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.
Injuries this time of year are the main thing we are trying to avoid. This season probably hasn't been as bad as last year, but unfortunately two of the best players in the world are going to be out for a while. Steven Stamkos needed core muscle surgery which will put him out for 6-8 weeks. That's right into the first round of the playoffs, so for those of you in redrafts, you can safely cut Stamkos at this point. Stone is week-to-week with a lower body injury, but DeBoer could only say that he is hopeful that Stone will be back before the regular season ends. In other words, I'm not counting on it and it would be a bonus if Stone does return. So who are the beneficiaries? In Tampa, it's clearly Ondrej Palat right now as he took Stamkos' place with Point and Kucherov. I would own Palat in all formats. In Vegas, Nicolas Roy is currently with Patches and Karlsson. Will it stick? Who knows, but he did score a goal against the Sabres on Friday. He's a solid streamer for the time being until we see if he keeps that role. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last few nights:
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. After being initially ruled out for three weeks, Brock Boeser was subsequently ruled out for eight weeks, and possibly the season. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The first big trade deadline move happened two weeks early. Jason Zucker was sent to Pittsburgh in Bill Guerin's first big move as Wild GM, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, and a first round pick. So what does this do for Zucker's fantasy value? It puts it through the roof. Zucker immediately went on Crosby's wing in his first game, registering five shots on goals against the Lightning in 15 minutes. Sure, he's not going to get PP1 time, but the upside is tremendous given this opportunity. I grabbed Zucker in every league that I could just in case that it clicks with Crosby. We've seen Zucker score 30 goals in a season before and generate a ton of chances; now it'll be even easier with Crosby. As for the Wild side of things, it's a really good return. Addison was the Penguins' top prospect, and while their system wasn't loaded, he safely projects as a second pair, potential PP defenseman. I don't see huge upside, but there's value there. As for Galchenyuk, it can't get any worse than it was in Pittsburgh. He only received 12 minutes in his first game, and I'm certainly not rushing to use him, but it's worth monitoring to see if that changes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three 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:
It was only a matter of time before Vegas got on a heater. The Golden Knights won their fourth straight game on Tuesday night and Jonathan Marchessault led the way. Marchesssault scored a hat trick on a whopping 9 shots on goal to beat the Devils 4-3. While Marchessault hasn't quite gotten back to the level he was at in his first season in Vegas, he has been very good this season. He has 8+13 in 30 games with an elite 104 SOG. If anything, we should expect more goals because even after this hat trick, he's still at a career low shooting percentage. I'm expecting Vegas to go on a massive run soon and Marchessault should be at the forefront. This is also a good point for anyone looking to make a futures bet to place a wager on Vegas to win the Cup. No, I don't think they're the best team, but you can get them at 20 or 22-1 at the moment and they might have the best chance in the league to make the Conference Finals given the weak division. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
The gap between Brad Marchand and the rest of the league right now for fantasy hockey is incredible. Marchand scored five points on Monday, tallying two goals and three assists and a +4 rating. It's nothing new, but the first line in Boston has managed to find a way to get even better. Marchand is crushing every category with 10+18 in 15 games with a +13 rating, 28 PIM and 41 SOG. He's as good of a bet as any to finish as the #1 player in fantasy this season. Honestly, he'd be my pick as long as he avoids a lengthy suspension. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Brayden Point made his season debut on Thursday for a big showdown with the Maple Leafs. Unsurprisingly, he started right where he left off, scoring two goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 7-3 win. The Bucs beat the Argonauts! Anyways, we know how good Point is and that he's an elite options in all formats. A couple other takeaways from this game. One, Point went on the first line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who had four points each. If that line sticks together, watch out. Two, the new fifth person on the top power play unit was Anthony Cirelli, who ended up with three assists, two on the power play. I'm a big fan of Cirelli's game but he didn't get the opportunity. Now, he is centering the second line and on the top power play unit. He's a must own in all formats. Three, Tampa Bay really is the better version of Toronto. The defensemen on Toronto just can't keep up. I mean, Cody Ceci? Even Rielly and Barrie aren't good defensively. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're at the end of individual rankings! Almost 15,000 words later, we've ranked the top 100 forwards and 40 defensemen. Now, we conclude that with my goaltending rankings. I'm going to start by talking about my goaltending strategy for drafts, then split the goalies into tiers. I'm not going to go in-depth on every goalie, just the ones that I feel are worth talking about, mostly because I'm higher or lower on somebody. The reason I don't want to go very in-depth on every goalie is that the variance on goaltending from season to season is massive. In other words, even the best goalies have poor seasons from time to time, and guys will come out of nowhere to have excellent seasons. Did anyone know who Jordan Binnington was a year ago? The public certainly did not. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss were afterthoughts for most. Darcy Kuemper was the backup and wasn't drafted outside of deep leagues. Those goalies were the 3rd-6th ranked goalies at the end of the season. This is why I never draft goalies in the first two rounds, and never more than one in the first 7-8 rounds. If you like to have one presumed top end goalie, that's fine, go for it in the 4th-5th rounds if they're still there. Just do not reach, because the range of outcomes in goalies is incredibly wide, while forwards and defensemen are much more certain. Any other questions on this, let me know in the comments section below. Here are my tiers: