Semyon Varlamov missed Saturday’s game because of taking a shot to the jaw in warmups. The good news is that he was back on Monday, and the better news is that he did exactly what he did in the season opener: get a shutout. 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!
"Joonas Donskoi is pushing towards being an elite streamer. Donskoi has eleven points in the past nine games while he received some shifts on the top PP unit on Monday as well." And that's me quoting me from two days ago! Well, Donskoi is certainly at that level now. Donskoi had a hat trick in the first period on Wednesday, adding an assist and six shots in the 9(!)-3 win over the Coyotes. Donskoi's third goal was on the PP with the top unit which does wonders for his value. While he's this hot, Donskoi is worth holding. I don't necessarily expect it to last, but he could easily stay an elite streamer for the rest of the season. The way the Avalanche are playing right now, I want as much to do with their offense as possible. 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:
Look, to be honest with you, there wasn't a ton of eventful things that happened in the NHL on Thursday night. We're leading off with Sam Gagner for a couple reasons. One, he had a trick on four shots in the 5-2 win for the Red Wings. Sure, one was an empty netter, but a hat trick is a hat trick and that deserves recognition. Never mind that Gagner came into the game with zero goals on the season and the three points in this game were more than he had all season. The other reason I started off with Gagner is to give him some appreciation. He had a solid career for over a decade now, constantly as an elite streamer while having a few years where he was a bottom end hold. With all of the big games McJesus is having lately, you can try to stump your friends with a trivia question in terms of who the last player was that had seven points or more in a game? As you could guess, it was Gagner, but did you know he actually had 8!? He's one of only eleven players in history to have eight points in a game and for that, I thank Gagner for the memory of that wild night in Chicago. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday:
In their last two games, Florida has put a whopping 94 shots on goal. Incredibly, they only scored two goals. Anton Khudobin was robbed off a win on Monday stopping 49 of 51 shots so he decided to one up that performance on Wednesday. Khudobin posted a 43 save shutout to get the Stars back on track. I was high on Khudobin going into the season because of the absence of Bishop. The one problem for Khudobin is with the Stars being delayed for COVID, that's more games later in the schedule when Bishop should be back. Regardless, Khudobin should be the workhorse for at least one more month and should be a #1 goalie in the meantime. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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:
It's time to get rolling with my fantasy hockey rankings. Instead of starting with my top 10 and going from there, I'm going to be starting with goaltenders today, defensemen Tuesday, and then forwards and my top 200 by the end of the week. I will be ranking the guys in order, but I am putting more focus on tiers than the exact rankings of players. I will be writing in detail about guys that I aggressive with in my rankings, either because I like them a lot or also don't want anything to do with them. Let's get to it!
There wasn't a lot of action the last two days after the All-Star Break, but sadly we saw what certainly appeared to be a severe injury. Linus Ullmark has established himself as the clear #1 goalie for the Sabres this season playing at a league average level. He collapsed to the ice on Tuesday against the Senators with what appeared to be a bad leg injury. There hasn't been an update yet, but I would be surprised to see if he ends up out for the season. So what does that mean for the Sabres and for us fantasy hockey players? Well, the Sabres are far from the best situation, but Ullmark has been serviceable. Carter Hutton has been one of the worst goalies in the league, so unless he has a bunch of good starts in a row, I have no interest in using him. I suspect that Jonas Johansson is called up from Rochester. Johansson is a former third round pick who was an AHL All-Star this season. He's taken a huge jump forward as he was serviceable in the ECHL last season but that's about it. However, goalies are strange and perhaps he catches lightning in a bottle. I wouldn't rush to add him, but he's a name worth monitoring. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's safe to say that at 26 years old, Jonathan Huberdeau has plenty of hockey to play in his career. The scary thing is that he's going to destroy the Panthers point record. In Sunday's big win over the Maple Leafs, Huberdeau had a goal and an assist to pass Olli Jokinen for the most points in franchise history. After last season's breakout campaign where Huberdeau had 92 points, he's on pace to blow by that this season with 61 points in their first 45 games. The shot rate has fallen off to slightly below average, but I don't think anyone who drafted Huberdeau is complaining. He's a safe bet to finish as a top 20 overall player this season, and since he's entering his prime along with some of his other teammates (notably Barkov), the future is incredibly bright. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: