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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We’ve reached the halfway point in my rankings and it’s time to approach the finish line.  I will keep updating this with info for players as Friday progresses but I wanted to get the top 150 out as soon as possible.  Also, sorry for the delay, but the RCL’s will launch this coming Monday in the afternoon.  I’ve had a few technical difficulties setting it up but that should be taken care of by then.  Without further adieu, here is my top 150:

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Last season for the New York Rangers was both a success and disappointment.  The Rangers were the 4th team in a 4 team race in the Metro division last season but that was a huge boost to their playoff chances since that meant they would cross over into the Atlantic Division.  After beating the Canadiens in the first round, the Rangers were upset by the Senators in Round 2.  A few big offseason moves give the Rangers a different feel than in the past.  Off went mainstays Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi, in comes Kevin Shattenkirk.  A few forwards will be placed into bigger roles giving us a few potential value forwards.  Let’s take a look at what Alain “The Brain” Vigneault has to work 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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Here’s what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: “Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues… Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance.” And that’s me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn’t provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn’t hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it’s helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault’s totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don’t think there’s more upside than what he’s doing this season but there’s no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he’s not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let’s take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:

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After an amazing start, Patrick Eaves has slowed down quite a bit lately. Despite being in the league since 2005, Eaves never topped 32 points so it wasn’t a surprise. That said, he’s been given the best opportunity to produce points he’s ever had in his career this season and Eaves has taken advantage on the whole. Eaves had his strongest game in over a month on Tuesday scoring a goal and two assists with three shots. He’s been on the first power play unit all season (his goal was on the PP) and Eaves moved back to the first line during this game. It’s time to stop dropping Eaves and hold him in 12’ers. I’m okay with using him as a streamer if you don’t have the room but Eaves has an outside shot of scoring 30 goals this year. Here’s what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:

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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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Evander Kane has been a polarizing player for years. The talent is noticeable on a regular basis but inconsistency and off-ice issues have plagued him during his career. Kane started off the season slowly but right now, he’s on quite the hot streak. In Tuesday’s game against the Red Wings, Kane scored two goals on four shots and added a fight for good measure. That gives Kane 7 goals and an assist in the last 9 games with elite shots and strong PIM. Given that he’s an elite option in PIM and SOG with the potential for strong goals, I ranked Kane in my top 100 going into the season because the player raters always love him for his contributions across all categories. We’re starting to see why yet Kane is still available in 59% of leagues. He’s carrying the third line for the Sabres right now and the change in role has been a good thing for him. It allows him to have the puck on his stick more often and his linemates do a great job cycling the puck. I’d definitely own him in all 12’ers and I have been rolling him in some 10 man leagues as well. Here’s what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:

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Hopefully everyone’s holidays went extremely well. The only thing my weekend was missing was hockey so I’m glad that things will be back tonight. I haven’t updated how things went on Friday’s games so here goes nothing. In my preseason rankings, I wrote the following about Charlie Coyle: “Coyle had a big second half to get over 20 goals and 20 assists for the season. Now, he’s going to be on the first line which should dominate the possession game. The shots need a slight boost but he’s a good bet for 25+25 or possibly slightly better.” First line, check. Possession game, not quite dominant but still above average so still a check. Slight boost in shots, check. Good bet for 25+25 or slightly better, check. Coyle had a monster game on Friday scoring a goal and three assists with four shots in the 7-4 win over the Rangers. That puts Coyle at 12+15 in 33 games with just over 2 shots per game, 22 PIM and +13. Instead of 25+25, we’re potentially looking at 30+35. Coyle is currently the 30th ranked forward and while I had him in my top 150, his consensus ranking ended up over 40 spots later. Hopefully he ended up being one of your last couple picks like he was for me in a bunch of leagues because he’s been terrific and I don’t see it slowing down. Here’s what else happened on Friday night before the break:

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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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