The National Hockey League draft came and went while I was on vacation, but I heard no one took my future boyfriend Mikhail Grigorenko until the 12th pick. What? Oh, I’m sorry, I guess the Islanders don’t need offense, my bad. Please, blog, may I have some more?
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.
We're finally shifting gears after going through 100 forwards for this upcoming season. The focus now moves to the blue line, where we will start with the top 20 defensemen. There's been a big improvement over the last few years giving us additional quality options to fill our roster. Let's get right to it!
If you follow my writing at all, you know how much I love Brent Burns. I mean, how can you not love this face? He's been among the most disappointing players in fantasy hockey to this point, mostly because he's found a way to have a horrible shooting percentage. Well, since my last set of daily notes, Burns is finally back on track! In his past three games, Burns has three goals and three assists with a whopping 22 shots on goal. There's still plenty of time for Burns to deliver an elite fantasy season with a monster second half. I certainly won't put it past the reigning Norris Trophy winner. I'm going to change things up a bit with this post. Since I'm a bit behind, mainly because of the site going down last Thursday night, I'm going to list every player, by NHL team, that I think is a hold or streamer in standard leagues, guys who become in play with hits, blocks and faceoffs added, and then add some information where necessary. Let's get to it!
The Minnesota Wild had an excellent regular season in 2016-17, their first under Bruce Boudreau, finishing with 106 points. Unfortunately for them, they had another first round exit, this time as a prohibitive favorite against the St. Louis Blues. I was all in on the Wild last year in the regular season strictly because of Boudreau; the man is as good as it gets behind the bench. Arguably my biggest call of the year, having Devan Dubnyk 40 spots higher than ADP, worked out perfectly as Dubnyk finished as the #3 overall goalie. With a few players breaking out and others finding their form again, the Wild remain a very interesting team for fantasy purposes. Let's take a look at the plethora of options Boudreau has to work with:
Will using The Force actually make your team better than picking up Justin Schultz would? Well, no. Not exactly. But it will stop you from making blind spec pickups and dropping guys who might actually be helping you already in some way. In either case, I’m going with “D”, which by the way is the subject of this week’s column. Here’s all the “D” you can handle – if you want to improve your team NOW instead of waiting for the fallout of all the deadline deals – all neatly sorted into three categories: Scoring help, Keepers only, and Peripheral Vision (which help in those “other” stats).
At this point, it's about time we recognize that Artemi Panarin isn't just riding Patrick Kane's coattails. On Wednesday, the rookie vaulted himself into a tie for 5th in the league in points, scoring a hat trick to lead the Blackhawks to a 5-3 victory against the Rangers. It was a 3-3 game with 3 minutes left until Panarin scored to take the lead and then he sealed it with an empty netter. He now has 22 goals and 35 assists with solid numbers in the other categories. As long as voters don't punish him for being 24 years old, Panarin should run away with the Calder. He's gone from a late round flier this year to a slam dunk top 50 asset going forward that's probably closer to the top 25 than 50. Here's what else I saw around the league the last two nights:
50 points in 40 games. That was my prediction for Sidney Crosby in the second half of the season. Yesterday, I said that "Sidney Crosby has been outstanding for a month and could easily lead the league in points from this point forward" here. That possibility is off to a great start. Crosby had a hat trick on Tuesday night with an assist and eight shots in the 6-5 win over the Senators. Amazingly, he's become somewhat of a forgotten man this year but it's his time to shine again. Here's what else I saw around the league the night after the All-Star break: