It’s finals week in fantasy hockey! Thankfully it doesn’t come with the stress of finals week in school. Anyways, Reid and I are back bringing you the latest news around the league along with some forecasting for the future. Injuries are the original focus with Frederik Andersen and Eddie Lack garnering most of the attention. From there, we talk about the red hot Ducks, the cluster that is the Pacific Division and who will get the last two spots in the East before examining defensemen tiers for next season. A breakdown of Thursday’s games along with our Three Point Challenge picks conclude our discussion. Be sure to make your pick in the comments section below. All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast brought to you by Harry’s Razors, Seatgeek and Draft!

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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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In these parts, we’re a big supporter of the Jets for fantasy hockey. Going back to when I started writing here, the Jets love started with Blake Wheeler. An unheralded superstar, Wheeler has never received the credit he deserves for his consistent level of play. Another year goes by and it’s another year where Wheeler is pushing the top ten overall forwards. Wheeler continued his recent hot streak with a goal and two assists with two shots in the 3-2 win over the Flyers. That brings his totals to 22+41 in 73 games with 43 PIM and 230 SOG. The safety he provides is the main reason why I ranked him 21st overall in the preseason and it looks like Wheeler is going to reach that value. So where will he be next season? He’s going to turn 31 before next season starts which means he’s likely to start marginally declining as he exits his prime. However, his quality of teammate is going to continue to improve as the rest of the Jets core moves towards their prime. Is he going to be worth a second pick again? It’s going to be pretty close but at the least, Wheeler will be a high third round pick. I don’t see him falling outside of my top 30. Let’s take a look at the action around the league the last two nights:

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When it comes to the fantasy playoffs, you’re looking for two things. One, you want to get as many starts from your players as possible. Getting one or two extra starts from your bottom end guys / streamers goes a long way. The other thing you want is your superstars to carry you. Because I was in California for the last four days, my time for writing was non-existent. The good news is two fold. One, I got to meet Grey! He is the man, plain and simple. Secondly, I’m here to catch up on everything that’s happened since last Thursday and it starts with Sidney Crosby. On Friday, Crosby scored two goals and an assist with four shots to push the Penguins past the Devils. He followed that up on Sunday with a hat trick on six shots against the Panthers. Both are huge wins for the Penguins given their current injury situation and it was massive for people in the fantasy playoffs. Here’s to hoping you have Crosby because you’re ahead of the field right off the bat. He’s the number 1 skater at the moment and as of now, I’d rank him first overall going into next season. That can be debated at a later time but there’s no denying that Crosby is having one of the best seasons of his illustrious career. Here’s what else happened over the last four days:

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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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Antti Raanta has been very good when called upon this season for the Rangers. After recent developments, he’s going to have a massive impact in the fantasy playoffs. Henrik Lundqvist is out for the next 2-3 weeks due to a hip injury allowing Raanta to be the guy for the Rangers. His strong play continued on Sunday stopping 23 of 24 shots in the 4-1 win over the Red Wings. Even after the recent rush of people going to grab Raanta, he’s still available in two-thirds of leagues. If you’re fortunate enough to be in your fantasy playoffs, stop reading right now, add Raanta and then come back and see what else happened over the weekend:

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Loyal Razzballers know the love that the writer, editor and chief of Razzball Hockey has for Sebastian Aho long term. He hasn’t taken the league by storm but his rookie season has been incredibly impressive for a 19 year old. Aho had his second best game to date on Thursday scoring two goals and an assist with six shots in the win over the Rangers. That gives him 19+19 on the season with over 2.5 shots per game. He’s been a great streamer most of the season but right now I would grab him for the rest of the season. Why? If you recall, the Hurricanes have the best schedule over the last four weeks by a country mile (schedule breakdown here). Aho will be a solid contributor at his current pace given the volume but as we’ve seen, there is plenty of upside as well. He’s still available in over 75% of leagues so go pick up that Aho! Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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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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If you’ve watched the Jets play this year, you don’t need me to tell you how talented Patrik Laine is. His shot is among the best that I’ve ever seen and his skating is explosive in its own right. The Jets top six was in a slump so Paul Maurice shuffled the lines on Tuesday. Granted, they play against the Stars, but the early returns were outstanding. Laine led the way scoring another hat trick on six shots while adding two penalty minutes. This puts him at 26 goals and 21 assists in 51 games, the second best goal rate in the league behind Sidney Crosby. I had him ranked in my top 100 going into the season but the days of getting him in that area of drafts is over. Hell, his days of going outside the first two rounds are over. The Jets are loaded with talent around him and Laine will only get better being 18 years old. Is he a first rounder next year? Right now, I’d lean towards no but he’s firmly in the second round and it could certainly change over the next six months when I put my rankings out for next season. Regardless, watch this kid when you get the chance because it’s remarkable. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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