We’re rapidly approaching the end of the season with realistically, only one playoff spot still up for grabs. That will have some impact in fantasy as we’re starting to see some guys held out as precautions (mostly in Toronto), and open up some streaming opportunities. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon. Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split. Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year. I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players. For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there. In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume. If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary. Let's get to it!
It's not the first time this season, but Jonathan Huberdeau had five points in Tuesday's 7-4 win over the Predators, scoring twice and adding three assists. I know I'm a broken record with Huberdeau, but there's no superstar that gets less recognition than Huberdeau does. Thankfully, the Panthers clinched a playoff berth with the victory so he'll get back on the big stage. He's playing a 95 point pace again and should be around 25th overall going into next season in standard leagues. If your league doesn't include shots, he'll be even higher. It took longer than anticipated, but Huberdeau has proven to be worth the third overall pick from 10 years ago and then some. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Loyal Razzballers will know my fandom of Martin Necas goes back to when he was drafted by Carolina. I was perplexed that he fell to 12th overall, and a couple of the guys in front of him are well on their way to becoming busts. Thankfully, Necas is on his way to breaking out towards stardom. Necas had two goals and two assists with six shots on Saturday leading Carolina to a 4-3 win over the Lightning. That brings Necas up to 28 points in 30 games this season and over two shots per game, a big jump on ever level. The only thing holding him back was playing time and that is certainly not a concern any more. Somehow, Necas is still available in almost 50% of leagues. Therefore, we have a few steps to take. Go to your league's waiver wire, see if he's available, add him immediately if he is, and then come back to see what else happened over the weekend!
Mika Zibanejad was looking like the biggest bust of this season near the halfway point. Well, it's changing pretty quickly and amazingly, it wasn't the Sabres that turned it around. Last week, Zibanejad had three goals and three assists against the Flyers. It was so fun that he did it again eight days later! On Thursday, Zibanejad doubled down with his second natural hat trick and six point game in rapid succession against Philadelphia in the 8-3 win. That brings him up to 10+16 in 32 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but within reason. He's still over three shots per game, so while a repeat top 20 season is out of play, a top 50 season is still within reason. As I said at the time, Zibanejad is prone to huge hot streaks, and I think 17 points in 7 games qualifies. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Sure, it's on the basis of playing two more games than Washington, but the Islanders in first place in late March is a truly remarkable feat. Yes, they did make the Conference Finals last season, but in this division, they were not expected to contend for first place. Goaltending is going a long way for their success, and their future is starting to become more of the present. Ilya Sorokin saved 36 of 37 shots in the 2-1 OT win over the Flyers on Monday night. That brings Sorokin to 8 wins in 11 games with a 1.97/.922 stat line. That's elite right off the bat for the rookie which has led Sorokin to starting four games over the past two weeks. Semyon Varlamov's numbers and Sorokin's are nearly identical and for now, Trotz seems content to split between the two of them. Long term, Sorokin is one of the best goalies for fantasy hockey, granted he's a 25 year old rookie. That said, he's playing enough right now that I would own Sorokin in all formats. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's no surprise that the Sharks gave up five goals on Saturday. They've continually allowed a lot of goals and are arguably the best matchup you can hope your players are facing at the moment. It was the top line's turn for the Blues as they combined for eleven points. Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists while Jordan Kyrou scored two goals and added an assist. Perron is now above a point per game and RoR is exactly at it. Kyrou cooled off after a hot start, but he's cemented himself as the third member of this line. The schedule gets pretty tough going forward for the Blues, but I still think I would hold Kyrou in all formats. The upside is through the roof and with the Blues in more of a battle for a playoff spot than they would have anticipated going into the season, I expect the top line to continue getting big minutes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Ducks season has gone very poorly. Not Sabres poorly, but still, the results have been extremely disappointing. The good news is that their young players have shown some flashes of what can be in the future, and on Thursday night, their two cornerstones scored their first career goals. Trevor Zegras scored in his 11th career game while Jamie Drysdale scored in his first. For this season, we shouldn't expect much from either. At the moment, Zegras is a bottom end streamer, while Drysdale should be left on the waiver wire until we see how much he plays, or if he even stays on the Ducks. In dynasties, there's a ton to like for both. Zegras has the chance to be one of the best playmakers in the league who scores plenty of goals for himself. Drysdale doesn't have massive offensive upside, but he should be good enough in all facets of the game, including quarterbacking the power play, that he ends up as a #2 fantasy defenseman while playing top pair minutes for the Ducks. It may be bleak now, but the future is bright in SoCal. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
Nothing helps getting your season back on track like playing against the Buffalo Sabres. Carter Hart has had a really rough go of it in the opening month of the season, but on Sunday, he looked to turn it around in Buffalo. You'd think that after the Sabres were shutout 3-0 on Saturday that they would come out firing on Sunday. Nope. Hart stopped all 28 shots he faced, most of the routine variety, to beat the Sabres 3-0. Brian Elliott only needed to make 23 saves on Saturday as the Sabres are in complete disarray. As I always say, goalies are voodoo, but I'd be stunned if Hart doesn't make a jump towards being a #1 fantasy goalie again. If you can buy low on Hart, I would try to do so. The fact that the Flyers are 11-4-3 despite Hart's horrible start shows you what kind of upside the team has. Elliott should be streamed every time he starts as his save percentage is over .930 in his eight games. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Injuries and COVID absences didn't stop Carolina from shutting down the Lightning on Tuesday night. It started with Petr Mrazek in net who stopped all 32 shots that he faced to earn the win. That's two shutouts already in three starts already for Mrazek. It's to the point where I feel comfortable playing him in every start where going into the season, I didn't want to use him against the other top teams in the Central. We've seen the upside before in Detroit and even though that was a while ago, the system in place in Carolina should make Mrazek's burden relatively easy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: