I've been stubborn in terms of thinking Dougie Hamilton was going to have a massive fantasy season for years now.  Loyal Razzballers know my love for guys who hit all of the categories, and Hamilton has always done that.  It seems like Carolina is finally giving him the chance to be the #1 guy in all situations and he's off to a tremendous start.  On Friday, Dougie scored a goal and an assist with four shots and two PIM.  He followed that up with a goal on five shots Saturday, bringing him to 4+4 in 6 games with 19 shots, 6 PIM and +7.  Obviously he's not going to keep up this pace, but this is the kind of start that can allow Hamilton to finish as a top five defenseman.  In fact, gun to head, I'd bet on it happening right now.  If you follow my rankings, odds are that you have Hamilton on your team in redrafts or keepers.  If that's the case, don't even consider selling high because this isn't a fluke.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Brayden Point made his season debut on Thursday for a big showdown with the Maple Leafs.  Unsurprisingly, he started right where he left off, scoring two goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 7-3 win.  The Bucs beat the Argonauts!  Anyways, we know how good Point is and that he's an elite options in all formats.  A couple other takeaways from this game.  One, Point went on the first line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who had four points each.  If that line sticks together, watch out.  Two, the new fifth person on the top power play unit was Anthony Cirelli, who ended up with three assists, two on the power play.  I'm a big fan of Cirelli's game but he didn't get the opportunity.  Now, he is centering the second line and on the top power play unit.  He's a must own in all formats.  Three, Tampa Bay really is the better version of Toronto.  The defensemen on Toronto just can't keep up.  I mean, Cody Ceci?  Even Rielly and Barrie aren't good defensively.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
On Monday, I wrote the following about James Neal: "As long as he’s on the first power play unit, Neal has a real chance to bounce back.  I wouldn’t hold him yet, but he’s a solid streaming option." And that's me quoting me copying what Grey does! Well, I hope that you streamed him on Tuesday.  Neal stayed on the first power play unit, and the time to hold him is now.  Neal scored four goals on eight shots on Tuesday, playing almost 21 minutes, in the 5-2 win over the Islanders.  Two of those goals came on the power play where it's clear Edmonton is using him as one of their primary shooters.  Am I saying Neal is going to score 40 goals again?  Definitely not.  However, the upside is too high to leave him on the waiver wire.  He's always had a quality shot rate and there's a chance of good penalty minutes on top of the goals.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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.
From an individual standpoint, this season couldn't be going any better for John Tavares.  That continued on Monday night as Tavares scored 4 goals in the 7-5 win over Florida.  That brings Tavares to 45 goals and 86 points, both career highs.  Obviously we know to roll Tavares every time out, but where does he rank going into next season?  He's bumped his shot rate back up to an elite level and his plus-minus is by far a career best.  Is that sustainable?  It might be given how good Toronto is.  This, of course, assumes that Marner returns next season.  I don't think he'll make my top 10, but it will be very close.  At the least, Tavares will be in consideration for the wheel in a 12 team draft come September.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We have a new candidate for craziest game of the year.  Chicago and Ottawa was a 5-4 game... with 2 minutes left in the first!  The game finished with a ridiculous 8-7 score with Alex DeBrincat leading the way on the score sheet.  The 21 year old scored a hat trick and added two assists, bringing him up to 32+28 on the season.  Not bad for anyone, let alone a 21 year old.  In the preseason, I wrote this: "Everything is in place for DeBrincat to score 35+ goals… if Quenneville plays him the minutes he deserves.  DeBrincat scored 28 goals and 24 assists as a rookie despite playing only 14:48 per game.  It was infuriating that DeBrincat’s minutes down the stretch didn’t drastically increase with the Blackhawks out of the playoff race.  He’s a natural goal scorer who needs to get more playing time for the Blackhawks to have any chance at a bounce back.  The penalty minutes won’t be there, but 30+30 is well within reason, and there’s still upside from there."  Well, Quenneville was fired, but everything else came to fruition.  I love DeBrincat now and going forward.  Sure, he'll never give PIM, but he should be an annual 30 goal scorer who has some years pushing 40 like this one.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL.  Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position.  The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion.  First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back.  Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league.  I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out.  I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being.  Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
In the game of the night, a stealth Hart Trophy candidate led his team to glory.  Johnny Gaudreau scored a hat trick on four shots in the 4-1 win in Winnipeg.  Just like that, he's 5th in the NHL in scoring with by far the best shot rate of his career.  Couple that with a career high shooting percentage and Johnny Hockey is well on his way to a career high in goals.  I've generally been lower on Gaudreau than most, but this year he has proven me wrong.  That line is among the best in hockey and Gaudreau is at the forefront.  I don't expect him to slow down much in the second half making Gaudreau is a good bet to finish as a top 20 player in fantasy.  Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night: