After two years of being in the basement of the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres made a large improvement in 2015-16. They finished one game below the NHL's version of .500, finishing with 81 points. This coming season, the Sabres should be ready to make a push for a playoff spot, especially considering that they are in arguably the weakest division in the NHL at the moment. At least that's what I'm hoping for being a Sabres fan! Let's take an in-depth look at the Sabres current roster and a few of their top prospects for those of you in dynasty leagues:
As far as fantasy disappointments go for this hockey season, Evgeni Malkin may have been right at the top going into this week. In 17 games, he had 12 points, which is far below his normal standards. On Tuesday, Malkin single-handedly beat the Wild, scoring two goals and adding two assists in the 4-3 win. Now, 16 points in 18 games with 18 PIM and a +5 doesn't look as bad. One more big game and Malkin is back to his normal levels. I assume this game kills the chance to buy low but I'd look to add as many of the top Penguins as possible in trades; you can't keep these superstars down.
Here's what else I saw on Tuesday night:
For the past two weeks or so, I've been talking about Jason Zucker as someone to pick up in fantasy hockey. The second line on the Wild was dominating possession and it was only a matter of time until they broke out. On Thursday, despite the Wild being dominated by the Hurricanes, they persevered and won 3-2 in OT behind two goals by Zucker, who also contributed five shots. He's up to 13 points so far in 15 games so if it was for debate, it isn't anymore; he's a must add in all leagues.
Here's what else I saw on the big Thursday night slate:
Petr Mrazek was the goalie waiting in the wings, for the Wings, for a couple years until the end of last season. He took over the job and played well through the playoffs until they lost to the Lightning in 7 games. Now, he's on the better side of the Wings platoon in net and he showed why he should get the majority of the starts on Tuesday, stopping all 38 shots against Washington in the 1-0 win, including a whopping 15 shots from Alex Ovechkin. Ideally, you would still own Jimmy Howard with Mrazek but Mrazek looks to be on the better side of the split right now.
Here's what else I saw on the massive slate on Tuesday:
Marv: Welcome back everyone, well to the six guys and one girl who read our Buy/Sell articles. I have to say it has been a pretty interesting start to the season. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, well you clearly are not taking advantage of Viz’s daily recaps & articles. The guy has something up almost every day. So what’s your plan? Do you want to win your league or just contribute to someone else’s winnings each year?
Oh yeah, can you feel it coming on? I feel a rant brewing, bubbling, I probably won’t be able to keep it in much longer…
Hey guys! With the short three game slate yesterday, I'm going to change things up for today. I will recap those games in the Friday night post. I was getting a lot of feedback in the comments that people like the advanced stats included so I'm going to take a look at some stats for the first three weeks of the season, both from a team perspective and individual players. I will give definitions for the stats, show who ranks well or poorly and what that means going forward. For example, James Van Riemsdyk has the 4th best Corsi For percentage in the entire NHL at 62.1%. That means when JVR is on the ice, Toronto has 62.1% of the total shots taken. Obviously, league average is 50%. Going forward, this means that JVR is dominating the game when he is on the ice and along with the opportunity to score a ton of points, his plus-minus will probably be better than expected in the preseason. He's an excellent trade target because Mike Babcock is putting him in a great position to succeed. Now, 10 games isn't a great sample size to say that all of these things are going to hold but they should be a solid indicator of things to come. These stats are coming from HockeyAnalysis and War on Ice. Let's dive in and take a further look!
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:
When you look at the Montreal Canadiens' roster, I see a quality team with three superstars, but not a team that amazes you on paper. Right now, you have a team that's clicking on all cylinders, starting 9-0 with every win in regulation. Even when they get outplayed, like they did on Saturday, they have Carey Price to bail them out. Price stopped 49 of 52 shots to carry Montreal to a 5-3 in the second game of a back to back. If you were bold enough to take him in the first round, it's paying off so far. Hell, almost all Canadiens have been great so far and are carrying fantasy teams in plus-minus by themselves.
Let's take a look at what happened in a busy weekend around the league:
Marv: Every year I spend way too much time preparing for my drafts. I love it all, waiting for your target to fall to your pick to the last minute scramble of finding a replacement when the guy picking before you grabs the player you want. I know tons of guys (& some girls) who love the draft as well and also spend way too much time preparing and worse, taking the full 90 seconds for each pick. What baffles me is when a person spends so much time preparing to draft and is so methodical in their draft picks but then never makes any moves throughout the year. Fine, you drafted an amazing team on paper and I’m sure I’ll hear about how great your players are, but if you’re not watching the available wire talent out there, you’re missing out securing your victory. For me, I believe that a fantasy league win is brought to you by 50% initial draft, 50% wire action (trades and pick-ups/drops). I guess I should also add 10% for sheer luck, but don’t trust me I’ve never been great at math. It’s so important to keep watching the wire/available guys but also do not forget to watch players who are getting dropped by your league mates. I can’t tell you how many times I have struck gold picking up a player who was dropped by an impatient owner.
Pesos: Although I agree with what Marv is saying, it still has to be said that we are two weeks into a long, long season. Guys are certainly going to cool down. I’m looking at your Max Domi and Anthony Duclair. The key is being patient and looking at the possible reasons why someone is going on a hot streak to help determine if it’s an unsustainable streak or if the player is starting to get more playing time.
Marv: Hopefully in your case you have a better team than Pesos and you are merely looking to swap out a player or two after a couple weeks (and not your complete roster, eh Pesos!) So please see below for our first Buy & Sell guys, based on players owned in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues.
Hey guys! The season starts in two weeks, so I wanted to power through these rankings so you have them in time for your upcoming drafts. I am going to keep the comments to each player shorter than in the past unless it's someone I feel most would be surprised at the ranking, but as always, feel free to ask anything in the comments section below. I will do these rankings through the top-200 and then have a separate post coming up for players that I like the most outside the top-200, mostly for upside reasons because that's what you're looking for with your last few picks. Let's get right to it!
Marv: My friend Pesos and I are pretty big into hockey (it's a requirement up in Canada). We are very excited for the new hockey season and we hope you are too. Pesos, you’re really sticking with that name eh? Alright, there have been worse names I guess (Maple Leafs).
Pesos: Really? With a name like Marv you’re going to chirp me? When did we travel back to 1977? Anyways, the season is right around the corner and with the amount of changes league wide things are going to be as interesting and entertaining as ever.
This is our preseason article where we will present some of our targets in our upcoming drafts and some of the guys we are avoiding.
Marv: Can I just list the whole Leafs roster for players to avoid? Does that count?
What fantasy draft prep wouldn’t be complete without checking out Viz’s Top 75 rankings
and Top 20 defensemen
With three weeks left until the NHL trade deadline the Toronto Maple Leafs started selling off some assets sending Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli to the Preds for Olli Jokinen, prospect Brendan Leipsica, a 2015 first round pick and a bag of pucks. Typically a move out of the fantasy value black hole that is the Maple Leafs would be a boon to most players but unfortunately for Franson owners the move out of the barren wasteland of Toronto to the fertile fields of Nashville does little to boost his value. In fact, the move probably hurts more than it helps.