It’s good to be back after more than two weeks away (on vacation) from pretty much everything, including hockey. I did manage to catch a few games late last week, but I’ve got nearly a two-week hockey black hole to catch up on.
For a while, I’ve been thinking about putting this weekly submission into a bit more of a formatted article. Feel free to add your comments below if you have any suggestions, whether they be positive or negative.
In his final two years of college hockey, the Panthers Nick Bjugstad recorded 46 goals and 78 points in 80 matches. His last World Junior Hockey Championship saw him record six points in six contests and last year, Bjugstad had four points in eight World Championship games.
Bjugstad had a strong debut with 38 points in his first full NHL season. He followed that up with a 24 goal and 43-point sophomore campaign. In his third season, he had 34 points in 67 games, a 42-point pace and followed up with four points in five playoff games. Last year was an off year for Bjugstad, he had 14 points in 54 games.
This season, he sits at 29 points in 56 games, a 42-point pace. He is trending up though with seven points in his last eight games and is playing on a line with Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov. He draws second unit man advantage minutes and has six power play points on the season. His recent uptick in scoring shows that the lanky 25-year-old might be starting to realize his potential.
Team by Team Quick Hits by Conference
After recording 34 points in his first 37 games, Evander Kane has five points over his last 23 matches. Who are we kidding, he’s still going to get paid this summer; it only takes one. With Jack Eichel now out for an extended period, Sam Reinhart will have to step up in his absence. He has scored at a point-per game pace over the last 17 games, including five points in the seven contests since the Franchise was injured.
The Panthers defence has been an integral part of their offense, especially since the All-Star Break. Keith Yandle has 10 points in nine games, while Aaron Ekblad and Mike Matheson both have eight points nine contests.
You would not be completely surprised to hear that Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk have outscored Max Pacioretty since the All-Star Break, but what about Jeff Petry and Artturi Lehkonen? Petry and Lehkonen have five points in their last nine contests while Patches has only four in the same number of games.
The play of rookie defenseman Thomas Chabot certainly made trading Dion Phaneuf a little easier for the Sens. Chabot has been coming on of late, scoring five points in his last eight contests. Matt Duchene has a dozen points over 11 games since the All-Star Break.
It is not surprising to see Nikita Kucherov with the fifth most points (13 in 10 games) since the All-Star Break, nor Steven Stamkos with 10 points over the same number of contests, but Alex Killorn and Yanni Gourde both having 11 points in their last 10 matches has to be a pleasant surprise for the Lightning.
James van Riemsdyk is on pace for a career best 32 goals, but his 50-point pace would be the lowest of his six as a Maple Leaf. He has got to be looking for a new home next year. With all the young talent Toronto has up front due for significant raises over the next two seasons, they aren’t likely to commit enough term to hold on to JVR.
Derek Ryan started the year with two points in nine games, then reeled off 21 points over the next 30 contests and is now ice cold with just three points in his last 19 matches even though he’s still received a decent amount of power play minutes. Nine of Justin Faulk’s last 11 points have come via the man advantage.
Cam Atkinson has eight points in 11 games since coming back from injury. Don’t forget that this is the same guy who sniped 35 goals and 62 points last season. Despite missing 16 games, Atkinson is still going to finish with more than 200 shots on goal for the fifth consecutive campaign.
Taylor Hall has been devilishly good since the All-Star Break, recording 14 points in 11 games, the fourth highest in the NHL. Hall’s play has greatly benefited linemates Kyle Palmieri and Nico Hischier who both have 10 points in the last 11 contests. Sami Vatanen has six points in his last five matches and is getting a ton of power play ice time. Will Butcher has cooled off considerably now that Vatanen is making his presence felt with the man advantage. The rookie has one point in the last nine games.
Nick Leddy has seven points in his last 10 games, including four power play points. Mathew Barzal has 11 points in his last 12 contests and is running away with the rookie scoring title. Brock Boeser has 27 goals, but only 49 points compared to Barzal’s 62.
The Rangers have suffered a power outage in the month of February; they have 20 goals in 10 games, resulting in a 2-8-0 record so far this month. Kevin Hayes has been the best of the bunch with seven points over his last six matches.
Bryan Rust has seven points in his last five contests and is playing with Evgeni Malkin, who is scorching hot, recording 18 points in 10 games since the All-Star Break, the most by any NHL player. The injury to Patric Hornqvist has caused some line juggling by the Pens and Zach Aston-Reese reaping some even-strength minutes beside Sidney Crosby and has four points in his last four contests.
Tom Wilson is back playing with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom and is having a monster roto campaign. Wilson has 27 points, sits second in the NHL in penalty minutes and is in the top ten for hits. His numbers compare favourably against Milan Lucic and if you are in a cap league that values penalty minutes and hits, Wilson is fantasy gold.
If I were Erik Karlsson, I would take a hard look at whether or not I want to stay in Ottawa. He is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent in July 2019. It’s always going to be about the money with Cheapy McCheapskate as the owner. Obviously, Karlsson could just about write his own ticket if he goes the UFA route, but in going down that road, he would ultimately get to choose his destination. The future in Ottawa looks decent, but if they dealt Turris because they didn’t have any desire to re-sign him for market value and they end up trading Mike Hoffman instead of signing him, is this something Karlsson wants to see year after year? If he stays in Ottawa, this is what he can expect. Will he regret not signing with a team that consistently does what is necessary to put themselves in a position to win the Stanley Cup year after year?
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- Forum Buzz: Malkin's Trade Value, Goalie Starts, When to Rebuild, & Top Young Defenders
- Fantasy Take: Jim Montgomery fired as Stars coach
- Lining Up: Surprise lines to this point of the season
- Eastern Edge: Flying Penguins and thunder-less Lightning
- Injury Ward: Crosby, Dahlin, Makar, Werenski, Grubauer, & Kadri
- Ramblings: Kadri returns; Dahlin and Werenski updates; elite players; Laine's season - December 12