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 ninth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we start up our Central Division breakdown in Music City with the Nashville Predators. The Preds are still on the cusp of something great, but their results have only regressed since their 2017 Finals appearance. To land one of the free-agent big fish, they had to salary dump a big fish of their own. In a Central that looks as competitive as ever, here’s who the Preds will rely on to finish back on top.
I have been pumping up Roope Hintz for the past couple weeks as one of the best streamers around. He finally had a big game on Tuesday, scoring both goals in the 2-0 win over the Sabres. Please, blog, may I have some more?
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:
We found another goalie out of nowhere! Jordan Binnington was great in his second start on Thursday, allowing one goal on 29 shots in the 4-1 win over over Canadiens. He's been strong in the AHL the last two seasons, and with how bad their other goalies have been, Binnington deserves a chance. Obviously it could collapse at any time, and the Blues' schedule in January is very road heavy. On the other side, there a lot of good matchups over the next two weeks for Binnington. I wouldn't go out of my way in shallow leagues to own him, but Binnington could be a solid streamer with upside for more, especially before the All-Star Break with the Sens, Kings, and Ducks in a row. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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!
There wasn't a ton of goal scoring over the last two nights, but the most notable performance came from the reigning MVP. Taylor Hall won the game against the Penguins virtually by himself, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots in the 4-2 win. That brings Hall up to 5+14 in 16 games with over 3.5 shots per game. Can we expect a repeat of last season? That would be a stretch. Hall shot 14% last season while for the majority of the rest of his career, he's been in the 8-11% range. This year he's at 8.6, a little low but not an outlier. I would say 25-30 goals seems likely, but a new career high in assists (54) is certainly within range. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It looks like we could be seeing the Timo Meier breakout right before our eyes. The former top ten pick is really coming into his own this season as DeBoer has given him a top six role. Meier scored a goal on Friday because totaling two goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. That brings Meier to eight goals and four assists in 11 games with over three shots per game. It's pretty clear at this point: Meier is a must-own in all formats right now. He's still available in over one third of leagues, so if you're fortunate enough to be in one of those, go grab him now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Last year's point leader for defensemen is off to an even better start this season. John Carlson had a goal and two assists on Monday, bringing his totals to 5/8/+6/6/19/8 through eight games. It was hard to see any upside from last season's totals, but some shooting percentage luck could have Carlson around 20+50. Add in a quality plus-minus, and there's a chance that Carlson ends up the #1 defenseman for the season. It's far from a guarantee, but it's abundantly clear through three weeks that last season's big breakout was no fluke. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I've long been a fan of Juuse Saros saying that he's the best goaltending prospect in hockey. His time to be a #1 is coming sooner than later, but for the short term, it's his crease in Nashville. Pekka Rinne is on injured reserve meaning he will miss at least the next three games, and that opens the door for Saros. He came in relief for Rinne in a 3-3 game and didn't allow a goal on nine shots, before posting a 31 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Oilers. He's available in over 80% of leagues and quite frankly, I don't understand it. Goaltending is awful around the league right now, so pretty much every fantasy team could use him as their G3. That said, Saros should be a #1 option when he starts, so go grab him immediately. He's going to get plenty of starts this year even when Rinne is back, so Saros can make a huge difference for you. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Jeff Skinner was off to a slow start with the Sabres going pointless in his first four games. That said, having watched all of the games, he was generating plenty of chances and it was only a matter of time. That time was on Saturday, as Skinner did all of the work on Rasmus Dahlin's first career goal getting his first point as a Sabre, and he followed that up with a smooth backhander in the third period for his first goal. Yes, Skinner played only 13 minutes in this game, but I expect him to settle in the 17-18 minute range as the season progresses. Other players had bigger games on Saturday, but I wanted to highlight Skinner for two reasons. One, if you own him, do not panic and hold onto him. Two, if you don't, you might be able to buy low, and I think it's a great opportunity to get a 3 time 30 goal scorer on the relative cheap. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: