I was all in on the Tampa Bay Lightning again this year picking them to make the Stanley Cup Finals.  Obviously they don’t crown champions 3 weeks into the season but Tampa has started off incredibly well.  They’ve had some depth players step up but at the end of the day, their studs have been incredible.  The top two players in points in the NHL by a wide margin are both Lightning players with Steven Stamkos.  Tampa Bay blitzed Pittsburgh 7-1 on Saturday and Stamkos led the way with a goal, three assists and four shots on goal.  That gives Stamkos a whopping 17 points (3+14) in 9 games.  Stamkos was a player who consistently dropped in my drafts into the third round and while it’s too early to celebrate given Stamkos’ injury, it’s been the dream start.  Fingers crossed that he stays healthy because Stammer could be a top 10, maybe even top 5 player.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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All everyone talked about in the preseason was wondering how bad Vegas was going to be in their expansion year.  Sure, it’s only two games, but boy did they have some excitement.  On Friday, Dallas was dominating Vegas in their franchise opener but was only up 1-0 in the third.  Down goes Ben Bishop which opened up the door for James Neal to give the people of Las Vegas some relief in an awful time.  Neal scored two goals in the third period to propel the Golden Knights to victory.  To top off the weekend, Neal scored another goal, this time the game winner in overtime, to give Vegas two wins to start the season.  Neal is still available in over 40% of leagues and if you are in one of them, grab him.  The shot rate is going to be elite along with solid penalty minutes and goals.  At least for now, I’m not overly concerned about the top guys on Vegas having bad plus-minuses either.  Let’s take a look at what else happened in the first (long) weekend of the NHL season:

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We’ve reached the halfway point in my rankings and it’s time to approach the finish line.  I will keep updating this with info for players as Friday progresses but I wanted to get the top 150 out as soon as possible.  Also, sorry for the delay, but the RCL’s will launch this coming Monday in the afternoon.  I’ve had a few technical difficulties setting it up but that should be taken care of by then.  Without further adieu, here is my top 150:

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Yes, I know that the first round of the playoffs just ended and we’re six months away from next season starting. We’ll talk about the second round matchups on a podcast that will drop on Tuesday. I don’t believe that people will get much out of me posting notes about the playoffs so what better time to drop my first sleeper post for next year? Bo Horvat, also known as Dr. Bo in these parts, has been talked about for months as a fantasy sleeper for next season by yours truly. What can we expect from Horvat next season and why is he a sleeper?

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Hey everyone! With only a few days left in the season, it’s time to set up the Razzball Bracket Challenge! For those who didn’t partake last year, you simply fill out the Stanley Cup Playoff Bracket once it’s released. You can join the Razzball group by clicking here and creating a free account if you don’t already have one. It’s a good way to keep the Razzball Hockey community in touch throughout the playoffs.

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Here’s what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: “Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues… Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance.” And that’s me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn’t provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn’t hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it’s helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault’s totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don’t think there’s more upside than what he’s doing this season but there’s no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he’s not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let’s take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:

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For the majority of his professional career, Connor Hellebuyck has gone up and down more than an elevator. He’s bounced around the NHL and AHL along with starting and being the backup in Winnipeg despite the fact that he’s clearly their best option between the pipes. That’s not to say Hellboy has been a great goalie throughout. In fact, he’s had plenty of times where he looks rough. That’s simply the nature of the beast in the NHL being a young goalie. Hellboy was at the bottom last week allowing five goals in consecutive starts. Naturally, he turns things around this weekend with a 29 save shutout against the Blues and saving 22 of 23 shots in the 6-1 win over the Avalanche. The numbers are poor on the whole but he has won half of his games. Should he be owned right now? I think you have to gamble on the upside in 12’ers. The main point is that this season has done nothing to dissuade me from loving Hellebuyck in dynasties. We all know that the Jets are loaded with offensive talent that is only going to get better and Hellebuyck will be a beneficiary. The prospect cupboard remains full despite all of their recent graduates and most importantly, there are a bunch on the blue line. What do I expect him next season? Probably a #2 goalie with upside to be a #1 who should be owned in all leagues. Long term? He should eventually develop into a guy who is a middling to bottom end #1 year in and year out. Bottom line, I’m still driving the Hellboy bandwagon! Here’s what else happened around the league last weekend:

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Viktor Arvidsson has been among the best waiver wire pickups of the season, especially at the forward positions. He’s thriving in Nashville seemingly out of nowhere. A late bloomer, which caused him to be drafted at 21 years old in the 4th round by Nashville, Arvidsson first made his name in the league by scoring an overtime goal in Game 6 against the Sharks last season, his rookie campaign. Now, in his sophomore season, we’re seeing upside that I quite frankly didn’t know what there. On Saturday, Arvidsson scored his first career hat trick on eight shots, albeit in a 7-4 loss against Florida. He came right back on Sunday to record an assist with six shots. That brings his totals to 18+21 in 54 games with well over 3 shots per game and a +16 rating. Arvidsson moved back onto the first line Saturday which helped sparked this surge. He’s a clear as day hold at the moment and should be even if he eventually drops down a line. Regardless, Arvidsson is available in over 50% of leagues so do your part to fix that and pick him up. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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Hey everyone! I’m back following the All-Star break and with no games since last Thursday (recapped here), I need something else to talk about! Well, I thought something that would be very helpful is an in-depth look at the schedules for every team in the NHL the last four weeks of the season. I picked those weeks because at least the last three weeks (the last 4 if you’re in an RCL or any league with two week long playoff matchups) are your playoffs in head to head leagues. By giving you this information now, this gives everyone a few options. One, it helps everyone make decisions at the bottom of your roster. Don’t let the schedule be the final decision, but it’s a useful tiebreaker. Two, if you’re in top position, it allows you to make a trade that would greatly benefit you in the playoffs. Lastly, it shows you what teams will be the best to stream from at certain points in the playoffs. You’re going to want to bookmark this page for when you make it and use it as a guide. If a player finishes the week with three games in four nights, he’ll obviously make a great streamer for multiple days. Let’s look at every team and see what they’re working with:

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Brad Marchand was one of the biggest breakout players in 2015-16 scoring 37 goals drastically increasing his shot rate to 3.5 per game while adding 90 PIM. While all of those numbers are taking a slight step back this season, he’s improving the weaknesses in his game to become a well rounded player. Marchand returned to his old ways this weekend with three goals on six shots over two games to give him 12+22 on the season. He’s only six assists from a career high and we’ve just reached the halfway point. Marchand also has nine power play points which is already a career high. Instead of being a three or four category stud (depending on plus-minus), he’s become a big plus in five categories with the potential for all six if the plus-minus improves. These totals have him 15th in the player rater among forwards and that shouldn’t come as a shock coming off a top ten season. It might not be exactly what you wanted but it’s been excellent across the board. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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