Welcome back to another Fantasy Hockey Week in Review. Here, we will cover the week in fantasy hockey, including the latest streaks, trends, and anything else that catches my attention.
Let’s dig in.
Fantasy Hockey Week in Review
Most leagues have now defaulted to bridging the week before and after the All-Star Game into a single, two-week matchup. This week and next are prime weeks to take advantage of the waiver-wire and claim an extra player or two. This will help ride out the bye-weeks that bookend the All-Star Game.
Hart Trophy: Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning
It is quite literally a toss-up between Kucherov and Nathan MacKinnon. I wonder more where Tampa Bay would be without Kucherov than I do Colorado without MacKinnon.
Norris Trophy: Quinn Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks
Again, it is a two-horse race. There is no wrong answer. Well, that’s not true. If someone picks anyone other than Hughes or Cale Makar, they are wrong. Hughes drastically increased his shot rates this year, translating to a 104-point pace. Not quite the coin flip between Kucherov and MacKinnon, but damn close.
Vezina Trophy: Connor Hellebyuck, G, Winnipeg Jets
You’ll find Hellebyuck in or near the top five of every major statistical category for goalies. Thatcher Demko and Jeremy Swayman would be the other finalists in a very close race. He leads the NHL in Goals Saved Above Average at 19.63 and is second (behind only Jacob Markstrom) in Goals Saved Above Expected at 25.69. Those are the clear tiebreakers for me.
Calder Trophy: Brock Faber, D, Minnesota Wild
Faber sits four points behind Connor Bedard for the rookie scoring lead, as a defenceman. He’s playing huge minutes for the Wild, 24:51, and is quarterbacking the first power play unit. You can’t ask for more from a rookie defenseman. If Bedard wasn’t injured my pick is probably different, but he is. In his absence, Faber has stepped forward as a challenger for the end-of-the-year award.
Jack Adams Award: Rick Tocchet, Coach, Vancouver Canucks
I didn’t have the Canucks as a potential playoff team. I thought if they challenged for a wild card, this year would be deemed a success. Last year the bottom six was atrocious. There were questions about the bottom two pairs on defense. There are a few questions about this team right now. Everyone has a defined role they are excelling in. Tocchet has made some strong Kool-Aid and everyone is drinking it.
My runner-up is Rick Bowness, who is having an equally great year with the Jets.
Either coach can win. If one team slides down the stretch, that’ll be the difference.
NHL Three Stars of the Week
First Star: Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Nine points in three games for Kucherov, including a hat trick and four-point game against the Philadelphia Flyers. With 85 points through 50 games, Kucherov is on pace for 139 points. With 32 goals, he is also on pace for 52. Don’t expect Kucherov to slow much. He thrives under pressure and the Lightning will need him to maintain to make the playoffs.
Second Star: Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers
We’re spoiled. With eight points in three games, you can’t help but feel like it should be twelve. After a slow start, McDavid has climbed to fourth in NHL scoring, with 67 points, 18 behind Kucherov.
Scary thought, the Oilers have won 16 straight without McDavid or Leon Draisaitl having gone nuclear.
Third Star: Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Florida Panthers
Tkachuk also had eight points last week but in four games. He’s up to 51 points in 49 games on the season, but 24 of those have come in the last 13 games, including 11 goals.
He might be on a point-per-game pace now, but he won’t end the year close to 85 points. Don’t be shocked to see another 100-plus point season.
Ollen Zellweger, D, Anaheim Ducks
Zellweger made his NHL debut on Januar 23rd and has now played 3 games. Admittedly, I thought he would spend the full year in the AHL.
I don’t expect him to remain with the big club for the rest of the year. He should be sent back to the AHL at some point. Regardless, the call-up is a clear indication he has adjusted very well to the pro game. His 25 points in 34 games only tell one side of the story.
He will be a fun one to watch in camp next fall.
Ilya Samsonov, G. Toronto Maple Leafs
Has found his game in a big way. He has only given up three goals over 72 shots in his last three games. That is a .958 save percentage. This includes a 32-save shutout.
With Joseph Woll expected to return after the All-Star break, the Leafs net looks relatively secure, at least for the time being.
There’s so much potential between these two, yet the confidence in either isn’t there yet. It wouldn’t be the Maple Leafs if we didn’t doubt their goaltending.
Kyle Palmieri, RW, New York Islanders
Has refound his multi-cat form. Over his last six games (two weeks), he has three goals and two assists, for five points, to go with 34 shots and 13 hits. We can’t forget the two power-play points.
If you’re lagging on shots and hits in your league, Palmieri is only owned in 22% of Fantrax leagues.
Brock Boeser, RW, Vancouver Canucks
He scored his 30th goal of the season in a 5-4 comeback win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. The 30th goal also gave him a hat trick in the game.
Hard to believe, but this is the first 30-goal season of Boeser’s career. If not for an injury in his rookie season, he would have had 30 that year. Instead, he ended up with 29 in 62 games and never got that close again, until now.
He’s played 49 games and still holds an elevated shooting percentage at 22.3%. He should hit 40 goals, but with his shot totals, of 2.73 per game, he’s only on pace for 90 more shots this season. If he shoots according to his career shooting percentage for the rest of the year, 13.7%, Boeser should end the year with 42-43 goals.
Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins
Since his huge, six-assist game on December 27th, Letang has managed only six assists in the last 16 games.
I traded Letang for a second-round draft pick in the 2024 prospect draft on December 23rd. I collected his three-point game that night and then watched him put up six assists for the team I was playing against that week. I had immediate seller’s remorse.
Needless to say, I’m more comfortable with that decision at this moment. Letang also only has two power-play assists on the year. The last time he had single-digit power play points was 2009-10.
As we march toward fantasy hockey playoffs, games played become important. That is why I have listed the Oilers as a team. They have played the fewest games of any NHL team to this point in the season.
Six teams have played 50, and 16 have played 49. The Oilers have played 45. Oilers players have an extra 4-5 games to play down the stretch than 70% of the league.
With 12 weeks remaining in the season (the regular season ends Thursday, April 18th), that’s a sizeable advantage.
That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.
Follow me on X (Twitter): @doylelb4