Hey guys! It's Sven, and we have another 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 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 sixth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re headed back to California to preview the Anaheim Ducks! Last season the Ducks were – well, wounded ducks. Their amount of injuries combined with players just being inconsistent led to a forgettable season. With their core only getting older and some tough decisions made this off-season, I have a feeling these guys have a couple of rough years ahead. That being said, there is still some excitement and some young talent brewing!
For those of you doing well in your head to head leagues, this is the most important post of the year. This is my annual playoff manifesto where I break down every team's schedule for the last four weeks of the season. I tell you who are the best teams and players to stream from, who you should look to trade for or away if your deadline hasn't passed, and it allows you to plan ahead with ease. For those who haven't read it in the past, the numbers in the parentheses are how many games the team plays in each of those weeks, with the last number being the last week in the season and preceding accordingly. This is going to be a massive post so let's get right to the 2019 Playoff Manifesto!
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:
I hope all of you Razzballers that celebrate had a Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to everyone! The three day hiatus without games is over, so I'm going to do a quick preview of Thursday's games with some streamers, DFS options, and other things I'm looking for. I'll get back to daily notes tomorrow recapping all of these games, so this will be an opportunity to get my thoughts on games out there and either look smart, dumb, or both. Let's get to it!
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:
There wasn't a ton of goal scoring over the last two nights, but the most notable performance came from the reigning MVP. Taylor Hall won the game against the Penguins virtually by himself, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots in the 4-2 win. That brings Hall up to 5+14 in 16 games with over 3.5 shots per game. Can we expect a repeat of last season? That would be a stretch. Hall shot 14% last season while for the majority of the rest of his career, he's been in the 8-11% range. This year he's at 8.6, a little low but not an outlier. I would say 25-30 goals seems likely, but a new career high in assists (54) is certainly within range. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What's the worst spot for a goaltender to start right now? Probably against Toronto on the road. Well, Matt Murray had that exact spot on Thursday, and did the exact opposite of what most expected. In a game where Toronto's expected goal total was pushing 4, Murray stopped all 38 shots he faced, shutting out the powerhouse Maple Leafs 3-0. Murray's upside is undeniable; it's just a matter of keeping him on the ice and the defense in front of him not being a total mess. For now, expect the Pens to give him the vast majority of the starts, meaning you can safely cut Casey DeSmith. The Penguins schedule is fairly soft over the next couple of weeks, so feel safe rolling Murray. 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:
We've reached the last position through the ranking process! I'm going to do the top 40 goalies in two separate posts before putting together a top 100 and 200 list by the end of next week. Just a quick refresher on my draft strategy with goalies: I do not take them in the first two rounds under any circumstance, and I better be getting good value in rounds 3-5 to pull the trigger. The reason is that goaltenders have much higher variance than any other position in fantasy sports (e.g. Carey Price). I will take my chances on hitting the next breakout guy(s) than paying such a premium for a proven commodity because the proven player can fall off at any time. Let's get to it!