Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another year of Fantasy Hockey! I am LackeyDrinksOnMe, a Sabres fan who works in college admissions by day and devours hockey analysis by night. Last year, I had a weekly column about week-long streaming opportunities, targeting mostly-available players with multiple games per week, trying to fill slots for the slowest days. In my book, more player starts means more TOI, and the more time you have players on the ice the greater the chance for a lucky assist or to rack up a few extra hits or blocked shots.

I’ve been working on a top-100 skaters for your reading pleasure, ranking skaters on 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, to name a few. Part of what I’ve been trying to do has been to average these metrics for a holistic impression of a skater’s talent, but also supplementing those raw rankings with player age/development and the occasional eye test.

Like Viz indicated, once you get past the first few names there can be very little separation between certain players, and this obviously isn’t meant to be a comprehensive or be-all end-all ranking. Rather, it’s to give you another perspective on where players are being valued, and might reinforce an idea you have about a skater or surprise you with a hot take. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.

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We’re keeping things moving here on the hockey side of things at Razzball as we’re less than two months from the season starting!  It’s not just me: Son has his top 10 out, everyone is posting their football rankings, and Smokey has the EPL RCL set up.  That’s ignoring all of the good baseball psts as we approach the closing stretch.  Today, I’m completing my top 40 forward lists.  Nineteen of these guys were already covered in the top 10 and top 20 posts, so the focus will be on players 20-40.  Let’s get going!

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We’re back continuing this season’s rankings.  You guys know the drill by now so I’m not going to waste your time with a big introduction.  My main thought is that the tier that started with #8 overall (check out the top 10 here) actually goes to around 18th overall instead of 15th.  The gaps between these players are much smaller than in the past so you can go a lot of different ways based on personal preference.  Do you want higher upside, the safer player, six category guys?  All of this is in play and will make for some interesting draft strategy.  Strategy will come in later posts, but for now, let’s get through the top 20:

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He won’t win the Hart, but Anze Kopitar’s season should not go unnoticed.  He had his best game of the season scoring four goals on seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Avalanche.  That brings Kopitar to 33 goals and 53 assists in 75 games.  That’s a new career high in assists and points, and goals may not be too far behind.  Not so bad for a guy people were worried about after last season’s 52 points.  He’ll never be in the top tier of fantasy players because of the lack of PIM and average shot rate, but Kopitar has reestablished himself as a fringe top 25 guy.  Here’s to hoping he keeps it rolling over the last two weeks.  Let’s take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:

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Now is the time of the year where we see college players decide to forgo their collegiate career and sign an entry level contract.  There have been a bunch of players in recent years who have made an immediate impact, such as Chris Kreider and Brock Boeser.  We could have another name to add to the list.  Ryan Donato signed an ELC with Boston and had quite the NHL debut, scoring a goal and two assists with six shots playing almost 20 minutes..  With all of the graduates the Bruins have had over the last year, Donato is currently their #1 prospect (at least in my eyes).  He was a great goal scorer at Harvard and did very well in the Olympics scoring five goals in five games.  His shot is his best attribute but he’s also a strong skater.  I don’t see superstar upside, but Donato can definitely become a top 6’er.  He’s a streamer for now depending on who he’s with and how many minutes he’s getting, but he’s certainly a solid dynasty target.  Donato played on the first power play unit and the second line on Monday, so here’s to hoping that’s what we get for the rest of the season, at least until Patrice Bergeron returns.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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Rick Nash, the vice president of The Round Face Hockey Club, was traded to the Bruins as they look to make a deep run this postseason.  I’m going to have a live trade deadline post again this year updating all of the trades throughout tomorrow.  I’m also going to be recording a podcast with Reid right around 3 pm tomorrow to give our thoughts on everything that happens.  I have the feeling it’s going to be crazy.  For Nash, I think he’s a solid speculative add if you need the shots.  He played on Sunday against Buffalo on the second line, recording five shots on goal in 17:27.  He’s over three shots per game on the season, the plus-minus should improve on Boston, and everyone can use goals on their team.  I don’t think he’ll be a world beater, but with only 20 games left, it’s certainly possible that Nash gets hot with his shot volume.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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No, I’m not talking about the musical.  I’ve used “Teach Me How to Dougie” before, so I needed to change it up.  Dougie Hamilton scored the first hat trick of his career on Saturday, albeit in a 6-3 loss to the Panthers.  He probably won’t match last season’s 50 point total, but Hamilton has been just as good.  He’s over three shots per game, the plus-minus is solid, the PIM are there, and a career high in goals is a near-certainty (he needs one more).  As someone who has a betting ticket on the Flames to win the Cup, I just wish Glen Gulutzan would play Dougie more.  Their first pair is so damn good that there’s no reason for Hamilton to be under 25 minutes per game.  Regardless, he’s a solid #2 fantasy D for the all-around contribution with upside to be a bottom-end #1.  With his recent play (11 points in his last 10 games), hopefully that happens.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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Monday night was a short slate, but there were a couple great games.  Florida and Edmonton decided that defense (and goaltending) was optional leading to a 7-5 barn burner.  Vincent Trocheck took over the game late, scoring three goals in the third period on six shots to record his first career hat trick.  No matter what format you play, Trocheck has been incredible this season.  By the end of the month, there’s a great chance that Trocheck has set career highs in goals, assists, PPP (already did that) and SOG.  The 24 year old is also a monster in faceoffs, hits, and blocks for a forward as well.  For those of us in standard leagues, Trocheck looks like a top 35 player for this season and in the future, if not even better.  He’s basically Jamie Benn with a better shot rate and a lower floor for penalty minutes (obviously plus-minus can shift year-to-year).  The only potential downside going forward is that Trocheck is already averaging 21:33 per game, which has nowhere to go but down.  Either way, that’s of no concern for me; Trocheck is still underrated in my eyes.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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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:

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