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:
It's not exactly breaking news that John Tavares moves the needle for the Toronto Maple Leafs.  He showed why he was worth the mammoth contract on Sunday, scoring a hat trick on seven shots with two PIM in the 7-6 win over the Blackhawks.  The main thing that I want to talk about here is Toronto in general.  This offense is incredible, but they also remain a sieve defensively.  I have a hard time treating them among the truly elite teams in the league until that is tightened up, at least somewhat.  That's why I picked them to finish third in the division again.  But for us in fantasy, stream everyone you can for the Leafs, and against them for that matter.  I'd have a hard time playing any goalie against them right now; it better be someone that's damn good.  They're a fantasy gold mine on both sides.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It wasn't that long ago that Ben Bishop was the #1 goalie for an entire season of fantasy hockey.  It's been two years since, but Bishop showed his upside on Thursday night, posting a 30 save shutout in the 3-0 win over the Coyotes.  I'm not going to overreact to one game; I think Bishop is a bottom end #1 fantasy goalie.  That said, there's a chance that the Stars make big strides with Montgomery running the show instead of Hitchcock, which would make Bishop the main beneficiary.  The Stars' play over the first few weeks of the season is worth monitoring to decide whether Bishop is worth targeting in a trade.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the first two nights of the season:
Hey guys, Sven here with the Dallas Stars edition of 31 in 31. 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.
Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another year of Fantasy Hockey! I am LackeyDrinksOnMe, a Sabres fan who works in college admissions by day and devours hockey analysis by night. Last year, I had a weekly column about week-long streaming opportunities, targeting mostly-available players with multiple games per week, trying to fill slots for the slowest days. In my book, more player starts means more TOI, and the more time you have players on the ice the greater the chance for a lucky assist or to rack up a few extra hits or blocked shots. I’ve been working on a top-100 skaters for your reading pleasure, ranking skaters on 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, to name a few. Part of what I’ve been trying to do has been to average these metrics for a holistic impression of a skater's talent, but also supplementing those raw rankings with player age/development and the occasional eye test. Like Viz indicated, once you get past the first few names there can be very little separation between certain players, and this obviously isn’t meant to be a comprehensive or be-all end-all ranking. Rather, it’s to give you another perspective on where players are being valued, and might reinforce an idea you have about a skater or surprise you with a hot take. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.
We're keeping things moving here on the hockey side of things at Razzball as we're less than two months from the season starting!  It's not just me: Son has his top 10 out, everyone is posting their football rankings, and Smokey has the EPL RCL set up.  That's ignoring all of the good baseball psts as we approach the closing stretch.  Today, I'm completing my top 40 forward lists.  Nineteen of these guys were already covered in the top 10 and top 20 posts, so the focus will be on players 20-40.  Let's get going!
We're back continuing this season's rankings.  You guys know the drill by now so I'm not going to waste your time with a big introduction.  My main thought is that the tier that started with #8 overall (check out the top 10 here) actually goes to around 18th overall instead of 15th.  The gaps between these players are much smaller than in the past so you can go a lot of different ways based on personal preference.  Do you want higher upside, the safer player, six category guys?  All of this is in play and will make for some interesting draft strategy.  Strategy will come in later posts, but for now, let's get through the top 20:
Evander Kane is a player that I aggressively rank every season.  The shot rate is always elite, the penalty minutes are great, and the goals should come along with those shots.  Thankfully for his owners this year, Kane has managed to stay healthy.  Kane had the best game of his career on Friday, scoring four goals on seven shots and adding two penalty minutes.  He followed that up with eight shots on goal and two PIM on Saturday.  That brings Kane's totals to 25+25 with 65 PIM and almost 4 shots per game.  Obviously he's must own, but what is his ceiling going forward?  I don't think his point totals are going to change much depending on where he signs in the offseason.  What can change is his plus-minus.  Sure, plus-minus is generally hard to predict, but there are some situations that you can feel better about.  Obviously Buffalo was almost worst case for that, and Kane is +5 in San Jose to this point.  Yes, it's a small sample, but we've seen around the league this year that a lot of teams are loaded with big plus-minus totals.  Kane has never been much of a power play guy either, but maybe he goes somewhere that he plays on the top unit and improves.  I feel like he'll be in the bottom of my top 50, but obviously things can change between now and then.  For those who have him for this year, enjoy him down the stretch.  With his shot volume, Kane can be a massive difference maker if he has some good fortune.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
To say James van Riemsdyk had a decent two games would be an understatement.  The Charlie Conway look-alike scored five goals over the last two nights, scoring a hat trick against the Stars on eight shots before scoring two goals and an assist against the Sabres.  That brings JVR to 31 goals and 16 assists on the season with just under three shots per game.  Obviously he's owned in virtually all leagues at this point, but I wanted to start off with him because he doesn't get the credit he deserves.  He's played at a 27+ goal pace for six straight seasons now and the two goals last night gave him a new career high.  I'm not sure Toronto will be to keep the impending UFA past this season, but one thing is for certain: JVR is about to get paid handsomely.  Look for him to maintain his value no matter where he ends up, meaning someone who is a top 75-100 player.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine.  That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season.  Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night.  Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings.  That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser).  Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties.  Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season.  Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy.  The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game.  On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain.  There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up.  Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: