We're back for part two of the Playoff Manifesto. For those that didn't read Part One, you can read that here. Today, we will cover the Western Conference. To see the template of which I'm working with, check out the details in the Eastern Conference post. For this one, let's get right to it! ST. LOUIS BLUES: 4, 3, 3, 3 This is pretty much the worst streaming schedule possible. There are only three teams that don't have a back-to-back over the last four weeks. We'll get to them later in this post, but at least their games are more bunched together with a 4,3,4 in the first three weeks for both. They're every other night the first two weeks, then have two days off in the middle of the third week, before finishing every other day. Honestly, there's not much to say here. Thirteen games is average so hold the usuals, and don't stream Blues.
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. After being initially ruled out for three weeks, Brock Boeser was subsequently ruled out for eight weeks, and possibly the season. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Another trade domino fell on Sunday as Blake Coleman was traded to Tampa Bay for a first round pick (Vancouver's conditional first from the Miller trade) and Nolan Foote. Coleman is in the midst of a breakout season with 21+10, 40 PIM and over three shots per game. So how much will this move help him? On one hand, going to Tampa Bay is good for any player. On the other hand, his ice time is surely going to decrease. While he won't play Monday, I'd still hold Coleman to see what develops. He's signed for only 1.85m for next season which I assume is a big factor in the price. This is a great return for New Jersey, as Foote should end up as a second line winger who is a goal scorer. He has an elite shot and knows how to use his big frame. For now, I assume Jesper Bratt moves onto the first line, but he's still only a middling streamer. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The first big trade deadline move happened two weeks early. Jason Zucker was sent to Pittsburgh in Bill Guerin's first big move as Wild GM, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, and a first round pick. So what does this do for Zucker's fantasy value? It puts it through the roof. Zucker immediately went on Crosby's wing in his first game, registering five shots on goals against the Lightning in 15 minutes. Sure, he's not going to get PP1 time, but the upside is tremendous given this opportunity. I grabbed Zucker in every league that I could just in case that it clicks with Crosby. We've seen Zucker score 30 goals in a season before and generate a ton of chances; now it'll be even easier with Crosby. As for the Wild side of things, it's a really good return. Addison was the Penguins' top prospect, and while their system wasn't loaded, he safely projects as a second pair, potential PP defenseman. I don't see huge upside, but there's value there. As for Galchenyuk, it can't get any worse than it was in Pittsburgh. He only received 12 minutes in his first game, and I'm certainly not rushing to use him, but it's worth monitoring to see if that changes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
For years, I've been predicting the big breakout from Filip Forsberg. All of the talent is there, but for whatever reason, be it injury or just inconsistency, it hasn't happened yet. Can it still happen? Absolutely. Forsberg is still only 25 years old and we've seen the upside over long stretches. Forsberg dished two assists against Washington on Wednesday before scoring two goals on four shots against the Devils on Thursday. That gives Forsberg nine points in his last nine games. The shot rate is elite and the points are around a 70 point pace. I'm still hopeful that he can have a season where he stays healthy and goes for 35+45 or even better. Nashville is about to start a crucial road trip so I'm expecting Forsberg's minutes to increase and the points to keep flowing. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two days:
James Neal opened the season on an absolute tear, a stretch that included a four goal game. He fell off dramatically over the last two months, but he had another massive game on Tuesday. Neal had a hat trick and an assist in the 7-5 win over the Rangers. So should we care? I mean, the Rangers are a disaster defensively. And the answer is... yes and no. What great advice! It all comes down to your team needs. Neal has been excellent on the power play and should continue to do so on Edmonton's first unit. The goals are going to keep coming in. On the other hand, he's -23 and has only eight assists on the season. If you're desperate for goals and power play points, or are in a league with extra categories that include PPG, then there's a case to hold Neal. Otherwise, I would prefer to stream him so he doesn't tank my plus-minus while also giving less assists than any other fantasy relevant player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
Joel Quenneville saw that Sergei Bobrovsky was rounding into form on Saturday after a strong performance against his old team. He rewarded him by starting him on Sunday despite being the second game in as many days. Bob delivered once again. After making 33 saves in the 4-1 win over Columbus, Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 31 shots in the 5-1 win over the Sharks. Yes, the season has been worst case scenario to this point for Bob. However, there's still plenty of time to turn it around and I think we see it. Sure, maybe he won't be the top 5 goalie he's been in the past, I can almost guarantee that. However, he could end up being a #1 again and for that reason alone, he's a great trade target. Over the rest of this month, he plays Tampa twice and Boston, with some decent offenses and poor ones mixed in. However, look at this January schedule: OTT, BUF, PIT, ARZ, VAN, DET, MIN, CHI. Not exactly a murderer's row. In fact, they don't even play Tampa again after this month. If I owned Bob, which I do, I'm being patient because I think it's going to turn around. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
A long time analytics darling, Joonas Donskoi is finally getting a chance on the first line in Colorado because of injuries, and he has taken full advantage. Donskoi scored a goal and added two assists with two shots playing 20 minutes in the 4-0 win over the Jets on Tuesday. That brings Donskoi up to 9+5 in 18 games, but with 6 points in the last 3 games. With this workload, I would be holding Donskoi. The Avs play every other day for the next week plus, and they're all on the road. That could mean even more minutes for the first line in Colorado as Bednar attempts to match MacKinnon (and therefore Donskoi) against the top players of the opposition. It's not going to last, but for the short term, Donskoi is a great option. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The best line in hockey remains in Boston, but the second best at the moment resides in Vancouver. On Wednesday, they were led by Brock Boeser, who had a hat trick and an assist with seven shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over the Kings. Boeser is now up to 7+7 in 12 games with over three shots per game, +6, and six penalty minutes. He's doing a little bit of everything, and with how well the Canucks are playing, there's no reason he can't finish with 35+40 or better. I'd bet on Boeser being a top 50 player at this point and it should only get better in the years to come. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I've been stubborn in terms of thinking Dougie Hamilton was going to have a massive fantasy season for years now. Loyal Razzballers know my love for guys who hit all of the categories, and Hamilton has always done that. It seems like Carolina is finally giving him the chance to be the #1 guy in all situations and he's off to a tremendous start. On Friday, Dougie scored a goal and an assist with four shots and two PIM. He followed that up with a goal on five shots Saturday, bringing him to 4+4 in 6 games with 19 shots, 6 PIM and +7. Obviously he's not going to keep up this pace, but this is the kind of start that can allow Hamilton to finish as a top five defenseman. In fact, gun to head, I'd bet on it happening right now. If you follow my rankings, odds are that you have Hamilton on your team in redrafts or keepers. If that's the case, don't even consider selling high because this isn't a fluke. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: