Razzball favorite Oliver Bjorkstrand had his second 3+ point game of the young season on Thursday, dishing three assists and adding two shots in the 3-2 OT win over the Islanders. That's seven points in four games and the equally encouraging sign is that Bjorkstrand played over 20 minutes in this game. He's owned in almost every league like he should be, but the upside may be even higher than I gave Bjorkstrand credit for. I have no doubt that the goals are going to come, but the playmaking has improved leaps and bounds over the last season plus. I don't think he can quite get to being a top 50 player in a best case scenario, but top 75 is attainable. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Joel Eriksson Ek took a big step forward last season, one of the main reasons the Wild made the playoffs with relative ease. It was more on the defensive end than offensively, but he showed plenty of offense with 19 goals in 56 games. On Tuesday, Eriksson Ek controlled the game for the Wild, scoring a hat trick on seven shots in the 6-5 OT win over the Jets. Eriksson Ek averaged just over two shots per game last season, but he now has twelve shots in three games. The minutes are going to be there so there's a chance he could push into bottom end hold territory. For now, he's an elite streamer. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hello again, Razzfolks! Wrapping up the Western Conference today. Time for Part 2 of the Central Division previews, finishing things out with the Wild, the Predators, the Blues, and the Jets. If you want to check out (or look back over) the other previews thus far, links are below:
And now we move to where around half of your starters come from. The guys who really put up the points, the forwards. Because I cover so many forwards in the Top 20 overall (18 to be exact), this post will cover the top 40 forwards instead of only the top twenty. From there on out, each post will be 20 players. Let's get right to it!
Today, I'm going to finish out my Top 20. I am going to have a massive goaltending post come out on Friday that will cover everybody in the NHL that is fantasy relevant. Things are going to start picking up now in this space now that football drafts are done, and the baseball season is winding down. Don't forget to check out Son's basketball content as well! For those who missed it, you can see the Top 10 here. Let's get to 11-20! 11) Patrick Kane - This could be the last time Kane goes in the top 10 as he is about to turn 33 years old. That said, Kane hasn't shown many signs of aging to this point. We should see a bounce back with goals because Kane shot the lowest percentage of his career last season. Part of that is not getting to the best spots on the ice as easily as he did when he was younger, but a bigger part of that was simply bad luck. Having a full season of a healthy Dach as his center should also help. He's not the most exciting pick, but Kane should get the job done.
While he's not getting the attention that he received in Vegas' inaugural season, Jonathan Marchessault has quietly had a terrific campaign. His best game came on Wednesday, where Marchessault had two goals, two assists, and five shots leading Vegas to a 5-2 victory over the Sharks. This let Vegas become the first team to clinch the playoffs this season, something that has been a formality for months already. Marchessault now had 13 goals and 22 assists in 46 games, along with a +12 rating, 37 PIM, and 147 shots. In other words, he's a plus across the board with elite PIM and a strong shot rate. At 30 years old, Marchessault has shown no signs of slowing down. He's getting easier matchups now which is helping him thrive on the second line. He looks every bit of a top 100 player going forward, with the upside of being top 50 if he has some shooting luck in a season like he did in his one season in Florida. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Prince Igor Shesterkin had one of the easiest games of his life on Thursday, recording a 16 save shutout in the 4-0 win over the Devils. The debate I have is where he should be ranked in dynasties. Vasilevskiy is clearly #1 still, but could be Igor be #2 overall? With Hart having a brutal season, there aren't many other candidates. Hellebuyck definitely deserves discussion, but it appears that Shesterkin has played his way into being a top 3 dynasty goalie. The Rangers are coming on strong right now, and it should only get better going forward as their young players develop. Amazingly, the Rangers could have another incredible run in net after King Henrik dominated for almost 15 years. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
Injuries have robbed us of an amazing Cale Makar season. The good news is that he's back now and dominating games on a consistent basis. Makar had three assists with four shots in Colorado's 5-2 win over the Ducks on Monday. That brings Makar up to a point per game on the season with a +12 rating in 22 games that isn't a fluke at all. We've seen a slight uptick in his shot rate this season, but a big jump there is what it will take for Makar to move into being a top five defenseman instead of being a middling to bottom end #1. With how well he plays in his age 22 season, I have no doubt that it's coming. For dynasties, I think he has to be the top defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL. Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected. On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating. He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes. I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL. Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward. Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now. I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers. Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that. Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It was looking good for the Wild on Monday night. After letting Vegas tie the game 2-2, Minnesota scored two goals in 19 seconds near the end of the second period to go up 4-2. Move to the last minute up 4-3 with the goalie pulled, and Mark Stone makes a fabulous pass to Tuch to tie up the game. In overtime, the Wild were controlling the puck until Stone won it back, and hit Patches for the game winner. In a 5-4 victory, Stone had five assists, and not just five assists, five primary assists. He was in a bit of a slump before this game with one point in his previous five games, but safe to say that's in the rear view mirror now. Stone now has 22 points in 18 games, averaging an assist a game. The big concern is that his shot rate has plummeted down to under two per game. That puts a big dent into his overall value, but if he's going to put up an assist a game dominating at five on five, it's hard to complain. That said, be a little more selfish and don't let Patches take every shot! The first captain in Vegas history has been excellent this season and even though I'm American, I can't wait to see him in the Olympics on say, McDavid or MacKinnon's wing. Or maybe the three of them are a line, who knows with how stacked their team is. Let's see what else happened over the last two nights: