As a reminder from your friendly neighborhood fantasy guy – do not forget to acknowledge Valentine's Day with your loved one. Between COVID and the Superbowl, it will be easy to let things like that slide.
It's been a surprising season in many regards when it comes to surprise player production. Leading the way, of course, is Nazem Kadri, but before we get to him let's analyze what we're seeing from Jeff Skinner.
Four goals and an assist on Sunday and he's now up to 34 points in 45 games for a 62-point pace. After declining seasons of (pro-rated) 32 points and then 22 (!) points, we had assumed that he was done. The decline had started at the age of 27, which is rare but certainly possible, and it came immediately after he signed his big contract. He lost all magic with Jack Eichel, and floundered as barely a checking-line player just last year. Now, with such a thin lineup, he's been elevated to the scoring line again and has actually been, you know, scoring. Skinner showed pretty good chemistry with Tage Thompson early on, and now it would seem that his chemistry with Alex Tuch is even better. He already has 10 points at even strength with Tuch on the ice with him – and Tuch has only played 15 games. Skinner has 40% of his ES production alongside Tuch when he's played just 20% of his ES shifts. That's a huge jump.
Skinner is a passenger. He needs chemistry with a good player in order to post fantasy-worthy points. He had that with Eichel for a half-season, and then lost it. It appears that he has chemistry with two big boys in Thompson (6-7) and Tuch (6-4). Skinner's four other 62-to 65-point seasons prior to this were followed by dips. Right now everybody underrates Skinner (including yours truly), but I can't help but think that if this line stays healthy (always a risk when we're talking about Tuch), Skinner could finally repeat his great numbers for a second year. I can't believe he's still only 29.
Potential line combinations for next season:
Tuch – Thompson – Skinner
Victor Olofsson – Casey Mittelstadt – Jack Quinn
Rasmus Asplund – Dylan Cozens – Peyton Krebs
Players to watch for scoring line roles: JJ Peterka, Arttu Ruotsalainen. I don't see Vinnie Hinostroza in that mix unfortunately, as once again he got injured at the worst time and now other players are filling the void while he recovers. And that's a shame because he was a top four forward on the team in terms of points per 60 minutes of ES ice time and actually sta