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 16th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we crack open the Atlantic Division with the President’s Trophy-winning Tampa Bay Lightning! It is no secret this team has a chip on its shoulder heading into this season, looking to take care of some unfinished business. With a few nice low-risk deals made this off-season, the Lightning look ready to dominate again.
Hello everyone! For those that missed it, my top 10 for next season came out last week. You can find those rankings and what I'll be posting in the future here. Today, we're going through the top 20 overall. I'm sure it'll be another monster post so let's get right to it! 11) Johnny Gaudreau - As scoring jumped across the league, Gaudreau found another gear last season. He set a career high in every category but PIM (he was 2 short), including 99 points. I've been lower on Gaudreau than consensus for years now, and the last two years it hurt a bit, especially last year. This ranking does scare me a bit because you're buying him at his peak value. However, he has stayed incredibly healthy over the years, he bumped his shot rate up to almost exactly three per game, and at 26 years old, Gaudreau should be entering his prime. I have a feeling I'll end up sliding Gaudreau down a few spots eventually, but he's definitely in this tier that starts with Draisaitl at 8th overall.
After their situation looked murky earlier in the season causing public turmoil between the front office and their superstars, the Dallas Stars are close to becoming a lock for the postseason. Their super Stars (corny, I know) won the game for them on Tuesday against the Panthers. In the 4-2 win, Tyler Seguin dished four assists while putting six shots on goal and providing two PIM. Alexander Radulov scored two goals and an assist with five shots, while Jamie Benn scored a goal and two assists with two shots. The Stars have a great playoff schedule and these three guys should be massive difference makers in the fantasy playoffs. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We have a new candidate for craziest game of the year. Chicago and Ottawa was a 5-4 game... with 2 minutes left in the first! The game finished with a ridiculous 8-7 score with Alex DeBrincat leading the way on the score sheet. The 21 year old scored a hat trick and added two assists, bringing him up to 32+28 on the season. Not bad for anyone, let alone a 21 year old. In the preseason, I wrote this: "Everything is in place for DeBrincat to score 35+ goals… if Quenneville plays him the minutes he deserves. DeBrincat scored 28 goals and 24 assists as a rookie despite playing only 14:48 per game. It was infuriating that DeBrincat’s minutes down the stretch didn’t drastically increase with the Blackhawks out of the playoff race. He’s a natural goal scorer who needs to get more playing time for the Blackhawks to have any chance at a bounce back. The penalty minutes won’t be there, but 30+30 is well within reason, and there’s still upside from there." Well, Quenneville was fired, but everything else came to fruition. I love DeBrincat now and going forward. Sure, he'll never give PIM, but he should be an annual 30 goal scorer who has some years pushing 40 like this one. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL. Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position. The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion. First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back. Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league. I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out. I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being. Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I've felt that Thomas Greiss was underrated for years. When I started at Razzball, he was battling Halak for playing time and should have received more than he did. Last season, when I was fully buying in, he was a mess. This year, his value was so low that he was a nice gamble and he paid off handsomely. Greiss had a 31 save shutout on Thursday beating Columbus 3-0. Greiss is pushing a .930 save percentage and it's deserved; he's third in the league in goals saved about expectation. The bad news is that his teammate is #2 in that category. Look, Greiss isn't going to get the majority of starts, right around half of the Isles remaining games. However, those starts are going to be extremely valuable. He's only owned in 23% of leagues right now which is far too low. That reason alone is why I'm starting this post with Greiss. I've been saying for over a month that he should be owned in all formats, but if you're lucky enough for him to still be on the wire, go and get him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's no secret that the Ducks are a mess right now. I said in a post last week that they're the worst team in the league at the moment, but last night's game took the cake. Getting shutout by the Senators is as low as it gets. Sure, Anders Nilsson played great stopping 45 shots, but a lot of them were low quality like the team taking them. This isn't a post about Nilsson, he's barely usable. This is a reminder that you should stream against the Ducks every time you get. Anaheim plays against plenty of bad teams this month (Vancouver 2x, Edmonton, Chicago) yet I still wouldn't hesitate to use any of their goaltenders. Take advantage of the Ducks every opportunity that you get. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It feels like forever ago that Tomas Hertl took the league by storm as a rookie. He's shown signs of promise since, but never really put it together. Until. Hertl had a hat trick on Tuesday to lead the Sharks over the Penguins. That brings him up to 19+22 in 43 games, both numbers rapidly approaching career highs in mid-January. He is providing no penalty minutes and a below average shot rate which caps his long term ceiling, but he looks to be a guy who is a fringe top 100 player for the next few seasons. I would say if I had to say where I rank him next year, my guess is just outside the top 100 just because the downside is much higher for a guy whose sole value is coming from points and not the side categories. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
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:
It's hard to find a bigger fan of Blake Wheeler than yours truly. He's been excellent for years, and while he is showing some signs of aging, he's remained incredibly productive. Wheeler scored a goal and dished three assists in the 7-4 win over the Avalanche, adding two penalty minutes. Wheeler now has 7+48 in 42 games, a very strong point total. So where's the concern? Well, seven goals obviously isn't great, and his shot rate is closer to 2.5 now than 3 per game. Add in a career low shooting percentage and you can see why he's on pace for only 14 goals. He's still solid in PIM and has been a quality +/- player for a long time, so he'll still be a top 50 player for a few years. However, it would be a mistake to expect Wheeler to be a top 20 player again going forward. Here's a look at what else happened over the last two nights: