When you think of the Sabres lately one name generally comes to mind and he isn’t even in the league yet, yes I’m talking about McJesus himself, Connor McDavid. The Sabres are well on their way to winning the McDavid sweepstakes by bungling their way through the 2014-15 season looking like hot garbage from top to bottom, save one bright spot; Zemgus Girgensons. Girgs was the Sabres’ second first round pick in 2012 and he’s paying off pretty quickly for a team that desperately needs someone to do something positive. I mean the fact that the Sabres had two first round picks should say something in-and-of it self, but I digress, the 20 year old Latvian pivot works his butt off out there from whistle to whistle. He’s hard to knock off the puck, isn’t afraid to fight for position in traffic and while he isn’t a traditional dangler, he definitely has solid hands and fore-checks like whoa. He’s now the Sabres top line center and spends time on their top power play unit as well. Given that it’s the Sabres you can’t expect him to score a ton, but he’s posted a respectable season line so far with 8 G, 6 A, +3 (on the Sabres!), 48 SOG and 9 PIM to date. Wait, that doesn’t look as sexy as I made it sound, does it? Well! That’s because his real value comes from his ability to win faceoffs (161), deliver hits (57) and even block shots (24). There’s basically not much this guy doesn’t do and in roto leagues that’s pure gold. In deep category H2H leagues he has value too. ROS I expect him to end up with around 50-55 points, he has tremendous upside over the long term and it’s clear that the Sabres envision him as a team leader moving forward. Those in keeper leagues would do well to grab him and hold on tight. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
The beginning is nigh! Yes my dear readers we’re drawing near to the start of the season so I won’t waste your time with a long blurb to kick this post off. I will say that this list is pretty comprehensive and if you can’t fill out your D based on this list you’re either playing in the deepest of leagues of you’re not very good at this fantasy hockey thing and should take up knitting. I covered as many guys as I could, but when I hit around the 65th rearguard there wasn’t much to say about the last ten guys so they became the honorable mentions. I guess that makes this a top 65 in some ways, but whatevs. There’s 75 names and sets o’ projections so I’m sticking to my guns. Plus, 75 sounds so much better than top 65, you know? As usual if I missed your guy or you have any questions, hit me up in the comments! At any rate, without further ado (there’s that word again), here are the 2014-2015 Fantasy Hockey Top 75 Defensemen:
Riley Sheahan (1 A, 1 SOG, even) has five points in his last five (2 G, 3 A) and is currently on pace for 10 points in 15 games this season since being called up from Wings’ AHL affiliate the Grand Rapids Griffins. It will be interesting to see which of the Wings’ dynamic young forwards will get sent down when Pavel Datsyuk returns after the Olympic break, but Sheahan is making a serious case that it shouldn’t be him. Gustav Nyqvist is making a similar claim with his play, so it might be Tomas Jurco that gets the boot given his inability to generate consistent offense in his time with the big club. I’ve mentioned Sheahan before, and it probably went something like this: “This kid has some serious offensive chops with a big shot and great playmaking ability. He has all the tools to become a top-six power forward in the NHL and already knows how to use his big frame to help his puck possession game, which is pretty damn good to begin with. He can play both ends of the ice, has a solid hockey IQ and should be on everyone’s radar as we come down the stretch this season in fantasy hockey.” Wow, sounds like that guy knows what he’s talking about, you should listen to him. I’d grab Sheahan in deeper leagues if you need a scoring boost with the caveat that he may end up drawing the short stick and heading back down to the AHL at some point this season, but if not, he’s well worth owning for the remainder of this season if nothing else. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on a seriously short night o’ fantasy hockey:
If you were asked “Which is the best line in hockey right now?” what would you say? The Kessel/Bozak/JVR line in Toronto? How about the Perry/Getzlaf/Penner line in Anaheim? You might even venture a really far out guess throwing the surging Nash/Kreider/Stepan line out there for the Rangers. Well, none of the above is the answer here folks, because the TVO line on Long Island has been dominating the league for the past month. John Tavares (3 A, 4 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) leads the league in scoring since December 17th and decided that his lead wasn’t quite big enough, so he added three helpers after scoring goals in back-to-back games prior to last night. That gives him 25 points in his last 17 games. Kyle Okposo (2 A, 3 SOG, +1, 2 PIM) now has 22 points in his last 17 games and is now tied for second in the league in scoring since Dec. 17th with Thomas Vanek (1 G, 1 A, 5 SOG, even) who clearly loves playing with Okie and Tavares, and who wouldn’t? He has 23 points in his last 17 games and holy hell is this line good or what? I know I have a history of bashing the Isles for not giving Tavares enough talent to work with, but he sure has it now. Unfortunately that hasn’t changed the fact that the Isles have a horrible defense and suspect goaltending, so despite the fact that the TVO line is scoring in buckets, it hasn’t been enough. Obviously all three of these guys are taken in your league and if they’re not, you’re in a really horrible league. The only player since Dec. 17th in the top 4 in scoring that isn’t an Islander is Flyers’ Wayne Simmonds with his own 22 points over that span, and there’s a guy worth adding and is likely still available, so add him where you can. Did I just start a feature about three guys and end up recommending you add someone completely different? You betcha! Just trying to keep you readers on your toes. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Chris Kreider (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +1) was having a fairly quiet rookie campaign until recently, but the quiet is fading quickly behind a wall of cheers from Rangers faithful as he settles in on the top line for the Rangers with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan. Kreider burst onto the scene immediately following his senior season with Boston College, diving head first into 2011-12 playoffs scoring a handful of key goals for his team early on, finishing with 6 points (5 G, 1 A) in 18 playoff games that season. There’s one hell of a way to start your career and get some experience, eh? No pressure! He had a rough year in the lockout shortened season and he didn’t start the year with the Rangers in 2013 because of it. Regardless, it didn't take him long to get called back up this season when the Rangers started out flatter than the funny pages and were desperate for some scoring. Well, they found some in the 22 year old as he continues to have a Calder worthy season and he's currently on pace for 51 points in 75 games and currently sits at plus-11, ten points higher than any other Ranger with Carl Hagelin coming in second with a plus-one. He’s a big (6’3” 240lbs) fast skating prototypical power forward with incredible hands, vision, a great slapper and a nasty wrister. He can can hit hard, and does so often, plays both ways and, well, frankly the kid can do it all. While there’s bound to be ups and downs given his age and the fact that the Rangers are so awful offensively, he’s so good he remains an absolute must own in every keeper league and at this point it's probably wise to own him everywhere because his upside in the second half is huge. Despite that he’s owned in just 38% of Yahoo! Leagues? Come on, really? What the eff is wrong with Yahoo managers?! The 73% ownership mark in ESPN leagues sounds more in line with what he’s done and capable of so if he’s available in your league and you need a scoring boost, pick him up already! Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey yesterday:
Reid Boucher (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) is a pure sniper in every sense of the word and his shot is as quick as it is accurate, and it’s bloody quick. Last year Boucher potted 62 goals in 68 games for the OHL's Sarina Sting, breaking Steven Stamkos’ club record for goals in a season with 60 back in 2011-2012. How’s that for a pedigree? Dude’s leaving broken Stamkos goal scoring records in his wake on his way to the NHL. His nose for the prime scoring opportunities is not something that can be taught and he can’t be left alone for even a second in the offensive zone or the opposing team will regret it. It’s not all roses and rainbows for Boucher, however, and one of the big knocks against him is his size, or lack thereof. He stands at just 5’10 and around 194lbs and from what I’ve seen he tends to play with his head down a bit too often, which if you ask Pat Lafontaine about sometime, he, well… he probably can’t remember, but that’s kind of the point. His defensive game needs some work as well and that is always a bit scary as it will limit his TOI even as he develops. Still, the Devils think very highly of their young sniper and you might consider doing the same. He’s worth a flier in deeper leagues, totally worth owning in keeper leagues and a wait-and-see status for standard leagues. Anyway, here’s what else I saw on a short night o’ fantasy hockey yesterday: