I was all in on the Tampa Bay Lightning again this year picking them to make the Stanley Cup Finals.  Obviously they don’t crown champions 3 weeks into the season but Tampa has started off incredibly well.  They’ve had some depth players step up but at the end of the day, their studs have been incredible.  The top two players in points in the NHL by a wide margin are both Lightning players with Steven Stamkos.  Tampa Bay blitzed Pittsburgh 7-1 on Saturday and Stamkos led the way with a goal, three assists and four shots on goal.  That gives Stamkos a whopping 17 points (3+14) in 9 games.  Stamkos was a player who consistently dropped in my drafts into the third round and while it’s too early to celebrate given Stamkos’ injury, it’s been the dream start.  Fingers crossed that he stays healthy because Stammer could be a top 10, maybe even top 5 player.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks.  Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost.  Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday’s game.  Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks.  Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury.  With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin.  So who gets a boost?  Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12’ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar.  We’ll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term.  Here’s what else happened the last two nights around the league:

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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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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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The Minnesota Wild had an excellent regular season in 2016-17, their first under Bruce Boudreau, finishing with 106 points.  Unfortunately for them, they had another first round exit, this time as a prohibitive favorite against the St. Louis Blues.  I was all in on the Wild last year in the regular season strictly because of Boudreau; the man is as good as it gets behind the bench.  Arguably my biggest call of the year, having Devan Dubnyk 40 spots higher than ADP, worked out perfectly as Dubnyk finished as the #3 overall goalie.  With a few players breaking out and others finding their form again, the Wild remain a very interesting team for fantasy purposes.  Let’s take a look at the plethora of options Boudreau has to work with: 

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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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There comes a point in the season where teams are desperate for their superstars to carry them towards the playoffs. That time is now and it’s happening in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov has been spectacular all season but he had his best game Monday night scoring a hat trick on seven shots and adding an assist in the 5-1 win over the Senators. Look how remarkably similar all three goals are:

He now has nine points in his last three games and twenty-five shots on goal over the pats four. Kucherov is producing points at the fourth highest rate in the league this season (min 20 GP) and sits as a top ten forward on the season despite missing some time. I had him as a high second round pick going into this season but he’s been ever better than that. I expect to have Kucherov ranked as a first rounder going into next season and given that he’s still 23 years old, we may not have seen the best from him. Let’s take a look at what else has happened in the game around the league the last two nights:

NOTE: There is a separate post going up regarding trades that will be updated throughout the trade deadline. For instant analysis, go here

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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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Remember how poor Max Pacioretty was playing the first six weeks of the season? Despite the incredible start from the Canadiens, Patches was struggling to find the back of the net, mostly due to his shot rate falling off a cliff. While he’s not at his normal levels, he’s back over three shots per game and on Tuesday, Patches had a huge night. He scored on all three of his shots leading the way in Montreal’s destruction of the Sabres. All of a sudden, Pacioretty is tied for second in the league in goals (at the time of this writing) being a plus contributor in all categories. While he’s not pushing the top 25 like he was a couple years ago, Patches is firmly in the top 50 going forward. Here’s what else I saw around the league on a massive Tuesday slate:

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