While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend.  Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3.  This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville.  In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each.  That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success.  Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Today, we wrap up my defensemen rankings going through the top 40.  Guys that don't make this list will creep into my top 200, but these 20 blueliners will be the last guys that get a whole paragraph on them.  For those who didn't see it, my top 20 can be read here.  Let's get right to it! 21) Seth Jones - I know it will be controversial that Jones isn't in my top 20.  A lot of my concerns with Jones last season were founded.  His huge jump in shot rate dropped almost all the way back to where it was in 2016-17.  His power play totals plummeted.  His assists and goals both dropped despite the team shooting 9.9% while Jones was on the ice last season, the best of his career.  Am I expecting a big bounce back?  Not really.  The loss of Panarin should help increase his PP role, but he could also lose PP1 time to Werenski.  Obviously he could get back to 2017-18 form where he was a bottom end #2, but I have my doubts.
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 14th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we visit the Windy City – Chicago baby! There weren’t huge expectations for this Hawks squad heading into 2018-19, but their young offensive weapons helped them fight till the bitter end, ending up just six points out of the playoffs. With an interesting free agent pickup and some moves to stabilize their D core, what will the Hawks do this season?
One of my favorite late round gambles on the blue line this season was Erik Gustafsson.  Gustafsson played 35 games last season and has 16 points and two shots per game.  That doesn't sound great, but that was with zero power play time and limited minutes.  Keith and Seabrook were falling off a cliff giving Gustafsson prime opportunity.  He took advantage of it and then some.  Gustafsson dished three assists on Monday night while putting a shot on goal and adding 4 PIM.  That brings Gustafsson up to a whopping 17+42 with 34 PIM and almost exactly two shots per game.  That's with 18 STP, a number which could be higher if he played on PP1 all year.  So what do we make of Gustafsson for next season?  Well, it's early to say.  I think these numbers are mostly sustainable as long as Chicago doesn't add a PP specialist in the offseason.  I don't expect them to with the young guys they have coming, especially Jokiharju, but there's always a chance.  Gustafsson looks like he'll be a solid #3 next season, possibly a bottom end #2.  The goals will probably come down a bit, but 40+ assists should be a near lock with Chicago's style and strong PP, and he's average in PIM and shot rate.  If he's going to be better, it's because he takes a few more shots.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
Well if I had to guess who would have the second four goal game of the season, I'm not sure Brad Richardson would have been in the first 500 guesses.  Richardson single-handedly carried the Coyotes to victory on Thursday with those four goals on six shots, adding two PIM with a +4 rating.  Richardson has 16 goals in 48 games now, a career high in his 14th season.  For those of you in deep leagues, I would grab Richardson for the faceoff boost too.  In standard leagues, I'm probably passing still despite playing at a 27 goal pace.  Everything about it screams unsustainable, but we have to give props to him burying four in one game.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Penguins have been on quite a tear lately, and it's not just their All-Stars.  Over the weekend, Jake Guentzel destroyed the Ducks and Kings.  In the Penguins comeback against the Ducks, Guentzel had a hat trick on seven shots with two penalty minutes, before scoring two more goals on six shots against the Kings.  That brings Guentzel to 23 goals, which is already a career high.  The shot rate has taken a big jump as well, although we can't expect him to shoot 19% all season.  Regardless, Guentzel has settled into being a top 100 player who is a clear hold in all formats.  As long as he continues to play with Crosby, things will be just fine.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's hard to find a bigger fan of Blake Wheeler than yours truly.  He's been excellent for years, and while he is showing some signs of aging, he's remained incredibly productive.  Wheeler scored a goal and dished three assists in the 7-4 win over the Avalanche, adding two penalty minutes.  Wheeler now has 7+48 in 42 games, a very strong point total.  So where's the concern?  Well, seven goals obviously isn't great, and his shot rate is closer to 2.5 now than 3 per game.  Add in a career low shooting percentage and you can see why he's on pace for only 14 goals.  He's still solid in PIM and has been a quality +/- player for a long time, so he'll still be a top 50 player for a few years.  However, it would be a mistake to expect Wheeler to be a top 20 player again going forward.  Here's a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hey guys! Sven here wishing all you Razzball readers a happy and healthy 2019. We are back with the first buy/sell/hold of the year! ALL STATS ARE AS OF THE MORNING OF JANUARY 3RD. BUY: Tomas Tatar – 40GP 14-17-31. Tomas…. Tatarrrrrrrr! We’ve learned in his 40 games with Montreal that this guy scores in bunches. With seven points in his last four games, he is still a very good streaming option despite his horrible %change in %OWN on ESPN.
In the game of the night, a stealth Hart Trophy candidate led his team to glory.  Johnny Gaudreau scored a hat trick on four shots in the 4-1 win in Winnipeg.  Just like that, he's 5th in the NHL in scoring with by far the best shot rate of his career.  Couple that with a career high shooting percentage and Johnny Hockey is well on his way to a career high in goals.  I've generally been lower on Gaudreau than most, but this year he has proven me wrong.  That line is among the best in hockey and Gaudreau is at the forefront.  I don't expect him to slow down much in the second half making Gaudreau is a good bet to finish as a top 20 player in fantasy.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
Hey guys! Sven here with an analysis of the Chicago Blackhawks! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to 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.