For those of you doing well in your head to head leagues, this is the most important post of the year. This is my annual playoff manifesto where I break down every team's schedule for the last four weeks of the season. I tell you who are the best teams and players to stream from, who you should look to trade for or away if your deadline hasn't passed, and it allows you to plan ahead with ease. For those who haven't read it in the past, the numbers in the parentheses are how many games the team plays in each of those weeks, with the last number being the last week in the season and preceding accordingly. This is going to be a massive post so let's get right to the 2019 Playoff Manifesto!
In the game of the night, a stealth Hart Trophy candidate led his team to glory. Johnny Gaudreau scored a hat trick on four shots in the 4-1 win in Winnipeg. Just like that, he's 5th in the NHL in scoring with by far the best shot rate of his career. Couple that with a career high shooting percentage and Johnny Hockey is well on his way to a career high in goals. I've generally been lower on Gaudreau than most, but this year he has proven me wrong. That line is among the best in hockey and Gaudreau is at the forefront. I don't expect him to slow down much in the second half making Gaudreau is a good bet to finish as a top 20 player in fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
It's nothing new when Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have big games, and both managed to do so twice this weekend. In Friday's 5-2 win over the Avalanche, Wheeler registered a point on all five goals, going 1+4, while Scheifele scored a goal and two assists with three shots. They followed that up with Wheeler getting two more assists and Scheifele posting a 2+1 game. Wheeler already has 20 assists in 16 games to go with 19 PIM and 3 goals, while Scheifele is up to 9+10 with 20 PIM. Wheeler was a borderline first round pick that I had ranked as a high second rounder, while Scheifele was more 2nd/3rd range. With his shot rate at exactly 2.5 per game right now, that solidifies him as a second round value. Remember when ESPN had him ranked in the 60s? Hilarious. These two should continue to put up points no matter the opposition. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's been years since Jack Campbell was the hot goaltending prospect. Seemingly out of nowhere, Campbell has been thrown into the fire and has come out hotter than a pistol. Campbell had his best game to date on Thursday, recording a 40 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Canadiens. He now has 117 saves on 121 shots over 3 games. Jonathan Quick is week-to-week, so while it might only be a short term thing, Campbell is worth owning in virtually all leagues until Quick returns. The Kings aren't the powerhouse they used to be, but they're still a strong possession team making their goal automatically worth owning. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
As far as disappointments for this season go, Cam Atkinson is near the top of the list. After his breakout last season with 35+27, Atkinson has struggled mightily on the ice and with an injury. We're finally seeing signs of Atkinson getting back to last season's level. Atkinson scored a shorthanded goal and added two power play assists with five shots on goal in the Columbus win on Monday. That gives Atkinson 4+4 in his last 9 games with at least three shots on goal in each game during that span. The minutes are strong so that hasn't been a problem. The issue has been that Columbus' power play has been so bad that Atkinson had only 3 STP before this game (which he doubled in this one). Columbus has been better on the man advantage lately, and the arrival of Thomas Vanek should help them even more. Atkinson is still available in over 40% of leagues and in a 12'er, I'd grab him right now while he's finding his groove again. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Monday night was a short slate, but there were a couple great games. Florida and Edmonton decided that defense (and goaltending) was optional leading to a 7-5 barn burner. Vincent Trocheck took over the game late, scoring three goals in the third period on six shots to record his first career hat trick. No matter what format you play, Trocheck has been incredible this season. By the end of the month, there's a great chance that Trocheck has set career highs in goals, assists, PPP (already did that) and SOG. The 24 year old is also a monster in faceoffs, hits, and blocks for a forward as well. For those of us in standard leagues, Trocheck looks like a top 35 player for this season and in the future, if not even better. He's basically Jamie Benn with a better shot rate and a lower floor for penalty minutes (obviously plus-minus can shift year-to-year). The only potential downside going forward is that Trocheck is already averaging 21:33 per game, which has nowhere to go but down. Either way, that's of no concern for me; Trocheck is still underrated in my eyes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine. That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season. Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night. Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings. That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser). Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties. Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season. Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy. The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game. On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain. There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up. Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Chicago Blackhawks are in last place in their division for the first time in what seems like an eternity. They are lacking in the scoring department in a big way. There's one easily move that Joel Quenneville can make to help their cause: play Alex DeBrincat more. The 20 year old scored his second hat trick of the season on Thursday while adding an assist. He's now tied for third on the team in points and second in goals. However, on a per-minute basis, he scores more goals than anyone on the team by a country mile and he's incredibly close to Kane in points per minute. DeBrincat is averaging under 15 minutes per game on the season and to be blunt, that makes no sense to me. The Blackhawks aren't completely dead in the water, especially if Corey Crawford eventually returns (it's been reported that he could return to the ice "soon"). Either way though, getting DeBrincat more ice time helps the team now and helps his development. He's playing at a 28 goal pace with bottom six ice time! DeBrincat is an elite streamer in 12'ers right now but if his minutes increase as they should, I would bet he becomes a hold down the stretch. Let's take a look at what happened in the NHL over the last two nights:
If you follow my writing at all, you know how much I love Brent Burns. I mean, how can you not love this face? He's been among the most disappointing players in fantasy hockey to this point, mostly because he's found a way to have a horrible shooting percentage. Well, since my last set of daily notes, Burns is finally back on track! In his past three games, Burns has three goals and three assists with a whopping 22 shots on goal. There's still plenty of time for Burns to deliver an elite fantasy season with a monster second half. I certainly won't put it past the reigning Norris Trophy winner. I'm going to change things up a bit with this post. Since I'm a bit behind, mainly because of the site going down last Thursday night, I'm going to list every player, by NHL team, that I think is a hold or streamer in standard leagues, guys who become in play with hits, blocks and faceoffs added, and then add some information where necessary. Let's get to it!
Has Sam Reinhart lived up to being the second overall pick in his draft? Definitely not. Is the book closed on him becoming a great player? I don't think so. Reinhart has shown flashes this season but his quality of linemate has been quite poor. Last game, Reinhart moved to the first line with Jack Eichel and Evander Kane. This move paid dividends on Tuesday night where Reinhart scored a goal and two assists with four shots playing 18:36 in the 5-4 OT loss to the Penguins. What does this mean going forward? Well, Reinhart becomes an elite streamer and potential hold as long as he's playing with Eichel and Kane. Subjectively, I think Reinhart has been much stronger on the puck this year and if not for Eichel missing a glorious chance and another point blank save, Reinhart could have easily reached 4-5 points in this game. Obviously we can't expect that on a nightly basis but there's no reason Reinhart can't play around a 25+35 pace going forward. Here's to hoping Phil Housley does what's right and keeps him there. Let's take a look at what else happened around the league the past two nights: