian. If you look at Kass’s points per game, it’s double (0.72 PTS/GP) what it has been nearly every season of his career. We can bring up models that say that power forwards need about 400 games to reach their peak, yet Kassian is nearly at 500 career games and is now 28 years old (turning 29 in January). I don’t know about you, but I don’t have an entire decade to wait out on a prospect. So I don’t blame you at all if you bailed on Kassian a long time ago.
Regardless, Kassian has established himself as a must-own in any banger leagues. He’s far and away the team leader in hits, and a top-10 league option in that category as well. The penalty minutes are slightly down this year (23 PIM in 25 GP), but that’s the minor negative effect to his current role. He should be able to reach 30 points (and then some) for the first time in his career, yet we don’t know if he’ll stay on the McDavid/Draisaitl line for the entire rest of the season. His advanced stats scream sell-high, and he still receives only morsels of power-play time. Yet with linemates like those, I’d be willing to continue to test my luck.
Quinn Hughes is already the NHL leader in power-play points among defensemen, as he has already accrued 13 power-play points in just 23 games on a Vancouver team that now has a top-5 power play (five power-play goals on Thursday). As well, Hughes is fifth overall in power-play points among all skaters. In fact, Hughes has only five even-strength points all season, which is one of the largest proportions of power-play points to overall points of any player.
One player that has an even larger PPP-to-PTS ratio is Torey Krug, who returned to action on Saturday and immediately proceeded to score the game-winner in overtime and add two assists (one on the power play). A total of 12 of Krug’s 16 points (over 18 games) have been on the man advantage. So if you’re looking for a short-term fantasy template of what to expect from Hughes, Krug might be that player. In real life, you can see the resemblance, as both are smaller defensemen with great offensive upside. Krug recorded a career-high 30 PPP last season and has recorded over 20 PPP in each of the previous three seasons. That’s not a bad player for Hughes to be compared to.
The Predators ended a six-game losing streak on Saturday, but it came at a cost. Viktor Arvidsson left the game with lower-body injury from being cross-checked in the back. You can see Arvidsson get cross-checked in the back twice by Robert Bortuzzo. Then Arvidsson receives the “get out of my crease” jab from Jordan Binnington.
Bortuzzo will have a hearing with the Department of Player Safety regarding this hit. Following the game, Peter Laviolette said he was unsure about Arvidsson’s status.
In a losing cause, Klim Kostin scored his first NHL goal, although he played just a total of seven minutes. Kostin’s fantasy value seems limited to keeper leagues at the moment. See his Dobber Prospects profile here.
Another injury, unfortunately: Anthony Mantha left during the second period on Saturday with a lower-body injury. Speaking after the game, Jeff Blashill said that Mantha would be out for a little bit of time. Mantha owners will need to look for another option for today (Sunday), as well as probably next week.
The Winnipeg Jets continue to get punished on the blueline. Because Josh Morrissey and Nathan Beaulieu left Saturday’s game with injuries, the Jets were down to only four defensemen at the end of the game. As well, Laurent Brossoit left the game in the third period, so Connor Hellebuyck had to finish the game on his day off. Fortunately for the Jets, they held on for victory thanks to a late third-period goal from Andrew Copp. At one point, the Jets even ran a five-forward power play (see below). Sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
CONNOR,KYLE – LAINE,PATRIK – PERREAULT,MATHIEU – SCHEIFELE,MARK – WHEELER,BLAKE
Morrissey took a puck off his ankle, but his injury is reportedly not as serious as Beaulieu’s. You might want to look for another option in place of Morrissey for next week, just to be safe. Brossoit left the game due to cramps, so he should be fine.
With his assist on Saturday, Zach Werenski has a six-game point streak with three goals and five assists over that span.
Four-goal leads just aren’t as safe as they used to be. Earlier this season I watched the Canucks cough up a four-goal lead and eventually lose in a shootout to the Capitals. On Saturday, the Canadiens lost after they took advantage of a Rangers team that had played the night before, grabbing a 4-0 lead. You want more scoring? You’re going to get more games like this. Coaches sure won’t like it.
This is the 5th game this season where a team rallied to win from a 4-goal deficit.
There was only one such game last season.
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) November 24, 2019
Brendan Lemieux was instrumental in the comeback, scoring twice while firing six shots on net. If you have a peek at Lemieux’s Frozen Tools player profile, he’s been given a prospect upside rating of 5.5 out of 10. That works out to a 55-point upside, which at initial glance doesn’t suggest that you should rush out and grab him for your keeper pool. Yet if your keeper pool has hits and/or penalty minutes as categories, Lemieux might be a nice player to own.
I covered penalty minute producers in this year’s Fantasy Guide. Here’s what I wrote about Lemieux:
Speaking of bloodlines, Brendan is a chip off the ol’ block of his dad, who is former pest Claude Lemieux. The younger Lemieux accumulated very high penalty minutes in both the OHL and AHL with triple-digit PIM totals in four of those seasons. He even reached NHL triple-digits in a 2018-19 season that saw him get traded to the Rangers from the Jets, so there’s the potential for him to increase that number in a big way with more minutes.
Lemieux is also second on the Rangers with 46 hits. He’ll need to build on his scoring (now nine points in 20 games), but the good news is that his 8.6 SH% is much lower than the 16-18% that he has averaged over the past two seasons.
With two goals in the first period on Saturday, Max Domi snapped a nine-game goalless drought. Domi also added an assist later in the game.
Both Roope Hintz and John Klingberg returned to the Stars’ lineup on Saturday from injuries. Hintz scored his 10th goal of the season, which is an even more impressive total if you consider that he has played just 17 games. Klingberg assisted on the goal while logging 23:42 and manning the first-unit power play.
Hintz is worth looking up in case he was dropped while he was injured. I would think that he cools off a bit goals-wise, but there’s still room to grow with assists (only two this season). Meanwhile, Klingberg is worth a buy-low offer, as he has been away for a considerable portion of the time that the Stars have been hot.
With an assist, Patrick Kane extended his point streak to 12 games, the longest current streak.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.