It hasn't even been two weeks since the regular season started and the hat tricks are already piling up! On Saturday, we had our most recent hat trick in Calgary as new Blue David Perron scored a hat trick on six shots and added an assist in the 6-4 win for St. Louis. Ken Hitchcock shuffled the lines before the game and the biggest beneficiary was Perron getting to play with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz. Obviously it worked out better than anyone could have imagined. Perron was horrible to start last season in Pittsburgh but took off in Anaheim so there is fantasy potential here. For now, if I had room, I would grab Perron just to be able to stream him on Tuesday to see what happens. The Blues play the Flames again who are a complete dumpster fire defensively at the moment so it's an excellent spot for Perron to produce and there's a chance he turns into a hold. Let's take a look at what else happened around the NHL this weekend:
For the first time since 2007-08, the Chicago Blackhawks were quite mediocre. Yes, they finished with 103 points but they had a negative goal differential at even strength. That's simply not going to get it done and at this point, the Blackhawks are out of the first tier of teams in the NHL. It sounds crazy to say with the stars they have but man, the roster is incredibly thin after the top few guys. For fantasy, there's not much in terms of value plays but if you're willing to spend a high pick, you'll have your choice of some studs. Let's take a look at what Chicago is working with:
Hey everyone! Before things start going full swing in a few weeks, I figured I'd post an article summarizing the biggest changes that have taken place this offseason around the NHL. It's been a crazy last few weeks between the draft and free agency so let's get right to it!
In the month of February, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has been even better than usual. After Monday night where he had a goal and two assists with two shots against Montreal, OEL now has 10 points (3+7) in 7 games with 27 SOG and 14 PIM. Eight of his points are on the power play which is excellent but that's come along with a -10 rating. You can stomach the plus-minus from OEL when in defenseman ranks, he's 2nd in goals, tied for 4th in points, 2nd in SOG and first in STP. In dynasties, he's solidified himself as the #3 defenseman going forward. It's crazy to think that OEL is still only 24 years old and the best years for Arizona are still to come. He deserves to be discussed about the Norris Trophy, not to win because Erik Karlsson has it in the bag, but as a finalist. Here's what else I saw around the league on a relatively busy Monday:
I've wrote a ton about Nikolaj Ehlers this season. At the beginning of the year, I thought he was must-own until Paul Maurice inexplicably dropped him into the bottom 6. A couple weeks ago, he was bumped into the top 6 and I said grab him again. Yesterday, I wrote about him at length here since I had him as my top streamer. I said that, "The minutes are up and getting a matchup with the Coyotes, who will be on the second of a back to back having just played an overtime game last night, is close to ideal. I think Ehlers should be owned in 12’ers right now but at the least, stream him tonight." And that's me quoting me doing what Grey does! Ehlers was amazing on Tuesday scoring a hat trick on four shots with two penalty minutes. He now has points in 4 straight and 8 points in his last 6 games. As I said before, he should have been owned in 12'ers already but he is still widely available so grab him right now! Here's what else I saw on a busy Tuesday night:
For most of the season, I've talked about why I wouldn't want to own Semyon Varlamov. Long story short, I don't trust the Avalanche to play defense well enough to prevent Varlamov from having a high goals against average. Well, the counter to that is Varlamov is a very good goaltender who can carry his team to wins. It happened twice this weekend. On Friday, he stopped 33 of 34 shots to beat the Blues 2-1 in a shootout, then he came back Saturday to make 42 saves against the Stars in a 3-1 victory. Even after these games, his goals against average is below league average but his save percentage is strong and he's top 10 in the league in wins. There's still plenty of value in a goalie like Varlamov, you just need to balance it by having an elite goalie to carry you in goals against average. Here's what else I saw around the league this weekend:
Welcome to the second edition of Assume the Position. Today we’ll be looking at a few defensemen that can help you fill out your roster. There are only a few elite level defenders out there; after them, if you want to gain an advantage, you’re going to have to make some sneaky pickups along the way. In shallow leagues, you’re looking to ride the hot hand with your defensemen. Keep track of not only which players are getting the power play minutes, but of those players, who is actually producing at any given time and ride their momentum. In this type of league, most teams should be able to roster four D-men that contribute in several categories. And if you lose one to injury, your replacement will likely be a lesser version but still contribute. Going deeper, however…
Finally Tuukka Rask owners have something to be happy about. Rask shutout the Coyotes, saving all 24 shots on goal in the Bruins 6-0 victory. Would I be happy as a Rask owner with this development. Of course, but mostly because this could give you a chance to sell Rask at a higher value. Arizona is going to be a horrible team and they are regressing quickly from their hot start. They are the type of team that the Bruins will dominate because their top-six is going to control the game and not allow their defense to be exposed. Bottom line, I don't see this as the start of a bounceback for Rask; I see it as an opportunity to get away from him while getting good value in return. Here's what else I saw Tuesday night:
Jimmy Howard, G (2 SV, 1 GA, 3 SA, .667%) has the worst luck. Just hours after he was named to the 2015 All-Star Game in a rebound season he was caught out of position, slid awkwardly against the far post to try to stop a wrap around chance and suffered a slight groin tear in the process. He coughed up the goal, too. After an MRI revealed the slight tear the initial estimates are that he’ll be out for at least a week now that he’s on IR, and up to a month or longer depending on the severity of the injury. We won’t know for sure how bad it is until Howie undergoes an ultrasound for a more accurate assessment, but whether he’s out of a week or a month, you have to add Petr Mrazek, G (L, 12 SV, 2 GA, 14 SA, .857%) everywhere.
The beginning is nigh! Yes my dear readers we’re drawing near to the start of the season so I won’t waste your time with a long blurb to kick this post off. I will say that this list is pretty comprehensive and if you can’t fill out your D based on this list you’re either playing in the deepest of leagues of you’re not very good at this fantasy hockey thing and should take up knitting. I covered as many guys as I could, but when I hit around the 65th rearguard there wasn’t much to say about the last ten guys so they became the honorable mentions. I guess that makes this a top 65 in some ways, but whatevs. There’s 75 names and sets o’ projections so I’m sticking to my guns. Plus, 75 sounds so much better than top 65, you know? As usual if I missed your guy or you have any questions, hit me up in the comments! At any rate, without further ado (there’s that word again), here are the 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Top 75 Defensemen: