Hey, everyone. After an exciting weekend of football playoffs, it’s time to put our heads down and manage the tar out of the (for many of you) last five weeks of the fantasy hockey regular season. These last few weeks can be make-or-break, so think about making that trade or setting free that underperforming player. Many NHL teams are coming into or coming off their bye weeks, so this week is also one of the weirdest for scheduling. As you might know by now, my managing style and what I discuss in my advice column is maximizing games played and putting more skaters on the ice that your opponent. I use data pulled from my own league as well as the two RCL’s to give this idea some supporting data, so let’s jump in.
Hey, everyone. Your extended-play streamer column is here. I hope your fantasy weeks went well, and that you maximized games played and put more skaters on the ice than your opponent. I’m a big believer in accountability, and will be following up on the data I am collecting, and how the previous weeks have panned out. Because I write these over the weekend, matchups are still occurring, so I will use data from the previous completed week, pulled from my most competitive league as well as the two RCL’s. So, in order to give Razzball readers a potential plus-8 or plus-12 skaters in a week, here is my weekly column indicating what teams you should grab free agents from, and some players who might be available in your leagues.
Hat tricks have been in vogue lately so Blake Wheeler decided to take it to another level. Wheeler scored a hat trick in the first period on Sunday and later added an assist in the 7-1 win over the Penguins. Wheeler has been the fantasy stalwart we've become accustomed to in the early going with 4+8, +3, 12 PIM, 35 SOG and 4 STP in 10 games. I don't know how many more years Wheeler will keep up this level of play but for now, he's a top 20 player with relative ease. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks. Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost. Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday's game. Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks. Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury. With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin. So who gets a boost? Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12'ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar. We'll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term. Here's what else happened the last two nights around the league:
Giving up five goals to St. Louis in the opener wasn't extremely concerning for the Penguins. But ten goals to Chicago in game two? I believe that qualifies as a mess. Obviously I'm not going to panic in regards to the Pittsburgh season outlook; I'd actually try to trade for Matt Murray if their owner is panicking. We'll have to wait a few weeks to develop a bigger sample size, especially because this spot was perfect for the Blackhawks, but maybe they're better than I gave them credit for. Let's take a look at the eight games from Thursday night and see what developed:
Apparently January 10th is Sam Reinhart day. Last year, he scored his first career hat trick on January 10th and he followed it up with another three point night yesterday. Reinhart scored a goal and two assists with four shots in the 4-1 win over the Flyers. It almost feels a bit disappointing because he missed a wide open net that I'd expect a high school player to bury. Regardless, that's 12 points in the last 10 games for Reinhart. I've been preaching for weeks that he's a must own but he's still available in over 2/3rds of leagues. He's not available in RCL's (well done guys!) but for your other leagues, grab him if you've been hesitant. How can you not like a Rein-o on a horse? Jack looks like he's having too much fun. Anyways, let's take a look at what else happened the last two nights around the league.
At this point in the season, we've seen a ton of players bounce back from poor years in 2015-16. There are a couple guys in the forefront and one of them is Jakub Voracek. He went from 81 points to 55 (only 11 goals) in part to a dreadful first 20 games. Well, the people that bet on a return to his previous status are reaping massive dividends in the early going. In the 6-5 win over the Oilers Tuesday night, Voracek scored a goal and three assists with five shots. He's now sitting on 28 points in 29 games; add in a 90 PIM and ~300 shot pace and Voracek looks like he's on the verge of being a top 25 player again. Given the quality of the Flyers power play unit and his linemates, I don't see Voracek slowing down. Shoutout to Veritas for picking him to get 3 points! Here's what else happened over the last two nights:
During last season, it looked like Eric Staal's career was on a steep decline. While he's still not close to the player he was in his prime, the 39 point season he had in 83 games in 2015-16 looks to be a thing of the past. Staal moved to Minnesota this offseason on a three year deal to center the first line and it's no surprise that Bruce Boudreau has helped revitalize his career. On Thursday night, Staal led the way for the Wild scoring a goal and two assists with six shots on goal being +3 in the Wild's 4-2 road win over the Penguins. That boosts Staal's totals to 5 goals and 6 assists in 12 games with almost 3 shots per game. He's shown an amazing ability to stay healthy throughout his career leading me to believe he has a pretty good chance to reach 60 points again. As the frequent readers know, I'm a big fan of the Wild's chances of success, at least from a regular season standpoint, and Staal is a big factor in that. For now, Staal should be considered a borderline top 100 player who should remain a clear hold for the entire season; I would not try to sell high on him. Let's take a look at what happened around the league the last two nights:
When players get interviewed before their first game, they always give the same boring mundane answers. "I'm focused on keeping things simple out there." "I'm just going to play my game," etc. They dream of scoring a goal in their first game. Well, Auston Matthews did just that in his first game. And then he did it again. And again, and again. The first overall pick from this year's draft became the first player in NHL history to score 4 goals in his debut, doing so on 6 shots playing 17:37 against the Senators. And the Leafs still lost! Man, they are horrible. Everyone is going to overreact to this game so I'll be the one to say that you need to lower expectations. Yes, there will be flashes from Matthews but like any rookie, consistency will come and go. He also won't get to play a team as hopeless defensively as the Senators are again any time soon. There's no doubting that Matthews will be a superstar but in the fantasy realm that we live in, don't think he's going to be a top 50 player this season or anything outlandish after one game. Here's what else happened around the league in the first two nights of the season:
Throughout the season, J.T. Miller was one of my favorite streamers. The former first round pick who will play on the North American team in the World Cup of Hockey had 22 goals and 21 assists in the regular season with a solid plus-minus and penalty minutes; it was only his lack of shots that kept him from being a hold all year. Miller had his first big playoff game on Saturday dishing three assists and adding a shot and two PIM in the 4-2 win over the Penguins. There's upside for a better year next season (he just turned 23) so I'd look to take Miller with one of my last picks in drafts in the late summer / early fall. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend: