And we're back! The NHL season starts in just over a month so it's time to start my rankings. I will end up ranking the top 20 players overall, goalies, 100 forwards, 40 D, and then making a top 200 list before the season starts. For now, I'll be doing the top 10 overall in this post. As an aside, if you have any interest in writing fantasy hockey posts for Razzball, please let me know in the comments section below. Let's get to it!
1) Connor McDavid - Don't overthink it. McDavid played at a 154 point pace last season and is so far above the rest of the field. If you're lucky enough to pick first, congrats on the big head start.
As President of the “Mark Stone Fan Club” going back to 2014, it’s great to see him playing at an all-world level. Stone had two assists with two shots on Friday before adding a goal and an assist with three shots on Sunday, both against the Ducks. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Prince Igor Shesterkin had one of the easiest games of his life on Thursday, recording a 16 save shutout in the 4-0 win over the Devils. The debate I have is where he should be ranked in dynasties. Vasilevskiy is clearly #1 still, but could be Igor be #2 overall? With Hart having a brutal season, there aren't many other candidates. Hellebuyck definitely deserves discussion, but it appears that Shesterkin has played his way into being a top 3 dynasty goalie. The Rangers are coming on strong right now, and it should only get better going forward as their young players develop. Amazingly, the Rangers could have another incredible run in net after King Henrik dominated for almost 15 years. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
Injuries are a part of the game, but always terrible to see. Unfortunately, a Razzball favorite went down on Monday night. Brendan Gallagher broke his thumb and is out multiple weeks. If you have an IR spot, definitely stash him, but if you don't, you can sadly let him go. So who gets the boost in Montreal? Jesperi Kotkaniemi moved to the wing and took Gallagher's spot which boosts him up to a solid streamer from a middling one. Eric Staal scored the overtime winner in his Canadiens debut and is now centering Toffoli and Drouin. He looked completely shot in Buffalo, but maybe the trade plus the easier division rejuvenate him. Let's see how he looks over the next couple games before we use him. I also really like what I've seen from Josh Anderson lately who is playing more minutes. The assists are brutal, but the goals and shots should be quite good. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Things have taken a dramatic turn for the fourth playoff spot in the West division. With the Blues crumbling, Arizona has played its way into the fourth spot. They opened up a three point lead on Sunday night, almost exclusively because of Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun had the first hat trick of his career, tying the game late in the third before scoring the winner in overtime. That gives him twelve goals on the season pushing towards three shots per game and with elite penalty minutes. He's a solid #2 for this season, but what's the long term ceiling? Chychrun just turned 23 years old and this jump in shot rate does a lot for his long term value. In terms of dynasties, Chychrun has shown me enough this year to warrant a spot in the bottom of the top ten for defensemen, making him a #1D. He's a stud, plain and simple. Arizona has been a surprise offensively, and a lot of it has to do with their kingpin defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
"Joonas Donskoi is pushing towards being an elite streamer. Donskoi has eleven points in the past nine games while he received some shifts on the top PP unit on Monday as well." And that's me quoting me from two days ago! Well, Donskoi is certainly at that level now. Donskoi had a hat trick in the first period on Wednesday, adding an assist and six shots in the 9(!)-3 win over the Coyotes. Donskoi's third goal was on the PP with the top unit which does wonders for his value. While he's this hot, Donskoi is worth holding. I don't necessarily expect it to last, but he could easily stay an elite streamer for the rest of the season. The way the Avalanche are playing right now, I want as much to do with their offense as possible. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Sure, it's on the basis of playing two more games than Washington, but the Islanders in first place in late March is a truly remarkable feat. Yes, they did make the Conference Finals last season, but in this division, they were not expected to contend for first place. Goaltending is going a long way for their success, and their future is starting to become more of the present. Ilya Sorokin saved 36 of 37 shots in the 2-1 OT win over the Flyers on Monday night. That brings Sorokin to 8 wins in 11 games with a 1.97/.922 stat line. That's elite right off the bat for the rookie which has led Sorokin to starting four games over the past two weeks. Semyon Varlamov's numbers and Sorokin's are nearly identical and for now, Trotz seems content to split between the two of them. Long term, Sorokin is one of the best goalies for fantasy hockey, granted he's a 25 year old rookie. That said, he's playing enough right now that I would own Sorokin in all formats. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It’s not too often that a goalie gives up more goals than he makes saves, especially playing a full period. Hunter Miska, come on down! The good news for Colorado is they have a ton of firepower and they still managed to win by four goals after allowing four in the first. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Tristan Jarry had his best game of the season on Monday night stopping 42 of 43 shots in the 4-1 win over the Bruins. He's crossed both hockey versions of the Mendoza line and the wins are strong, but it's still not pretty overall. However, I'm very bullish on Jarry and Casey DeSmith going forward. The Penguins are playing much better lately and their schedule going forward is outstanding. They still have six games with the Sabres and all eight games against the Devils. That means half of their remaining games are against teams that they should handle with ease. Think of how well goalies like Andersen normally rank at the end of the season because of how many wins they get. Both Pens goalies should have those kind of numbers in the second half. It's hard to say how the starts will be split, but if you're desperate for goalie help, I'm fine with holding DeSmith, and Jarry is a nice trade target. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL. Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected. On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating. He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes. I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL. Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward. Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now. I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers. Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that. Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: