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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While the Razzball Hockey committee of one didn’t love the Patrick Marleau contract, we did like Marleau for this season in fantasy.  Like the majority of his teammates, his season debut went extremely well.  Marleau scored twice in his first game as a Maple Leaf registering five shots on goal.  His linemates were inconsistent but whether he’s with Matthews or Kadri, it doesn’t really matter.  Marleau scored 27 goals last season and I don’t see why he can’t get back to that number.  Despite ranking him as a top 150 player, he’s still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, so grab him now.  Here’s what else happened around the NHL on opening night:

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The St. Louis Blues had quite the roller coaster ride of a season in 2016-17.  They started off slowly before rallying to the point where playoffs were a certainty.  That didn’t stop Doug Armstrong from shipping out Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline after they couldn’t agree to a contract extension.  Despite the loss of Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL, the Blues upset the Wild in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Predators in round 2.  There are some questions on the blue line and in net but their forward group, if healthy, has incredible depth plus elite talent.  Let’s take a look at what Mike Yeo has to work with:

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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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The Philadelphia Flyers were one of the most irrelevant teams in the league last season.  That’s not to say they were a complete bottom feeder, they certainly weren’t, but they were never truly in the playoff hunt either.  The majority of their top players had down seasons leaving them with the third most points of any non-playoff team 7 points out.  Luckily for them, the lottery gods were on their side as they hit a 7.3% chance of moving into the top three in the lottery, and more importantly, a 4.6% chance of moving into the top two.  In comes Nolan Patrick to add to their developing young core.  Can their core members who are currently in their prime bounce back?  Can their blue line be even average?  What will they get in net?  As Reid and I talked about in our Metro Division preview podcast, they are on the biggest wild cards in the league.  Let’s take a look at what the Flyers are working with to see if we have any answers for fantasy this coming season:

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The Philadelphia Flyers have nothing to play for besides being a spoiler. Their season is effectively over but they basically ended their division rivals on Thursday. The Flyers blitzed the Islanders on Thursday going up 5-0 in the first period and winning 6-3. With the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Lightning and Hurricanes all winning, the Islanders are toast. There were many players who stood out for the Flyers in this game but the one with the biggest fantasy impact is Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds had a Gordie Howe hat trick and then some totaling a goal, two assists, five penalty minutes and four shots. The goal was Simmonds’ 30th of the season allowing him to reach the 30 goal plateau for the second straight season. With four straight seasons of 28+ goals and massive penalty minutes, we know who Simmonds is in those departments. The shots are solid and the PPP are elite but there are some concerns. One, he’s been a minus player every season in Philly with this year being his worst ever, a -20. The other issue is that he’s never topped 31 assists. I thought this season he would set a new career high but he’s not coming close. So where does that leave us? I had Simmonds in my top 25 last season which turned out to be too high. I love Simmonds for what he is but it’s not worth taking him in the top of the third round when he’s only getting 55-60 points. He’ll certainly be in my top 50 but since he’s on the verge of turning 29, my hopes of Simmonds taking another step seem incredibly unlikely. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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Everything we talked about on the trade deadline podcast regarding Alexandre Burrows came to fruition on Thursday night. In Burrows’ debut for the Senators, Burrows scored a brace (two goals for those who aren’t aware) on three shots playing 14 minutes in the 2-1 win over the Avalanche. I called him a great streamer for this game (streamer success!) and he performed admirably. Do I think he’s going to be a huge difference maker down the stretch? Probably not unless he piles up a ton of penalty minutes. However, I do expect him to be useful. While the next two games for the Senators are tough matchups, the Senators play the Stars, Coyotes and Avalanche next week. That is an excellent opportunity to stream Burrows. I’m even fine with grabbing him now just to make sure you have him for those games. As along as he stays on the first line, there’s some fantasy value here. Here’s what else happened the last two nights:

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I call Joe Pavelski “Mr. Consistency” because every season you can make him down for 30 goals, 40 assists and solid contributions elsewhere. It’s generally not flashy, just a consistent point with three shots, but at the end of the year it’s good enough to justify a first round pick on him. Pavelski showed on Wednesday night that he’s capable of dominating a game. Pavelski had a monster outing, scoring two goals and two assists with four shots in the 6-5 OT loss to Florida. The Sharks looked like they were dead before Pavelski scored 2 goals in the last 3:21 to force overtime. He’s on pace for right around 30 goals, a small stepback, but he’s compensating by playing at a career high assist rate. The shots are also over three per game, he’s +9 and the PPP are coming in per usual. Expect Pavelski to provide the value you hoped for drafting him in the back end of the first round and for him to be ranked in that same ball park going into next season. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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Remember how poor Max Pacioretty was playing the first six weeks of the season? Despite the incredible start from the Canadiens, Patches was struggling to find the back of the net, mostly due to his shot rate falling off a cliff. While he’s not at his normal levels, he’s back over three shots per game and on Tuesday, Patches had a huge night. He scored on all three of his shots leading the way in Montreal’s destruction of the Sabres. All of a sudden, Pacioretty is tied for second in the league in goals (at the time of this writing) being a plus contributor in all categories. While he’s not pushing the top 25 like he was a couple years ago, Patches is firmly in the top 50 going forward. Here’s what else I saw around the league on a massive Tuesday slate:

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On the last podcast, Reid and I looked at a bunch of players who were under 50% that I thought were must-own. I made a massive oversight leaving somebody off that list: Conor Sheary. I just looked and saw that he’s 45% owned which absolutely blows my mind (I thought he was in the 70’s or 80’s). Sheary had an excellent weekend scoring twice on three shots on Friday and then getting two goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. That brings Sheary’s totals to 17+17 while being +17 in 39 games. Seventeens are wild! Anyways, Sheary is on pace for 35+35 over 82 games with an excellent plus-minus and decent enough shots. That’s closer to a top 50 player than someone who is on the waiver wire. We’ve seen guys in the past be excellent fantasy values being a passenger on Crosby’s line so if you’re in one of the leagues where Sheary is available, pick him up immediately (I’d put him ahead of everyone discussed on the podcast). Then come back and read what else happened around the league this weekend!

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