The Chicago Blackhawks were the best team in the Western Conference during the 2016-17 regular season but unlike in years past, the postseason had no success. The Blackhawks were demolished in the first round by the Predators leading them to make some radical offseason changes. Out goes Artemi Panarin, back comes Brandon Saad. Out goes Marian Hossa due to injury, back comes Patrick Sharp. Out goes Niklas Hjalmarsson, Connor Murphy comes back in return. Overall, I really don't like the direction that Chicago is going as I discussed on this podcast. Despite the fact that I think they could be in a battle this season just to make the playoffs, there's still plenty of fantasy talents worth discussing. Let's take a look at what they're working with:
Hey guys! I'm going to recap all of the action for the first eight days of the playoffs. I'm not going to hit on every thing that's happening in each series but this is more of the big picture for the current season and then some smaller things that could have a fantasy impact going forward. Let's get right to it!
In these parts, we're a big supporter of the Jets for fantasy hockey. Going back to when I started writing here, the Jets love started with Blake Wheeler. An unheralded superstar, Wheeler has never received the credit he deserves for his consistent level of play. Another year goes by and it's another year where Wheeler is pushing the top ten overall forwards. Wheeler continued his recent hot streak with a goal and two assists with two shots in the 3-2 win over the Flyers. That brings his totals to 22+41 in 73 games with 43 PIM and 230 SOG. The safety he provides is the main reason why I ranked him 21st overall in the preseason and it looks like Wheeler is going to reach that value. So where will he be next season? He's going to turn 31 before next season starts which means he's likely to start marginally declining as he exits his prime. However, his quality of teammate is going to continue to improve as the rest of the Jets core moves towards their prime. Is he going to be worth a second pick again? It's going to be pretty close but at the least, Wheeler will be a high third round pick. I don't see him falling outside of my top 30. Let's take a look at the action around the league the last two nights:
We talked about Mikael Granlund on last Friday's podcast for a few minutes. Granlund was on an 11 game point streak, the longest of any player during this season, going into Saturday's game. You can say that he extended it in style. Against the Canucks, Granlund scored his first career hat trick on six shots while also having an assist and finishing +4. That brings his totals to a ridiculous 15+33 in 51 games while being +30. He's now a top 10 forward on the season based on RCL categories finally delivering on the hype surrounding him entering the league. As for where he'll be ranked going into next season, check out the podcast. Here's what else happened around the league this weekend:
After an amazing start, Patrick Eaves has slowed down quite a bit lately. Despite being in the league since 2005, Eaves never topped 32 points so it wasn't a surprise. That said, he's been given the best opportunity to produce points he's ever had in his career this season and Eaves has taken advantage on the whole. Eaves had his strongest game in over a month on Tuesday scoring a goal and two assists with three shots. He's been on the first power play unit all season (his goal was on the PP) and Eaves moved back to the first line during this game. It's time to stop dropping Eaves and hold him in 12'ers. I'm okay with using him as a streamer if you don't have the room but Eaves has an outside shot of scoring 30 goals this year. Here's what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:
There have been plenty of defensemen this season who have frustrated their owners due to lack of performance. A player who looked on the verge of a breakout after last season was Rasmus Ristolainen. The Sabres agreed with that take giving him a 5 year deal and early dividends were not there. Risto was accumulating assists but not much else. However, things are starting to change and it's no coincidence that it has occurred when Jack Eichel returned to the lineup. On Tuesday night, Ristolainen scored his first goal of the season, an amazing slapshot in overtime, and added two assists and three shots in the 4-3 OT win against the Oilers. That gives Ristolainen 1 goal and 6 assists in the 5 games with Eichel in the lineup. He played almost 30 minutes in each of the last two games showing how important he is to the Sabres depleted blue line and with how the top power play unit moves the puck, I expect Ristolainen to be a #2 defenseman the rest of the way with the upside to be a #1. Let's take a look at what else developed over the last two nights.
We're back and based on Reid's quote, you should buckle up! Per usual, we start off by updating the most recent injuries around the league and how it affects players in Tampa Bay and Manhattan. We follow that up by talking about Connor McDavid's first career hat trick, the red hot Jeff Carter and Nathan MacKinnon, Marian Hossa's revival, the future goalie in Tampa posting another shutout and Cam Ward randomly getting hot. We then move on to the Three Point Challenge before we add some other recent news that we skipped over, namely scratches of Shayne Gostisbehere and John Klingberg and Alexander Radulov's excellent play. Better late than never! All of that and more in the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!
In non-breaking news, Connor McDavid is really good at that hockey game that millions of people enjoy. In this space, we give credit where it's due and McDavid did something on Saturday for the first time in his young NHL career. In the 5-2 win over Dallas, McDavid had his first career hat trick scoring three goals on four shots while adding two penalty minutes. That game gives the wunderkind 22 points (8+14) in 19 games so far this season tying him for the league lead. He's a decent bet to end up leading the league in points and he's still only 19 years old. The future for him is so bright that it's blinding. Here's what else happened around the league this weekend:
First off, I'd just like to apologize to everyone for not having daily notes on Monday morning. I wasn't feeling too well Sunday night; one minute I'm watching the beginning of the Seahawks game and the next thing I know it's 10 AM! Thankfully there was only one game on Monday night so it wasn't the end of the world. Anyways, Sebastian Aho scored his first two NHL goals on Saturday and added an assist in Carolina's 5-1 win over the Capitals. That brings Aho's totals to 2+7 in 14 games which is great for the 19 year old. Unfortunately, that's accompanied by exactly 2 shots per game and only 2 PIM on the season. Add in the fact that the minutes are low (12:13 in this one) and I don't think you can hold onto Aho in standard 12'ers. That said, he's going to remain a great streamer for assists and is a Razzball favorite for dynasties. Let's take a look at what happened over the weekend plus the one Monday night game.
It's no secret that coming into the season, I loved the best players on the Jets. While the team itself is of to a mediocre start, the forward in my top 50 that I was highest on compared to consensus was Mark Scheifele. After a monstrous second half last season, I wrote repeatedly how much I liked him for 2016-17 and dynasties going forward. It was evident looking at Fantasy Pros where I was 16 spots higher than anyone else and 19 spots above consensus, quite a margin for a player who I had ranked 32nd overall. Well, it's been a terrific start to the season for Scheifele and it continued over the weekend. On Friday, Scheifele had a goal, two assists and two shots while being +3 in the 5-3 win over Detroit. He followed that up with a goal and an assist with two shots and +1 on Sunday despite the Jets losing 5-2 to the red hot Rangers. That gives Scheifele a total of 7 goals and 7 assists in 13 games with a +5 rating, 10 PIM and almost 3 shots per game. It puts him easily in the top 20 skaters on the season in the player rater and is making me look smart! I salute you, Mr. Scheifele. With the workload that he's receiving, I have little doubt that he will produce going forward at an elite rate. Let's take a look at what else went on around the league over the weekend.