Slapshot Fantasy

Fantasy Hockey: Brad Marchand in Midst of Career Year

It’s one thing to reach career highs during your seventh season in the NHL. It’s a whole other impressive accomplishment to attain those career bests before the end of February.

But that’s the kind of season Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand is having in 2015-16. With a preseason Average Draft Position of 143.0 according to Fantasy Pros, Marchand is a candidate for the most valuable forward title in all of fantasy hockey.

Although the 27-year-old has been doing it all season, it is possible that owners didn’t really notice his numbers through the first half of the season. That should have changed, though, once February came.

This month alone, Marchand has 10 goals and 14 points with a plus-six rating. He is tied with Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in the NHL in February, averaging 1.0 per game. Marchand is also one point behind Connor McDavid and Ryan Getzlaf for most points this month.

But really Marchand’s hot streak began right before the All-Star Game. He scored five goals in five straight games and five in six contests before the break.

Therefore, in the last 16 games, the Bruins left winger has 15 goals and 19 points. Since Jan. 15, Marchand has been Mr. Everything. He has 20 points, a plus-10 rating, 62 shots on net, three power-play points and 16 penalty minutes in the last 17 games.

On Saturday night, Marchand had one of his best games of the season, tying a season high with two goals and three points, as Boston came back to beat up the Dallas Stars, 7-3. He amassed six shots on goal and scored on the power play.

The hot streak gives Marchand 30 goals through 54 games this season. That’s a career-high, and if he can continue this pace, he will become the first Bruins player to reach 40 goals in a single season since Glenn Murray in 2002-03. Marchand’s six goals on the man advantage and eight power-play points are also career-bests.

Before this season, the 27-year-old’s previous career-high for goals was 28, which he accomplished back during his second full season in 2011-12.

20 FEB 2016: Boston Bruins Brad Marchand (C) celebrates with teammates Brett Connolly (14) and Joe Morrow (45). (Photo by Steve Nurenberg/Icon Sportswire)

The left winger has been on a line with center Patrice Bergeron for many years now, but before that, Marchand played on the Bruins fourth line with center Gregory Campbell. Perhaps that is Marchand’s career season has caught so many owners off guard. He has come a really long way from his days as a fourth-line agitator.

His former center, however, isn’t the least bit surprised.

“He’s a dynamic player,” Campbell said according to NESN.com. “He’s got a lot of skill. He’s a competitive little guy, too, and he’s really strong. I don’t really even look at his size because you look at him off the ice and in the weight room and whatnot, he’s a really, really strong, strong guy. He works hard, he competes hard, and he’s got hands to follow it, too.

In addition to having a shot to score 40 goals, Marchand has a chance at several other career highs. If he reaches that 40-goal mark, Marchand doesn’t have to get another assist all season to set a new career high in points. He also has 177 shots on net, which is three shy of tying his career best of 180 from last season.

The 27-year-old could put the icing on this incredible season with a new career high in penalty minutes. While that might not be great for the Bruins, it certainly is for fantasy owners. He has 72 PIM through 54 games and is on pace to surpass his 95 penalty minutes from 2014-15.

Marchand can contribute all these new marks to his career-best 18:33 minutes of ice time he has received this season. In 2014-15, he didn’t even average 17:00 minutes per game.

Despite the great year and the hot February, though, there is still an opportunity for owners to acquire the Bruins left winger. Marchand is owned in 87 percent of Yahoo leagues, which is absolutely ridiculous considering his numbers. He should be owned in every league as he is in ESPN.

On the outside chance Marchand is available in your league, add him immediately. He should only continue to set more career-highs down the stretch.

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