It's not exactly breaking news that John Tavares moves the needle for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He showed why he was worth the mammoth contract on Sunday, scoring a hat trick on seven shots with two PIM in the 7-6 win over the Blackhawks.  The main thing that I want to talk about here is Toronto in general.  This offense is incredible, but they also remain a sieve defensively.  I have a hard time treating them among the truly elite teams in the league until that is tightened up, at least somewhat.  That's why I picked them to finish third in the division again.  But for us in fantasy, stream everyone you can for the Leafs, and against them for that matter.  I'd have a hard time playing any goalie against them right now; it better be someone that's damn good.  They're a fantasy gold mine on both sides.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Howdy, it's me, LackeyDrinksOnMe!! As much as we love hockey and fantasy hockey, we don’t always have time to catch all the games we want. Viz is a champion at giving an impression of the player situation league-wide, but my plan is to narrow in on a game or two a week to cover two teams from top to bottom. I’m going to watch a game or two each week and will take a deep dive on each team, moving period by period Twitter-update style with a wrap-up and then following that stream of thought with a few league-wide notes. This works better with my schedule and will be something I’ll be able to continue into the spring when things start getting crazy at work. Hopefully doing this gives my fellow Razzball readers a good impression of what some games are like, even if you have no interest in viewing them yourself, and depending on the depth of your league I hope this can provide some useful insights. I’m watching the opening NHL game tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. I’m looking specifically for how Auston Matthews and John Tavares are used, how the defense in front of Frederik Anderson stacks up, how Montreal handles any power-play opportunities they are given, and how Carey Price looks in goal after a shaky campaign last year.
Here is what I wrote about J.T. Miller in Tuesday's post: "J.T. Miller is getting huge minutes in Tampa and has six points in six games for the Bolts.  The shot rate is rough, but Miller should be held despite that.  Everything else should be a clear plus and nothing is better than playing for Tampa.  Miller was on the fringe for the Rangers so this move is enough to move him to a hold."  And that's me quoting me!  Well, Miller exploded on Tuesday night, scoring his first career hat trick and putting ten shots on goal.  He played over 20 minutes, including on the top power play unit.  Long story short, if you had any doubt about whether Miller should be held, this game should eliminate that.  Pick the man up because he can be a huge difference maker down the stretch.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine.  That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season.  Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night.  Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings.  That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser).  Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties.  Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season.  Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy.  The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game.  On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain.  There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up.  Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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. I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas, wonderful time with family and friends, and solid New Year’s Eve plans lined up. Your extended-play streamer column is here, albeit a little reduced due to the holidays. We’re on the downhill stretch for most fantasy seasons, and for most leagues this is a short week. 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 don’t have access to my desktop right now, but the abbreviated version of what I want to reiterate every thread is this:
Aleksander Barkov is in a dead heat with McJesus for the most time on ice per game as a forward in the NHL.  Barkov has been making those minutes count in October and he continued to do so on Monday.  Barkov finished the month with a bang scoring a goal and three assists with two shots against the Lightning.  The bad news for Barkov is that his team was still electrocuted by the Lightning losing 8-5.  The good news for us fantasy owners is that it doesn't affect us.  Barkov has been outstanding and if these minutes last, a top 50 season is a near lock.  Let's take a look at what else happened around the league on Monday night:
Once you get outside of the top 200 overall, you're looking at the last 2-3 picks in a standard 12 man league.  There are a few different ways you can go about making your last few picks.  You can shoot for upside, get a couple safe players if you already have plenty of upside, fill out your last couple defensemen, grab a goalie out of desperation.  I'm going to list a bunch of players in different categories that fall outside of my top 200 that you can target depending on what you're looking for.  I'm not going to go into detail on these guys but I will put them in my order of preference.  Here is my list:
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: