While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend. Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3. This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville. In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each. That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success. Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
I've felt that Thomas Greiss was underrated for years. When I started at Razzball, he was battling Halak for playing time and should have received more than he did. Last season, when I was fully buying in, he was a mess. This year, his value was so low that he was a nice gamble and he paid off handsomely. Greiss had a 31 save shutout on Thursday beating Columbus 3-0. Greiss is pushing a .930 save percentage and it's deserved; he's third in the league in goals saved about expectation. The bad news is that his teammate is #2 in that category. Look, Greiss isn't going to get the majority of starts, right around half of the Isles remaining games. However, those starts are going to be extremely valuable. He's only owned in 23% of leagues right now which is far too low. That reason alone is why I'm starting this post with Greiss. I've been saying for over a month that he should be owned in all formats, but if you're lucky enough for him to still be on the wire, go and get him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
All of the people who have read me since I started writing here three seasons ago (it's going by quick!) knows how big of a fan I am of Dr. Bo Horvat. In a game where the Canucks were massive underdogs in Boston, Horvat led the Canucks to a major upset, scoring two goals and two assists with four shots and six PIM in the 8-5 win over the Bruins. That brings Horvat's totals to an outstanding 9+6 in 17 games with 19 PIM and around 2.5 shots per game. All of the attention is going to Elias Pettersson, and he deserves plenty of it, but Pettersson's arrival finally puts Horvat in a role that he can thrive in. Yes, Horvat has been fairly luck to this point in terms of on-ice shooting percentage, but he's doing the heavy lifting and still producing plenty offensively. The question isn't whether Horvat is a hold or not, it's how high his ceiling is. I don't see a top 50 player, at least not until his linemates improve, but with how the Canucks are playing, he should be a top 100 player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Everyone knew that Elias Pettersson was an elite prospect who was going to score plenty in the NHL. In a year where rookies around the NHL actually look like rookies, Pettersson is lighting the world on fire. Petterson scored two goals and added three assists in the 7-6 win over Colorado on Friday, boosting his totals to an insane 9+6 in 9 games so far. Obviously he's not going to shoot 39% all season, but after lower minutes to open the year, Pettersson has played at least 18 minutes in each of the last four games, including the last two over 20. For redrafts, he should be a borderline top 50 player this season. In dynasties, Pettersson is a top 20 talent. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It looks like we could be seeing the Timo Meier breakout right before our eyes. The former top ten pick is really coming into his own this season as DeBoer has given him a top six role. Meier scored a goal on Friday because totaling two goals and an assist with four shots on Sunday. That brings Meier to eight goals and four assists in 11 games with over three shots per game. It's pretty clear at this point: Meier is a must-own in all formats right now. He's still available in over one third of leagues, so if you're fortunate enough to be in one of those, go grab him now. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
Hey guys! Sven here with a look at the New York Islanders for 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.
Lackeydrinksonme back again, helping out big John at the bar. This is my fourth and final in a series of fantasy hockey skater rankings. As I mentioned, I use 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, among others. I also use the eye test, and I try to consider what team a player is on, their expected linemates, and where they are in their careers. I also try to include my rationale, and for most players will offer a prediction on year end points. 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 some analysis. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.