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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As talked about repeatedly for the last couple weeks in this internet space, this week is the dream for Blues players. Getting three games against Arizona and Colorado is what you hope for. The top line for St. Louis ravished the Coyotes on Monday with all three of them getting at least three points. My focus is going to be on Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz scored two goals and an assist with three shots finishing +4 in the 4-1 win. That gives him 50 points (18+32) in 71 games. Two seasons ago, Schwartz finished with 28+35 in 75 games before last season was ruined with injuries. So which player is he going forward, the one on the verge of 30+40 or this season’s 20+35? I would bet on him being closer to 2014-15 than 2016-17. He’s still only 24 years old and should continue to play with one of the best players in the game. The shot rate is average and the penalty minutes aren’t there but on the assumption he’s back in the 60-65 point range, I’ll have Schwartz right around the 100 overall mark. My guess it’s just outside that number but he’s a great target in the middle rounds because we’ve already seen the upside. Here’s what else happened around the league on Monday night:

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I know evisceration seems like I’m going too far but the Panthers had control of their game against Toronto from the first shift of the game. Florida scored 18 seconds in and led the rest of the way winning the game 7-2. Their leading scorer was Thomas Vanek who notched four assists, a career high, with four shots on goal finishing +3. Vanek was struggling since arriving in Florida with only one point in five games while being -7. Now, his overall stat line seems pretty good after this explosion. The Panthers schedule is very fantasy-friendly down the stretch making Vanek as good of a streamer as there is. Is he worth holding? Well, that’s to be determined. While the matchups are tough, the Panthers have three games in four nights starting on Thursday morning. I’m probably going to grab Vanek, ride him through the weekend and then proceed from there. Here’s what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:

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Bartender! Shot of Jack. Man, I loved that call growing up, RIP Stuart Scott. This shot is of Jack Eichel who is lapping the entire league when it comes to points over the last month. Eichel now has the second longest point streak of the season after another big game on Tuesday night. He was seemingly the only Sabre who could get anything going scoring two goals and an assist with three shots in the 6-3 loss to the Flyers. Eichel now has 45 points (18+27) in 46 games with over four shots per game. If he has stayed healthy all season, he’d be recognized in the same light as the two rookies going off this season. Eichel has been carrying fantasy teams for weeks now and he has the potential to do that the rest of the season. For where Reid and I think we’ll rank him for next season, listen to Tuesday’s podcast . Here’s what else happened the last two nights around the league:

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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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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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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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