We’re going to keep the rankings rolling today with my defensemen tiers. As a reminder from the goaltending rankings, I will be ranking the guys in order, but I am putting more focus on tiers than the exact rankings of players. Please, blog, may I have some more?
With no exhibition games this season, it's going to be harder to predict what lines and pairing teams are going to use. Thankfully, there are some coaches, such as Ralph Krueger in Buffalo, who made it clear from Day 1 of practices who would be playing together. In this post, I'm going to hit on some notable decisions around the league and how they impact fantasy hockey. Let's get to it!
Joel Quenneville saw that Sergei Bobrovsky was rounding into form on Saturday after a strong performance against his old team. He rewarded him by starting him on Sunday despite being the second game in as many days. Bob delivered once again. After making 33 saves in the 4-1 win over Columbus, Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 31 shots in the 5-1 win over the Sharks. Yes, the season has been worst case scenario to this point for Bob. However, there's still plenty of time to turn it around and I think we see it. Sure, maybe he won't be the top 5 goalie he's been in the past, I can almost guarantee that. However, he could end up being a #1 again and for that reason alone, he's a great trade target. Over the rest of this month, he plays Tampa twice and Boston, with some decent offenses and poor ones mixed in. However, look at this January schedule: OTT, BUF, PIT, ARZ, VAN, DET, MIN, CHI. Not exactly a murderer's row. In fact, they don't even play Tampa again after this month. If I owned Bob, which I do, I'm being patient because I think it's going to turn around. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Since returning from injury, David Krecji has been on a tear. That continued on Saturday with two goals on five shots in the win against the Wild. That brings him up to 4+11 in 17 games this season. We know the deal with Krejci by now. He is always on the fringe of holding and streaming because of his shot rate. Right now, the shot rate is still poor with 28 SOG in 17 games. However, he's +15 and 15 points in 17 games is too good to ignore. Obviously it can change, but for now, I'm holding Krejci since he has four games in six nights, including a back to back on tuesday and Wednesday this week. It's hard to ask for better opponents to play than Ottawa, the Rangers, and Montreal twice. It's not going to be exciting, but Krejci's on the first power play and that puts him over the edge. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The first draft pick in Vegas history, Cody Glass, scored the first goal of his career in his first game, a 4-1 win over the Sharks. First, the good news. He played with Mark Stone (G+A) and Max Pacioretty (A, 5 SOG) which puts Glass in a great position to succeed going forward. He also played with these guys on the power play. The bad news: his minutes were down because Gallant doesn't trust him defensively yet. Whenever they had a defensive zone start, Stastny started on the ice and would go off for Glass if they exited the zone. Yes, it's only a defensive zone start, but on a team that transitions as well as Vegas does, the more minutes the better, and Glass didn't cross the 15 minute mark. I'm good with picking him up if you want the upside, but let's not go crazy spending a lot of FAAB on Glass. I like him plenty long term, and perhaps Stone drags him into be a hold all season, but it's far from a guarantee. Let's take a look at what else happened over the first two nights of the season:
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 everyone! I'll be starting my rankings next week, but for now, I'll be writing a post on offseason winners. Losers will be coming tomorrow. There has been plenty of player movement that I haven't broken down yet so we might as well get right to it! WINNERS Mikhail Sergachev - I already wrote a sleeper post on Sergachev that you can read here.
Three years ago, Ben Bishop was the #1 player in fantasy hockey. The following year, he struggled in Tampa, then they moved him to Dallas. Last season, Bishop was solid, but he's been at his best this season. Bishop posted a shutout on Tuesday, stopping all 28 shots he faced in the 1-0 win over the Rangers. Injuries have hurt his volume, but Bishop is approaching a 2.20/.930 stat line. That is pushing towards being the #1 goalie in the league again. He won't end up there because of the lack of starts, but with the Stars battling for the playoffs, Bishop has the ability to win people fantasy titles this season. The Stars play 14 games in the fantasy playoffs (more details on their schedule here) which is the most of anyone in the league. Look for Bishop to be a massive difference maker down the stretch. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
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: