The season is upon us! Tonight, the Lightning start another title defense while we also get the debut of the Kraken. I’m going to write up some quick notes from around the league to get everybody up to date on what’s happening around the league. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The Blues have cooled off a bit since their hot start, but that doesn't mean that all of their players have. Pavel Buchnevich tore it up over the weekend, scoring a goal and an assist with three shots and two PIM on Friday before coming back with two goals and an assist with five shots on Saturday. Buch is crushing it across the board on the seasons now with 8+8, 18 PIM and 58 shots in 19 games. Add in a +8 rating and he's a top 20 forward at the moment. Do I expect that to last? No, but his fit in St. Louis couldn't be better and now he's getting plenty of minutes, especially with David Perron out of the lineup. Somehow, he's still available in over 20% of leagues which is blasphemous. He has a real chance at being a top 50 player this year. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Jeff Skinner scored 40 goals in 2018-19 playing on the first line with the Sabres. Then, for no reason at all, Ralph Krueger decided that Skinner shouldn't play on the first line anymore. Last season, Krueger thought that Skinner, on a team devoid of talent, should play on the fourth line, or even be scratched. Needless to say, Krueger was one of the worst coaches in the league and quickly lost his job. Since Don Granato took over, Skinner has been back in the role he should be, and he's been thriving in the early part of this season. Skinner scored two goals and added an assist on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. He has 5+4 in 14 games so far with a whopping 47 shots on goal. The shot volume will go a long way towards Skinner finding his goal scoring touch again. I don't think he's a slam dunk hold in 12'ers just yet, but he's an elite streamer with clear upside in his role. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
To say Jacob Markstrom finished October on fire would be an understatement. Markstrom had a 20 save shutout against the Flyers on Saturday, his third in the past four games. The Flames are off to a great start with Markstrom at the forefront. He's saved nine goals above expected over in the last four. He's a clear workhorse which is why I had him a bottom end #1 goalie going into the season, but the upside is higher than that because of the volume. Who knows, maybe he puts together a top five season because of how Sutter wants to play. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I certainly won't be doing any victory laps after the first weekend, but Sam Bennett made me look good on Saturday, scoring a hat trick on six shots in the 5-1 win over the Islanders. Bennett finds himself in the same role as last season when he blew up after the trade deadline. Remarkably, he's still available in 40% of leagues on ESPN. I assume nobody that reads my posts would be in a league where Bennett is on the waiver wire, but if he is, grab him right now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Now is the time to get excited if you own Blues players. Sure, the top guys have been plenty good, but after their seven game battle with the Coyotes, the Blues played their next 11 games against the California trio. It took a dramatic finish on Thursday, but they started off on the right foot. With the goalie pulled, the Blues tied the game before winning it in overtime on a David Perron goal. Perron scored a goal and added two assists with four shots in the victory. That brings him over a point per game on the season with a quality plus-minus, solid shot rate, and good PIM. He's a true stud across the board that tends to get a bit overlooked. The top players on the Blues could be in line for a big month with Perron leading the way. I can't rule out a top 50 season when we reach the end of this truncated year. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
The first big trade deadline move happened two weeks early. Jason Zucker was sent to Pittsburgh in Bill Guerin's first big move as Wild GM, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, and a first round pick. So what does this do for Zucker's fantasy value? It puts it through the roof. Zucker immediately went on Crosby's wing in his first game, registering five shots on goals against the Lightning in 15 minutes. Sure, he's not going to get PP1 time, but the upside is tremendous given this opportunity. I grabbed Zucker in every league that I could just in case that it clicks with Crosby. We've seen Zucker score 30 goals in a season before and generate a ton of chances; now it'll be even easier with Crosby. As for the Wild side of things, it's a really good return. Addison was the Penguins' top prospect, and while their system wasn't loaded, he safely projects as a second pair, potential PP defenseman. I don't see huge upside, but there's value there. As for Galchenyuk, it can't get any worse than it was in Pittsburgh. He only received 12 minutes in his first game, and I'm certainly not rushing to use him, but it's worth monitoring to see if that changes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
For two periods, the Red Wings were locking the Canucks down defensively. They went into the third period up 2-0 but that lead didn't last long. In fact, the Canucks ended up scoring five goals in the third to win with ease. They were lead by their captain, Bo Horvat, who had his first career hat trick in the victory. Loyal Razzballers know how much I like Dr. Bo as a player. It's been a slow start, but here's why I'm buying Horvat (and another Canuck I'll talk about later). One, Horvat is shooting the puck at an excellent rate. He's over three shots per game on the season. Two, and the main reason, is that Horvat is back on the first power play unit. In fact, two of his goals came on that unit. There's a ton of potential in that group and Horvat should be a beneficiary. He's an easy hold and should push the top 100 going forward. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend. Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3. This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville. In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each. That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success. Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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 18th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re crossing the border again to stop in the 6ix – What’s up Leafs Nation? After the monster signing up Johnny T last summer, the Willy hold-out and re-upping Matthews for five years, the time has come to pay Mitch. GM Kyle Dubas has bobbed and weaved thus far, and I am sure they will get something figured out soon. That being said, there are 19 other Leafers to talk about!