We’re finally at opening night for the NHL season after two day games in Europe at the end of last week. I’ll be back on Thursday doing my usual daily notes for the first two nights, but today, I want to hit on a few topics quickly. I want to discuss both games in Europe and what I took away from the Predators and Sharks. Then, I want to do a quick preview of Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games highlighting some stuff that I’ll hit on in Thursday’s post. Then, I want to mention a few teams I’m higher and lower on than consensus when it comes to this season’s expectations. Let’s get to it!
Nino Niederreiter was one of the standouts in the two games in Prague, scoring three goals with two PIM. That said, I’m not rushing to pick him up. He only had three shots on goal so I don’t think he’ll keep up that 100 shooting percentage, and more importantly, he played under 15 minutes in both games. Niederreiter is a solid streamer who I’m giving a small bump to, but keep expectations in check.
Ryan Johansen was on the second line with Niederreiter, but was the fifth wheel on the top power play unit. That makes him worth streaming, but his shot rate is so poor that I’m not looking to hold him.
Kevin Lankinen played very well in the win on Saturday. I mentioned this early in the offseason, but Lankinen is worth monitoring in Nashville for streaming. He played well in Chicago until the team was a disaster, so perhaps he’ll be fine for the Preds.
Luke Kunin moves to bottom end streaming territory playing on the first line.
The big winner of the weekend, in my eyes, was Kevin Labanc. Labanc was excellent in Saturday’s game, putting five shots on goal and generating a ton of high danger chances. Additionally, he played over 20 minutes, including 4 of power play time. Injuries have derailed him, but given who else is on the team, Labanc should have opportunity to be fantasy relevant again.
Both of the games should be interesting in different ways. I want to see who plays RW in the top six for the Rangers, and how they look on those lines. I also want to see how Vincent Trocheck looks with Panarin. There isn’t a ton to see from Tampa, but how Mikhail Sergachev looks with Cernak will be my main focus.
For the late game, I can’t wait to see Kevin Fiala and how many minutes he gets on the top line. The lines for Vegas look pretty bizarre, so I want to see the minutes distribution, especially for the power play.
In Carolina, I just want to see how the new arrivals for both teams look. There’s not much to see in Montreal. The Bruins have so many injuries that seeing how everyone does in bigger roles is extremely interesting to me. Dylan Strome fascinates me in Washington. If he’s on PP1 expected, it could be something good. Alex Newhook is going to be a huge factor this season in Colorado and I want to see him in early action. Canucks-Oilers is the game of the day for me. I really want to see how both teams look out of the gate. The new look Kraken intrigue me as well.
Teams I like more than consensus:
Boston: As covered in my bold predictions, I don’t think Boston is in nearly as much danger to miss the playoffs as others think. I think they’ll be able to trend water in the early going and take off once they’re fully healthy. The return of Grzelcyk earlier than expected should help that.
Buffalo: I don’t think they’ll be a real threat to make the playoffs, but their total is 78.5, and I think 85-90 points is the most realistic outcome for them.
Vancouver: I’m the biggest Boudreau fanboy there is. I also think Pettersson makes the move into superstardom, and I really like the depth they added offensively.
Teams I like less than consensus:
Ottawa / Detroit. I’m including them together because while I think they’re improved, it’s not nearly enough to make the playoffs. Both bluelines are pretty ugly, especially Ottawa’s, and Detroit’s goaltending is a massive wild card. I think they should be grouped with Buffalo, not closer to Boston/Washington.
St. Louis: There’s a path to the Blues being a very good team again, namely Binnington playing well for the whole season instead of only the playoffs. However, that blue line is quite bad with Leddy, Mikkola, and Bortuzzo all needing to be counted on. I still expect them to make the playoffs, but I think they’re more in danger than others. It really only takes a trade for a defenseman for me to feel a lot better about them because that top nine really is strong.
That’s all for now guys. Please keep the questions and comments coming, I greatly appreciate the feedback and am glad to see old names and new ones. I’ll be back on Thursday recapping Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s games. Thanks for reading, take care!