It's that time of the year! We are rapidly closing in on the fantasy hockey playoffs, and to help everybody out in terms of streaming and bottom end holds, I am back with my playoff manifesto. For those that are new here, I will break down the schedule of every team in the league over the last four weeks of the NHL Season (that means games starting with this Monday, 3/9) and highlight anything important, both good and bad. A few things to note before I get going.
Mark Stone has had a pretty good season by his standards, albeit not as great as I had hoped. Perhaps that'll change now that he had his best game of the season. Stone went off on Thursday scoring two goals and three assists while adding five shots on goal and two PIM. That brings him up to 20+33 in 56 games while being +10 and well over 2.5 shots per game. Stone used to be a two shot per game player, but it has taken a big jump since last season, and especially when he went to Vegas. He should be a clear top 50 player going forward, and I think there's a good chance he ends up topping 80 points for the first time in his career. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Things escalated over the weekend with the Devils holding out Taylor Hall from two games due to precautionary reasons. A trade is on the horizon, and all indications are that the team wants to get a deal done before the trade freeze on the 19th. There's no guarantee that it happens, but Shero seems to want to make the big move now. So what does that do for Hall owners in fantasy? Well, if you're in a weekly lineup league, you have to bench him this week. The Devils already don't play until Wednesday this week, and if Hall is still on the team then, I highly doubt that he plays. There's also the chance that there are some visa issues for Hall when he is traded which causes him to miss a game. This is a clear blow to the rest of the Devils. Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, and Kyle Palmieri all lose a big chunk of value. I would still hold Palmieri, but in redrafts, I think I would cut the other two guys and only look to stream them. The Devils are really devoid of talent on the wings and as good as Hischier and Hughes are going to be, I doubt it will be consistently good for this entire season. Let's take a look at some other things going on around the NHL:
Loyal Razzballers know that I've been a big fan of Juuse Saros for a while. He's had a tough start to this season, but I still believe in the player long term. Saros was less than two minutes from a shutout on Tuesday, making 24 saves on 25 shots in the 2-1 win over the Sharks. His overall numbers are still poor, but the Predators have started to tighten up defensively. Saros is still only 24 years old and is one of the best long term goaltending prospects. Saros is starting to see even more action starting five of the last eight games. There's real upside here so if you need goaltending help, I'd grab him now. Additionally, I would try to get him in a dynasty league before he boosts his value back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're six weeks into the season now which seems like a good point to update my hold/stream list. Obviously things can change fairly quickly for some players, but it's still good to address what has drastically changed since the opening of the season. Let's get to it!
The last lottery pick for the Washington Capitals has really come into his own. Jakub Vrana had an incredible weekend, starting with two goals on eight shots against the Sabres. He followed it up with a hat trick on five shots against the Flames on Sunday. That brings Vrana to 9+5 in 16 games with just under three shots per game. He's a main stay on the second line and second power play unit, so the question is whether or not he's a hold. For now, I lean towards yes. I don't think it'll last all season, but Vrana is playing excellent hockey right now and I want to take advantage of it. The 23 year old has made a jump in every season of his career and looks to be down that path again. Given that he had 24+23 last season, another slight improvement will get right right onto the fringe. Vrana isn't an automatic add given that Washington has only two games this week, but I'm holding onto him while Vrana has his foot on the accelerator. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend:
We are reaching the end of my forward rankings as I complete the top 100 today. Drafts are starting to approach, so my plan is to power through defensemen and goaltending by the middle of next week so everyone has my rankings available. Again, for those who haven't seen my earlier rankings, you can see them here. Let's get to it! 81) Jonathan Toews - I'll be sliding up Toews 5-10 spots forward spots from here when I update as this was an oversight on my part. Toews set a career high in both goals and assists last season with 35+46. The PIM are always solid and the shot rate is better than average. The question is how sustainable are the points? The previous three seasons he had 58, 58, and 52 points in 80, 72, 74 games respectively. An increase in shot rate also came with a big jump in shooting percentage over the last two seasons, so color me a bit skeptical. That said, 65ish points with solid secondary numbers has plenty of value in the middle rounds.
We found another goalie out of nowhere! Jordan Binnington was great in his second start on Thursday, allowing one goal on 29 shots in the 4-1 win over over Canadiens. He's been strong in the AHL the last two seasons, and with how bad their other goalies have been, Binnington deserves a chance. Obviously it could collapse at any time, and the Blues' schedule in January is very road heavy. On the other side, there a lot of good matchups over the next two weeks for Binnington. I wouldn't go out of my way in shallow leagues to own him, but Binnington could be a solid streamer with upside for more, especially before the All-Star Break with the Sens, Kings, and Ducks in a row. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Things can change quickly in hockey. Matt Murray led the Pens to two Stanley Cups, then struggled mightily last season and to open this year. Now, Murray has caught fire once again. The netminder had a 33 save shutout on Friday against the Jets. That means in his last 6 games, he's allowed 6 goals total with his worst save percentage being .931. We've seen the upside before, and that's of a top 5 goaltender, if not more. First off, he's somehow available in 15% of leagues, which is absurd. If you're lucky enough to be in one, grab him immediately. Two, if you own Casey DeSmith, you can safely drop him. Lastly, I doubt you'll be able to trade for him given his hot run, but I'd much rather do that than sell high. The upside of Murray is too high to pass on, and with the Pens playing as well as they lately, the floor is fairly high too. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
To say the season for Philadelphia as been a mess is an understatement. First they fire Hextall as GM, then the mess last week of Hakstol being fired as coach, only to still be the coach for a couple days as new GM Chuck Fletcher said no decision has been made, only for Hakstol to be fired anyways. They were in last place in the Eastern Conference on Monday when Fletcher decided to recall Carter Hart. The 20 year old is arguably the best goaltending prospect in the league, and he received his first NHL start on Tuesday. Hart saved 20 of 22 shots against the Red Wings getting his first career win by a score of 3-2. Look, I'm not saying Hart is a future superstar. Goaltending is extremely unpredictable and it seems like Philadelphia has been cursed in net for a while. However, he has as good of a chance as any young goaltender to be a starter for years to come. For that alone, he's worth grabbing in all formats, especially dynasties. Who knows how long that Fletcher keeps Hart on the big squad, but it seems like he should be up going forward. Either he plays so well they have to roll Hart, or they fall out of it completely and want to get him more playing time. There's no guarantee it's good now either, but I doubt another goalie with more upside will show up on the waiver wire later on in the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: