The Montreal Canadiens stormed out of the gates last season and never looked back en route to winning the Atlantic Division. They have a roster that seems like a random collection of players with no clear plan. They've gutted their blue line losing a good top 4 in the last year (Subban, Beaulieu, Sergachev, Markov) leaving themselves depending on Shea Weber far too much. Like last offseason, they made a massive trade in the summer, this time involving two young talents. This is a team who is getting the small things right but the big things wrong and that gives me significant concern going forward. Per usual, it's all on Carey Price's shoulders. Their fantasy assets for this season look to be limited but there are a few guys with elite potential and some intriguing guys for deeper leagues. Let's take a look at what Les Habitants are working with:
Here's what I said about Jonathan Marchessault in my season preview of the Florida Panthers: "Jared McCann and Jonathan Marchessault are the two Panthers I can see taking a late flier on in deep leagues... Marchessault scored 18 points in 45 games for Tampa Bay last season despite averaging only 12 minutes of ice time per game. When Tampa was hit with injuries, Marchessault filled in admirably. If Florida was hit by the injury bug, I could see both of these guys becoming relevant in 12’ers; for now they are potential waiting for their chance." And that's me quoting me! Well, Florida did get struck by the injury bug and while McCann didn't provide much value this season, Marchessault certainly did. The return of their two best players hasn't hurt Marchessault at all. In fact, it's helped him on the power play. He recorded his first career hat trick in the 7-0 win over the Blackhawk, which also included four shots and four PIM. That brings Marchessault's totals to 28+20 with 34 PIM and 2.5 shots per game in 67 GP. Not bad for a guy the Panthers signed for $750k for this season and next. The Panthers have an interesting offseason ahead to determine how their forward core is going to look next season. Regardless, I think Marchessault is worry of a late round pick next season. I don't think there's more upside than what he's doing this season but there's no complaints with a 34+25 per 82 games when he's not hurting you elsewhere. I expect the Panthers to be back in the playoffs next season with Marchessault providing some nice depth behind the big guns. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
Jeff Carter has been a top 100 fantasy player for almost ten years running. His high floor of 25 goals and 30 assists with great shots made him a staple of the early rounds. That said, I don't think anyone saw this type of upside from him at 32 years old. Carter had one of the best games of this season with two goals, two assists, four shots and two PIM in the 6-3 win over the Panthers on Thursday. This puts him one goal off the league lead and into the top ten in points. Carter is playing like a top 20 player and I see no reason for that to drastically slow down for the rest of the season. Sure, his shooting percentage will probably drop, but his workload is conducive to top end production. Next season, I'm not sure he'll even be in my top 50 but the stability shall remain. Here's what else happened the last two nights:
I think most fantasy hockey players would agree that Antti Raanta is worth streaming every time he gets the start. The problem has been that Raanta rarely plays because he's behind one of the best goalies in the world, Henrik Lundqvist. A healthy Lundqvist never sat three games in a row while healthy. Until this weekend. After a game on Thursday, Vigneault turned to Raanta again and he posted a 26 save shutout in the 1-0 win over his former team in Chicago. To the surprise of everyone, Raanta started again on Sunday and posted another shutout, this time an easy 5-0 win over the Devils in which Raanta posted 19 saves. If you streamed Raanta on Sunday, hold him until Tuesday to see if he gets another game. This certainly isn't going to last, this is Lundqvist's team, but ride the hot wave while you can. At the least, Raanta is a must-stream every time he gets the nod. Let's take a look at everything else that happened over the weekend:
A week ago, I said this about Steve Mason: "Michal Neuvirth is out for over a month so it’s going to be Mason’s show. Perhaps the extra starts will help him get into a flow but he’s certainly in the 'desperate for starts' category for now." After Tuesday's big game, it's been three strong starts out of four. Mason made 38 saves in the 3-1 win against the Panthers and if not for a horrible Matt Read turnover with less than two minutes left, he would have been a good bet for a shutout. Since Neuvirth went down, Mason has saved 107 of 115 shots which is more than solid. I picked up Mason for this start in multiple leagues and for now, I'd definitely grab him in 12'ers. He's less than 20% owned at the time of this writing so odds are he's available in your league. It may not be all peaches and cream but the volume alone has its value and the Flyers have played much better in their last five games. Here's what else I saw on the short Tuesday slate:
In non-breaking news, Connor McDavid is really good at that hockey game that millions of people enjoy. In this space, we give credit where it's due and McDavid did something on Saturday for the first time in his young NHL career. In the 5-2 win over Dallas, McDavid had his first career hat trick scoring three goals on four shots while adding two penalty minutes. That game gives the wunderkind 22 points (8+14) in 19 games so far this season tying him for the league lead. He's a decent bet to end up leading the league in points and he's still only 19 years old. The future for him is so bright that it's blinding. Here's what else happened around the league this weekend:
First off, I'd just like to apologize to everyone for not having daily notes on Monday morning. I wasn't feeling too well Sunday night; one minute I'm watching the beginning of the Seahawks game and the next thing I know it's 10 AM! Thankfully there was only one game on Monday night so it wasn't the end of the world. Anyways, Sebastian Aho scored his first two NHL goals on Saturday and added an assist in Carolina's 5-1 win over the Capitals. That brings Aho's totals to 2+7 in 14 games which is great for the 19 year old. Unfortunately, that's accompanied by exactly 2 shots per game and only 2 PIM on the season. Add in the fact that the minutes are low (12:13 in this one) and I don't think you can hold onto Aho in standard 12'ers. That said, he's going to remain a great streamer for assists and is a Razzball favorite for dynasties. Let's take a look at what happened over the weekend plus the one Monday night game.
It's no secret that coming into the season, I loved the best players on the Jets. While the team itself is of to a mediocre start, the forward in my top 50 that I was highest on compared to consensus was Mark Scheifele. After a monstrous second half last season, I wrote repeatedly how much I liked him for 2016-17 and dynasties going forward. It was evident looking at Fantasy Pros where I was 16 spots higher than anyone else and 19 spots above consensus, quite a margin for a player who I had ranked 32nd overall. Well, it's been a terrific start to the season for Scheifele and it continued over the weekend. On Friday, Scheifele had a goal, two assists and two shots while being +3 in the 5-3 win over Detroit. He followed that up with a goal and an assist with two shots and +1 on Sunday despite the Jets losing 5-2 to the red hot Rangers. That gives Scheifele a total of 7 goals and 7 assists in 13 games with a +5 rating, 10 PIM and almost 3 shots per game. It puts him easily in the top 20 skaters on the season in the player rater and is making me look smart! I salute you, Mr. Scheifele. With the workload that he's receiving, I have little doubt that he will produce going forward at an elite rate. Let's take a look at what else went on around the league over the weekend.
The hockey season has finally started! With four games in the books, I'll wait until tomorrow night to recap them all instead of doing a very short post today that would mainly consist of gushing over Auston Matthews' debut. Instead, there is a podcast that will be posted in the afternoon (I'm editing it this morning) and then this post, something I've been excited to do for a while. I've mentioned repeatedly how poor the rankings are for the "big" websites so I'm going to review ESPN's final staff rankings. You can find them here to follow along. Yes, their rankings include time on ice but there is still a pile of things that are unexplainable. At the end of this post, I'll list the players who I am much higher or lower than consensus on plus some streamers for Thursday. Let's get to it!
We are through 149 players in my rankings; I can't believe there's still 101 players to go! Thanks to a commenter, I realized that I had Tyler Toffoli ranked twice. I'm only human! Anyways, things are already getting thin at this point in drafts. There will be some guys who are here for their safety but I'm deferring to players with upside at this point in the draft. Locking in 45-50 points is fine and dandy but I'd rather shoot the moon and work the waiver wire during the season. Let's take a look at the best players who make up the second half of standard drafts: