There’s only one team in the NHL that hasn’t been shut out this season. Any guesses? Well, it’s somebody you wouldn’t suspect. That team would be the Ottawa Senators. Right now, they’re getting carried by Connor Brown. Please, blog, may I have some more?
And we're back! The NHL season starts in just over a month so it's time to start my rankings. I will end up ranking the top 20 players overall, goalies, 100 forwards, 40 D, and then making a top 200 list before the season starts. For now, I'll be doing the top 10 overall in this post. As an aside, if you have any interest in writing fantasy hockey posts for Razzball, please let me know in the comments section below. Let's get to it! 1) Connor McDavid - Don't overthink it. McDavid played at a 154 point pace last season and is so far above the rest of the field. If you're lucky enough to pick first, congrats on the big head start.
The Washington Capitals have received plenty of criticism for their blockbuster trade on Monday. If things go like they did on Tuesday, I'm sure they'll have no complaints. Anthony Mantha scored a goal and added an assist with six shots in the 6-1 win over the Capitals. If it wasn't for a spectacular Elliott save, Mantha would have had a three point game right off the rip. I wrote in the trade deadline blog that I would have added Mantha right away after the trade for the upside. If you were slow to pull the trigger, odds are somebody else in your league already grabbed him, but go check. He's still available in about 25% of leagues and he needs to be owned everywhere, especially with Washington playing the Sabres tonight. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Sure, it's on the basis of playing two more games than Washington, but the Islanders in first place in late March is a truly remarkable feat. Yes, they did make the Conference Finals last season, but in this division, they were not expected to contend for first place. Goaltending is going a long way for their success, and their future is starting to become more of the present. Ilya Sorokin saved 36 of 37 shots in the 2-1 OT win over the Flyers on Monday night. That brings Sorokin to 8 wins in 11 games with a 1.97/.922 stat line. That's elite right off the bat for the rookie which has led Sorokin to starting four games over the past two weeks. Semyon Varlamov's numbers and Sorokin's are nearly identical and for now, Trotz seems content to split between the two of them. Long term, Sorokin is one of the best goalies for fantasy hockey, granted he's a 25 year old rookie. That said, he's playing enough right now that I would own Sorokin in all formats. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Ducks season has gone very poorly. Not Sabres poorly, but still, the results have been extremely disappointing. The good news is that their young players have shown some flashes of what can be in the future, and on Thursday night, their two cornerstones scored their first career goals. Trevor Zegras scored in his 11th career game while Jamie Drysdale scored in his first. For this season, we shouldn't expect much from either. At the moment, Zegras is a bottom end streamer, while Drysdale should be left on the waiver wire until we see how much he plays, or if he even stays on the Ducks. In dynasties, there's a ton to like for both. Zegras has the chance to be one of the best playmakers in the league who scores plenty of goals for himself. Drysdale doesn't have massive offensive upside, but he should be good enough in all facets of the game, including quarterbacking the power play, that he ends up as a #2 fantasy defenseman while playing top pair minutes for the Ducks. It may be bleak now, but the future is bright in SoCal. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL. Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected. On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating. He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes. I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL. Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward. Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now. I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers. Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that. Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Playing time has been the only thing that has stopped Alex Tuch from breaking out in the past. It looked like he was going into the top six two seasons ago, but then the Golden Knights acquired Stone keeping Tuch on the third line. Well, this season that has finally changed even though Stone is still on the team, mostly because the Karlsson line plays less minutes. On Saturday, Stone left the game with a minor injury which led Tuch to being double shifted. Even before that, Tuch was on a tear and it'll only get better with his increased workload. Tuch scored two goals on six shots on Saturday after scoring a goal on Friday. That brings Tuch up to 12 goals in 21 games, an excellent mark. Sure, his shooting percentage is unsustainable, but the increase in minutes could counteract that a bit. Tuch is still available in over 40% of leagues, so if you're lucky enough to be in one of them, grab him now. Let's take a look at what else happpened over the weekend:
Going into the season, I was high on Aaron Ekblad because the reports out of Florida were that Yandle was going to get scratched to open the season and his future was in doubt. One bout of COVID later, and Yandle was in opening night and scored. For the bad luck I've had on rankings this year
, Yandle has not impacted Ekblad one bit. Ekblad had hit a bit of a rough patch over the last week, but he fixed that in a big way on Thursday. Ekblad scored two goals and added two assists with six shots in the 5-4 win over the Predators. That brings Ekblad to 8+7 in 22 games, an incredible rate of goals for a defenseman. Add in three shots per game and strong PIM, and Ekblad has a chance at finishing as a #2D this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Nothing helps getting your season back on track like playing against the Buffalo Sabres. Carter Hart has had a really rough go of it in the opening month of the season, but on Sunday, he looked to turn it around in Buffalo. You'd think that after the Sabres were shutout 3-0 on Saturday that they would come out firing on Sunday. Nope. Hart stopped all 28 shots he faced, most of the routine variety, to beat the Sabres 3-0. Brian Elliott only needed to make 23 saves on Saturday as the Sabres are in complete disarray. As I always say, goalies are voodoo, but I'd be stunned if Hart doesn't make a jump towards being a #1 fantasy goalie again. If you can buy low on Hart, I would try to do so. The fact that the Flyers are 11-4-3 despite Hart's horrible start shows you what kind of upside the team has. Elliott should be streamed every time he starts as his save percentage is over .930 in his eight games. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Nino Niederreiter's first season in Carolina couldn't have gone any better with 14+16 in 36 games. Last season really couldn't have gone worse with 11+18 in 67 games. Well, this year has certainly been closer to 2018-19 and we can be thankful for that in fantasy. Niederreiter scored two goals and an assist with three shots on Friday before dishing an assist on Saturday, adding six shots. That brings Nino to 9+3 in 16 games with over three shots per game, 13 PIM, and a great +11 rating. The second line in Carolina has been incredible, sparked by Niederreiter and Trocheck's revival. He's an easy hold in all formats for the time being. I wish that the minutes were a bit higher, but considering what Nino is doing with what he's getting, there can be some growth with additional minutes, namely in the assist department. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: