It's time! Today's post will cover my current Top 20 players overall for the upcoming season. For those that are new to Razzball, my rankings consider goals, assists, special teams points, and shots on goal first and foremost. I put secondary value into plus-minus and PIM/hits as their values shift depending on league format. It's easier to stream players in these categories, especially PIM/hits, so I put priority into scorers, and especially shot volume as it is the best predictor for goals. Let's get to it!
The Oilers are peaking at the right time, as they've gone from battling for a playoff spot to battling for the Pacific Division. It started with a 5-4 win over the Coyotes on Monday, before a dominating 7-4 win over the Golden Knights on Tuesday. The man leading the way was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who continued his career season. RNH had a goal and an assist on Monday, before following that up with a goal and four assists with two shots against Vegas. That brings RNH up to a whopping 96 points (35+61), blowing away his previous career high of 69 points. 96, much nicer than 69. McDavid and Draisaitl justifiably get most of the attention surrounding the Oilers, but the impact that RNH has made this season can't be understated. Adding a third 100+ point player to the mix is insane, and Edmonton has as good of a set of forwards as there is in the league. They're a bit light on games the rest of the way, but their schedule is among the softest in the league, so look for the studs to continue to crush. As for where RNH will rank next season, that's an extremely difficult question to answer. I have to expect some regression, but how much? Given the mediocre shot rate, I assume I'll have RNH towards the bottom of the top 50? If he's only a PPG guy, there's plenty of value but it would be a bit underwhelming compared to other guys in his range i.e. his floor is lower. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We found a new level of ridiculousness on Thursday night. The Canadiens were in Florida and they managed to tie the record for the most goals in a first period in modern NHL history, and they did it in barely over 13 minutes! Both Montreal goalies allowed 3+ goals in the first 13 minutes, and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed goals on the first three shots he faced. My god. The Panthers ended up winning 9-5 to keep pace in the Eastern playoff race. The only player who made more than two points was Matthew Tkachuk, who had a goal and three assists to keep up his torrid pace. Thanks Aleksander Barkov for not getting three points when I pick him in the three point challenge! Anyways, Florida is battling hard for a Wild Card spot, so expect their studs to get all of the minutes they can handle. For playing all games against Eastern teams the rest of the way, Florida's schedule is fairly soft, so expect it to come down to the wire. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
This year couldn't be going any worse for the Columbus Blue Jackets. A horrible record, terrible injuries to key players, and dreadful goaltending have sunk them from the beginning. Now that they're in the Bedard race, their fans probably aren't even happy that they won on Tuesday night. Their prize free agent signing, Johnny Gaudreau, dominated the game with two goals and three assists, plus six shots on goal. That brings him up to 62 points in 64 games, a far cry from last season, but not a complete disaster. The question isn't about what to expect from Gaudreau for the rest of this season, but going forward. He turns 30 in the summer, but I'm not expecting drop off in the short term. Can he approach 100 points again? I have my doubts, but if Columbus is lucky enough to get Bedard, it can't be ruled out. Bedard would be the perfect compliment, and Fantilli wouldn't be a bad consolation prize. I was lower on Gaudreau than consensus so I don't have any of him this year, but there's always a chance that with his talent, he makes a huge difference over the last month. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Even with Columbus up 4-0 halfway through the game, it never felt remotely close to over. In the span of the first four minutes of the third period, the Penguins turned a 4-1 deficit into a 4-4 battle. A careless overtime penalty set the stage for Sidney Crosby to score the overtime game winner to complete the comeback. Crosby had a goal and two assists with four shots in the win, setting up a game on Thursday with the Islanders for the first wild card spot. While he's not at his peak anymore, Crosby still has a chance for 100 points again. You don't need me to tell you how good Crosby is, but where he'll rank going into next season is an interesting debate. My guess is that it's somewhere around 20th overall, a clear second rounder in drafts, but perhaps it's a few spots above that. Even at 36, he's given us no reason to expect him to slow down. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Surprisingly, we're having the most action ahead of the trade deadline that I can ever remember. There were a lot of trades over thee last two days that I'll be sure to cover below, but I have to start off with a four goal game. Anze Kopitar scored four goals in the 6-5 OT win over the Jets. I'm shocked that this was actually Kopitar's second four goal game of his career. Kopitar has a good chance for 30 goals now for the first time in six years. Kopitar has played his way into being a hold in all formats as he's closing in on a point per game. With the Kings in the thick of a playoff race, he should continue to get 20+ minutes a night. Kopitar has shown very few signs of slowing down in his age 35 season. He's one of the best players of his generation and doesn't get all of the credit that he deserves. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The rich keep getting richer. The Boston Bruins acquired Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from the Capitals on Thursday, sending draft picks and Craig Smith to Washington, and a pick to the Wild for retaining salary. I think this trade is far more interesting from the Washington perspective. They couldn't agree to a contract with Orlov, with the dispute being over the term of his next deal. Until a few days ago, it seemed farfetched that they would weaken their team for this season, but I actually think it's a smart move. Even if they snuck into the playoffs, they weren't going anywhere. They gained some additional ammo that they can flip in the offseason to make a push again next season. They have a lot of additional pending UFA's that could be on the way out, so it's hard to figure out who will be there in a week to benefit from this move. My guess is Trevor van Riemsdyk takes Orlov's spot on PP2, but he's also a UFA making 950k so he's a logical target for a lot of teams at that price, so he could be on the move too. Smith should crack the lineup, but I'm not expecting much at all. He's off the radar until we see him play. As for Boston, Orlov won't be getting PP time there with Lindholm holding down PP2, so he takes a slight hit to his value. The Bruins are so good that Orlov should stumble into enough points to be valuable in deeper leagues, but we're talking 14+ teams. Hathaway should do what he usually does, and that is pile up a bunch of hits and PIM with an okay goal rate for a fourth liner. All in all, this trade impacts real life more than fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We had a game of the year performance on Monday night by Connor Hellebuyck. Hellebuyck saved 50 of 51 shots in the 4-1 win over the Rangers, ending their winning streak. One of my best rankings this season over ADP was banking on Hellebuyck to bounce back after last season's disaster. I even said in my bold prediction that he'd win the Vezina, which Ullmark will probably ruin, but his season has certainly been Vezina worthy. But enough of patting myself on the back. Hellebuyck is sitting with a 2.39/.926, putting him in a battle with Oettinger for the #2 overall goalie to this point (the gap to #4 is massive). He's as good of a bet as any to finish the best goalie for the rest of the season considering the top end volume. Bottom line, Hellebuyck is entering his prime now and since he gets to play in a Bowness system, he should stay in tier one for the indefinite future. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Another star player has made his way to the Eastern Conference well ahead of the trade deadline. We already had Horvat and Tarasenko move, and now we have a former Conn Smythe winner. Ryan O'Reilly was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with Noel Acciari, for a bevy of draft picks. The Wild also acquired a pick for retaining salary, and there were prospects involved, but none of them are particularly relevant. For fantasy, we care about RoR and Acciari. Let's start with Acciari because it's easier. Acciari moved right onto Toronto's fourth line. He scored a goal against the Blackhawks on Sunday, and is piling up hits. He'll be a deep league value for his hits and decent goal rate. O'Reilly is an interesting debate. He's easily having the worst offensive season in the last decade. On the other hand, RoR has been playing much better lately, and he went right onto the second line with Tavares and Marner. He dished an assist in his debut on Saturday playing just over 16 minutes in the 5-1 blowout against Montreal. He also won 12 of 14 draws, which is notable that he bumped Tavares from the faceoff circle most of the time. I'm not rushing to pick up RoR, mostly because we know that he's not cracking Toronto's first power play unit. That said, there's upside in Toronto that he couldn't touch in St. Louis again. If you want to stream him on Tuesday against the Sabres and see where it goes, I can get behind that.
Carolina's offense has been a bit disappointing overall, with only Aho sitting around a point per game. The injury to Patches really put a hole in their lineup that I assume they're going to address before the trade deadline. On the bright side, their most recent high draft pick just had the game of his early career. Seth Jarvis scored a hat trick in the 6-2 win over Montreal on Thursday. Overall, Jarvis has taken a step back offensively this season which is disappointing. His points are down despite playing 2 minutes more per game on average. It's dropped him down to being a middling streamer, but it hasn't really changed my long term opinion of him. He has great speed, solid hands, and an elite compete level. Jarvis just turned 21 years old so the best is yet to come. If you owned him in a dynasty, I wouldn't panic. He's going to be a top six winger for a long time. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
While the NFL steals the spotlight during Championship Week, the Rangers started the weekend blowing out two top teams in Seattle and Carolina. They scored six goals in both games to bring their winning streak up to five. While it was a group effort on Friday, Artemi Panarin stole the show on Saturday. The Breadman scored four goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM against Carolina, after dishing an assist against the Kraken. Gallant shuffled the lines after Tarasenko's arrival, with Vincent Trocheck and Jimmy Vesey playing with Panarin again, setting up two of his goals. It was Panarin's third three-point game in his last eight, as he starts to heat up. While he hasn't approached his point production of his first three seasons in New York, Panarin is still on pace for 90+ points. That shows what kind of floor he has and why he's worthy of an early draft pick every year. Despite lower shots and PIM/hits, even his below average year (by his standards) is a top 50 player. Who knows, Panarin could finish the season on a massive heater and finally get to 100 points. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Senators have been a disappointment this season despite their big forward acquisitions in the summer. Turns out that you can't get away with completely ignoring the blue line and being forced to give bad players big minutes. Anyways, we don't care about that for fantasy, we care about their scoring, and their top players have largely delivered. Claude Giroux had a great weekend, totaling three goals and two assists with ten shots over two games. Giroux is having his best goal scoring season since his monstrous 34 goal, 102 point season in 2017-18. Unsurprisingly, that season and this season are Giroux's two highest shooting percentages, but it seems a bit more sustainable in this environment in Ottawa. Even with an inconsistent PP1 role, Giroux has still played his way into being a bottom end hold in all formats. The one problem is that after Ottawa's game on Tuesday, they don't play again until February 11th. My biggest point here with bottom end holds over these bye weeks is that you need to know your league format and whether the waiver wire is strong enough that you can drop someone like Giroux to get more games. In head to head leagues, volume is king, so you can make a case after Tuesday that you can let him go for players with a bunch of games after the All-Star break. In roto, I would hold onto Giroux without hesitation. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: