As a companion to my Top 200, this post is going to cover the big preseason news from the last few weeks, along with the players that I'm targeting at the end of drafts in standard 12 man leagues. In 12'ers, the waiver wire isn't a complete wasteland, so my goal is to shoot for the moon and hope that our late picks break out in a big way. Last season, my favorite target was Elias Lindholm and we all know how that worked out. We're barely over a week away from the season starting so it's time to buckle down and adjust our board wherever necessary. Let's break down what I've been looking at:
It's now time to move on to defensemen for my rankings. I'll be doing the top 40 defensemen in two separate posts, with the top 20 in this one. I have gone through the top 100 forwards so you can check those out through the hockey page. For now, let's get right to the blueliners! 1) Brent Burns - You can check out Burns in the top 20 here. I feel like I ranked him too low, so when I do my top 50 overall post, I may slide him up a bit. 2) John Carlson - Burns is in a tier by himself, and who to put at the top of tier two is has been a big internal debate for me. I ultimately decided on Carlson for the safety. Carlson put up 70 points last season, 33 of which were on the power play. Both numbers are incredible. He's also a plus player most seasons and there's no reason to expect a change. The one concern is that his shot rate plummeted last season from almost 3 shots per game to about 2.25. That's still solid for a defensemen, but nowhere near a great asset. Even given that, Carlson was the #3 defenseman last season. Hopefully there's a bounce back in his shot rate, but either way it's high floor and high ceiling.
Hey guys! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season. Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our tenth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re headed back up north to Winnipeg. These guys appeared to be headed in the right direction when they lost the 2018 WCF to the Cinderella Golden Knights. A season and a half later and I really don’t know what to think about these guys. That being said, they have some studs and some prospects I’m excited about.
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and we saw our first big move happen over the weekend. Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann were traded to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, and three draft picks. So what does this do to their values? Well, let's start with the easy ones. Sheahan is fantasy irrelevant as a fourth line center. McCann is currently playing as the third line center for Pittsburgh with Malkin down, having Pearson and Hornqvist on his wings. With no power play time, he's a bottom end streamer, but there is some upside here. Bjugstad is centering the second line, but even when Malkin comes back, the plan is for Kessel to be on his wing. I'd say this gives him a small boost to his value, but I wouldn't rush to own him. Bjugstad's situation in Florida was pretty good from a fantasy perspective. Brassard gets the biggest boost here, but to what level? Obviously he was a disaster in Pittsburgh since they acquired him. Florida is starting him on the wing with Trocheck and Hoffman. This is a huge upgrade for Brassard who becomes an elite streamer. However, this might only last for a while as I expect Florida to flip Brassard closer to the deadline. That means big minutes for now which is obviously great, but who knows where he gets moved. Maybe it's somewhere that would be good for his value (e.g. Winnipeg, who tried to get him last year before Pitt did), but it could also be somewhere like Colorado or Boston which wouldn't be great. In a deep league, I would grab Brassard immediately. In standard leagues, I'd use him tonight against the Blues and go from here. Here's some other observations I've made over the last few days:
I've been pumping Ondrej Kase's tires for a while now. The former 7th round pick scored his first career hat trick on Wednesday, putting five shots on goal against the Stars with a +4 rating. That brings the 23 year old Dane to 8+6 in 15 games with well over three shots per game. He's eliminated any doubt as to whether or not he's a hold; Kase needs to be owned in all formats. Sure, he's bounced around the first line and other spots, but it doesn't really matter at this point. There's no penalty minutes, but everything else looks great. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It wasn't that long ago that people were talking about a Stanley Cup hangover for the Capitals. Now, the defending champs have won 10 out of 12 on the backs of their captain, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin recorded the 21st hat trick of his career on Tuesday extending his league lead in goals. He now has 25 goals and 14 assists in only 30 games this season to go along with 116 shots. That means he's below four shots per game, a rarity for The Great Eight, but still an elite rate. Sure, his shooting percentage is going to drop a bit, but there's no reason at all to expect a regression. I've seen a few articles on other sites that say you should sell high on Ovechkin, and I'd have to disagree. He gets drafted in the first round for his incredibly high floor, and nothing has changed to reduce that floor. Let the good times roll and enjoy what should be his eighth 50 goal season of his career. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The St. Louis Blues have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league through the first two months, and that continued on Sunday. The Canucks destroyed them 6-1 and they were led by their two young stars. Brock Boeser scored a hat trick on four shots to go along with a +5 rating. Boeser has had some massive games this season to along with a lot of blanks, which makes him a prime GPP target most nights. With 9+8 in 19 games with over three shots per game, Boeser is an elite option in all formats. The Canucks future looks very bright, especially with the California teams all on a downward trajectory, and Boeser is at the forefront with Pettersson (more on him later). Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
As a chance of pace, instead of doing a big weekend recap, I'm going to highlight some injuries, trades, and line shuffling that could have some impact on teams and players for fantasy hockey. I'll be back to my usual set of daily notes on Wednesday morning. Let's get to it!
Being the stand alone game on Thursday afternoon, I was watching the Jets-Panthers game in Finland closely. For the first half of the game, Patrik Laine looked awful. He was so bad that he didn't even get 4 minutes of ice time in the first period. Well, Laine ended up making the natives who came to watch him happy, as he ended up scoring a hat trick on seven shots. That matched his total from the first 12 games of the season. Obviously I wasn't panicking about Laine, but my hopes that his ice time would take a nice jump this season isn't looking promising. There's still plenty of time, and I wouldn't be surprised if Laine goes on a run where he scored 9 goals in 10 games. His floor is just a bit lower than I hoped because the Jets are so good that Maurice doesn't have to give him big minutes. I said he would score 50 in the preseason, and the shot rate has jumped to the point where it's possible if he can get his time on ice back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What's the worst spot for a goaltender to start right now? Probably against Toronto on the road. Well, Matt Murray had that exact spot on Thursday, and did the exact opposite of what most expected. In a game where Toronto's expected goal total was pushing 4, Murray stopped all 38 shots he faced, shutting out the powerhouse Maple Leafs 3-0. Murray's upside is undeniable; it's just a matter of keeping him on the ice and the defense in front of him not being a total mess. For now, expect the Pens to give him the vast majority of the starts, meaning you can safely cut Casey DeSmith. The Penguins schedule is fairly soft over the next couple of weeks, so feel safe rolling Murray. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: