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:
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:
Since it's almost Labor Day, it's time for me to pick up the pace with my rankings.  For those who haven't seen them, you can check out my Top 50 here.  I'm not going to bore you with an intro, everybody wants to see my top 100 and this is going to be incredibly long as is, so let's get right to it! 51) Ben Bishop - The more research that I do, the more I'm tempted to move Bishop up even higher.  Yes, last season was a disaster, but Bishop was the #1 overall player in 2015-16.  But Viz, Dallas has been a train wreck defensively for years!  This is true, but with Marc Methot coming on board and the growth of their young blueliners, they could take a step forward.  More importantly, we've seen some goalies with far less talent than Bishop succeed in Ken Hitchcock's system *cough* Brian Elliott *cough*.  It's a little risky but I'm expecting Dallas to push for the Central Division title giving Bishop massive upside across the board.
The NHL's Central Division saw the division winner from 2015-16 miss the playoffs last season, the 2016-17 division winner lost in the first round to the 4th place team who went on to make the Cup finals. Once again, the Central is loaded with offensive talent which is great for our fantasy teams. Reid and I talk about which teams got better and worse, breakout players, players who will regress and then our predicted order of finish for 2017-18. I even steal Reid's hot take by having the same take first! All of those topics and more on the latest edition of the Razzball NHL Hockey Podcast brought to you by League Safe! You can get $10 added to your fantasy sports league's prize pool by going to leaguesafe.com/razzhockey
If I had to pick a team to break out this year like Columbus did last season, it would be the Carolina Hurricanes.  They have an excellent young core in place, especially on the blue line, and now they may finally an answer in net.  After being dragged down by a few different goalies (mostly Cam Ward), Scott Darling now gets his chance to be a #1 goalie.  If his performance in Chicago is a predictor for the future, Darling should be just what the Hurricanes need to make the jump.  Let's take a look at what Carolina is working with:
The Philadelphia Flyers were one of the most irrelevant teams in the league last season.  That's not to say they were a complete bottom feeder, they certainly weren't, but they were never truly in the playoff hunt either.  The majority of their top players had down seasons leaving them with the third most points of any non-playoff team 7 points out.  Luckily for them, the lottery gods were on their side as they hit a 7.3% chance of moving into the top three in the lottery, and more importantly, a 4.6% chance of moving into the top two.  In comes Nolan Patrick to add to their developing young core.  Can their core members who are currently in their prime bounce back?  Can their blue line be even average?  What will they get in net?  As Reid and I talked about in our Metro Division preview podcast, they are on the biggest wild cards in the league.  Let's take a look at what the Flyers are working with to see if we have any answers for fantasy this coming season:
After a few minutes of talking about the solar eclipse, Reid and I get to talking about what everybody wants, hockey! Today, we preview the Metro Division. What teams got better and who got worse? We pick players on each team that we like to break out and regress for this fantasy season along with some sleepers that we like throughout the division. Things get wrapped up with each of us predicting the final standings in the Metropolitan for the upcoming season. Reid has a couple bold predictions! All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast brought to you by League Safe! Use leaguesafe.com/razzhockey to collect your entry fees for your fantasy leagues and get $10 added to your prize pool!
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:
After the season from hell in 2015-16, the Columbus Blue Jackets took the NHL by storm to begin last season and never looked back.  Their goalie won the Vezina Trophy, their rookie defenseman was a Calder finalist and a bunch of their forwards broke through in a big way.  Now, they have some more young forwards on the way and made another blockbuster trade bringing in Artemi Panarin for Brandon Saad.  Let's take a look at what Torts is working with: