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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Another year, another Capitals heartbreak.  Once again, Washington had the most points in the NHL during the regular season only to lose to the Penguins in the second round of the playoffs.  I feel pretty safe in saying that last season’s Capitals was the best version of them all.  They still remain one of the best teams in the league but they lost plenty of talent in the offseason and their window is starting to close.  They have as much elite talent as anyone in the league but they desperately need some young players to produce to give them necessary depth.  Let’s take a look at what the Capitals are working with:

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Sadly, the fantasy hockey season has come to an end. I’ll have an RCL summary post up later this week along with a preview of The Stanley Cup Playoffs with Reid on Tuesday’s podcast. For now, I’d like to invite everyone to join the Razzball Bracket Challenge again through the link here and to present my super early top 50 for next season. I’m not going to go into much detail at this point because so many things can change between now and six months from now when the 2017-18 regular season actually begins. This will go longer than our mock draft podcast but if you want more details about my thought process, I’d be sure to check that out. I’ll be separating these guys into tiers with tier explanations but that will be the extent of the analysis. Obviously you’re welcome to ask me in the comments section about anything you like / disagree with. Let’s get to it!

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Jake Guentzel was on an absolute tear before he suffered a concussion after a hit from Rasmus Ristolainen. He was owned by most of Razzball Nation as we got on top of it before Guentzel broke out. Thankfully, Guentzel recovered quickly and returned on Friday night. He scored a goal on three shots in his return and then repeated that performance on Sunday. The Penguins have a decent schedule this week with four games, including a back to back on Saturday and Sunday to close the regular season. You can wait a day since the Pens don’t play tonight but I’d look to grab Guentzel again if you cut him when he went down. The minutes and role are right back to where they were pre-concussion so I’m looking for Guentzel to finish the season strong before he contributes to a potential playoff run for Pittsburgh. Here’s what else happened on the penultimate weekend of the season:

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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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In the marquee match of the night in Washington, both goalies played extremely well. At the end of the game, Braden Holtby came out on top saving 29 of 30 shots in the 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets. He’s managed to find a way to improve his goals against and save percentage the season after winning the Vezina Trophy. His counterpart in this game may be the favorite to win the Vezina this year but Holtby has solidified himself as the #1 goalie in hockey, both in real life and fantasy. I highly doubt that I will draft him next season solely because I’m anti-goalie in the first round but there’s no doubt that Holtby will be the first goalie on my board. It looks like this will be the second season in a row that he finishes as the #2 overall goalie and that consistency is exactly what you’re looking for in your top goalie. If you can find an issue with Holtby, let me know because he’s seemingly perfect. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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I know evisceration seems like I’m going too far but the Panthers had control of their game against Toronto from the first shift of the game. Florida scored 18 seconds in and led the rest of the way winning the game 7-2. Their leading scorer was Thomas Vanek who notched four assists, a career high, with four shots on goal finishing +3. Vanek was struggling since arriving in Florida with only one point in five games while being -7. Now, his overall stat line seems pretty good after this explosion. The Panthers schedule is very fantasy-friendly down the stretch making Vanek as good of a streamer as there is. Is he worth holding? Well, that’s to be determined. While the matchups are tough, the Panthers have three games in four nights starting on Thursday morning. I’m probably going to grab Vanek, ride him through the weekend and then proceed from there. Here’s what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:

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Bartender! Shot of Jack. Man, I loved that call growing up, RIP Stuart Scott. This shot is of Jack Eichel who is lapping the entire league when it comes to points over the last month. Eichel now has the second longest point streak of the season after another big game on Tuesday night. He was seemingly the only Sabre who could get anything going scoring two goals and an assist with three shots in the 6-3 loss to the Flyers. Eichel now has 45 points (18+27) in 46 games with over four shots per game. If he has stayed healthy all season, he’d be recognized in the same light as the two rookies going off this season. Eichel has been carrying fantasy teams for weeks now and he has the potential to do that the rest of the season. For where Reid and I think we’ll rank him for next season, listen to Tuesday’s podcast . Here’s what else happened the last two nights 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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