Coupled with the delicious leftover turkey and the sensational gravy, this year’s Black Friday featured eleven games in the NHL and it was amazing. My couch has a permanent indent.
American Thanksgiving has always been done right and in recent years, the NHL has bought into the festivities as well. We’ll let the NFL have Thanksgiving Thursday. It doesn’t matter which country you’re in – there’s nothing better than afternoon puck.
Sticking with the Thanksgiving theme, it spearheaded two unique top-5 lists for this week’s blog post.
Here’s a look at the top-5 things fantasy hockey owners are unthankful/thankful for.
THAT’S SOME GOOD TURKEY
- Connor McDavid
It was a slow start but it’s safe to say that the ten game goal drought is a thing of the past. The Edmonton captain has been scorching hot currently riding a five game point streak where he’s tallied ten points. On a nightly basis, he wows his viewers/listeners with his indescribable IQ and overall presence. Unsurprisingly, McDavid’s 29 points currently have him atop the NHL’s scoring list.
Enjoy the show!
- Remarkable Rookies
Like McDavid did in his rookie campaign, this year’s rookie class has dazzled and impressed beyond comprehension so far. From Patrik Laine to Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner to Zach Werenski – it’s shaping up to be a legendary class of star players. The poise, the skill, the maturity – it doesn’t make sense when you look at their birth years of some of these players.
- Rising Talent
Without question, the NHL is now a young man’s game and we’re seeing the emergence of several youngsters in front of our very eyes.
In Montreal, Alex Galchenyuk is proving to be the real #1 pick of the 2012 NHL draft. He went 3rd behind the much maligned Nail Yakupov and the steadily progressing Ryan Murray. With 22 points in as many games, Montreal’s #1 centre finds himself in the top-5 of NHL scoring.
Last year’s second half was certainly a foreshadowing of things to come for Mark Scheifele in Winnipeg. He’s been marvelous this season. With 23 points, he trails just Nikita Kucherov (23) and Connor McDavid (29) for the league lead. The future looks bright in Manitoba.
Lastly, some love must be given to Bruins forward David Pastrnak. Boston’s first rounder from 2014 is off to a roaring start with 13 goals in his first 17 games. That production has gone really under the radar. No question – it definitely helps when you’re playing with two all-world players in the form of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Pastrnak is already three goals away from notching a new career high and 11 points off his career best.
- Waiver Warriors
The draft is obviously important but in my opinion, fantasy seasons can be won on the waiver wire. Every year, guys come out of nowhere to have massive seasons. This year is no different.
J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner, Jonathan Marchessault and Cam Atkinson are some notable names. They’re players you’ve likely plucked off waivers and are now reaping the benefits of. You gave them a shot and now, you’re laughing because they’ve been ridiculously good.
- Great Goaltending
The way this NHL season started, many wondered where in the world all the steady goaltending was. Suffice it to say, it has certainly come back with a vengeance. The Vezina race looks like it’s going to be better than ever.
The early frontrunner at this point has to be Montreal’s Carey Price. After missing most of last season due to injury, he’s back in full force and making things close to impossible for the opposition on a nightly basis.
If Price is leading, Minnesota’s Devan Dubnyk and Boston’s Tuukka Rask are a close second and third, respectively.
Dubnyk has nine wins (four less than Price) and four shutouts. Statistically speaking, his numbers are basically identical to those of Price. Each goalie has an astonishing 1.66 GAA and a .946 SVP%. Bettering his case – Dubnyk has made 49 more stops than Price to this point.
Meantime, Rask has been no slouch either. He’s notched 12 wins, three shutouts, a 1.67 GAA and a .938 SVP%. Basically what I’m saying is don’t give the award to Price just yet.
WHERE’S THE GRAVY?
- Star Injuries
Without question, some of your fantasy teams are already on life support due to all the injury issues again this year. And it’s some top players going down too. We all wish the misfortunes would just end but it’s just a byproduct of a contact sport. You never know what’s going to happen.
Through the first 20 or so games, we’ve seen the likes of Jonathan Quick, Steven Stamkos, Taylor Hall, Johnny Gaudreau all go down with pretty substantial ailments. These are irreplaceable players.
On a yearly basis, fantasy owners are left wanting more from many individuals. We say hello to our newest batch of potential BUSTS in the form of Brian Elliott, Sean Monahan and Andrew Ladd. All three have been downright dreadful and are certainly leading the way right now in terms of undeniable disappointment. Furthermore, the likes Evgeny Kuznetsov, Joe Thornton, Zach Parise and Justin Faulk are on the watch list too. That being said, there’s still 60 or so games ahead so a lot can change. Just ask Phil Kessel who had a superb full month of last season to avoid severe mediocrity. There’s always hope.
- Low Ball Offers
I’m not sure about all of you out there but nothing irks me more than receiving low ball and downright crappy trade offers. I’m always down to make a deal but some of the garbage that filters through needs to stop. While I’m also guilty of this, it’s the most annoying thing in the world. In all actuality, it’s very hard to make a fantasy deal these days. You get into a never ending battle of how can I rip this person off?
- Offensive Struggles/ New Systems
It’s inevitable – players will go in slumps but you expect them to break out eventually. A plethora of NHL teams are still having a horrible time trying to score goals. Buffalo is at the forefront of the issue having only potted 39 goals in its first 21 games. That’s atrocious but the return of sophomore centre Jack Eichel should help improve that – key word being should.
As per every season, it takes time for new bench bosses to implement their respective systems.
For example in Colorado, the Avs want a better defensive system. Well, it appears to have that, they’ll have to sacrifice offence. How does a team with the likes of Matt Duchene and Nate MacKinnon only muster 44 goals in 20 games?
In Ottawa, the Senators are winning 2-1 hockey games under Guy Boucher and it’s aggravating as hell for Erik Karlsson owners. His points per game are down and his shot blocks are up. Yay! The Sens have been starting to score more lately and a lot of it has to do with the elevated play of Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and Derick Brassard.
- The new NHL Bye Week
In terms of fantasy hockey, the new NHL Bye Week is an absolute killer. On any given week, your star players could only have one or two games. For example – this upcoming week, the Washington Capitals play only twice. That means limited Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby usage, among others. Imagine if it was fantasy playoff time and you lost due to an undermanned roster? I’m foreshadowing things to come here. I can feel it.
Bo Horvat – C – Vancouver Canucks
Mikko Koivu – C – Minnesota Wild
Oscar Klefbom – D – Edmonton Oilers
Jonas Brodin – D – Minnesota Wild
Petr Mrazek – G – Detroit Red Wings
His leather jacket unofficially sponsors my podcast – Dave Pagnotta of The Fourth Period was my guest on Episode Seven of the Fantasy Fix Podcast. We touched on American Thanksgiving, the goalie market and some early season award frontrunners.
Find the podcast exclusively ON DEMAND with the SiriusXM APP and Online at Siriusxm.ca or SiriusXM.com
For all inquiries and thoughts, you can find me on twitter: @thegoldenmuzzy
#NAFantasyFix for your questions. I’ll answer them on my podcast.