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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Since it’s almost Labor Day, it’s time for me to pick up the pace with my rankings.  For those who haven’t seen them, you can check out my Top 50 here.  I’m not going to bore you with an intro, everybody wants to see my top 100 and this is going to be incredibly long as is, so let’s get right to it!

51) Ben Bishop – The more research that I do, the more I’m tempted to move Bishop up even higher.  Yes, last season was a disaster, but Bishop was the #1 overall player in 2015-16.  But Viz, Dallas has been a train wreck defensively for years!  This is true, but with Marc Methot coming on board and the growth of their young blueliners, they could take a step forward.  More importantly, we’ve seen some goalies with far less talent than Bishop succeed in Ken Hitchcock’s system *cough* Brian Elliott *cough*.  It’s a little risky but I’m expecting Dallas to push for the Central Division title giving Bishop massive upside across the board.

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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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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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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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Reid joins me in person from Razzball Hockey Headquarters for Tuesday’s podcast. We run down the recent injuries, notably Patrik Laine who was destroyed by Jake McCabe (McCabe pictured above from this hit and ensuing scrum). After the update, we look at the most impactful developments over the last five days. Among the notables are Patrick Maroon, Michael Grabner and James van Riemsdyk catching fire, the second line for Calgary gets rolling, both Florida teams being a mess and the Islanders losing back to back games to the two worst teams in the league. As always, we close things with The Three Point Challenge. All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast brought to you by SeatGeek and FanPicks.com!

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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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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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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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