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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It’s the final countdown!  This will close out my rankings following my Top 50, Top 100 and Top 150 posts.  After the Top 200, there will be a revised list coming out later in the week updating for injuries and other moves and a separate post about some players I would target with my last pick or two.  Let’s get right to it!

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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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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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When Johnny Gaudreau underwent surgery for his finger injury, the expectation was that he was going to miss six weeks. Flames fans and fantasy owners had to be thrilled when he came back on Sunday in less than three weeks. The team did surprisingly well in the 10 games Gaudreau missed, mostly due to Chad Johnson between the pipes, but they didn’t score than 3 goals in any game during that stretch. That changed in a big way Sunday night against a strong Ducks team. The Flames scored a whopping 8 goals beating the Ducks 8-3 with Gaudreau scoring the opener and adding an assist later on. He was finally playing well before his injury so hopefully this is a sign of things to come. We know that he’s a top end player but the impact of his return will be felt throughout the lineup. More on those guys later in the Sunday section, let’s get to the games!

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Holy smokes, over 5000 words! This is quite the recap of the last 5 days of hockey. I had a introduction all set to go around Milan Lucic but I had to erase it and give the lede to Michael Cammalleri. Cammalleri mysteriously missed six games in a row before returning on Wednesday night. It turns out that his 5 year old daughter Chloe had severe pneumonia which eventually required surgery. On this Thanksgiving weekend, we’re thankful that she’s going to make a full recovery. Dad returned and had a three game stretch for the ages. He started with a remarkable goal and three assists with 9 SOG in the 5-4 shootout win over Toronto. Cammy followed it up totaling a goal, assist, four shots and two PIM in the 5-4 loss to Detroit before scoring 2 goals on 4 shots in the 4-3 shootout loss to Pittsburgh. Just a measly 8 points in 3 games, no big deal. He’s almost back to a point per game (just like last season) with three shots per game and solid penalty minutes. Cammalleri is still available in over 50% of leagues and to be blunt, that’s a huge mistake. If you’re in one of those leagues, go grab him now. Here’s a look at the last five days around the league. I’m going to go through day by day but in the format most people like; just note that a player may be mentioned multiple times.

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I try not to lose faith in any of my players in the first month of the season. I prefer to stand by my draft decisions and ride out a player’s slow start, rather than regret dropping them too early. Of course, living up to that ideal is a whole other ball of wax, but it usually serves me well for a few weeks at least.

If your crew of defencemen is lacking, now is a great time to start shuffling. It is a time of uncertainty and doubt for many owners, which means you can – and should – capitalize and improve your blue line before these cold starters warm up. Below are a few you should alternately covet, drop, and consider for the long run.

P.S.: Today’s post is not-so-subtly brought to you by the color Green and the word Day.

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Halloween is always a good reminder to do a check in with your team, and in particular the rookies, to see who is the real deal and who is just a dude walking around with an ax and wearing a cheap goalie mask.

One reason to look at the rookies at this point is because of the Collective Bargain Agreement rules on entry level contracts. Essentially, once a rookie plays 10 games for the big league club, their entry level contract begins. If, however, the team decides to send them to their minor league team (or to Juniors), then the contract start slides to next year. At this point, most of the rookies have hit around eight games played, so it’s the perfect time to assess whether or not they can help your team out.

The first few guys here aren’t going anywhere, obviously. But what about those closer to the fringe…?

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It hasn’t even been two weeks since the regular season started and the hat tricks are already piling up! On Saturday, we had our most recent hat trick in Calgary as new Blue David Perron scored a hat trick on six shots and added an assist in the 6-4 win for St. Louis. Ken Hitchcock shuffled the lines before the game and the biggest beneficiary was Perron getting to play with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. Obviously it worked out better than anyone could have imagined. Perron was horrible to start last season in Pittsburgh but took off in Anaheim so there is fantasy potential here. For now, if I had room, I would grab Perron just to be able to stream him on Tuesday to see what happens. The Blues play the Flames again who are a complete dumpster fire defensively at the moment so it’s an excellent spot for Perron to produce and there’s a chance he turns into a hold. Let’s take a look at what else happened around the NHL this weekend:

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In my season preview for the Chicago Blackhawks, I projected that Richard Panik would be the new player that slides into the Blackhawks’ top 6. “Panik should get a chance in the top 6 because quite frankly, the Blackhawks don’t have anybody else. He could be a decent streamer but I can’t expect anything more from the 25 year old.” And that’s me quoting me doing what Grey does! In the long term for the season, I still think that’ll be the case, but for now, Panik is must-own. After scoring in the season opener, Panik had an assist on Friday and came back with a hat trick on four shots on Saturday, both against the Predators. He’s getting power play time right now and with 5 points in 3 games, Panik should be held for the time being as he rides the hot streak. Here’s what else I saw this weekend around the NHL:

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