For those of you doing well in your head to head leagues, this is the most important post of the year. This is my annual playoff manifesto where I break down every team's schedule for the last four weeks of the season. I tell you who are the best teams and players to stream from, who you should look to trade for or away if your deadline hasn't passed, and it allows you to plan ahead with ease. For those who haven't read it in the past, the numbers in the parentheses are how many games the team plays in each of those weeks, with the last number being the last week in the season and preceding accordingly. This is going to be a massive post so let's get right to the 2019 Playoff Manifesto!
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL. Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position. The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion. First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back. Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league. I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out. I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being. Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The Bruins split up their first line recently and there's been one massive winner: Danton Heinen. Heinen had a great rookie season in 2017-18 with 47 points in 77 games. He's struggled mightily this season but Heinen has taken off since moving onto a line with Marchand and Bergeron. Heinen had a goal and two assists with three shots against the Blackhawks on Tuesday. That gives him three goals and three assists in the past four games, with at least three shots on goal in every game. If you're in a 16+ teamer, Heinen should be owned no matter the format. Even in 12'ers, I am good with holding onto Heinen while he's hot and the Bruins have three games in four nights starting on Friday. At the least, he's moved up to elite streamer status as he's as hot of a schmotato as they come. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It feels like forever ago that Tomas Hertl took the league by storm as a rookie. He's shown signs of promise since, but never really put it together. Until. Hertl had a hat trick on Tuesday to lead the Sharks over the Penguins. That brings him up to 19+22 in 43 games, both numbers rapidly approaching career highs in mid-January. He is providing no penalty minutes and a below average shot rate which caps his long term ceiling, but he looks to be a guy who is a fringe top 100 player for the next few seasons. I would say if I had to say where I rank him next year, my guess is just outside the top 100 just because the downside is much higher for a guy whose sole value is coming from points and not the side categories. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
It was quite the weekend for last season's Calder Trophy winner. Mathew Barzal entered Friday's game against the Senators with five goals on the season, and he matched that in two games. Barzal scored two goals and an assist against the Senators before scoring a hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday. That brings Barzal up to 10+25 in 37 games with solid PIM and an improved shot rate. He's still only 21 years old so clearly the best is to come. For the rest of this season, I think he's just inside the top 50 now that his shot rate isn't far from average. If he can eventually get that up towards three a game, it's game over. Barzal has top 20 player upside down the line; hopefully the Isles get some more talent around him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
When we think about Tom Wilson going wild, it usually refers to him doing something dirty and piling up penalty minutes. Don't get me wrong, he's still getting penalty minutes, but he's been fabulous offensively since returning from suspension. Wilson scored two goals and an assist with six shots and two PIM in the 4-1 win over the Islanders on Monday. In his eight games, Wilson has 6+6 with a +6 rating, 11 PIM and 21 SOG. He's also averaging over 20 minutes per night. There's no doubt about it, Wilson should be owned in all formats right now. He's still available in about 1/3rd of leagues, so if you're lucky enough to be in one of them, pounce immediately. Obviously he's not going to stay at a point per game, but the offensive will be solid with this workload, and we know the PIM will be glorious. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Mark Stone has been a favorite of Razzball Hockey (aka me) for a few years now. One of the most underrated players in hockey, Stone is an above average first liner, no doubt about it. Somebody is going to pay him a ton in the offseason as an unrestricted free agent and he'll be worth every penny. Stone had an incredible game on Tuesday scoring two goals on seven shots while adding in three assists as well. That brings him to 6+12 in 15 games. He's somehow available in 25% of leagues on ESPN, which is crazy. Stone should be owned everywhere, and while I've been clamoring for him to be traded so he's even better, it's become abundantly clear that he'll produce just fine in Ottawa this season. 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:
Hey guys! Today we head to the Big Apple 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.