The first home game for the Vegas Golden Knights couldn’t have started any better.  After an amazing pre-game ceremony, Vegas stormed out to four goals in the first period en route to winning 5-2 against the Coyotes.  Here we are with Vegas sitting at 3-0.  So do we have to change our expectations for the team?  I’ll talk about it extensively with Reid tomorrow but I still believe they’ll be at the bottom of the league come April.  That said, what an amazing start for a team in the wake of tragedy.  For fantasy, I think there’s three guys I would own right now in standard 12’ers: Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal and Nate Schmidt.  There is still some downside for all of them but in the moment, just enjoy the ride.  I can’t wait to be there next week to see a game in Vegas.  Let’s take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:

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Once you get outside of the top 200 overall, you’re looking at the last 2-3 picks in a standard 12 man league.  There are a few different ways you can go about making your last few picks.  You can shoot for upside, get a couple safe players if you already have plenty of upside, fill out your last couple defensemen, grab a goalie out of desperation.  I’m going to list a bunch of players in different categories that fall outside of my top 200 that you can target depending on what you’re looking for.  I’m not going to go into detail on these guys but I will put them in my order of preference.  Here is my list:

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After the season from hell in 2015-16, the Columbus Blue Jackets took the NHL by storm to begin last season and never looked back.  Their goalie won the Vezina Trophy, their rookie defenseman was a Calder finalist and a bunch of their forwards broke through in a big way.  Now, they have some more young forwards on the way and made another blockbuster trade bringing in Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad.  Let’s take a look at what Torts is working with:

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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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We’ve been talking up Jaccob Slavin over the past couple of weeks on the podcast as someone who can help your team if you’re in need of assists. The increased workload as the season has progressed has push Slavin onto the fringe but his playoff schedule was enough to justify grabbing him. Well, if you were fortunate enough to do so, he just started off the fantasy playoffs with the game of his career. Slavin scored more goals than he had in the first 65 games of the season, registering his first career hat trick and added an assist in the 8-4(!) win over the Islanders. Look, despite this game, it’s not going to be anything incredible down the stretch, but Slavin just had a five game assist streak. Add in that he’s +18 and as mentioned above, the Hurricanes have more games left than anyone else the rest of the way, and I’d grab Slavin if you need defenseman help. Here’s what else happened on a randomly busy Monday night around the NHL:

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Jeff Carter has been a top 100 fantasy player for almost ten years running. His high floor of 25 goals and 30 assists with great shots made him a staple of the early rounds. That said, I don’t think anyone saw this type of upside from him at 32 years old. Carter had one of the best games of this season with two goals, two assists, four shots and two PIM in the 6-3 win over the Panthers on Thursday. This puts him one goal off the league lead and into the top ten in points. Carter is playing like a top 20 player and I see no reason for that to drastically slow down for the rest of the season. Sure, his shooting percentage will probably drop, but his workload is conducive to top end production. Next season, I’m not sure he’ll even be in my top 50 but the stability shall remain. Here’s what else happened the last two nights:

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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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Through November, Justin Williams had 4 points in 23 games. For years, he has been a bottom end hold in standard 12 man leagues but that time came to a screeching halt. Until it started again. Williams had himself a day on Tuesday night totaling a goal, two assists, two shots and two PIM. That brings Williams to 15 points in 16 games since the beginning of December. With eight points in his previous five games, Williams must be picked up and held throughout this hot streak, especially since he contributes in penalty minutes and shots on goal in a fairly big way. Nothing like a big resurgence from a 35 year old. Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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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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As far as players that I’ve enjoyed watching hockey over the years go, Jaromir Jagr is at or near the top of the list. The adjustments he’s made to his game over the years while the NHL has become a young man’s game is incredible. When you look in the record books under points, now there’s only one player ahead of him: Wayne Gretzky. Jagr led the way for the Panthers on Tuesday posting 3 assists and 3 shots placing him second all-time in points. It’s a shame he went to Russia for 4 years because he’d probably be #1 all-time in goals. While he’s nowhere near last season’s 66 point pace, Jagr’s shots and PIM are up quite a bit and now that the first line is picking it up over the last few weeks, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit if Jagr is a top 100 player the rest of the way. We salute you, Jaromir Jagr. Let’s take a look at everything that happened around the league the last two nights:

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