It's hard to believe that Filip Forsberg recently had a 20 game goalless streak. He had his best game in months on Tuesday scoring two goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM. The thing that excites me most is that Forsberg played 20 minutes in this game. Forsberg is clearly the best forward on the team and it has been infuriating that his minutes have been down, slump or not. The playoff schedule for the Predators is excellent (you can read up on that here) giving Forsberg the opportunity to be a top 20 player down the stretch. I don't expect that, but he has that kind of upside. The Predators are making their playoff push and it's the time for Forsberg to get his season back on track. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The player with the most points this weekend was Connor. No, not McDavid. Kyle Connor continued his terrific season with two amazing games. First, he scored a goal and dished three assists against the Senators. Then, he followed it up on Sunday by scoring two goals and an assist with five shots in the win against the Blackhawks. That brings Connor up to a point per game on the season, 26+30 in 56 games. Connor is developing into one of the unheralded stars in the league. Overshadowed by Scheifele and Laine on his own team, this will be Connor's third straight 30 goal season at age 23. His shot rate is over three per game now and the penalty minutes have jumped quite a bit. I'm not sure how much higher his ceiling is, if at all, but it doesn't have to get higher. Connor has established himself as a player whose floor is 30+30 with plenty of upside from there. He's going to be a top 50 player (conservatively) for a long time, mixing in seasons where he's a top 25 player overall when he has some good fortune. The Jets are in terrific shape going forward offensively, now they have to do whatever they can to improve their blue line. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Last season, Leon Draisaitl had a massive breakout with 50+55. It seemed naive to expect better, but he's going to blow 105 points out of the water. Draisaitl scored two goals on six shots on Friday before dishing four assists with three shots on Saturday. That brings him to 29+54 in 52 games. That's over an assist per game! Sure, the penalty minutes have dried up and he's -7, but who cares!? He has four points more than his teammate for the most in the NHL and is now over three shots per game. It's not a lock that the Oilers make the playoffs, but they're a clear favorite to make it now, mostly on the backs of Draisaitl and McDavid. Even with the poor plus-minus and PIM, Leon is still the fourth best skater for the season. At this point, his floor is a top ten forward which puts him in a class of the world's truly elite. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I'm a big fan of the revenge game and Semyon Varlamov had one on Monday night against his old team in Colorado. Varlamov had a 32 save shutout to earn the 1-0 victory. I have a few points on Varly. One, he's proving to be the #1 goalie we hoped he would be when he went to the Islanders. Barry Trotz has the best defensive system in the league. Two, how the hell wasn't he an All-Star? He's clearly had the best season for goalies in his division. I get having Korpisalo because the Jackets need a representative, but Holtby? Come on, Varly has been much better. Anyways, keep rolling the Isles goalies. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I talked a lot about Taylor Hall in Monday's post (you can read that here). The trade that I was talking about happened on Monday with Hall moving to Arizona. In the trade, Hall and Blake Speers went to Arizona for a 2020 conditional first-round draft pick, a conditional 2021 third-rounder, along with forward prospects Nate Schnarr, Nick Merkley and defenseman Kevin Bahl. First, let's look at this from Arizona's perspective. It's a steep price to pay for a rental, but Hall is the best player traded in quite some time, and Arizona is looking to snap a long playoff drought in a weak division. I totally get the move given their strong defensive talent but lack of overall offensive talent. Hall played on Tuesday dishing an assist and adding a shot in 18 minutes. He played with Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller. In Monday's piece linked above, I said to buy Keller going forward due to his recent play. This only enhances his value. Same goes with Dvorak, but he moves up to an elite streamer for now. As for New Jersey, it's hard to complain about this return. You have potentially two first round picks in this deal, but at least a 1 and 3. Bahl is a monster coming in at 6'7 and can skate fairly well. I don't see a PP guy there, but he should be a modern stay-at-home who is strong on the PK. For those in deep leagues, he should be a very good hits/blocks guy down the line. Merkley has decent upside, but he has already had reconstructive knee surgery. He's not the best skater, but he has great hockey IQ and should end up as a playmaking center in the middle six. Schnarr was a third round pick in 2018 who didn't show a ton of offense until after he was drafted. He then exploded in Guelph last season, but he's struggled in the AHL so far. That isn't a surprise as many 20 year olds struggle in their first pro season. I don't expect a ton, but there's a decent chance he ends up an NHL'er. All in all, seems like this trade has the potential to be a win-win once you consider that Hall seemingly didn't want to stay in New Jersey. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Joel Quenneville saw that Sergei Bobrovsky was rounding into form on Saturday after a strong performance against his old team. He rewarded him by starting him on Sunday despite being the second game in as many days. Bob delivered once again. After making 33 saves in the 4-1 win over Columbus, Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 31 shots in the 5-1 win over the Sharks. Yes, the season has been worst case scenario to this point for Bob. However, there's still plenty of time to turn it around and I think we see it. Sure, maybe he won't be the top 5 goalie he's been in the past, I can almost guarantee that. However, he could end up being a #1 again and for that reason alone, he's a great trade target. Over the rest of this month, he plays Tampa twice and Boston, with some decent offenses and poor ones mixed in. However, look at this January schedule: OTT, BUF, PIT, ARZ, VAN, DET, MIN, CHI. Not exactly a murderer's row. In fact, they don't even play Tampa again after this month. If I owned Bob, which I do, I'm being patient because I think it's going to turn around. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
For today’s post, I’m going to write about one thing for each NHL team about their first two weeks that I think it was worth discussing. This is going to be a long post, so let’s get right to it! Please, blog, may I have some more?
I've been stubborn in terms of thinking Dougie Hamilton was going to have a massive fantasy season for years now. Loyal Razzballers know my love for guys who hit all of the categories, and Hamilton has always done that. It seems like Carolina is finally giving him the chance to be the #1 guy in all situations and he's off to a tremendous start. On Friday, Dougie scored a goal and an assist with four shots and two PIM. He followed that up with a goal on five shots Saturday, bringing him to 4+4 in 6 games with 19 shots, 6 PIM and +7. Obviously he's not going to keep up this pace, but this is the kind of start that can allow Hamilton to finish as a top five defenseman. In fact, gun to head, I'd bet on it happening right now. If you follow my rankings, odds are that you have Hamilton on your team in redrafts or keepers. If that's the case, don't even consider selling high because this isn't a fluke. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's now time to move on to defensemen for my rankings. I'll be doing the top 40 defensemen in two separate posts, with the top 20 in this one. I have gone through the top 100 forwards so you can check those out through the hockey page. For now, let's get right to the blueliners! 1) Brent Burns - You can check out Burns in the top 20 here. I feel like I ranked him too low, so when I do my top 50 overall post, I may slide him up a bit. 2) John Carlson - Burns is in a tier by himself, and who to put at the top of tier two is has been a big internal debate for me. I ultimately decided on Carlson for the safety. Carlson put up 70 points last season, 33 of which were on the power play. Both numbers are incredible. He's also a plus player most seasons and there's no reason to expect a change. The one concern is that his shot rate plummeted last season from almost 3 shots per game to about 2.25. That's still solid for a defensemen, but nowhere near a great asset. Even given that, Carlson was the #3 defenseman last season. Hopefully there's a bounce back in his shot rate, but either way it's high floor and high ceiling.
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: