A series of interconnected trades happened on Thursday afternoon. First, the Canadiens traded Mike Reilly to Ottawa for prospect Andrew Sturtz (Dobber Prospects profile) and a fifth-round pick in 2021. Then, the Sabres traded Marco Scandella to Montreal for a fourth-round pick in 2020. After that, the Sabres traded that fourth-round pick to Calgary for Michael Frolik. Got it?
None of the trades appear to have a massive fantasy impact, but they seem to address needs for all the teams involved. The Sabres add a much-needed experienced middle-6 forward in Frolik and shed a player from the defense, a position that they seemed to overaddress in the offseason. Frolik had seen his scoring and icetime diminish this season while dropping down the Flames’ pecking order, so this trade could help him to some degree.
The benefit to the Flames is the $4.3 million in cap space they clear with the trade. They don’t retain any of Frolik’s salary.
The Canadiens receive a slight upgrade on defense from frequent scratch Reilly to third-pairing d-man Scandella.
The Senators add a defenseman with some NHL experience who could play more often than he did in Montreal.
With his goal on Thursday, David Pastrnak is the league’s first 30-goal scorer this season. He’s also the third player to reach 60 points (after Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl). I should also mention that Pasta has a nine-game point streak in which he has scored 14 points (4g-10a). He’s also the league leader with 14 power-play goals. Since he’s one game over the halfway point of the season, Pasta is knocking on the door on not just a 50-goal season, but a 60-goal campaign.
I’ll make the big boss happy and mention Elvis Merzlikins. The thinking was that he might need a few games under his belt as the starter before making an impact, but since Joonas Korpisalo went down, Elvis has posted back-to-back wins while allowing just one goal in each of those games. Back in late November, I mentioned that Columbus had one of the most goalie-friendly working environments. Since then (November 23, to be exact), Korpisalo posted a 1.89 GAA and .933 SV% with an 8-3-3 record and 10 quality starts.
You can debate with Dobber how effective a goalie Merzlikins is, but Columbus is under-the-radar strong on defense both in terms of goals allowed (2.71 GA/GP) and shots allowed (29.5 SA/GP). Those are currently both top-10 numbers in the league. As I write this, Merzlikins is just 18 percent owned in Yahoo leagues. Korpisalo owners and others who could use improvement in goal need to add him as soon as possible. I don’t believe he’ll Wally Pipp* Korpisalo out of the starting job, but good goalies need to play more than once in a while. At the time of his injury, Korpisalo was second in the NHL in minutes and tied for first in starts while Elvis was sitting cold on the bench.
*To borrow a phrase used by another one of our writers recently
If the Penguins need other players to pick of the scoring in the absence of Jake Guentzel, then one veteran is doing his share. Patric Hornqvist scored both of the Pittsburgh goals while firing eight shots in the 3-2 overtime loss to San Jose. Hornqvist now has two points and a plus-2 in back-to-back games and has 13 shots over that span. With the key injuries that the Pens have, Hornqvist should have no problem continuing to receive first-unit power-play time. His 47 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues might seem a little high, but if you have your finger on that drop button, you might just want to wait a bit.
With just four goals in 31 games as a Penguin, Alex Galchenyuk clearly hasn’t profited from the offseason move to Pittsburgh. Yet on Thursday, there he was on the top line with Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust, recording an assist with four shots and 20 minutes in icetime. He also has points in three of his last four games. With 14 percent ownership and a pair of weekend games (Saturday/Sunday), Galchenyuk might be worth at least a short-term flier.
Do you think William Nylander likes playing under Sheldon Keefe more than Mike Babcock?
#Leafs William Nylander has 11 goals in 19 games under Sheldon Keefe
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) January 3, 2020
Nylander also has 21 points in 19 games since the coaching change, which includes six goals and 11 points on a five-game point streak. Nylander scored twice and added an assist with a plus-3 on Thursday. He’s on pace for his first 70-point season. But… before you get too excited, Leafs fans… he’s shooting at a career-high 16.7%. Maybe there’s a bit of regression here. He’ll continue to improve his odds if he continues to shoot the puck like he has recently. Nylander has at least 3 SOG in each of his last seven games.
The Jets absolutely peppered Frederik Andersen on Thursday with double-digit shot totals in each period with a total of 48 in the game (45 saved by Andersen). Leading the charge was Patrik Laine, who took a career-high 13 shots and 17 shot attempts. Since December 21, no player has taken more shots than Laine (35 shots over just six games).
Here’s the one shot that got through out of the 13:
Patrik Laine turns Morgan Rielly inside out and scores pic.twitter.com/EIOyse9vJv
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) January 3, 2020
P.K. Subban might finally be waking up. He’s now scored two goals over his last five games! More importantly, he’s shooting the puck again. Over that span, P.K. has 18 shots, which is an average of over three per game. New Jersey is 4-0-1 in its last five games, and Subban has been a plus player in four of those games. That won’t completely undo the earlier damage to your roster, but sometimes being patient means being patient for half a season.
Injury alert: Jonathan Marchessault missed Thursday’s game with a lower-body injury. As a result of the injury, Alex Tuch moved up to the top (if you want to call it that) line with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith.
Vegas has some interesting line combinations right now. For instance, Chandler Stephenson is now centering Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. As well, Cody Glass received first-unit power play time on Thursday (the Vegas power play was only 16 seconds in this game, but still). Glass scored a goal on Thursday, so he’s worth keeping an eye on in keeper leagues and deeper single-season leagues.
The Canucks/Blackhawks game was straight out of the 1980s, when it might as well have been Tony Tanti and Denis Savard facing off. With a goal and three assists on Thursday, J.T. Miller has now reached 40 points in 41 games. Even if the Canucks give the Lightning an unprotected lottery pick, the results that Miller has provided have been what the Canucks had to assume was the best-case scenario. Lining him up with Elias Pettersson (3 points on Thursday) and Brock Boeser has given the Canucks one of the league’s top scoring lines and a top-5 power play.
Pearson has now recorded three points in back-to-back games. Sure, he’s on a line with Bo Horvat and (hack, cough) Loui Eriksson, and he’s not on the first-unit power play, but Pearson has been under-the-radar effective. He’s been a point-per-game player over the past month and a half, registering 24 points in 23 games. Plus the Canucks are starting to build up some secondary scoring with the likes of Pearson and Jake Virtanen (9 points in his last 9 games). The joke in Vancouver is that no one has scored more empty-net goals (tied for second in the NHL with 3), and he’s shown a knack for being in the right place at the right time, so some kind of regression is expected. In the meantime, ride the wave while he’s hot.
Horvat was cold for much of November and well into December, but he’s finally rewarding fantasy owners who have been patient. Horvat filled the statsheet on Thursday with two goals, an assist, a plus-4, and nine shots. Plus I think he’s finally found the winger he needs in Pearson. In spite of the struggles, Horvat is still on pace for 60 points, about the same as last year.
Robin Lehner allowed six goals, which was his highest goals allowed total of the season. After four consecutive starts for Lehner, which is a first for any Blackhawks goalie this season, expect to see Corey Crawford for what should be an easy home matchup against Detroit on Sunday. Lehner appeared to injure his leg after colliding Tanner Pearson during the third period and appeared slow to get up, but stayed in the game.
It’s hard to believe that Patrick Kane is now 31 years of age. Yet he can still snipe, scoring a pair of goals in back-to-back games. Kane has also fired six shots in each of those two games.
Dominik Kubalik recorded three assists on Thursday, which gives him eight points (3g-5a) over his last seven games. Being a frequent linemate of Jonathan Toews has helped his cause. Kubalik has also made his way into the top 10 in rookie scoring with 21 points (11g-10a) in 40 games. The fact that he is already 24 years of age helps his cause as far as providing more immediate results.
We all know the Jordan Binnington story, which has continued into this season. His fantasy owners will attest to the fact that he’s gotten the job done game after game. So even he should be allowed to have an off night.
Binnington allowed seven goals on 41 shots. Had allowed five or more goals in a game once in 59 previous NHL starts.
— David Satriano (@davidsatriano) January 3, 2020
Robert Thomas scored twice on Thursday, which extended his point streak to four games. The unfortunate part of playing for a team as deep as the Blues is that Thomas will have to settle for second-unit power-play time and even-strength minutes with Alexander Steen and Tyler Bozak. By the way, remember when Steen was a must-own in fantasy? He has no goals in 26 games this season. That’s right, zero.
With his career-high four assists on Thursday, Samuel Girard now has six points over his last two games.
For only the fourth time this season, Nathan MacKinnon has finished a game four points richer. As well, he became the fourth player to reach 60 points. I mentioned the other three earlier.
Nathan MacKinnon’s 82 game pace this season:
•380 shots on goal
•631 shot attempts
•37 penalties drawn vs. 8 taken
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 2, 2020
Since there were tons of scoring on Thursday (along with a few 2-1 games sprinkled in), I probably missed something noteworthy. There are only two games on Friday, so I can pick up some more Thursday happenings tomorrow. Let me know and I might just write about it.
For more fantasy hockey information, or to reach out to me directly, you can follow me on Twitter @Ian_Gooding.