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 seems counter-intuitive to say but last season was great for the long term future of the New Jersey Devils.  For the last few seasons, the Devils have been outside of the playoffs but not high enough to get a top 5 pick.  Luckily for them, the lottery ball fell their way and Nico Hischier fell into their laps.  They’re still going to be bad this year (if they don’t finish last in the Metro, it’s a miracle) because their defensemen are an abomination but how bad is going to come down to goaltending and the progression of their young talent.  The good news is their top six has a fair amount of talent for fantasy hockey so they’re not a complete wasteland.  Let’s take a look at what the Devils are working with:

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Jake Guentzel was on an absolute tear before he suffered a concussion after a hit from Rasmus Ristolainen. He was owned by most of Razzball Nation as we got on top of it before Guentzel broke out. Thankfully, Guentzel recovered quickly and returned on Friday night. He scored a goal on three shots in his return and then repeated that performance on Sunday. The Penguins have a decent schedule this week with four games, including a back to back on Saturday and Sunday to close the regular season. You can wait a day since the Pens don’t play tonight but I’d look to grab Guentzel again if you cut him when he went down. The minutes and role are right back to where they were pre-concussion so I’m looking for Guentzel to finish the season strong before he contributes to a potential playoff run for Pittsburgh. Here’s what else happened on the penultimate weekend of the season:

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The greatest goal scorer in the history of the NHL has made a massive push down the stretch to push many teams towards a fantasy championship. While his shot rate and goal rate have dropped this year, Alex Ovechkin is still a monster. He had his best game of the season scoring a hat trick and an assist with six shots in the 5-4 OT win over the Wild. That brings his totals to 33+33 on the season with a solid plus-minus and penalty minute contribution. Obviously it’s disappointing his shot rate went from five per game to four per game but it’s still outstanding. We discussed on the podcast where Ovechkin will rank for next season and while I don’t think he’s worthy of the top selection anymore, he’s still a top five pick without hesitation. Here’s to hoping he finally gets over the playoff hump and Ovechkin gets the accolades he deserves. Let’s take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:

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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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Viktor Arvidsson has been among the best waiver wire pickups of the season, especially at the forward positions. He’s thriving in Nashville seemingly out of nowhere. A late bloomer, which caused him to be drafted at 21 years old in the 4th round by Nashville, Arvidsson first made his name in the league by scoring an overtime goal in Game 6 against the Sharks last season, his rookie campaign. Now, in his sophomore season, we’re seeing upside that I quite frankly didn’t know what there. On Saturday, Arvidsson scored his first career hat trick on eight shots, albeit in a 7-4 loss against Florida. He came right back on Sunday to record an assist with six shots. That brings his totals to 18+21 in 54 games with well over 3 shots per game and a +16 rating. Arvidsson moved back onto the first line Saturday which helped sparked this surge. He’s a clear as day hold at the moment and should be even if he eventually drops down a line. Regardless, Arvidsson is available in over 50% of leagues so do your part to fix that and pick him up. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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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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Early in his career, Jason Pominville was one of the most underrated forwards in the league. You could lock him in for 60+ points in his prime and he even reached 80 in a season. In recent years, there’s been a fairly big drop off but for the last month, it’s been a blast from the past. Pominville had a massive game on Tuesday night scoring two goals and two assists with three shots in the 4-2 win over the Jets. Going back exactly one month, Pominville has 5 goals and 12 assists in 14 games. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. There’s only one game tonight and the Wild are in it. If he’s still available in your league, pick him up to stream. Since they play Friday and Sunday as well, I’m definitely holding Pominville for the rest of the week and then reevaluating on Sunday night. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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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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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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