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 Chicago Blackhawks were the best team in the Western Conference during the 2016-17 regular season but unlike in years past, the postseason had no success.  The Blackhawks were demolished in the first round by the Predators leading them to make some radical offseason changes.  Out goes Artemi Panarin, back comes Brandon Saad.  Out goes Marian Hossa due to injury, back comes Patrick Sharp.  Out goes Niklas Hjalmarsson, Connor Murphy comes back in return.  Overall, I really don’t like the direction that Chicago is going as I discussed on this podcast.  Despite the fact that I think they could be in a battle this season just to make the playoffs, there’s still plenty of fantasy talents worth discussing.  Let’s take a look at what they’re 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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For the majority of his professional career, Connor Hellebuyck has gone up and down more than an elevator. He’s bounced around the NHL and AHL along with starting and being the backup in Winnipeg despite the fact that he’s clearly their best option between the pipes. That’s not to say Hellboy has been a great goalie throughout. In fact, he’s had plenty of times where he looks rough. That’s simply the nature of the beast in the NHL being a young goalie. Hellboy was at the bottom last week allowing five goals in consecutive starts. Naturally, he turns things around this weekend with a 29 save shutout against the Blues and saving 22 of 23 shots in the 6-1 win over the Avalanche. The numbers are poor on the whole but he has won half of his games. Should he be owned right now? I think you have to gamble on the upside in 12’ers. The main point is that this season has done nothing to dissuade me from loving Hellebuyck in dynasties. We all know that the Jets are loaded with offensive talent that is only going to get better and Hellebuyck will be a beneficiary. The prospect cupboard remains full despite all of their recent graduates and most importantly, there are a bunch on the blue line. What do I expect him next season? Probably a #2 goalie with upside to be a #1 who should be owned in all leagues. Long term? He should eventually develop into a guy who is a middling to bottom end #1 year in and year out. Bottom line, I’m still driving the Hellboy bandwagon! Here’s what else happened around the league last weekend:

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In the Razzball realm, the panel of writers (total of one) has been down on Jonathan Toews since I’ve been writing in this space. There were plenty of questions about his overall place 10 days ago when he had 33 points in 46 games. Whatever Toews has been doing over the last four games, he needs to keep that routine going. Toews has been coming on but had the game of the season on Tuesday scoring a hat trick on four shots while adding 2 assists and a +5 rating in the 5-3 win over the Wild. Let’s just say the Wild trying to use Matt Dumba against him didn’t work well. Now, Toews has 42 points giving you the value you hoped for taking him in the early to middle rounds. The new wingers with Toews (more on them later) have brought an offensive surge that Toews owners can only hope continues. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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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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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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On the last podcast, Reid and I looked at a bunch of players who were under 50% that I thought were must-own. I made a massive oversight leaving somebody off that list: Conor Sheary. I just looked and saw that he’s 45% owned which absolutely blows my mind (I thought he was in the 70’s or 80’s). Sheary had an excellent weekend scoring twice on three shots on Friday and then getting two goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. That brings Sheary’s totals to 17+17 while being +17 in 39 games. Seventeens are wild! Anyways, Sheary is on pace for 35+35 over 82 games with an excellent plus-minus and decent enough shots. That’s closer to a top 50 player than someone who is on the waiver wire. We’ve seen guys in the past be excellent fantasy values being a passenger on Crosby’s line so if you’re in one of the leagues where Sheary is available, pick him up immediately (I’d put him ahead of everyone discussed on the podcast). Then come back and read what else happened around the league this weekend!

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