It's late in the 2013-14 season and I'm trying to keep these updates relevant and interesting. As usual, rather than just repeating the box scores (I figure you check those religiously, like me, already), I'll try to provide some insight as far as trends, linemates, ice time, aberrations, regressions, and other observations. Those of you in keeper leagues might already be thinking about the draft and next season. For you, I'm going to include some observations on players participating in the OHL, QMJHL and WHL playoffs right now (at the bottom).
Jamie Benn picked up his 38th and 39th assist. His 30 goals give him 69 points in 71 games this year, and with the Stars fighting for the final wildcard spot in the West, it's certainly possible he could finish above that coveted point-per-game level of 82 points. The experiment to bring in Tyler Seguin, who scored his 32nd to give him 74 points, has been a resounding success. Their numbers are so similar you can't really say one guy is the set-up man and one is the sniper; just both great hockey players (all around, too: both have 5-on-5 close Fenwick-for percentages above .55).
Nikita Kucherov after being a healthy seven of the last eight games. He saw less than nine minutes of ice time, but managed to rattle off three shots. I see big things in store for the 20-year-old sniper. Ondrej Palat had two helpers, putting him three points back of Nathan MacKinnon in the rookie scoring race. Doesn't matter what he does though, the Calder's already engraved.
Marian Gaborik only played 13:14. I didn't see if maybe he was hurt and had to miss some time, but I also wonder whether Darryl Sutter likes him. He doesn't strike me as the type of guy Sutter likes. Jeff Carter had a big night: a goal (his first in seven games), four PIMs, seven shots and two hits.
Matt Read scored his 20th of the season. In his rookie year, 2011-12, he had 24 goals. I don't think he'll top that mark, although it's worth noting he's missed seven games this year. Not much of a wingman, Read has only 16 assists so far. Forty-five to 50 points a season is probably what we can expect from him going forward given the checking role he often plays for the Flyers.
Erik Karlsson scored his 20th goal of the season, becoming just the third Swedish defenceman ever to accomplish the feat. He also added two assists, four PIMs and four shots. Jason Spezza looked threatening several times and scored once, while Ales Hemsky's only appearance on the scoresheet was a giveaway and a plus-one. As expected, Hemsky has slowed considerably, with just one point (a goal) in his last five games. Still getting top powerplay time though.
If you didn't see Stamkos choke up on his stick to bat in a rebound out of mid-air, it's worth a look:
Finally, Carl Hagelin and Benoit Pouliot each chipped in two assists, but it was Ryan McDonagh leading the way for the Rangers with a goal and two helpers. The 24-year-old has quietly put together a great season with 42 points already, a career-best. What's the biggest difference between this year and last year? Alain Vigneault is giving him 2:53 on the powerplay; John Tortorella gave him 0:38. That has translated into 12 more powerplay points.
Erie is up 2-1 against Saginaw, thanks to five goals from Andre Burakovsky (WSH), five points from Brendan Gaunce (VAN) and six from Dane Fox (VAN). This speaks to the depth of their team, as Connor McDavid (2015) and regular season leading scorer Connor Brown (TOR) haven't had to carry the load yet.
Oshawa Generals' Michael Dal Colle, a projected 2014 top-five pick, has two goals and four assists in two games.
Through two games, Jonathan Drouin (TBL) has three goals and four assists for the Halifax Mooseheads, who are up 2-0. Teammate Nikolaj Ehlers (2014) is right behind him with two and four.
Emile Poirier (CGY) has four goals in two games for the Gatineau Olympiques.
Sam Reinhart (projected top-five pick in 2014) leads all WHL playoff scorers so far with three goals and five assists. His Kootenay Ice are down 2-1 to the Calgary Hitmen.
Reinhart's teammate Jaedon Descheneau (2014) has a goal and seven helpers (don't get the wrong idea: he has 44 goals this season), but you don't want a guy named Jaedon on your fantasy team. You want Jagger Dirk (2014), who has six points and is named Jagger Dirk. I just looked at his career stats and can advise that he will never be fantasy relevant, but I really hope he makes the NHL anyway.