The day has come! The NHL Season starts today! I'll be waiting for daily notes until Friday since there are only four games tonight, but for this post I'm going to write about what I'm looking for from each team in their opening game. Yes, some teams don't start until Friday, but we're covering all 31 of them here. Let's get to it!
As a companion to my Top 200, this post is going to cover the big preseason news from the last few weeks, along with the players that I'm targeting at the end of drafts in standard 12 man leagues. In 12'ers, the waiver wire isn't a complete wasteland, so my goal is to shoot for the moon and hope that our late picks break out in a big way. Last season, my favorite target was Elias Lindholm and we all know how that worked out. We're barely over a week away from the season starting so it's time to buckle down and adjust our board wherever necessary. Let's break down what I've been looking at:
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 19th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re heading East from Toronto – or should I say, est – to Montreal! Last season, coach Claude Julien and the Habs surprised the Atlantic division, coming just a single point shy of a playoff birth. With some young talent taking major steps forward last season, can the Canadiens pull it off again?
As far as best contracts in the league go, Roman Josi's is near the top of the list. Josi, who is nearing the end of a 7/28 deal signed in 2013, has developed into a true #1 defenseman. Josi scored two goals and an assist on five shots in the 5-3 win over the Stars. Josi is currently up to #6 on the player rater for defensemen, in the range that we expected from him. He's not in the top tier, but he's firmly in tier two now and going forward. Josi looks like a good bet to set career highs in both goals (15) and points (61). Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
Eichel and Skinner are getting tons of credit for the great start to the season for the Buffalo Sabres, but Sam Reinhart isn't getting the love he deserves. Reinhart had five assists in two games over the weekend, extending his point streak to 10 and reaching 32 points in 34 games. I've long been a Reinhart supporter but this jump is to an unprecedented level. The former second overall pick does all of the little things so well and this year, he's finally being rewarded for it. I don't see why he can't get 70+ points come season's end. His goals are actually down from last season and with how well the top line is playing, there's no reason why Reinhart can't end up pushing last season's total of 25. He was always expected to be a playmaker going back to his junior days and now, he might set a new career high in assists by New Year's. If you're in one of the 25% of leagues that Reinhart is still available, go grab him immediately. For those who own him, I would definitely hold tight and enjoy the breakout. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
One of my best calls in my four years of writing at Razzball was the breakout for Vincent Trocheck. His ability to hit all of the categories at a very strong rate was underrated by many. Sadly, it looks like he could be done for the season after a gruesome injury Monday night against the Senators. Best case scenario, it's going to be a few months. We don't have an update yet, but either way, you either have to put Trocheck on IR if you have the room or cut him. It's a tough loss for the Panthers who really ride their top six. It's unclear who is going to play 2C now. Perhaps Nick Bjugstad slides there or Jared McCann moves up. I think Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau take a slight hit to their value without Trocheck, while the guys on the first line get a small boost. It wouldn't shock me to see those guys pushing 23 minutes a night on a regular basis. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's nothing new when Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler have big games, and both managed to do so twice this weekend. In Friday's 5-2 win over the Avalanche, Wheeler registered a point on all five goals, going 1+4, while Scheifele scored a goal and two assists with three shots. They followed that up with Wheeler getting two more assists and Scheifele posting a 2+1 game. Wheeler already has 20 assists in 16 games to go with 19 PIM and 3 goals, while Scheifele is up to 9+10 with 20 PIM. Wheeler was a borderline first round pick that I had ranked as a high second rounder, while Scheifele was more 2nd/3rd range. With his shot rate at exactly 2.5 per game right now, that solidifies him as a second round value. Remember when ESPN had him ranked in the 60s? Hilarious. These two should continue to put up points no matter the opposition. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Being the stand alone game on Thursday afternoon, I was watching the Jets-Panthers game in Finland closely. For the first half of the game, Patrik Laine looked awful. He was so bad that he didn't even get 4 minutes of ice time in the first period. Well, Laine ended up making the natives who came to watch him happy, as he ended up scoring a hat trick on seven shots. That matched his total from the first 12 games of the season. Obviously I wasn't panicking about Laine, but my hopes that his ice time would take a nice jump this season isn't looking promising. There's still plenty of time, and I wouldn't be surprised if Laine goes on a run where he scored 9 goals in 10 games. His floor is just a bit lower than I hoped because the Jets are so good that Maurice doesn't have to give him big minutes. I said he would score 50 in the preseason, and the shot rate has jumped to the point where it's possible if he can get his time on ice back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Aloha! It’s Lackeydrinksonme! It’s the second issue of my weekly long-run streamer column. I’m here to offer some pickups for the short-slate games in the upcoming week, with a focus on putting more players on the ice than your opponent. ESPN has changed everything so I don’t have Games Started data for the new year, but bear in mind that the odds of coming out with a win are strongly related to the number of players you put on the ice.
Howdy, it's me, LackeyDrinksOnMe!! As much as we love hockey and fantasy hockey, we don’t always have time to catch all the games we want. Viz is a champion at giving an impression of the player situation league-wide, but my plan is to narrow in on a game or two a week to cover two teams from top to bottom. I’m going to watch a game or two each week and will take a deep dive on each team, moving period by period Twitter-update style with a wrap-up and then following that stream of thought with a few league-wide notes. This works better with my schedule and will be something I’ll be able to continue into the spring when things start getting crazy at work. Hopefully doing this gives my fellow Razzball readers a good impression of what some games are like, even if you have no interest in viewing them yourself, and depending on the depth of your league I hope this can provide some useful insights. I’m watching the opening NHL game tonight, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens. I’m looking specifically for how Auston Matthews and John Tavares are used, how the defense in front of Frederik Anderson stacks up, how Montreal handles any power-play opportunities they are given, and how Carey Price looks in goal after a shaky campaign last year.