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:
Quick, who is the only team without a loss? Shockingly, it's the New Jersey Devils. They've had all home games, but they have been strong in all facets of the game, winning by a total of 17-4 in those games. Outside of the Sharks game, they've made life easy on Keith Kinkaid and he's taken care of business. Kinkaid shut out the powerful Stars on Tuesday stopping 24 shots faced. Do I expect the Devils to be a powerhouse? No. Should Kinkaid be owned everywhere? Absolutely. Goaltending is a mess right now after the top 20ish guys, so there's no reason Kinkaid should be on the waiver wire, even if he's just a hot schmotato. He's available in over 2/3rds of leagues right now, so grab him while he's hot. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hey guys! Today we head to the Big Apple 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.
We're moving on to the top 40 defensemen (you can find a list of the top 20 here.) More than likely, these guys will all be holds all season, but there won't be many past this list. This will be some upside in this list, but for the most part, it'll be safe guys to fill out the middle of your blue line. Let's get right to it!
I normally don't give the extended intro to the same player twice in a short period of time but my boy Blake Wheeler gets the honor tonight. Wheeler's excellent play continued on Monday night dishing four assists in the 4-1 win over the Stars, adding four shots and a +3 rating. All of a sudden, Wheeler is quietly creeping up on the Tampa duo sitting third in the league in points. 5+16, +7, 14 PIM, 9 STP, 46 SOG is Wheeler's line through 14 games. I don't know what you guys think of that but it seems like an okay start to the season. Loyal readers know I've long praised Wheeler as the most underrated superstar in the game and there are simply few players who consistently play at the level he does. Let's take a look at what else happened in the 6 game slate on Monday:
It seems like forever and a day since Matt Duchene requested a trade from the Colorado Avalanche. His wish finally came true on Sunday in a massive three-way trade between the Avs, Senators, and Predators. The Sens acquired Duchene, the Predators received Reid's favorite Kyle Turris and the Avs get a ton of future assets. For the Senators, I'm not a big fan. Is Duchene better than Turris? I would say so and Duchene had one more year on his contract than Turris. However, adding a ton here, including a first round pick and Shane Bowers, their first round pick from the 2017 draft, is a lot to add. For Smashville, adding Turris without losing anyone from the current roster besides Samuel Girard is a nice move for a team positioned to go for it. It may be more futures heavy than Colorado originally wanted but boy, did they get a ton in this move. They effectively received 2 1sts, 3 2nds, a third and Andrew Hammond for goaltender depth in the organization. I love this move for Colorado long term, like the aggressiveness of Nashville using futures to push (and like signing Turris immediately to a 6/36 deal), and question Ottawa's decision here. For fantasy, Duchene probably gets a small boost because he should slide onto a line with Hoffman and Stone right away. Assuming Turris plays with Forsberg, I think this move could help him as well (at the least it's neutral). I'm very interested to see if Girard plays for the Avs right away. He looked great in his brief stint for Nashville and the former second round pick could becomes fantasy relevant immediately if he's in Denver. I'll be sure to talk more about this trade with Reid on Tuesday's podcast. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
Hat tricks have been in vogue lately so Blake Wheeler decided to take it to another level. Wheeler scored a hat trick in the first period on Sunday and later added an assist in the 7-1 win over the Penguins. Wheeler has been the fantasy stalwart we've become accustomed to in the early going with 4+8, +3, 12 PIM, 35 SOG and 4 STP in 10 games. I don't know how many more years Wheeler will keep up this level of play but for now, he's a top 20 player with relative ease. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
All everyone talked about in the preseason was wondering how bad Vegas was going to be in their expansion year. Sure, it's only two games, but boy did they have some excitement. On Friday, Dallas was dominating Vegas in their franchise opener but was only up 1-0 in the third. Down goes Ben Bishop which opened up the door for James Neal to give the people of Las Vegas some relief in an awful time. Neal scored two goals in the third period to propel the Golden Knights to victory. To top off the weekend, Neal scored another goal, this time the game winner in overtime, to give Vegas two wins to start the season. Neal is still available in over 40% of leagues and if you are in one of them, grab him. The shot rate is going to be elite along with solid penalty minutes and goals. At least for now, I'm not overly concerned about the top guys on Vegas having bad plus-minuses either. Let's take a look at what else happened in the first (long) weekend of the NHL season:
The St. Louis Blues had quite the roller coaster ride of a season in 2016-17. They started off slowly before rallying to the point where playoffs were a certainty. That didn't stop Doug Armstrong from shipping out Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline after they couldn't agree to a contract extension. Despite the loss of Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL, the Blues upset the Wild in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Predators in round 2. There are some questions on the blue line and in net but their forward group, if healthy, has incredible depth plus elite talent. Let's take a look at what Mike Yeo has to work with:
Since it's almost Labor Day, it's time for me to pick up the pace with my rankings. For those who haven't seen them, you can check out my Top 50 here. I'm not going to bore you with an intro, everybody wants to see my top 100 and this is going to be incredibly long as is, so let's get right to it! 51) Ben Bishop - The more research that I do, the more I'm tempted to move Bishop up even higher. Yes, last season was a disaster, but Bishop was the #1 overall player in 2015-16. But Viz, Dallas has been a train wreck defensively for years! This is true, but with Marc Methot coming on board and the growth of their young blueliners, they could take a step forward. More importantly, we've seen some goalies with far less talent than Bishop succeed in Ken Hitchcock's system *cough* Brian Elliott *cough*. It's a little risky but I'm expecting Dallas to push for the Central Division title giving Bishop massive upside across the board.