Welcome back! We’re now halfway through the first quarter of the NHL season. We’re seeing a few lineups settle into set lines, while others are still shuffling looking for the right mix. The injury bug has also hit, it will be interesting to see how teams respond to losing superstars.
There’s no shortage of stories, so let’s dive in.
Fantasy Hockey Week In Review
NHL Players of the Week
First Star: Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are red hot, and so is Quinn Hughes. Amid a seven-game win streak, Hughes lit it up with one goal and seven assists.
He now has 20 points in 12 games, tied for second in the NHL in points, and is on pace for 136 points. It is too early to talk 82-game paces with any real seriousness for 95% of NHL players. Hughes won’t reach 120 points, but he’s in for a monster season.
Hughes’ shots per game are way up. In the last two years, he fired an even 2.0 shots per game. Early into 202,3-24, he’s firing 3.5 per game. I’ll split the reason for this 50-50, between Rick Tocchet’s style of play and the maturity of Hughes’s play. He looks faster and stronger this year. Look out Cale Makar, here’s your Norris Trophy competition.
Hughes is setting himself up to post career highs in every offensive category. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun year.
Second Star: Cam Talbot, G, Los Angeles Kings
So far so good in L.A. for Talbot. After posting a 3-0 week with a shutout, Talbot is up to 6-2-0, 2.14 GAA, .923 SVPct, this year. Not bad 36-year-old veteran goalie everyone had written off.
The Kings are a good team so we shouldn’t be completely surprised Talbot is playing well. Whether he can maintain this over a full season at this stage of his career, remains to be seen.
As with most goalies, there will be stretch you will want to staple him to your bench. In the meantime though, ride Talbot like the Kings. After all, Copley is offering no support. Something has to give, Talbot can’t handle a 65-game workload. Perhaps Portilla gets a look, or they make a trade for a backup goalie. Montreal seems to have an extra.
Third Star: Mason McTavish, C, Anaheim Ducks
NHL Hot Streaks
Mitch Marner, RW, Toronto Maple Leafs
After a pedestrian start to the season, nine points in his first ten games, he has back-to-back, one goal, three assists – four-point games. Yes, he had eight points in his last two games.
is If anyone worried about his slow start, breathe easy, Marner’s back on track.
Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Not to be outdone, Kucherov has 10 points in his last three games and now leads the NHL in points, with Jack Hughes and Elias Pettersson.
With 23 shots in the last four games, Kucherov is averaging almost five per game on the season. With the rise in scoring in recent years, his current 136-point pace is one I don’t expect to drop much.
Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers
Panarin has 12 points in his last six games. Not quite as impressive as Kucherov & Marner, but impressive nonetheless. With two points Tuesday night, Panarin has started the season on a 12-game point streak, tied with William Nylander.
The stat that stands out is his 44 shots in 12 games. That works out to 3.8 per game. For the last three seasons, Panarin has posted 2.4 and 2.5 shot-per-game averages. His career shooting percentage is 14.3%, An extra 90 shots, would mean 14 more goals. he could hit 35 for the first time, maybe 40 with a little luck. Maintaining this increased shooting would be imperative.
Quinten Byfield, C/LW, Los Angeles Kings
Things are looking up for Byfield, finally. With six points in his last three games, Byfield is starting to deliver on his potential.
He has a long way to go. Averaging 14:51 TOI, Byfield is going to see his fair share of point droughts during the season. His shots, 16 in 11 games are not where anyone wants them to be. Increasing this to two per game would help him toward a meaningful breakout.
It is really difficult for a player to put up a significant offensive season if they don’t shoot the puck at a high level. At 21, there is loads of time for this to come.
Thatcher Demko, G, Vancouver Canucks
You could argue Demko should have been the second star and not Talbot. He also went 3-0 with a shutout amidst Vancouver’s seven-game win streak. He also posted a .966 SVPct last week.
Goalies don’t get hotter than this. As good as the Canucks are playing as a team right now, Demko might be the best of the bunch.
I’m not convinced they’re for real. Their bottom six is still a big question mark for me. As is their defense beyond Hughes and Hronek. So far Soucy and Cole have been great. The team has fully bought into Tocchet. That counts as much as anything.
Lukas Dostal, G, Anaheim Ducks
While the Ducks are on a six-game win streak, Dostal has his own four-game win streak with a .921 SVPct. The future is arriving for the Ducks in net.
He is really building a case for a larger workload behind John Gibson.
Barrett Hayton, C, Arizona Coyotes
It has been a frustrating start for Hayton, 11 games, 26 shots, and zero points. That is not a typo, zero points.
He is also rocking 19:22 ATOI and 4:41 PPTOI. Puck luck has not gone his way. Eventually, something has to go in. The points will come, be patient.
San Jose Sharks
They are on track to be one of the worst teams in NHL history. It has been decades, 58 years since a team gave up 10 goals in back-to-back games (Sportsnet). Now 0-10-1, they have scored fewer goals as a team (12) than Austin Matthews has individually (13).
It’s hard right now to even consider Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture for fantasy rosters. It’s unlikely they’ll be as bad as the 1974-75 Washington Capitals, 8-67-5, but all bets are off until they win the first one.
Edmonton Oilers Goalies
Stuart Skinner gives up six and Jack Campbell gets waived. It’s almost as much fun to be an Oiler right now as it is a Shark. Skinner is rocking a 3.99 GAA and .856 SVPct, while Campbell has his own disastrous 4.49 GAA and .873 SVPct.
They need to do something to get Campbell back on track. After all, they are committed to him at $5M for four more years. You can’t start an Oilers goalie right now. It’s too dangerous.
Grab an extra goalie like Peter Mrazek or Jake Allen out of free agency to get you safer starts might be the best option. That’s not saying much.
Ilya Samsonov, G, Toronto Maple Leafs
Pulled in his last two games, he looks mentally fragile. Expect Joseph Woll to carry the lion’s share of starts over the next few games, while Samsonov works with the goalie coaches and tries to get his mojo back. He’s too good to remain this bad. But it will take some time. Might not be a bad time to target Samsonov if you need a third goalie.
Filip Gustavsson, G, Minnesota Wild
Pulled in his last start for giving up three goals on four shots, Gustavsson is also off to a nightmare start. A lot like Samsonov, he’s too good to remain this bad. Hold if you own him, target if you don’t. His 4.89 GAA and .871 SVPct will correct itself, just not overnight.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Matthew Knies joined Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner on the top line versus Tampa Bay. It resulted in one goal and two assists. The line looked dynamite. Expect more of this.
Tyler Bertuzzi joined John Tavares and William Nylander. He didn’t produce, but his feisty work ethic created chances. I suspect he’ll stay there for now.
The best move probably came on the third line. Max Domi (finally) started at center and had a lot of jump. He was engaged. Nick Robertson and Calle Jarnkrok joined him on the wings. The Leafs have the makings of a third line that can contribute.
New Jersey Devils
Mike McLeod gets a big opportunity with both Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes out due to injury. He and Dawson Mercer are pulling the weight as the top six centers. Hughes is expected to be out a month at this point and Hischier, likely the rest of the week. McLeod is centering Hughes’ line, while Mercer has taken over Hischier’s.
McLeod, has the potential to receive a solid production bump, however temporary.
That will do it for this week. Thanks for reading.
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