With only a couple weeks left in the season, it's time to lock down and make that final push. In this post, I'm going to highlight some notable things around the NHL and their fantasy impact, along with looking at the schedule for the week ahead and what we can do with that. Let's get to it! Alex Nedeljkovic is only three games away from becoming a restricted free agent instead of an unrestricted free agent. It's easier for Carolina to do with Petr Mrazek banged up (he could play if necessary, but Carolina won't push him), so expect Nedeljkovic to start at least three times down the stretch. He's still available in almost 70% of leagues which I do not understand. I would add him immediately if he's available.
While he's not getting the attention that he received in Vegas' inaugural season, Jonathan Marchessault has quietly had a terrific campaign. His best game came on Wednesday, where Marchessault had two goals, two assists, and five shots leading Vegas to a 5-2 victory over the Sharks. This let Vegas become the first team to clinch the playoffs this season, something that has been a formality for months already. Marchessault now had 13 goals and 22 assists in 46 games, along with a +12 rating, 37 PIM, and 147 shots. In other words, he's a plus across the board with elite PIM and a strong shot rate. At 30 years old, Marchessault has shown no signs of slowing down. He's getting easier matchups now which is helping him thrive on the second line. He looks every bit of a top 100 player going forward, with the upside of being top 50 if he has some shooting luck in a season like he did in his one season in Florida. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Look, to be honest with you, there wasn't a ton of eventful things that happened in the NHL on Thursday night. We're leading off with Sam Gagner for a couple reasons. One, he had a trick on four shots in the 5-2 win for the Red Wings. Sure, one was an empty netter, but a hat trick is a hat trick and that deserves recognition. Never mind that Gagner came into the game with zero goals on the season and the three points in this game were more than he had all season. The other reason I started off with Gagner is to give him some appreciation. He had a solid career for over a decade now, constantly as an elite streamer while having a few years where he was a bottom end hold. With all of the big games McJesus is having lately, you can try to stump your friends with a trivia question in terms of who the last player was that had seven points or more in a game? As you could guess, it was Gagner, but did you know he actually had 8!? He's one of only eleven players in history to have eight points in a game and for that, I thank Gagner for the memory of that wild night in Chicago. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday:
One of my bold predictions from the season that already looks awful is that Chicago would be the worst team in the league. Their season has turned around on the back of somebody who was expected to be a tertiary option. Kevin Lankinen was third fiddle going into the season behind Delia and Subban, but that has changed quickly. Lankinen stopped 34 of 35 shots that he faced on Tuesday in the 2-1 OT win over the Stars. That brings Lankinen's save percentage to above .930 and a GAA approaching two. I didn't imagine a Chicago goalie would even be worth streaming this season outside of playing against Detroit, but Lankinen has played his way into being an easy hold. Will it last? It's impossible to say with goalies. Either way, he should he held until he cools off, assuming that eventually happens. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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: