Howdy, Razzguys n gals! I'm stoked to bring you my first-ever piece of fantasy hockey content here at Razzball. If you pay attention to the fantasy baseball side of things, then you'll know me from there. But believe it or not, I know a thing or two about fantasy hockey and hope to share my unparalleled wisdom with you all. Poor Viz has been doing it all by himself, so I figured I'd lend a hand. I'll be doing an eight-part Team Previews series, with each division getting two parts. Today is Pacific Part 1, tomorrow will be Part 2, then Wednesday and Thursday will be the Central. Next week, we'll do it all again with the Metro and the Atlantic on Monday-Thursday. Hope you enjoy!
Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon.  Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split.  Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year.  I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players.  For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there.  In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume.  If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary.  Let's get to it!
The Washington Capitals have received plenty of criticism for their blockbuster trade on Monday.  If things go like they did on Tuesday, I'm sure they'll have no complaints.  Anthony Mantha scored a goal and added an assist with six shots in the 6-1 win over the Capitals.  If it wasn't for a spectacular Elliott save, Mantha would have had a three point game right off the rip.  I wrote in the trade deadline blog that I would have added Mantha right away after the trade for the upside.  If you were slow to pull the trigger, odds are somebody else in your league already grabbed him, but go check.  He's still available in about 25% of leagues and he needs to be owned everywhere, especially with Washington playing the Sabres tonight.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL.  Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected.  On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating.  He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes.  I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL.  Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward.  Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now.  I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers.  Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that.  Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
As far as feel good stories go, Troy Grosenick is near the top of the list for the season.  Grosenick, a 31 year old with only two previous NHL games in 2014, was forced into action for the Kings on Wednesday following Cal Petersen going on the COVID list.  To say Grosenick rose to the moment would be an understatement.  He saved 33 of 34 shots that he faced in the 5-1 win over the Ducks.  You have to love a journeyman coming in and having success.  All of a sudden, Grosenick could get some starts in the near term.  If you're in a deep league and desperate for starts, you can roll the dice on him.  With LA's next six games against Colorado, St. Louis, and Vegas, it's definitely a gamble, but the Kings have been a massive surprise so maybe Grosenick will be the next guy to keep them afloat.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Nino Niederreiter's first season in Carolina couldn't have gone any better with 14+16 in 36 games.  Last season really couldn't have gone worse with 11+18 in 67 games.  Well, this year has certainly been closer to 2018-19 and we can be thankful for that in fantasy.  Niederreiter scored two goals and an assist with three shots on Friday before dishing an assist on Saturday, adding six shots.  That brings Nino to 9+3 in 16 games with over three shots per game, 13 PIM, and a great +11 rating.  The second line in Carolina has been incredible, sparked by Niederreiter and Trocheck's revival.  He's an easy hold in all formats for the time being.  I wish that the minutes were a bit higher, but considering what Nino is doing with what he's getting, there can be some growth with additional minutes, namely in the assist department.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Out of the three players moved in the big Columbus-Winnipeg blockbuster, the extra player is the one who has been the best on his new team and it's not even close.  Jack Roslovic has been outstanding since moving to his home town team.  He scored two goals on four shots in the 6-5 win over Chicago.  That brings him to 4+5 in 9 games with the Blue Jackets.  The shot rate is poor to this point, but he also has nine shots in the past three games so it's looking up.  I really liked Roslovic as a prospect, but it never clicked in Winnipeg for whatever reason.  Now, he's playing center, which appears to be his better position, and Torts is utilizing him as a #1 center.  Roslovic is widely available and should be added in all leagues.  There's no guarantee it lasts, but he's hot right now and there's real upside to be had.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I've run out of superlatives to describe Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.  I don't even like starting posts with them because everyone knows how good they are, but this weekend's play deserves the big praise.  McDavid had two goals and an assist with three shots on Saturday, while Draisaitl had two assists with a shot and two PIM.  Those games were horrible compared to their explosion on Sunday.  McDavid scored a goal and dished four assists while Draisaitl had six assists!  They were already the top two in the league in points before Sunday's games.  Now, they're lapping the field at the end of January.  It's a treat to watch these guys on a nightly basis, and even better if you have one of them on your fantasy team.  With the way the rest of the North division plays, what's the ceiling for points for these guys? 90? 100?  It sounds ridiculous in 56 games, but they're at another level at the moment and they won't have a tough defensive team to play in their entire division.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: