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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The Toronto Maple Leafs went from the basement to the playoffs as one of the biggest surprises of the season.  Rookies, Mike Babcock, Frederik Andersen, the vets, everyone contributed to this massive turnaround.  Now, the Leafs are looked at as a perennial playoff team with future aspirations of a true Stanley Cup contender.  I don’t expect them to be a real contender this season, mostly because their blue line still needs a piece or two, but they should be a solid playoff team with plenty of fantasy contributors.  Let’s take a look at the riches Toronto is working with:

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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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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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What looked like an amazing weekend for Mark Stone turned for the worst at the last minute. Stone had one of the biggest games of the year on Saturday scoring a goal and four assists with five shots in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. Stone followed that up by scoring a goal and taking a penalty against the Jets on Sunday before a hit to the head from Jacob Trouba knocked him out of the game. As if a hit to the head wasn’t concerning enough, Stone has already had a concussion in the preseason, an injury that caused him to become a value in drafts. Stone has been terrific this season with 22 goals and 25 assists through 56 games but now, his fantasy owners are in a tough spot as are the Senators who were decimated by injuries over the weekend. Look for some news to come out later today on Stone’s status but here’s to hoping it’s nothing serious like another concussion. Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league this weekend:

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We talked about Mikael Granlund on last Friday’s podcast for a few minutes. Granlund was on an 11 game point streak, the longest of any player during this season, going into Saturday’s game. You can say that he extended it in style. Against the Canucks, Granlund scored his first career hat trick on six shots while also having an assist and finishing +4. That brings his totals to a ridiculous 15+33 in 51 games while being +30. He’s now a top 10 forward on the season based on RCL categories finally delivering on the hype surrounding him entering the league. As for where he’ll be ranked going into next season, check out the podcast. Here’s what else happened around the league this weekend:

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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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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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In my preseason rankings, I wrote the following about Chris Kreider: “He’s good for 20+20 with strong penalty minutes but I’m not expecting much more even though he has a ton of potential.” What I meant to include was 20+20 at the halfway point! For years, Kreider has been talked about as an elite talent but somebody who hasn’t been able to put it together. Like a few other players on the Rangers, Kreider has seemingly put it all together at this point and the results are outstanding. In the 6-2 win over the Avalanche on Saturday, Kreider scored a hat trick on six shots extending his point streak to 4 games (8 total points). In 33 games, Kreider now has 15+14 with 19 PIM and 91 shots. Add in Kreider being +6 and you’re looking at a contributor in all categories. At this point, we’re looking at a guy who should push towards the top 50 at the end of the season and going forward; he’s still only 25 years old. Let’s take a look at what happened to close 2016 and the opening day of 2017:

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Hopefully everyone’s holidays went extremely well. The only thing my weekend was missing was hockey so I’m glad that things will be back tonight. I haven’t updated how things went on Friday’s games so here goes nothing. In my preseason rankings, I wrote the following about Charlie Coyle: “Coyle had a big second half to get over 20 goals and 20 assists for the season. Now, he’s going to be on the first line which should dominate the possession game. The shots need a slight boost but he’s a good bet for 25+25 or possibly slightly better.” First line, check. Possession game, not quite dominant but still above average so still a check. Slight boost in shots, check. Good bet for 25+25 or slightly better, check. Coyle had a monster game on Friday scoring a goal and three assists with four shots in the 7-4 win over the Rangers. That puts Coyle at 12+15 in 33 games with just over 2 shots per game, 22 PIM and +13. Instead of 25+25, we’re potentially looking at 30+35. Coyle is currently the 30th ranked forward and while I had him in my top 150, his consensus ranking ended up over 40 spots later. Hopefully he ended up being one of your last couple picks like he was for me in a bunch of leagues because he’s been terrific and I don’t see it slowing down. Here’s what else happened on Friday night before the break:

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