This past week I had the opportunity to watch three Minnesota Wild games as they made their western Canada swing. The Wild have always been known for their defensive style and their forwards have not been worth considering in fantasy hockey pools.
However, things are slowly changing in Minnesota. A major reason is that the team is getting offensive production from all four lines. Minnesota doesn’t have a single player averaging at a point per game pace, however they currently have seven players who have 30 points or more. They are Mikael Granlund (48 points), Eric Staal (42 points), Mikko Koivu (38 points), Charlie Coyle (38 points), Jason Zucker (38 points), Nino Niederreiter (36 points), and Ryan Suter (30 points).
The Wild are one of three teams with seven players with 30+ points. The others are the Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Rangers.
Granlund seems to be having a lot of chemistry at the moment with Zucker and Koivu. On Saturday night, Granlund registered his first career hat trick and had four points in a 6-3 Wild win over the Vancouver Canucks. Zucker also had a multi-point game as he had two assists, while Koivu had one goal and one assist. What is even more impressive about the play of Granlund, Zucker and Koivu was they were a combined +11.
Granlund, who had three goals and three assists, was also one of two players this past week to notch six points. The other was David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, who had two goals and four assists. Pastrnak is turning into an elite NHL sniper and is generating chemistry with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on Boston’s number one line.
Another player who had his first career hat trick on Saturday was Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander. With all of the attention that Auston Matthews has received, it is time to take a closer look at the production of fellow Maple Leaf rookies such as Mitch Marner and Nylander. Marner now has 44 points on the season (two more points than Matthews), while Nylander has 34 points and has two more assists (21) than Matthews (19).
This week go heavy on the Buffalo Sabres as they play five times. The best Sabres to take are Kyle Okposo, Ryan O’Reilly, Sam Reinhart, Evander Kane and Jack Eichel. Stay away from the Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers as they only play once each over the next week.