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 20th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re making our second stop in Florida – it’s Panther time baby! The Panthers entered last season with one of the best top-six forward groups on paper, but bad injury luck and terrible defending left them on the outside looking in. With a new coach, new goalie and some new-found depth, how to the Cats look this season? Let’s take a look!
We have now reached the point of doing individual positions before I complete a top 200. Through the top 20 overall, I have covered 18 forwards, one defenseman and a goalie. For now, I'll be holding off on the last two. I'll be covering the top 100 forwards in posts of twenty going forward. For today, I will go through the top 40. Let's get right to it!
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 are at the point in the season where it's more important to lead my posts off with the things that have the biggest impact going forward and not the best performances. Robin Lehner is currently day-to-day with what Barry Trotz called an upper-body injury. When asked if it was a concussion, Trotz wouldn't give an answer. Best wishes to Lehner to a speedy recovery no matter what the issue is, but he does have concussion history. Thomas Greiss started on Thursday and made 35 saves on 37 shots in the 4-2 win over the Senators. I wouldn't expect anything else against the Senators. I have been saying Greiss is must-own for a few months now, but for some reason he's still only 27% owned! If Lehner does miss time, Greiss has a legitimate chance to not only be a #1 goalie the rest of the way, but a top 5 goalie overall. Pick him up immediately if he's still available in your league. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two days:
Well if I had to guess who would have the second four goal game of the season, I'm not sure Brad Richardson would have been in the first 500 guesses. Richardson single-handedly carried the Coyotes to victory on Thursday with those four goals on six shots, adding two PIM with a +4 rating. Richardson has 16 goals in 48 games now, a career high in his 14th season. For those of you in deep leagues, I would grab Richardson for the faceoff boost too. In standard leagues, I'm probably passing still despite playing at a 27 goal pace. Everything about it screams unsustainable, but we have to give props to him burying four in one game. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
It was quite the weekend for last season's Calder Trophy winner. Mathew Barzal entered Friday's game against the Senators with five goals on the season, and he matched that in two games. Barzal scored two goals and an assist against the Senators before scoring a hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. That brings Barzal up to 10+25 in 37 games with solid PIM and an improved shot rate. He's still only 21 years old so clearly the best is to come. For the rest of this season, I think he's just inside the top 50 now that his shot rate isn't far from average. If he can eventually get that up towards three a game, it's game over. Barzal has top 20 player upside down the line; hopefully the Isles get some more talent around him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
It wasn't that long ago that people were talking about a Stanley Cup hangover for the Capitals. Now, the defending champs have won 10 out of 12 on the backs of their captain, Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin recorded the 21st hat trick of his career on Tuesday extending his league lead in goals. He now has 25 goals and 14 assists in only 30 games this season to go along with 116 shots. That means he's below four shots per game, a rarity for The Great Eight, but still an elite rate. Sure, his shooting percentage is going to drop a bit, but there's no reason at all to expect a regression. I've seen a few articles on other sites that say you should sell high on Ovechkin, and I'd have to disagree. He gets drafted in the first round for his incredibly high floor, and nothing has changed to reduce that floor. Let the good times roll and enjoy what should be his eighth 50 goal season of his career. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The St. Louis Blues have been one of the most disappointing teams in the league through the first two months, and that continued on Sunday. The Canucks destroyed them 6-1 and they were led by their two young stars. Brock Boeser scored a hat trick on four shots to go along with a +5 rating. Boeser has had some massive games this season to along with a lot of blanks, which makes him a prime GPP target most nights. With 9+8 in 19 games with over three shots per game, Boeser is an elite option in all formats. The Canucks future looks very bright, especially with the California teams all on a downward trajectory, and Boeser is at the forefront with Pettersson (more on him later). Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: