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 19th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re heading East from Toronto – or should I say, est – to Montreal! Last season, coach Claude Julien and the Habs surprised the Atlantic division, coming just a single point shy of a playoff birth. With some young talent taking major steps forward last season, can the Canadiens pull it off again?
We are almost done with forwards as we'll get through the top 80 forwards after this post. Reminder that I will go through the top 100 forwards, then go to an overall top 200 at the end where more forwards will be added. To see my top 60 forwards, you can go through this link here. Let's get to it! 61) Joe Pavelski - It is going to be weird seeing Pavelski in a Stars uniform. He's coming off a great season with the Sharks with 38 goals and 26 assists in 75 games. I do have a few concerns though. One, he shot 20.2% last season, a number surely to regress. That success covered up the second point, that his shot rate dropped down to 2.5 per game, quite a down tick from previous levels. Three, he's 35 years old now, and while I don't expect a massive dropoff, we probably have seen the best of Pavelski. On the good side of things, the Dallas power play should be incredible, and odds are Pavelski will get to play with one of the other star forwards. Two seasons ago, Pavelski had 22+44. I do think the assists go back up towards that number in Dallas, but the goals probably go back below 30 unless the shot rate goes back up.
When I started looking for specific players to write about for the offseason, I wasn't really thinking about anyone on the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks were bad last season and they're almost certainly going to be bad again. That said, we saw last year that players on bad teams can still do well in fantasy, notably Stone before Ottawa traded him. Well, when I did some digging, I found that a Razzball favorite i.e. one of my personal favorites was performing at a level that even I didn't realize. So what makes Ondrej Kase a sleeper for the upcoming season?
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:
Patrice Bergeron has had an excellent career to this point, one that gives him a chance at making the Hall of Fame one day if he ages well. To this point, we've seen no signs of him slowing down. That continued on Tuesday as Bergeron scored two goals in his 1000th career NHL game. He became the fifth Bruin to reach that mark, and he'll be 3rd all-time early next season behind Bourque and Bucyk. On a per-game basis, this has been the best season of his career. He has 18+28 in 37 games with an elite shot rate. This is his eighth straight season with a Corsi over 56%. Bergeron is arguably the best defensive center in the game who is good enough to dominate the other team's top players on a nightly basis. His prowess is what gives the Bruins a chance to upset someone, presumably Toronto, in the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn't be selling high if I owned him; the first line is so damn good that very few teams have a chance against them. Let Bergeron continue to provide great value to your team. Here's what else happened on a busy Tuesday night:
Mark Stone has been a favorite of Razzball Hockey (aka me) for a few years now. One of the most underrated players in hockey, Stone is an above average first liner, no doubt about it. Somebody is going to pay him a ton in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and he'll be worth every penny. Stone had an incredible game on Tuesday scoring two goals on seven shots while adding in three assists as well. That brings him to 6+12 in 15 games. He's somehow available in 25% of leagues on ESPN, which is crazy. Stone should be owned everywhere, and while I've been clamoring for him to be traded so he's even better, it's become abundantly clear that he'll produce just fine in Ottawa this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Being the stand alone game on Thursday afternoon, I was watching the Jets-Panthers game in Finland closely. For the first half of the game, Patrik Laine looked awful. He was so bad that he didn't even get 4 minutes of ice time in the first period. Well, Laine ended up making the natives who came to watch him happy, as he ended up scoring a hat trick on seven shots. That matched his total from the first 12 games of the season. Obviously I wasn't panicking about Laine, but my hopes that his ice time would take a nice jump this season isn't looking promising. There's still plenty of time, and I wouldn't be surprised if Laine goes on a run where he scored 9 goals in 10 games. His floor is just a bit lower than I hoped because the Jets are so good that Maurice doesn't have to give him big minutes. I said he would score 50 in the preseason, and the shot rate has jumped to the point where it's possible if he can get his time on ice back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Jeff Skinner was off to a slow start with the Sabres going pointless in his first four games. That said, having watched all of the games, he was generating plenty of chances and it was only a matter of time. That time was on Saturday, as Skinner did all of the work on Rasmus Dahlin's first career goal getting his first point as a Sabre, and he followed that up with a smooth backhander in the third period for his first goal. Yes, Skinner played only 13 minutes in this game, but I expect him to settle in the 17-18 minute range as the season progresses. Other players had bigger games on Saturday, but I wanted to highlight Skinner for two reasons. One, if you own him, do not panic and hold onto him. Two, if you don't, you might be able to buy low, and I think it's a great opportunity to get a 3 time 30 goal scorer on the relative cheap. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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.
I've now gone through 100 forwards, 40 defensemen, and 35 goalies in my rankings. That means it's time to put together a top 100 list! This will simply be a list without details on the players; you can read the details in my previous rankings posts. I'll be writing a blurb on some risers and fallers for players that have moved significantly over the last couple weeks first before giving you that list. Let's get to it!