Things can change quickly in hockey. Matt Murray led the Pens to two Stanley Cups, then struggled mightily last season and to open this year. Now, Murray has caught fire once again. The netminder had a 33 save shutout on Friday against the Jets. That means in his last 6 games, he's allowed 6 goals total with his worst save percentage being .931. We've seen the upside before, and that's of a top 5 goaltender, if not more. First off, he's somehow available in 15% of leagues, which is absurd. If you're lucky enough to be in one, grab him immediately. Two, if you own Casey DeSmith, you can safely drop him. Lastly, I doubt you'll be able to trade for him given his hot run, but I'd much rather do that than sell high. The upside of Murray is too high to pass on, and with the Pens playing as well as they lately, the floor is fairly high too. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Cory Schneider has been atrocious all season and Keith Kinkaid has had a brutal December. Enter Mackenzie Blackwood into the crease for the Devils, and the former second round pick has immediately caught fire. Please, blog, may I have some more?
I've been pumping Ondrej Kase's tires for a while now. The former 7th round pick scored his first career hat trick on Wednesday, putting five shots on goal against the Stars with a +4 rating. That brings the 23 year old Dane to 8+6 in 15 games with well over three shots per game. He's eliminated any doubt as to whether or not he's a hold; Kase needs to be owned in all formats. Sure, he's bounced around the first line and other spots, but it doesn't really matter at this point. There's no penalty minutes, but everything else looks great. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
One of my best calls in my four years of writing at Razzball was the breakout for Vincent Trocheck. His ability to hit all of the categories at a very strong rate was underrated by many. Sadly, it looks like he could be done for the season after a gruesome injury Monday night against the Senators. Best case scenario, it's going to be a few months. We don't have an update yet, but either way, you either have to put Trocheck on IR if you have the room or cut him. It's a tough loss for the Panthers who really ride their top six. It's unclear who is going to play 2C now. Perhaps Nick Bjugstad slides there or Jared McCann moves up. I think Bjugstad and Jonathan Huberdeau take a slight hit to their value without Trocheck, while the guys on the first line get a small boost. It wouldn't shock me to see those guys pushing 23 minutes a night on a regular basis. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Being the stand alone game on Thursday afternoon, I was watching the Jets-Panthers game in Finland closely. For the first half of the game, Patrik Laine looked awful. He was so bad that he didn't even get 4 minutes of ice time in the first period. Well, Laine ended up making the natives who came to watch him happy, as he ended up scoring a hat trick on seven shots. That matched his total from the first 12 games of the season. Obviously I wasn't panicking about Laine, but my hopes that his ice time would take a nice jump this season isn't looking promising. There's still plenty of time, and I wouldn't be surprised if Laine goes on a run where he scored 9 goals in 10 games. His floor is just a bit lower than I hoped because the Jets are so good that Maurice doesn't have to give him big minutes. I said he would score 50 in the preseason, and the shot rate has jumped to the point where it's possible if he can get his time on ice back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Last year's point leader for defensemen is off to an even better start this season. John Carlson had a goal and two assists on Monday, bringing his totals to 5/8/+6/6/19/8 through eight games. It was hard to see any upside from last season's totals, but some shooting percentage luck could have Carlson around 20+50. Add in a quality plus-minus, and there's a chance that Carlson ends up the #1 defenseman for the season. It's far from a guarantee, but it's abundantly clear through three weeks that last season's big breakout was no fluke. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
What's the worst spot for a goaltender to start right now? Probably against Toronto on the road. Well, Matt Murray had that exact spot on Thursday, and did the exact opposite of what most expected. In a game where Toronto's expected goal total was pushing 4, Murray stopped all 38 shots he faced, shutting out the powerhouse Maple Leafs 3-0. Murray's upside is undeniable; it's just a matter of keeping him on the ice and the defense in front of him not being a total mess. For now, expect the Pens to give him the vast majority of the starts, meaning you can safely cut Casey DeSmith. The Penguins schedule is fairly soft over the next couple of weeks, so feel safe rolling Murray. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Lackeydrinksonme back again, helping out big John at the bar. This is my fourth and final in a series of fantasy hockey skater rankings. As I mentioned, I use 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, among others. I also use the eye test, and I try to consider what team a player is on, their expected linemates, and where they are in their careers. I also try to include my rationale, and for most players will offer a prediction on year end points. Like Viz indicated, once you get past the first few names there can be very little separation between certain players, and this obviously isn’t meant to be a comprehensive or be-all end-all ranking. Rather, it’s to give you another perspective on where players are being valued, and might reinforce an idea you have about a skater or surprise you with some analysis. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.
Hey everyone, Sven here with our stop in Calgary for 31 in 31! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2018-19 fantasy hockey season: The 31 in 31 daily segment. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season.
There is still plenty of elite talent left on the board after the top 40 forwards are off the board; you can look at the top 40 list here. The next group contains a mix of breakout candidates, regression candidates, bounce back candidates, and guys that I expect to stay around last season's production. Let's get right to it!