While the Razzball Hockey committee of one didn’t love the Patrick Marleau contract, we did like Marleau for this season in fantasy.  Like the majority of his teammates, his season debut went extremely well.  Marleau scored twice in his first game as a Maple Leaf registering five shots on goal.  His linemates were inconsistent but whether he’s with Matthews or Kadri, it doesn’t really matter.  Marleau scored 27 goals last season and I don’t see why he can’t get back to that number.  Despite ranking him as a top 150 player, he’s still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, so grab him now.  Here’s what else happened around the NHL on opening night:

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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 Toronto Maple Leafs went from the basement to the playoffs as one of the biggest surprises of the season.  Rookies, Mike Babcock, Frederik Andersen, the vets, everyone contributed to this massive turnaround.  Now, the Leafs are looked at as a perennial playoff team with future aspirations of a true Stanley Cup contender.  I don’t expect them to be a real contender this season, mostly because their blue line still needs a piece or two, but they should be a solid playoff team with plenty of fantasy contributors.  Let’s take a look at the riches Toronto is working with:

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Loyal Razzballers know the love that the writer, editor and chief of Razzball Hockey has for Sebastian Aho long term. He hasn’t taken the league by storm but his rookie season has been incredibly impressive for a 19 year old. Aho had his second best game to date on Thursday scoring two goals and an assist with six shots in the win over the Rangers. That gives him 19+19 on the season with over 2.5 shots per game. He’s been a great streamer most of the season but right now I would grab him for the rest of the season. Why? If you recall, the Hurricanes have the best schedule over the last four weeks by a country mile (schedule breakdown here). Aho will be a solid contributor at his current pace given the volume but as we’ve seen, there is plenty of upside as well. He’s still available in over 75% of leagues so go pick up that Aho! Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

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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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Elias Lindholm has had a disappointing start to his NHL career. After being a top 5 pick in 2013, Lindholm has failed to reach 40 points in the first three seasons of his career. It’s certainly not the end of the world given that he just turned 22 years old; not everybody is a McJesus or MacKinnon and dominates right out of the gate. Lindholm is currently in the midst of the best streak of his young career. On Friday night against the Sabres, Lindholm dished an assist and added four shots extending his point streak to five games. He followed up it with a massive game scoring a goal and two assists with five shots in the 7-4 win over the Islanders. That brings his point streak to six games and gives him 18 points in 33 games to this point. Obviously this isn’t going to last but Lindholm is an elite streamer at the moment and like a few other young forwards on his team, there’s some real sleeper potential here for 2017-18. Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league over the weekend:

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Brad Marchand was one of the biggest breakout players in 2015-16 scoring 37 goals drastically increasing his shot rate to 3.5 per game while adding 90 PIM. While all of those numbers are taking a slight step back this season, he’s improving the weaknesses in his game to become a well rounded player. Marchand returned to his old ways this weekend with three goals on six shots over two games to give him 12+22 on the season. He’s only six assists from a career high and we’ve just reached the halfway point. Marchand also has nine power play points which is already a career high. Instead of being a three or four category stud (depending on plus-minus), he’s become a big plus in five categories with the potential for all six if the plus-minus improves. These totals have him 15th in the player rater among forwards and that shouldn’t come as a shock coming off a top ten season. It might not be exactly what you wanted but it’s been excellent across the board. Here’s what else I saw around the league this weekend:

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EVERYBODY PANIC! Just kidding, you can relax. Reid and I are back discussing a variety of topics. We start off by running down all of the latest injuries around the league before looking at the latest news throughout the NHL, mostly from Tuesday’s games. Around the 30 minute mark, we get to the panic meter. We look at around 20 marquee players at various positions and give a rating from 1 to Cedric Daniels’ eyes when Prezbo punched out Valchek on how worried we are about the lack of production through the first 20% of the season. It’s actually from 1-1o but any excuse to show that picture! As always, we close things out with The Three Point Challenge. Be sure to get your picks in via the comment section below. All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!

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The first few weeks of the season, Connor Hellebuyck was a polarizing figure in the fantasy hockey world. He made the Jets roster and was clearly the best goalie but Hellboy was struggling and splitting starts. Plenty of people were asking me if he was worth rostering and justifiably so. Well, things no longer look to be a mixed bag after the last week of games. Hellebuyck has won 4 straight starts allowing no more than 2 goals in a game. His best performance came last night recording a 27 save shutout at home against the Blackhawks. Hellebuyck is getting massive offensive support right now and the defense is gradually improving in front of him. At the end of the year, I believe he will finish as a top end #2 goaltender with the expectation that he will be a #1 in 2017-18 and beyond. Here’s what else I saw around the league in a very busy Tuesday night slate.

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It’s no secret that coming into the season, I loved the best players on the Jets. While the team itself is of to a mediocre start, the forward in my top 50 that I was highest on compared to consensus was Mark Scheifele. After a monstrous second half last season, I wrote repeatedly how much I liked him for 2016-17 and dynasties going forward. It was evident looking at Fantasy Pros where I was 16 spots higher than anyone else and 19 spots above consensus, quite a margin for a player who I had ranked 32nd overall. Well, it’s been a terrific start to the season for Scheifele and it continued over the weekend. On Friday, Scheifele had a goal, two assists and two shots while being +3 in the 5-3 win over Detroit. He followed that up with a goal and an assist with two shots and +1 on Sunday despite the Jets losing 5-2 to the red hot Rangers. That gives Scheifele a total of 7 goals and 7 assists in 13 games with a +5 rating, 10 PIM and almost 3 shots per game. It puts him easily in the top 20 skaters on the season in the player rater and is making me look smart! I salute you, Mr. Scheifele. With the workload that he’s receiving, I have little doubt that he will produce going forward at an elite rate. Let’s take a look at what else went on around the league over the weekend.

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