Hello again, Razzfolks!
Back with my second installment of the Pacific Division team previews. Let's just jump right on in, eh? See what I did there? Canadian joke? Cuz hockey? Haha lol I'm funny.
We're moving out from the crease to the blue liners in my rankings. Today, I'll be going through the top 20 defensemen with the Top 40 coming out later in the week. Let's get right to it!
1) Cale Makar - Covered in the Top 20 overall here.
2) Dougie Hamilton - The top defenseman last season by a fairly wide margin, Hamilton moved from Carolina to New Jersey. It's a little worrisome, but I still expect big things from Dougie. I wouldn't be surprised if Hamilton ends up getting more minutes than he did while he was in Carolina.
Nothing helps getting your season back on track like playing against the Buffalo Sabres. Carter Hart has had a really rough go of it in the opening month of the season, but on Sunday, he looked to turn it around in Buffalo. You'd think that after the Sabres were shutout 3-0 on Saturday that they would come out firing on Sunday. Nope. Hart stopped all 28 shots he faced, most of the routine variety, to beat the Sabres 3-0. Brian Elliott only needed to make 23 saves on Saturday as the Sabres are in complete disarray. As I always say, goalies are voodoo, but I'd be stunned if Hart doesn't make a jump towards being a #1 fantasy goalie again. If you can buy low on Hart, I would try to do so. The fact that the Flyers are 11-4-3 despite Hart's horrible start shows you what kind of upside the team has. Elliott should be streamed every time he starts as his save percentage is over .930 in his eight games. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
There was very little hype about Jack Hughes going into the season despite being the first overall pick only one year ago. We're only three games into the season, but he's off to a tremendous start. Hughes had two goals and an assist in the 4-3 win over the Rangers on Tuesday. That gives Hughes six points in three games in the early going. I wrote after his first game that he should be owned everywhere. He's had the biggest chance in ownership since the beginning of the season, but he's still available in over 1/3 of leagues. If you've been asleep at the wheel and you're lucky enough that he's still available, go do so immediately, and then read the rest of the notes below! Let's take a look at what happened over the last two nights:
The title says it all. Today, I'm going to hit on the ten guys that I like most to break out this season. With the season a week away, I won't have to time to do a ton of sleeper posts, so I decided it would be best to highlight these players and then follow it up with players I expect to disappoint this season in tomorrow's post. Let's get to it!
We’re going to keep the rankings rolling today with my defensemen tiers. As a reminder from the goaltending rankings, I will be ranking the guys in order, but I am putting more focus on tiers than the exact rankings of players. Please, blog, may I have some more?
At the time of his injury, Victor Olofsson was leading rookies in points. That's not to say that he was the Calder favorite because he certainly was not, but he was in the race, albeit in the third spot. Sadly he missed 15 games, but he picked up right where he left off. Olofsson scored two goals on Thursday, including the game winner, in the 4-3 OT win over the Blue Jackets. That gives him 18+19 in 43 games, a great season from my favorite preseason target for my last pick in drafts. Sure, the PIM are non-existent and the shot rate is slightly below average, but Olofsson has lived up to expectations. He's an old rookie at 24, but he should get a bit better going forward. His role as a PP1 sniper and top six winger is locked in going forward and his chemistry with Eichel is outstanding. If he was dropped in your league, grab him immediately. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday:
He's backkkk. Justin Williams made his return on Sunday, totaling three shots on goal in 13 minutes of action before scoring the shootout winner for the Hurricanes. So what should we expect from him going forward? Well, the Hurricanes are in a bigger dog fight for the playoffs than expected, so I do expect Williams' workload to ramp up sooner than later. He skated on the fourth line in this game, but there's a spot for him right now in the top six that's currently occupied by Foegele. It should only be a matter of time until he fills that role. How much does that matter? Well, we know that Williams is a great source of shots. He pushed close to three per game last season while totaling 53 points and 44 PIM. That sounds like a guy firmly on the fringe to me. I wouldn't be rushing to grab Williams, especially with Carolina only having one game between now and January 31st, but he's back to elite streamer status with the upside of being a bottom end hold. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's safe to say that at 26 years old, Jonathan Huberdeau has plenty of hockey to play in his career. The scary thing is that he's going to destroy the Panthers point record. In Sunday's big win over the Maple Leafs, Huberdeau had a goal and an assist to pass Olli Jokinen for the most points in franchise history. After last season's breakout campaign where Huberdeau had 92 points, he's on pace to blow by that this season with 61 points in their first 45 games. The shot rate has fallen off to slightly below average, but I don't think anyone who drafted Huberdeau is complaining. He's a safe bet to finish as a top 20 overall player this season, and since he's entering his prime along with some of his other teammates (notably Barkov), the future is incredibly bright. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It was only a matter of time until Mikko Rantanen had a big game. The Finn had his second career hat trick on Saturday, scoring on all three of his shots against the Devils. Please, blog, may I have some more?