It's that time of the year! We are rapidly closing in on the fantasy hockey playoffs, and to help everybody out in terms of streaming and bottom end holds, I am back with my playoff manifesto. For those that are new here, I will break down the schedule of every team in the league over the last four weeks of the NHL Season (that means games starting with this Monday, 3/9) and highlight anything important, both good and bad. A few things to note before I get going.
The first big trade deadline move happened two weeks early. Jason Zucker was sent to Pittsburgh in Bill Guerin's first big move as Wild GM, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, and a first round pick. So what does this do for Zucker's fantasy value? It puts it through the roof. Zucker immediately went on Crosby's wing in his first game, registering five shots on goals against the Lightning in 15 minutes. Sure, he's not going to get PP1 time, but the upside is tremendous given this opportunity. I grabbed Zucker in every league that I could just in case that it clicks with Crosby. We've seen Zucker score 30 goals in a season before and generate a ton of chances; now it'll be even easier with Crosby. As for the Wild side of things, it's a really good return. Addison was the Penguins' top prospect, and while their system wasn't loaded, he safely projects as a second pair, potential PP defenseman. I don't see huge upside, but there's value there. As for Galchenyuk, it can't get any worse than it was in Pittsburgh. He only received 12 minutes in his first game, and I'm certainly not rushing to use him, but it's worth monitoring to see if that changes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
I was expecting a big bounce back from Nazem Kadri this season in Colorado after being stuck on the third line in Toronto last season. It hasn't been spectacular, but Kadri has been a hold all season. He was going through a rough patch with only one point in seven games before Monday, but he broke out in a big way. Kadri scored two goals on four shots and added an assist in the Colorado victory over Detroit. Sure, it's Detroit, but three points is three points. Kadri has already surpassed last season's goal total in 27 less games and the penalty minutes are through the roof. His spot on the top power play unit appears locked in, therefore making him a hold for the foreseeable future. The big offseason trade has been a huge win for the Avalanche, no doubt about it. 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:
Life without Couturier hasn't been as good without Claude Giroux. He started the turnaround on Thursday night. Giroux scored two goals and two assists with three shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over Carolina. That brings Giroux up to 17 points in 22 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but the shot rate is the best of his career. 75 shots in 22 games is a huge step forward, and if that continues, we could be looking at a new career high in goals. Yes, he only has 7 to this point, but we could be on the verge of a heater. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
One of my main focuses as far as team projections go is coaching, especially when it deals with goaltending. I always love the Isles goalies because of Trotz, or Arizona because of Tocchet. Well, I made the mistake of not giving enough credit to Dave Tippett going to Edmonton. Tippett has always had great defensive teams in Arizona, and that's continued in Edmonton. The biggest beneficiaries have been the goalies, and over the weekend, that was Mikko Koskinen. Koskinen had a 29 save shutout on Friday against the Devils before saving 31 of 33 shots in the 6-2 win over the Ducks on Sunday. His numbers are spectacular as are Mike Smith's. Do I love these guys going forward? No, I still prefer the Isles guys, for example. That said, I probably undersold both of these guys. I think both Koskinen and Smith need to be held and could be decent #2's for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Hat tricks aren't that uncommon in the NHL. First period hat tricks are. Evander Kane became the first player in Sharks history to do so, scoring three goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 5-2 win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday. Kane has long been a player that I rate higher than consensus because of his shot rate and penalty minutes. Kane has four goals and two assists in four games since returning from suspension to go along with four PIM and 13 shots. Pretty, pretty good. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Sharks went 0-3 without Kane and are 3-1 since. With their current depth issues, Kane should be leaned on heavily giving him a great chance at a top 50 fantasy season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Not sure David Pastrnak even knows who Christopher Columbus is, but he sure dominated on his day Monday. Pastrnak won the game for the Bruins scoring all four goals on five shots. Two of those goals were on the power play, he chipped in two penalty minutes, and finished +1. I generally don't like to lead off posts talking about superstars, but I feel obligated to give Pasta props for a four goal game. The top seven going into the season were pretty clear for me but who was eighth was a debate. I ultimately decided on Draisaitl but went with Pastrnak in the nine spot. So far, so good. Look for the Bruins top line to dominate on a nightly basis. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're pushing through the halfway point today in terms of forwards as I get through the top 60. To see my posts for the top 40 forwards, you can check that out here. Let's get to it! 41) Jake Guentzel - Guentzel had his big regular season breakout with 40 goals and 36 assists last season. At first, I was a little hesitant to rank Guentzel this high, but now I feel really good about. One, he was stapled onto Crosby's wing all season. I don't expect that to change. Two, the shot rate took a huge jump forward in year three. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets to 3+ per game this year. Three, and the biggest thing, is that there's a spot for him on the first power play unit with Kessel's departure. Guentzel had only 6 PPG and 5 PPA last season. He could easily get to 20 PPP if he earns that spot in the preseason (his competition is Galchenyuk I guess?). Sure, we can't expect 17.6% shooting again, but I don't expect much regression getting to play with Crosby. I think Guentzel is a solid bet to get back to 40 goals again and boosts his assists to get up to a point per game. He should be a solid value at this point, especially if he falls between last season's 26 PIM and his 42 in 2017-18.
We found another goalie out of nowhere! Jordan Binnington was great in his second start on Thursday, allowing one goal on 29 shots in the 4-1 win over over Canadiens. He's been strong in the AHL the last two seasons, and with how bad their other goalies have been, Binnington deserves a chance. Obviously it could collapse at any time, and the Blues' schedule in January is very road heavy. On the other side, there a lot of good matchups over the next two weeks for Binnington. I wouldn't go out of my way in shallow leagues to own him, but Binnington could be a solid streamer with upside for more, especially before the All-Star Break with the Sens, Kings, and Ducks in a row. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: