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Jack Eichel
AP
The Week Ahead

Too early to say Eichel among the greats

by Michael Finewax
Updated On: December 14, 2019, 11:05 am ET

There has been a lot of talk lately with the year that Jack Eichel is having, that the 2015 Entry Draft had the best top-two ever in the history of the NHL Draft.

No way!

First of all, it is way too early in their careers and you never know what injuries can do to a career.

The best top-two thus far have been Guy Lafleur and Marcel Dionne who were drafted in 1971. Both are in the Hall of Fame with Lafleur scoring 560 goals and 1353 points in 1127 career games while Dionne had 731 goals and 1771 points in an amazing career.

You can argue that Pierre Turgeon and Brendan Shanahan in 1987 have been stellar as well with Turgeon scoring 515 goals and 1327 points while Shanahan was one of the top all-time power forwards with 656 goals and 1354 points.

There is little doubt that Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin have been studs in their careers with only injuries to Malkin holding back their greatness.

Add in a couple of other years like Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau in 1997 and Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty in 2008 as well as the 2013 year which saw Nathan MacKinnon and Aleksander Barkov go 1-2, and it is definitely not a slam-dunk, especially with this being Eichel’s first outstanding season.

Let’s wait until near the end of their careers before making such statements.

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WEEK OF DECEMBER 16-22

4 Games – Anaheim, Colorado, Columbus, Dallas, Edmonton, Nashville, Ottawa

3 Games - Arizona, Boston, Buffalo, Calgary, Carolina, Chicago, Detroit, Florida, Los Angeles, Minnesota, Montreal, New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, San Jose, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Vancouver, Vegas, Washington,Winnipeg

Anaheim and Nashville play all four games on the road.

Boston, Columbus, the New York Rangers, San Jose and Vancouver play three games at home.

Los Angeles, Montreal and Pittsburgh play three games on the road.

INJURIES

Evgeni Malkin is day-to-day with an illness. (Click here to see the rest of the injury list.)

ANAHEIM

Games this week

@ Philadelphia, @ New Jersey, @ New York Islanders, @ New York Rangers

Tired: @ New York Rangers (Sunday)

Rested: None

Notes

The Ducks play a pair of back-to-back games this week so look for John Gibson and Ryan Miller to split the net. Josh Manson returned to action Tuesday after missing six-and-a-half weeks with a sprained ACL. Devin Shore finally scored his first of the season Sunday. It took him 16 games to do so. Nick Ritchie is the Ducks top penalty minutes player with 54 in 27 games but will be out another five-nine weeks after spraining his MCL a week ago. Hampus Lindholm has yet to find the back of the net in 24 games but he does have 12 helpers. The Ducks have scored only 10 power play goals in 32 games. They have five shorthanded goals and are nearly as dangerous when down a man as they are with the man-advantage.

ARIZONA

Games this week

@ San Jose, vs. Minnesota, @ Detroit

Tired: None

Rested: @ Detroit (Sunday)

Notes

The Coyotes moved back on top of the Pacific with a 5-2 win over Chicago Thursday. Darcy Kuemper continues to shine as he won his fourth straight, to improve his record to 14-6-2 with a 1.97 GAA and a .935 save percentage. Niklas Hjalmarsson is on schedule to return to the lineup in early-mid January. He has been skating after fracturing his fibula on October 12. The Coyotes will be even stronger defensively upon his return. Jason Demers is week-to-week following a knee injury suffered Sunday. Barrett Hayton has been loaned to Team Canada for the World Junior Tournament over the Christmas holidays. He will benefit greatly from the experience and playing time.

BOSTON

Games this week

vs. Los Angeles, vs. New York Islanders, vs. Nashville

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Bruins are slumping as they have lost five in a row including one overtime loss to Chicago. They are still 20-7-6 and in top spot in the Atlantic Division standings but there is some reason to worry at this time as Boston relies heavily on their top line of Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron. The trio have combined for only three goals and nine points in the five losses and they have to be a lot better than that for Boston to be victorious as the remainder of the squad do not contribute enough. Bergeron returned to action this past week after missing eight of the previous nine games with a lower-body injury.

BUFFALO

Games this week

@ Toronto, @ Philadelphia, vs. Los Angeles

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

Linus Ullmark has taken over as the number one netminder for the Sabres. Carter Hutton was the top guy in net and he won his first six games but is 0-5-4 since then, while Ullmark has won his last three in a row to move to 10-6-2. Jack Eichel has been outstanding this season and has 22 goals and 46 points in 33 games. He is currently on a league-high 15-game points streak in which he has 14 goals and 27 points. The Sabres were thrilled to get Rasmus Dahlin back in the lineup Thursday after missing eight games with a concussion. Dahlin played only 15:20 but managed an assist to give him 17 points in 25 contests. TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Thursday that defenseman Zach Bogosian has requested a trade.

CALGARY

Games this week

vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Montreal, @ Dallas

Tired: None

Rested: None

Notes

The Flames are red-hot since interim coach Geoff Ward took over the team. They have a perfect 7-0-0 since he took over from Bill Peters and the Flames are right back in the Pacific Division race, only two points out of first. After going the first 27 games without a goal, Milan Lucic has scored three times in his last five games, including the 200th of his NHL career on December 7. Matthew Tkachuk missed Tuesday’s game against Arizona with an upper-body injury suffered Monday but was back in the lineup in the Flames 4-2 win over Toronto Thursday. Cam Talbot has won his two starts this week to give him three this season. Talbot gave up five goals on 81 shots as he was particularly great against Arizona Tuesday, stopping 46-of-48 shots.

CAROLINA

Games this week

@ Winnipeg, @ Colorado, vs. Florida

Tired: None

Rested: @ Colorado (Thursday), vs. Florida (Saturday)

Notes

The Hurricanes finish a five-game road trip this week before finally returning home to face Florida. Congratulations are in order for Sebastian Aho who scored his 100th career goal Tuesday, becoming the youngest player in Carolina history to accomplish the feat. He has 23 points in his last 20 games since the calendar switched to the month of November. Erik Haula is still out of action with a knee problem. He was injured on November 16th and is not on the Hurricanes trip to Western Canada. Martin Necas returned to action Thursday after missing four games with a lower-body injury. Andrei Svechnikov, the Canes outstanding sophomore, leads the team with 34 points, three better than Teuvo Teravainen.

CHICAGO

Games this week

vs. Colorado, @ Winnipeg, @ Colorado

Tired: @ Winnipeg (Thursday)

Rested: None

Notes

The Blackhawks play three games in four nights. Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner have been splitting the net so it should be Lehner with a pair of starts this week. The Blackhawks play a pair of games against the Avalanche and if there is any rough stuff look for Dennis Gilbert, who was in two fights last week, to be in the middle of things. Jonathan Toews has three goals in his last five games. After scoring 35 times last season, plenty was expected from the captain, but he managed to find the back of the net only four times in the Blackhawks first 27 games and that killed his fantasy value to start the season. Calvin de Haan was placed on injured reserve this week after injuring his shoulder. It’s the same right shoulder that required off-season surgery that required a four-six month recovery.

COLORADO

Games this week

@ St. Louis, @ Chicago, vs. Carolina, vs. Chicago

Tired: vs. Carolina (Thursday)

Rested: None

Notes

The Avs play four games this week including three games in four nights. Philipp Grubauer is out with a lower-body injury and should be back this week. If so, look for he and Pavel Francouz to share the net as the Avs may not want to place a full load on Grubauer. The Avalanche play Chicago twice this week and have nine fighting majors thus far, led by Matt Calvert’s three. Ryan Graves has been a pleasant surprise as he leads the NHL in plus/minus at plus-23. The defenseman also has five goals and 12 points in 30 games with 29 penalty minutes. Mikko Rantanen has three goals and eight points in six games since his return to action from a lower-body injury that cost him almost six weeks of action.

COLUMBUS

Games this week

vs. Washington, @ Detroit, vs. Los Angeles, vs. New Jersey

Tired: @ Detroit (Tuesday)

Rested: vs. New Jersey (Saturday)

Notes

The Blue Jackets play three games in four nights as part of a four-game week. Joonas Korpisalo is likely to get three starts with Elvis Merzlikins playing once. After a tough game Monday against Washington, the Blue Jackets do not have the toughest of schedules, taking on bottom-dwellers Detroit, Los Angeles and New Jersey. Emil Bemstrom will miss the next six-eight weeks with a dislocated rib and broken cartilage. No one misses Artemi Panarin more than Cam Atkinson. Atkinson had 41 goals last season playing alongside Panarin but the Russian inked an off-season deal with the Rangers, giving Atkinson new linemates. He has only seven goals in 31 games thus far, including a two-goal effort Monday.

DALLAS

Games this week

vs. Edmonton, @ Tampa Bay, @ Florida, vs. Calgary

Tired: @ Florida (Friday)

Rested: None

Notes

The Stars play four games this week including three games in four nights. Ben Bishop will start two and likely three games this week with Anton Khudobin getting the remainder of the starts. Bishop has been great again this season as he is 12-6-2 with a 2.03 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He is a top-three goalie at this time in the NHL. The Stars fired their coach Jim Montgomery for ‘unprofessional conduct’ and replaced him with Rick Bowness for the remainder of the season. After being a healthy scratch last week, Alexander Radulov has a goal and three points in his last two contests. He has only nine goals and 18 points in 31 games after back-to-back 72-point seasons.

Michael Finewax

Michael Finewax is entering his 15th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.