It's that time of the year! We are rapidly closing in on the fantasy hockey playoffs, and to help everybody out in terms of streaming and bottom end holds, I am back with my playoff manifesto. For those that are new here, I will break down the schedule of every team in the league over the last four weeks of the NHL Season (that means games starting with this Monday, 3/9) and highlight anything important, both good and bad. A few things to note before I get going.
The player with the most points this weekend was Connor. No, not McDavid. Kyle Connor continued his terrific season with two amazing games. First, he scored a goal and dished three assists against the Senators. Then, he followed it up on Sunday by scoring two goals and an assist with five shots in the win against the Blackhawks. That brings Connor up to a point per game on the season, 26+30 in 56 games. Connor is developing into one of the unheralded stars in the league. Overshadowed by Scheifele and Laine on his own team, this will be Connor's third straight 30 goal season at age 23. His shot rate is over three per game now and the penalty minutes have jumped quite a bit. I'm not sure how much higher his ceiling is, if at all, but it doesn't have to get higher. Connor has established himself as a player whose floor is 30+30 with plenty of upside from there. He's going to be a top 50 player (conservatively) for a long time, mixing in seasons where he's a top 25 player overall when he has some good fortune. The Jets are in terrific shape going forward offensively, now they have to do whatever they can to improve their blue line. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Last season, Leon Draisaitl had a massive breakout with 50+55. It seemed naive to expect better, but he's going to blow 105 points out of the water. Draisaitl scored two goals on six shots on Friday before dishing four assists with three shots on Saturday. That brings him to 29+54 in 52 games. That's over an assist per game! Sure, the penalty minutes have dried up and he's -7, but who cares!? He has four points more than his teammate for the most in the NHL and is now over three shots per game. It's not a lock that the Oilers make the playoffs, but they're a clear favorite to make it now, mostly on the backs of Draisaitl and McDavid. Even with the poor plus-minus and PIM, Leon is still the fourth best skater for the season. At this point, his floor is a top ten forward which puts him in a class of the world's truly elite. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
The Pittsburgh Penguins have taken a beating this season in terms of injuries, but they've kept chugging along piling up the wins. On Tuesday, Sidney Crosby returned and he didn't miss a beat. Crosby had a goal and three assists with three shots in the 7-3 win over the Wild. So what impact does Crosby's return to the lineup have in fantasy? Crosby centered Jared McCann and Dominik Simon on Tuesday. McCann had a goal and an assist with three shots and two PIM while Simon had a goal and an assist. These two guys are massive winners in this. Both are elite streamers with upside from there. Of the two, I prefer McCann going forward. Props to Joey Jo Jo Jr. Shabadoo for picking Crosby for three points! Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's safe to say that at 26 years old, Jonathan Huberdeau has plenty of hockey to play in his career. The scary thing is that he's going to destroy the Panthers point record. In Sunday's big win over the Maple Leafs, Huberdeau had a goal and an assist to pass Olli Jokinen for the most points in franchise history. After last season's breakout campaign where Huberdeau had 92 points, he's on pace to blow by that this season with 61 points in their first 45 games. The shot rate has fallen off to slightly below average, but I don't think anyone who drafted Huberdeau is complaining. He's a safe bet to finish as a top 20 overall player this season, and since he's entering his prime along with some of his other teammates (notably Barkov), the future is incredibly bright. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I talked a lot about Taylor Hall in Monday's post (you can read that here). The trade that I was talking about happened on Monday with Hall moving to Arizona. In the trade, Hall and Blake Speers went to Arizona for a 2020 conditional first-round draft pick, a conditional 2021 third-rounder, along with forward prospects Nate Schnarr, Nick Merkley and defenseman Kevin Bahl. First, let's look at this from Arizona's perspective. It's a steep price to pay for a rental, but Hall is the best player traded in quite some time, and Arizona is looking to snap a long playoff drought in a weak division. I totally get the move given their strong defensive talent but lack of overall offensive talent. Hall played on Tuesday dishing an assist and adding a shot in 18 minutes. He played with Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller. In Monday's piece linked above, I said to buy Keller going forward due to his recent play. This only enhances his value. Same goes with Dvorak, but he moves up to an elite streamer for now. As for New Jersey, it's hard to complain about this return. You have potentially two first round picks in this deal, but at least a 1 and 3. Bahl is a monster coming in at 6'7 and can skate fairly well. I don't see a PP guy there, but he should be a modern stay-at-home who is strong on the PK. For those in deep leagues, he should be a very good hits/blocks guy down the line. Merkley has decent upside, but he has already had reconstructive knee surgery. He's not the best skater, but he has great hockey IQ and should end up as a playmaking center in the middle six. Schnarr was a third round pick in 2018 who didn't show a ton of offense until after he was drafted. He then exploded in Guelph last season, but he's struggled in the AHL so far. That isn't a surprise as many 20 year olds struggle in their first pro season. I don't expect a ton, but there's a decent chance he ends up an NHL'er. All in all, seems like this trade has the potential to be a win-win once you consider that Hall seemingly didn't want to stay in New Jersey. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Loyal Razzballers know that I've been a big fan of Juuse Saros for a while. He's had a tough start to this season, but I still believe in the player long term. Saros was less than two minutes from a shutout on Tuesday, making 24 saves on 25 shots in the 2-1 win over the Sharks. His overall numbers are still poor, but the Predators have started to tighten up defensively. Saros is still only 24 years old and is one of the best long term goaltending prospects. Saros is starting to see even more action starting five of the last eight games. There's real upside here so if you need goaltending help, I'd grab him now. Additionally, I would try to get him in a dynasty league before he boosts his value back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two 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:
We're back with part two of this two part series. In today's post, I am going to talk about the rest of the league that I didn't talk about on Monday and hit on one or two things that are interesting for fantasy hockey. After today, I will be back to normal daily notes on Wednesday. Let's get to it! MONTREAL CANADIENS Montreal is falling apart at the moment having lost their last eight games. Carey Price has been a disaster with his season numbers below .900 sv% and his GAA above 3. It's to the point where I wouldn't be playing him every night. With the Islanders on the second of a back-to-back, I don't mind playing him tonight, but I definitely wouldn't play him against Colorado later in the week.