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 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:
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:
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:
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL. Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position. The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion. First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back. Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league. I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out. I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being. Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Bruins split up their first line recently and there's been one massive winner: Danton Heinen. Heinen had a great rookie season in 2017-18 with 47 points in 77 games. He's struggled mightily this season but Heinen has taken off since moving onto a line with Marchand and Bergeron. Heinen had a goal and two assists with three shots against the Blackhawks on Tuesday. That gives him three goals and three assists in the past four games, with at least three shots on goal in every game. If you're in a 16+ teamer, Heinen should be owned no matter the format. Even in 12'ers, I am good with holding onto Heinen while he's hot and the Bruins have three games in four nights starting on Friday. At the least, he's moved up to elite streamer status as he's as hot of a schmotato as they come. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Patrice Bergeron has had an excellent career to this point, one that gives him a chance at making the Hall of Fame one day if he ages well. To this point, we've seen no signs of him slowing down. That continued on Tuesday as Bergeron scored two goals in his 1000th career NHL game. He became the fifth Bruin to reach that mark, and he'll be 3rd all-time early next season behind Bourque and Bucyk. On a per-game basis, this has been the best season of his career. He has 18+28 in 37 games with an elite shot rate. This is his eighth straight season with a Corsi over 56%. Bergeron is arguably the best defensive center in the game who is good enough to dominate the other team's top players on a nightly basis. His prowess is what gives the Bruins a chance to upset someone, presumably Toronto, in the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn't be selling high if I owned him; the first line is so damn good that very few teams have a chance against them. Let Bergeron continue to provide great value to your team. Here's what else happened on a busy Tuesday night:
Cory Schneider has been atrocious all season and Keith Kinkaid has had a brutal December. Enter Mackenzie Blackwood into the crease for the Devils, and the former second round pick has immediately caught fire. Please, blog, may I have some more?
When we think about Tom Wilson going wild, it usually refers to him doing something dirty and piling up penalty minutes. Don't get me wrong, he's still getting penalty minutes, but he's been fabulous offensively since returning from suspension. Wilson scored two goals and an assist with six shots and two PIM in the 4-1 win over the Islanders on Monday. In his eight games, Wilson has 6+6 with a +6 rating, 11 PIM and 21 SOG. He's also averaging over 20 minutes per night. There's no doubt about it, Wilson should be owned in all formats right now. He's still available in about 1/3rd of leagues, so if you're lucky enough to be in one of them, pounce immediately. Obviously he's not going to stay at a point per game, but the offensive will be solid with this workload, and we know the PIM will be glorious. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're over six weeks into the NHL season, and there have been plenty of changes over that time span. I figured this was a good time to run down all 31 teams and make a list of who is a hold or streamer, and add any notes on certain players where necessary. This is for 12 man leagues with standard categories. Let's get right to it!