Frozen Fantasy: The Winner Is…

Frozen Fantasy: The Winner Is…

This article is part of our Frozen Fantasy series.

This season has been one for the ages. Connor McDavid is otherworldly. Erik Karlsson is on pace for the first 100-point season by a defender since 1991-92 (Brian Leetch). And the Bruins. Oh, the Bruins. 

Then there's Connor Bedard. Wow.

We've been spoiled this season. There's been so much to love about the game, even through the bizarre…  Bruce, there it is. Bruce, there it is.

I digress. 

Let's take a look at the frontrunners for awards at this point in the year. Most of them are fait accompli. Zero doubt. Zero debate. 

Take Connor McDavid. He's on pace to be the first player to hit at least 150 points since Mario Lemieux did in 1995-96 (161). We are witnessing generational greatness. Period.

So 97 is going to take home more hardware than he can carry. The Art Ross and Maurice Richard. And Hart and Ted Lindsay. 

No point in listing contenders. There's zero chance for anyone else. 

The Norris trophy is Karlsson's. Two years ago, Adam Fox became the first winner from a non-playoff team since 1954, so that excuse is gone. It's really too bad for Josh Morrissey, who is having a career season, and Rasmus Dahlin, who has become elite. 

Brayden Point is in a great spot to win the Lady Byng trophy, but Jason Robertson and Jack Hughes will contend. What a class this is.  

The Calder trophy will go to Matty Beniers. He may not end up the best from this

This season has been one for the ages. Connor McDavid is otherworldly. Erik Karlsson is on pace for the first 100-point season by a defender since 1991-92 (Brian Leetch). And the Bruins. Oh, the Bruins. 

Then there's Connor Bedard. Wow.

We've been spoiled this season. There's been so much to love about the game, even through the bizarre…  Bruce, there it is. Bruce, there it is.

I digress. 

Let's take a look at the frontrunners for awards at this point in the year. Most of them are fait accompli. Zero doubt. Zero debate. 

Take Connor McDavid. He's on pace to be the first player to hit at least 150 points since Mario Lemieux did in 1995-96 (161). We are witnessing generational greatness. Period.

So 97 is going to take home more hardware than he can carry. The Art Ross and Maurice Richard. And Hart and Ted Lindsay. 

No point in listing contenders. There's zero chance for anyone else. 

The Norris trophy is Karlsson's. Two years ago, Adam Fox became the first winner from a non-playoff team since 1954, so that excuse is gone. It's really too bad for Josh Morrissey, who is having a career season, and Rasmus Dahlin, who has become elite. 

Brayden Point is in a great spot to win the Lady Byng trophy, but Jason Robertson and Jack Hughes will contend. What a class this is.  

The Calder trophy will go to Matty Beniers. He may not end up the best from this class by the end of his career, but he's a big reason the Kraken are in a playoff spot. The nominees are tough. Owen Power and Jake Sanderson have been excellent. Logan Thompson would have been an auto-nominee, but his injury might derail that. Mason McTavish is a true 1C in the making, but hasn't done enough this year. 

Mitch Marner tops my list for the Selke trophy. He leads the NHL in takeaways, plays both special teams and is a top-10 scorer – did you see that spinorama in tight on Stuart Skinner on Saturday? Patrice Bergeron is aging, but he's still the best at the dot. Little wonder his team has possession all the time. Nico Hischier will receive consideration. Bo Horvat might, too. 

I'm torn on the Vezina. Linus Ullmark tops every list I've seen, but both Ilya Sorokin and Jake Oettinger have been dynamite, and both over more starts. Edge Ullmark. And he could contend for the Conn Smythe, too. He and Jeremy Swayman have no competition for the Jennings. 

Now let's take a look at who caught my eye this week. 

Shots

Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, Los Angeles (24 percent Yahoo!) – Arvidsson is firing pucks with wild abandon. He put up 24 shots in four games heading into Saturday night and co-led the league over the last seven days (19), alongside Jason Robertson and Nathan MacKinnon. Great company. Arvidsson added four more against Nashville on Saturday, but he didn't light the lamp. Again. He hasn't struck twine in six games, but has created a lot of rebounds. And rebounds can lead to assists (three). He's the kind of volume shooter who will help. And some of those pucks will go in. 

Hits

Mario Ferraro, D, San Jose (2 percent Yahoo!)Jeff Petry (58 percent Yahoo!) led the hit parade with 21 for the week ending Saturday. Ferraro, who is almost universally available, was second (18) – it took him over the century mark (103) for the fourth straight season. And when he isn't hitting, Ferraro is blocking shots – he had four Saturday. His type of bruise can help. 

Faceoffs

Shane Pinto, C, Ottawa (5 percent Yahoo!) Tim Stutzle (95 percent Yahoo!) is the big fish in Canada's capital, but it's Pinto who's carving out a niche as the team's best man at the dot. In his last four heading into Sunday night, he was 36-of-54 (66.7 percent) and also got a goal. That snipe was his fifth (one assist) in his last 12 games. Pinto has 17 on the season and is headed toward the first 20-goal season of his young career. That's pure bonus if you take the plunge. 

Forwards – Offense

Vladislav Namestnikov, LW/C, Winnipeg (1 percent Yahoo!) – Namestnikov has incredible vision and touch, a wicked wrister and great wheels, and when paired with offensive linemates, he can excel. So, Saturday night was like a time travel journey back to his early days in Tampa Bay with teammate Nikita Kucherov (100 percent Yahoo!). With Pierre-Luc Dubois (84 percent Yahoo!) sidelined, Vladi stepped between Blake Wheeler (45 percent Yahoo!) and Nikolaj Ehlers (77 percent Yahoo!), and the trio was magical. As in eight points magical – he scored twice and added a helper, and now has five points, including three helpers in four games in the 'Peg. With Dubois on the shelf, Namestnikov can help you power through a playoff round. It will be hard for him to repeat Saturday, but the door is open for him to prove he can fill Dubois' 2C spot next year. Skill plus motivation plus opportunity? You get the point. 

Forwards – Category Coverage

Lawson Crouse, LW/RW, Arizona (19 percent Yahoo!) – Crouse? Really? Yes! The rugged winger heads into Sunday on a five-game, five-point point streak. It includes two goals, 15 hits and 17 shots. Crouse isn't exactly consistent – he had a seven-game point drought before this run. But he's getting lots of ice time on the second line and PP2, and that means the shots and hits will come. There are others in this category, but Crouse might fit your needs. 

Erik Haula, LW/C, New Jersey (20 percent Yahoo!) – Haula needs to be on a lot more fantasy teams. His three-game, six-point streak ended Saturday night, but it included three goals and three power-play points. From the third line. Haula also had eight shots, five hits and 20 faceoff wins on that run, and there's a chance this multi-cat coverage could continue. He's firing lots of shots (131 in 65 games), but his success rate (6.1 percent) is almost half his career average (11.9 percent). Haula's confidence has to have grown with this run, and confidence goes a long, long way. 

Alex Killorn, LW/RW, Tampa Bay (34 percent Yahoo!) – Can you use a second-line, PP1 winger on a 60-point pace? With 11 points, including five goals, five special-teams points, 20 shots, six PIM and seven hits in his last 11 games? Go get Killorn – the guy plays with Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point (100, 100 and 93 percent Yahoo!, respectively) on that top power-play unit. I have no clue why two-in-three managers let him sit on the wire. And his role might expand if Stammer's leg injury keeps him out. 

Dylan Strome, RW/C, Washington (19 percent Yahoo!) – Strome is on a four-game, seven-point streak (three goals, four assists) heading into Tuesday night, and he has 10 points, including four goals, in his last seven games. And almost all from the 3C spot. Strome is on pace for a mid-50s point total, but it's his roster flexibility that caught my eye. He's won 415 faceoffs (49.0 percent) on the season, but has gone 27-of-45 (60.0) in his last three games. That's huge from a W spot, and it can be a difference maker, especially in head-to-head. 

Defense – Category Coverage

Samuel Girard, D, Colorado (26 percent Yahoo!) – March has been kind to Girard – as in six-points-in-six-games kind. But look closer and you'll find that he's been hot for a while. As in 22 points in 2023 (29 games) kind of hot. He has 53 blocks and 41 shots in 2023, too. Girard isn't this good, but he's way better than his seven points in 29 games to start the season. I'm hooking my wagon to him for that even-strength production and his blocks. 

Hail Mary

Mason Marchment, LW/RW, Dallas (13 percent Yahoo!) – Marchment has struggled in Dallas. It might be the contract (four years, $18 million). Or it might be that last year's breakout 47 points in 54 games was lightning in a bottle. After all, Marchment was 26 with just 37 NHL games under his belt heading into that season. But Thursday's three-point game (one goal, two assists) was sharp, and it might be the kickstart he needed to get on track. It extended his point streak to three games and another goal Saturday extended the streak to four (three goals, three assists). And he has 11 shots, five hits and six blocks in that span. Marchment might give you a late-season boost. Or not. But at this point, you may not have anything left to lose.

Lukas Reichel, LW/C, Chicago (2 percent Yahoo!) – Chicago's brass sees Reichel as a high-end talent, and they're sticking to their development plan with him. It seems to be working. After 46 points in 51 AHL games at just 20, Reichel has three points in his last five NHL games while skating on the top line and PP1. There will be growing pains, but he will be protected – he's just 20. But he has talent and opportunity, and has already rung up a three-point game this season (Jan. 8). About one-in-10 Hail Mary's are successful. Reichel is a long shot, but his talent ranks right up with the best on the wire right now. 

Back to the three-quarter awards.

There's one left – the Jack Adams trophy. Pete DeBoer has the Stars near the top of the West, but he won't win. It'll come down to two: Lindy Ruff, who has the Devils just two points from the top of the Metropolitan, and Dave Hakstol, who has the Kraken seriously overachieving. 

Seattle had a negative-69 goal differential last season. And New Jersey was negative-59. This year? They're plus-21 and plus-55, respectively. Hakstol has done more with less, but old-skool Ruff has brought out the best from the youth. And that 114-goal swing is more than impressive. 

Old dawgs really can learn new tricks. 

Who are your winners? Which ones did I get wrong? 

Until next week.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Janet Eagleson
Janet Eagleson is a eight-time Finalist and four-time winner of the Hockey Writer of the Year award from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. She is a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan, loved the OHL London Knights when they were bad and cheers loudly for the Blackhawks, too. But her top passion? The World Junior Hockey Championships each and every year.
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