Every season, Kevin Fiala finishes on an absolute tear. This season, he's found another level. Fiala had a goal and three assists on Sunday against the Sharks, bringing his totals to 29+44 in 75 games with over three shots per game, all career highs. I've been driving the Fiala bandwagon forever, and I still think it could even get better. He's still only averaging 17:23 per game, a number that's low for a player of his caliber. The Wild have a massive decision this summer with Fiala. They will have to trade players away in order to be able to keep him, and it seems like Guerin has been hesitant to do that since he's taken over. What if Fiala goes somewhere and plays for 20 minutes on somebody's first line? To my amazement, Fiala is still only 25 years old. There are a lot of things that are working in Fiala's favor. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last few days:
It wasn't that long ago that Vladimir Tarasenko requested a trade from the Blues. It wasn't that long ago that Tarasenko could have went to Seattle in the expansion draft. Now, St. Louis has to be thanking their lucky stars that he's still on the roster. Tarasenko had his biggest game of the season on Thursday, scoring a hat trick on four shots and adding two more assists in the 6-2 win over the Sabres. Tarasenko now has 31+41 in 67 games, with a great chance of setting a career high in points. It's a remarkable turnaround for the Russian who is certainly a top 100 player for drafts next season. I don't see him cracking the top 50, but it's great to see Tarasenko playing great hockey again. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
There's been plenty of bounce back players this season across the NHL. One of them who hasn't received the attention of others is Ryan Johansen. Johansen's career was strongly trending in the wrong direction the previous two seasons, including only 22 points in 48 games last season. He has been decent most of the season, but really took once he moved to the top line. His best game of the season was on Tuesday night, scoring his first career hat trick on seven shots in the 6-2 win over the Wild. Johansen now has 20+34 on the season with 51 PIM. Yes, Johansen's career has turned out to be a big disappointment with the way it was trending early on in Columbus, but it's nice to see him score 20 goals for the first time since 2014. Remarkably, he's still 29 years old, so this level of play can be repeated next season. For the rest of this one, Johansen is an elite streamer in standard leagues and a hold if your league doesn't include SOG as a category. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Yes, the Sabres are still a bad hockey team, but the good news for long suffering fans like me, is there are finally some signs of hope. One of the best signs is how well the first line has performed since Tuch returned from injury after the trade. They single-handedly won the game for the Sabres on Sunday against Montreal, and it started with their highest paid player. Jeff Skinner was left floundering on the fourth line or scratched by Ralph Kreuger last season because, well, Krueger had no clue about coaching hockey. Skinner had one of the games of the season on Sunday afternoon, scoring four goals and an assist on six shots in the 5-3 win over the Canadiens. That bring Skinner up to 20 goals with 14 assists in 45 games. Is he worth his massive contract? No, but he's proving once again that he's still a damn good hockey player. I've had him on the fringe for a while, but I feel good about holding him now. His shot rate is back over three per game on the season so that's plenty good enough given his contribution in points. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Razzball favorite Oliver Bjorkstrand had his second 3+ point game of the young season on Thursday, dishing three assists and adding two shots in the 3-2 OT win over the Islanders. That's seven points in four games and the equally encouraging sign is that Bjorkstrand played over 20 minutes in this game. He's owned in almost every league like he should be, but the upside may be even higher than I gave Bjorkstrand credit for. I have no doubt that the goals are going to come, but the playmaking has improved leaps and bounds over the last season plus. I don't think he can quite get to being a top 50 player in a best case scenario, but top 75 is attainable. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The best goal scorer of all-time started off the season on the right foot. Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and added two assists in the Washington 5-1 win over the Rangers. Please, blog, may I have some more?
With the season less than a week away, it's time to give some bold predictions. I have 5 from JKJ that I'll start with and comment on then italics before I do 10 predictions of my own. Let me know your thoughts in the comments section on any of these!
JKJ's Five Bold Predictions:
1) Philipp Grubauer finishes outside fantasy's Top 10 goalies (standard formats). Riding the Colorado coattails last season and playing for an expansion team this season will catch up to him.
Howdy, Razzguys n gals!
I'm stoked to bring you my first-ever piece of fantasy hockey content here at Razzball. If you pay attention to the fantasy baseball side of things, then you'll know me from there. But believe it or not, I know a thing or two about fantasy hockey and hope to share my unparalleled wisdom with you all. Poor Viz has been doing it all by himself, so I figured I'd lend a hand.
I'll be doing an eight-part Team Previews series, with each division getting two parts. Today is Pacific Part 1, tomorrow will be Part 2, then Wednesday and Thursday will be the Central. Next week, we'll do it all again with the Metro and the Atlantic on Monday-Thursday.
Hope you enjoy!
Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon. Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split. Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year. I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players. For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there. In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume. If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary. Let's get to it!
It's not the first time this season, but Jonathan Huberdeau had five points in Tuesday's 7-4 win over the Predators, scoring twice and adding three assists. I know I'm a broken record with Huberdeau, but there's no superstar that gets less recognition than Huberdeau does. Thankfully, the Panthers clinched a playoff berth with the victory so he'll get back on the big stage. He's playing a 95 point pace again and should be around 25th overall going into next season in standard leagues. If your league doesn't include shots, he'll be even higher. It took longer than anticipated, but Huberdeau has proven to be worth the third overall pick from 10 years ago and then some. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're down to the last few weeks of the season, and whether you play in a roto league or H2H league, it's time to be aggressive with your moves. The 150th best player could easily be better than the 50th over a small sample. so we want to be getting volume from our players. This is especially true in net where variance swamps everything. Carey Price suffered a concussion on Monday and is ruled out for at least a week, if not more. Jake Allen has fallen off a bit lately, but his overall numbers are still quite strong. He's available in over 80% of leagues which doesn't make any sense. If you need any goaltending help, go get him now. With Montreal having a back to back with Calgary on the weekend, the expectation is that Cayden Primeau starts one of the games. He's been solid in Laval this season so if you're in a deep league, I'm fine with streaming Primeau given Calgary's struggles. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
As President of the “Mark Stone Fan Club” going back to 2014, it’s great to see him playing at an all-world level. Stone had two assists with two shots on Friday before adding a goal and an assist with three shots on Sunday, both against the Ducks. Please, blog, may I have some more?