James Neal opened the season on an absolute tear, a stretch that included a four goal game. He fell off dramatically over the last two months, but he had another massive game on Tuesday. Neal had a hat trick and an assist in the 7-5 win over the Rangers. So should we care? I mean, the Rangers are a disaster defensively. And the answer is... yes and no. What great advice! It all comes down to your team needs. Neal has been excellent on the power play and should continue to do so on Edmonton's first unit. The goals are going to keep coming in. On the other hand, he's -23 and has only eight assists on the season. If you're desperate for goals and power play points, or are in a league with extra categories that include PPG, then there's a case to hold Neal. Otherwise, I would prefer to stream him so he doesn't tank my plus-minus while also giving less assists than any other fantasy relevant player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
One of my main focuses as far as team projections go is coaching, especially when it deals with goaltending. I always love the Isles goalies because of Trotz, or Arizona because of Tocchet. Well, I made the mistake of not giving enough credit to Dave Tippett going to Edmonton. Tippett has always had great defensive teams in Arizona, and that's continued in Edmonton. The biggest beneficiaries have been the goalies, and over the weekend, that was Mikko Koskinen. Koskinen had a 29 save shutout on Friday against the Devils before saving 31 of 33 shots in the 6-2 win over the Ducks on Sunday. His numbers are spectacular as are Mike Smith's. Do I love these guys going forward? No, I still prefer the Isles guys, for example. That said, I probably undersold both of these guys. I think both Koskinen and Smith need to be held and could be decent #2's for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I wrote in this space two seasons ago that Nathan MacKinnon deserved the Hart Trophy. While he didn't ultimately win, he's been one of the best players in the league for a few years now. Right now, he's making a legitimate case again in the early going. With both of his star linemates injured, MacKinnon has continued to dominate. His best game yet came on Thursday, where he scored a goal on ten shots and added three assists. In his last four games, he has 34 SOG! MacKinnon now has 9+13 in 16 games with over five shots per game. We haven't seen a shot rate like this since prime Ovechkin. Obviously there's a long way to go, but MacKinnon has a great chance to finally get to 100 points this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hey guys! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season. Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our 14th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we visit the Windy City – Chicago baby! There weren’t huge expectations for this Hawks squad heading into 2018-19, but their young offensive weapons helped them fight till the bitter end, ending up just six points out of the playoffs. With an interesting free agent pickup and some moves to stabilize their D core, what will the Hawks do this season?
We have now reached the point of doing individual positions before I complete a top 200. Through the top 20 overall, I have covered 18 forwards, one defenseman and a goalie. For now, I'll be holding off on the last two. I'll be covering the top 100 forwards in posts of twenty going forward. For today, I will go through the top 40. Let's get right to it!
Well if I had to guess who would have the second four goal game of the season, I'm not sure Brad Richardson would have been in the first 500 guesses. Richardson single-handedly carried the Coyotes to victory on Thursday with those four goals on six shots, adding two PIM with a +4 rating. Richardson has 16 goals in 48 games now, a career high in his 14th season. For those of you in deep leagues, I would grab Richardson for the faceoff boost too. In standard leagues, I'm probably passing still despite playing at a 27 goal pace. Everything about it screams unsustainable, but we have to give props to him burying four in one game. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It was only a matter of time until Vladimir Tarasenko picked up his play. Tarasenko had four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, in two games against the Predators. That gives him an eight game point streak to get to 22+19 on the season. Obviously that's still disappointing, but there's time for him to salvage the season. Hell, the Blues are even in a playoff spot now because of how bad the Western Conference is. Look for them to make some additions at the deadline because of all of the moves they made in the summer. Missing the playoffs would be a major disappointment, and creating depth for the lineup would help things out for Tarasenko. The buy low window is probably closed but there's a strong chance that he's a top 30 player the rest of the way. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's no secret that the Ducks are a mess right now. I said in a post last week that they're the worst team in the league at the moment, but last night's game took the cake. Getting shutout by the Senators is as low as it gets. Sure, Anders Nilsson played great stopping 45 shots, but a lot of them were low quality like the team taking them. This isn't a post about Nilsson, he's barely usable. This is a reminder that you should stream against the Ducks every time you get. Anaheim plays against plenty of bad teams this month (Vancouver 2x, Edmonton, Chicago) yet I still wouldn't hesitate to use any of their goaltenders. Take advantage of the Ducks every opportunity that you get. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and we saw our first big move happen over the weekend. Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann were traded to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, and three draft picks. So what does this do to their values? Well, let's start with the easy ones. Sheahan is fantasy irrelevant as a fourth line center. McCann is currently playing as the third line center for Pittsburgh with Malkin down, having Pearson and Hornqvist on his wings. With no power play time, he's a bottom end streamer, but there is some upside here. Bjugstad is centering the second line, but even when Malkin comes back, the plan is for Kessel to be on his wing. I'd say this gives him a small boost to his value, but I wouldn't rush to own him. Bjugstad's situation in Florida was pretty good from a fantasy perspective. Brassard gets the biggest boost here, but to what level? Obviously he was a disaster in Pittsburgh since they acquired him. Florida is starting him on the wing with Trocheck and Hoffman. This is a huge upgrade for Brassard who becomes an elite streamer. However, this might only last for a while as I expect Florida to flip Brassard closer to the deadline. That means big minutes for now which is obviously great, but who knows where he gets moved. Maybe it's somewhere that would be good for his value (e.g. Winnipeg, who tried to get him last year before Pitt did), but it could also be somewhere like Colorado or Boston which wouldn't be great. In a deep league, I would grab Brassard immediately. In standard leagues, I'd use him tonight against the Blues and go from here. Here's some other observations I've made over the last few days:
In my Monday post, I called Frank Vatrano the best streamer of the night. As simple as my rationale was, getting to play with Barkov does wonders for anyone. Vatrano has been playing well lately, but the jump to the first line helps tremendously, and he showed how on Monday. Vatrano scored a goal and dished three assists in the 6-2 win over the Sharks, putting five shots on goal in the process. Normally, I'd say go get Vatrano right now to see what happens. There's definitely upside going forward. The problem is that the Panthers don't play again until next Friday. For those in roto leagues, I would grab Vatrano now and stash him on your bench. In head to head leagues, I would wait until the middle of next week unless a spot opens up on your roster due to someone going on injured reserve. However, I definitely want Vatrano for the back-to-back next weekend, so don't wait until last minute so you avoid somebody else sniping you on him. There's a real chance Vatrano, who was a prolific AHL goal scorer and showed upside before in Boston, could become a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened this week: