Hey guys.  The first two nights of The Stanley Cup Playoffs have been filled with drama and outstanding performances.  Anytime somebody scores a hat trick in the playoffs, it’s worth noting so Patric Hornqvist gets the lead here.  The Penguins right winger, who had a disappointing season compared to ADP, came out as a man on a mission Wednesday night scoring a hat trick on four shots and added an assist in the 5-2 win over the Rangers.  This series could turn ugly fast if Henrik Lundqvist misses any more time (more on that later).  Hornqvist was in my top 50 going into the season along with the rest of the Penguins studs and ended up 60th in overall value in the player rater.  Considering he played all 82 games, that’s not the value we were looking for.  As for next season, he’s obviously in the top 100 but I expect him to settle outside of the top 50, somewhere between 50 and 75.  The shots are great and everything else should be solid so there’s value there but it doesn’t look like he’s going to be a guy who has a good chance of reaching 30+ goals, which looked like a good bet when he went to the Penguins.  Could he do it?  Sure, if things go right and he sticks with Sidney Crosby.  But I’d rather wait until the end of the 5th or 6th round to find out.  Here’s what else I saw in the other games:

Nikita Kucherov – Two goals and an assist with four shots.  With Steven Stamkos out, Kucherov is the best offensive player on the team and he delivered in game 1.  With back to back 65+ point seasons at 21 and 22 years old, there’s tremendous outside here.  I suspect Kucherov makes my top 25 going into next year.

Tyler Johnson – Two assists.  He killed so many people next year that I suspect he’ll be a value next year.  He’s going to turn 26 in the summer meaning he should be entering his prime.  I’ll be back on the bandwagon next year.

Alex Killorn – Goal and an assist with three shots and two PIM.  One of my favorite streamers throughout the year, Killorn played with Kucherov and Johnson in game one and looked like he belonged.  I suspect Killorn will be the same for me next year; not quite enough to hold regularly but one of my favorite streams.

Jonathan Drouin – Three shots and four penalty minutes playing over 17 minutes.  He looked great out there and is somebody I’ll want next year.  I don’t care whether it’s in Tampa or not, his ceiling is extremely high and he just turned 21.

Ben Bishop – 34 saves on 36 shots in the 3-2 win.  Still under-appreciated so I hope Tampa makes another deep run so he starts to get the recognition he deserves.

Justin Abdelkader – Goal on four shots with six penalty minutes.  There’s a fair bit of value here but if Pavel Datsyuk goes back to Russia as expected, Abdelkader’s value is going to be almost exclusively in PIM.

Jimmy Howard – 31 saves on 34 shots in the loss.  He played well but I still think Detroit would be better served starting Petr Mrazek.

Henrik Lundqvist – 10 saves on 11 shots through the first period before being pulled due to a stick to the eye.  The Rangers’ only chance is if The King stands on his head so if he misses any time, they’re stone dead.  They recalled an AHL goalie today as a precaution but here’s to hoping Hank can play game 2.

Derek Stepan – Two goals on seven shots.  He had a big second half and is somebody to target in the early to middle rounds due to his consistency.  Stepan is another guy approaching the prime of his career.

Sidney Crosby – Goal and two assists with two shots.  Yeah, he’s pretty good.

Kris Letang – Two assists with two shots.  Letang has been nothing short of outstanding this year and since I had him ranked higher than everywhere else, I thank him.

Jeff Zatkoff – 35 saves on 37 shots in the 5-2 win.  It looked as if Marc-Andre Fleury was going to be back from his concussion but he wasn’t.  Alas, with Matt Murray also out, Zatkoff received the start and played great.  He’s clearly behind those two in the Penguins long term plan so perhaps this performance will help him receive a backup job elsewhere.

Brian Elliott – 35 save shutout in the 1-o overtime win over the Blackhawks.  Elliott stole this game for his team and if they keep him and Jake Allen going into next year, it’s going to be another situation where you desperately want to have both parts of the tandem.  On a personal level, I was disgusted by how the Blues played in this game and hope they change since I picked them to win the series.  So many times they would counter into a good rush and just dump it in the zone.  They were so conservative offensively and if not for Elliott, it would have cost them the game.

David Backes – Goal on his only “shot” as his pass across the crease deflected off Trevor Van Riemsdyk and in.  Backes came on strong for the last month but he’s going to be much lower in my rankings than in previous years.  It’ll still be around 100th overall but at 32 years old after a big drop offensively this year, the value will be mostly in the penalty minutes.

Corey Crawford – 17 saves on 18 shots in the loss.  It was a pretty easy nice altogether but he stepped up when needed until the fluky goal.  Like Bishop, Crawford doesn’t get the credit he deserves.  It’s even crazier for Crawford considering he’s won two Cups.

Braden Holtby – 19 save shutout in the 2-0 win over the Flyers.  He’ll probably be the #1 goalie in my rankings going into next year.  I hate taking a goalie in the first round, especially in head to head leagues, so I may be priced out on him, and that’s okay.

John Carlson – Goal on four shots with two PIM.  He should bounce back in a big way next season.

Marcus Johansson – Two assists.  It’s bottom end but it’s three years in a row with points in the mid 40’s.  Ideally he’s a streamer for you in 12’ers and a hold in deeper leagues.

John Tavares – Goal and two assists with two shots.  He was absolutely in the zone and clearly the best player on the ice in this one.  His season wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be but he’ll be somewhere in the second round in my rankings, not the first.  It’ll be at the top of the second round but I couldn’t see spending a top 10 pick on him again.

Ryan Strome – Goal and an assist with two shots.  He only played a little over 10 minutes and fell off hard after a big season in 2014-15, where he had 50 points as a 21 year old.  I’m not giving up on Strome yet at 22 years old; I think he’ll be a great late round flier next year.

Kyle Okposo – Goal and an assist with two PIM.  The big guns stepped up in a big way for the Isles, including Okposo.  He’s another guy who probably settles in the 50-75 range.

Frans Nielsen – Goal and an assist.  Another steady year from Nielsen who doesn’t help in penalty minutes but is solid everywhere else.

Thomas Greiss – 42 saves on 46 shots in the win.  He played well despite giving up 4 goals and should have the gig unless he falters and Jaroslav Halak is back.

Jussi Jokinen – Goal and two assists with two PIM.  The second line stepped up in a big way in this game but it wasn’t enough.  Jokinen had a monster year this year with 60 points, 42 PIM and was +25.  I can’t see that repeating but he should still be drafted in 12’ers.

Reilly Smith – Two goals and an assist with eight shots.  He had a great first year in Florida with 25+25 and is somebody I’ll target next year at 25 years old.  I’d rather have him than Jokinen, for example.

Roberto Luongo – 21 saves on 26 shots in the loss.  Yikes.  The Florida defense had some horrendous turnovers but the Panthers will expect more from Bobby Lu in game 2, no rhyme intended.

Jamie Benn – Goal and two assists with three shots and two PIM.  I, for one, am shocked that Benn dominated in this one #notshocked.  Even without Tyler Seguin, the Wild are no match.

Patrick Eaves – Goal and an assist with five shots.  It’s all about what role Eaves is in and that will determine his value next season.  He’s somebody who will be a hold or stream if he’s on the top line and dropped otherwise.

Jason Spezza – Goal and an assist with six shots.  He should dominate in this series since the Wild don’t have anyone to match up with the second line of the Stars.  Spezza’s goal was a thing of beauty.

Kari Lehtonen – 22 save shutout in the 4-0 win.  It’s not always pretty but Lehtonen has shown the upside.  It shouldn’t matter in this series but the Stars will need him to be in form against the Blues or Blackhawks.

Jonathan Quick – 19 saves on 23 shots in the 4-3 loss to the Sharks.  Quick was abysmal in this one and looked like he never played a game in his life before.  He’ll need to wake up or the Kings are toast.

Milan Lucic – Two assists and two shots.  He had a very nice season outside of the shots on goals so it’ll be interesting to see if the Kings bring him back or let him walk.

Brent Burns – Goal and an assist with four shots.  Killing it as always.

Joe Pavelski – Two goals on three shots.  The goal 17 seconds into the third to take the lead 4-3 was a terrific play.  The Sharks seem willing to let the Kings put Anze Kopitar (assist) against the first line and let the depth lines win it for them.  It’s going to be an interesting tactical battle between Darryl Sutter and Peter DeBoer.

Joel Ward – Two assists, a shot and two PIM.  Ward has a history of big playoff performances so it wouldn’t shock me to see him step up again.

That’s all for now guys.  I’ll be back on Monday recapping the action from over the weekend.  As always, feel free to ask any questions you have below.  Also, if there’s anything specific you want me to write about, be it very early rankings for next season, more positional reviews or something different, let me know that below as well.  I hope everyone has a great weekend and gets to watch some playoff hockey.  Take care!

  1. Sherm says:

    Hey, Viz, I appreciate the hard work throughout the season. I used your numbers to draft my team and thought it was pretty good. When I found myself in last place in December, I just decided to heck with this. I am not going to make any more moves. I like this team. I did end up getting Matt Duchene off waivers and Brian Elliott once he got hot and I believe Mats Zuccarello and Jonathan Huberdeau too. But that was pretty much it. Crosby, Taylor Hall, Toews, Ben Bishop, McDavid, I left alone, even Hornqvist I figured had to do better at some point. And lo and behold, we started moving up and moving up and moving up and ended up in 2nd 7 points from the top. I still think I drafted a good team! So thanks for the help.

    • Viz

      Viz says:

      @Sherm: No problem at all, congrats on getting into second after a horrible start. I’m generally like you in that I ride with the team I draft despite a bad start if I think it’s going to turn it around. Over the course of me playing fantasy hockey over the years, I’m recognized that I’m better off sticking with what I draft instead of panicking. Here’s to hoping you do one spot better next season!

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