With no exhibition games this season, it's going to be harder to predict what lines and pairing teams are going to use. Thankfully, there are some coaches, such as Ralph Krueger in Buffalo, who made it clear from Day 1 of practices who would be playing together. In this post, I'm going to hit on some notable decisions around the league and how they impact fantasy hockey. Let's get to it!
We're moving to the last part of my rankings before my top 200 list today with the second part of the forward rankings. You can read part one here. I'm going to go about this part of the rankings a bit different than usual. I'm going to do a "best of the rest" section to start off, then I'm going to break down the rest of the forwards into three categories: safe, upside, and specialists. Once you get through the "best of the rest" forwards, we'll be well past the top 100 overall, so at that point in the draft, you need to be targeting what you need. Therefore, following a strict rankings list wouldn't really be the best thing you could do for your team. Obviously ask any questions you have in the comments section, but I suspect that this help quite a bit in the later parts of drafts as a supplement to my top 200 list. Let's get to it!
Another trade domino fell on Sunday as Blake Coleman was traded to Tampa Bay for a first round pick (Vancouver's conditional first from the Miller trade) and Nolan Foote. Coleman is in the midst of a breakout season with 21+10, 40 PIM and over three shots per game. So how much will this move help him? On one hand, going to Tampa Bay is good for any player. On the other hand, his ice time is surely going to decrease. While he won't play Monday, I'd still hold Coleman to see what develops. He's signed for only 1.85m for next season which I assume is a big factor in the price. This is a great return for New Jersey, as Foote should end up as a second line winger who is a goal scorer. He has an elite shot and knows how to use his big frame. For now, I assume Jesper Bratt moves onto the first line, but he's still only a middling streamer. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
James Neal opened the season on an absolute tear, a stretch that included a four goal game. He fell off dramatically over the last two months, but he had another massive game on Tuesday. Neal had a hat trick and an assist in the 7-5 win over the Rangers. So should we care? I mean, the Rangers are a disaster defensively. And the answer is... yes and no. What great advice! It all comes down to your team needs. Neal has been excellent on the power play and should continue to do so on Edmonton's first unit. The goals are going to keep coming in. On the other hand, he's -23 and has only eight assists on the season. If you're desperate for goals and power play points, or are in a league with extra categories that include PPG, then there's a case to hold Neal. Otherwise, I would prefer to stream him so he doesn't tank my plus-minus while also giving less assists than any other fantasy relevant player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
I hope that all Razzballers had a great festive period! It's time for an updated hold/stream list, so I'm going to get right to it! ANAHEIM DUCKS Hold: Getzlaf, Gibson, Fowler Stream: Rakell, Silfverberg, Lindholm, Kase Rickard Rakell is right on the fringe, but he has missed the last three games. He's not good enough that he's a must hold, so I cut him on one of my teams. I will probably look to stream him when he returns, but if someone else picks him up, it's not the end of the world. Cam Fowler is super boring but he's doing just enough to be a bottom end hold.
The gap between Brad Marchand and the rest of the league right now for fantasy hockey is incredible. Marchand scored five points on Monday, tallying two goals and three assists and a +4 rating. It's nothing new, but the first line in Boston has managed to find a way to get even better. Marchand is crushing every category with 10+18 in 15 games with a +13 rating, 28 PIM and 41 SOG. He's as good of a bet as any to finish as the #1 player in fantasy this season. Honestly, he'd be my pick as long as he avoids a lengthy suspension. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Brayden Point made his season debut on Thursday for a big showdown with the Maple Leafs. Unsurprisingly, he started right where he left off, scoring two goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 7-3 win. The Bucs beat the Argonauts! Anyways, we know how good Point is and that he's an elite options in all formats. A couple other takeaways from this game. One, Point went on the first line with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, who had four points each. If that line sticks together, watch out. Two, the new fifth person on the top power play unit was Anthony Cirelli, who ended up with three assists, two on the power play. I'm a big fan of Cirelli's game but he didn't get the opportunity. Now, he is centering the second line and on the top power play unit. He's a must own in all formats. Three, Tampa Bay really is the better version of Toronto. The defensemen on Toronto just can't keep up. I mean, Cody Ceci? Even Rielly and Barrie aren't good defensively. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend. Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3. This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville. In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each. That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success. Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The first draft pick in Vegas history, Cody Glass, scored the first goal of his career in his first game, a 4-1 win over the Sharks. First, the good news. He played with Mark Stone (G+A) and Max Pacioretty (A, 5 SOG) which puts Glass in a great position to succeed going forward. He also played with these guys on the power play. The bad news: his minutes were down because Gallant doesn't trust him defensively yet. Whenever they had a defensive zone start, Stastny started on the ice and would go off for Glass if they exited the zone. Yes, it's only a defensive zone start, but on a team that transitions as well as Vegas does, the more minutes the better, and Glass didn't cross the 15 minute mark. I'm good with picking him up if you want the upside, but let's not go crazy spending a lot of FAAB on Glass. I like him plenty long term, and perhaps Stone drags him into be a hold all season, but it's far from a guarantee. Let's take a look at what else happened over the first two nights of the season:
We are reaching the end of my forward rankings as I complete the top 100 today. Drafts are starting to approach, so my plan is to power through defensemen and goaltending by the middle of next week so everyone has my rankings available. Again, for those who haven't seen my earlier rankings, you can see them here. Let's get to it! 81) Jonathan Toews - I'll be sliding up Toews 5-10 spots forward spots from here when I update as this was an oversight on my part. Toews set a career high in both goals and assists last season with 35+46. The PIM are always solid and the shot rate is better than average. The question is how sustainable are the points? The previous three seasons he had 58, 58, and 52 points in 80, 72, 74 games respectively. An increase in shot rate also came with a big jump in shooting percentage over the last two seasons, so color me a bit skeptical. That said, 65ish points with solid secondary numbers has plenty of value in the middle rounds.