I have to admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for Thomas Vanek.  I saw him win the NCAA Championship as Minnesota’s best player as a freshman and fell in love with his offensive abilities before the Sabres drafted him 5th overall.  Vanek was excellent for many years in Buffalo and while his game isn’t where it once was, he can still put up points at a fairly high level.  Vancouver switched their lines recently with Vanek playing with Brock Boeser and Sam Gagner.  They exploded against Chicago on Thursday with Vanek leading the way.  In the 5-2 win over the Blackhawks, Vanek scored two goals and three assists with five shots and two PIM finishing +5.  Vanek now has 10 points in his past 4 games giving him 12+16 in 38 games this year.  The shot rate has been up over the past ten games (3 per) so I’d grab Vanek while he’s on fire, at least as a streamer.  I’m sure his name will be discussed as a trade target again at this year’s deadline and unlike last year in Florida, I think Vanek will make a difference.  Injuries really hurt Florida and Vanek was mostly relegated to 12 minutes on third line duty.  We’ve seen in Detroit last season and Vancouver this year that Vanek is still capable of putting up points.  Let’s take a look at what else happened Thursday night around the league:

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If you follow my writing at all, you know how much I love Brent Burns.  I mean, how can you not love this face?

He’s been among the most disappointing players in fantasy hockey to this point, mostly because he’s found a way to have a horrible shooting percentage.  Well, since my last set of daily notes, Burns is finally back on track!  In his past three games, Burns has three goals and three assists with a whopping 22 shots on goal.   There’s still plenty of time for Burns to deliver an elite fantasy season with a monster second half.  I certainly won’t put it past the reigning Norris Trophy winner.  I’m going to change things up a bit with this post.  Since I’m a bit behind, mainly because of the site going down last Thursday night, I’m going to list every player, by NHL team, that I think is a hold or streamer in standard leagues, guys who become in play with hits, blocks and faceoffs added, and then add some information where necessary.  Let’s get to it!

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Add another goalie to the list of guys who struggled in the opening month only to turn it around.  Braden Holtby, the consensus #1 goaltender going into the season, showed us why this weekend with two big performances.  Holtby saved 27 shots in Friday’s 4-1 win over the Penguins and followed it up with 29 saves in the 2-1 SO win over the Oilers.  Just like that, his save percentage is back to its normal level.  Sure, the goals against average is still a little high, but goals are up around the league and it’s not out of the realm of possibility it goes back down.  With the massive win total as well, expect Holtby to get back to the #1 goalie by season’s end.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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Once you get outside of the top 200 overall, you’re looking at the last 2-3 picks in a standard 12 man league.  There are a few different ways you can go about making your last few picks.  You can shoot for upside, get a couple safe players if you already have plenty of upside, fill out your last couple defensemen, grab a goalie out of desperation.  I’m going to list a bunch of players in different categories that fall outside of my top 200 that you can target depending on what you’re looking for.  I’m not going to go into detail on these guys but I will put them in my order of preference.  Here is my list:

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The Toronto Maple Leafs went from the basement to the playoffs as one of the biggest surprises of the season.  Rookies, Mike Babcock, Frederik Andersen, the vets, everyone contributed to this massive turnaround.  Now, the Leafs are looked at as a perennial playoff team with future aspirations of a true Stanley Cup contender.  I don’t expect them to be a real contender this season, mostly because their blue line still needs a piece or two, but they should be a solid playoff team with plenty of fantasy contributors.  Let’s take a look at the riches Toronto is working with:

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When it comes to the fantasy playoffs, you’re looking for two things. One, you want to get as many starts from your players as possible. Getting one or two extra starts from your bottom end guys / streamers goes a long way. The other thing you want is your superstars to carry you. Because I was in California for the last four days, my time for writing was non-existent. The good news is two fold. One, I got to meet Grey! He is the man, plain and simple. Secondly, I’m here to catch up on everything that’s happened since last Thursday and it starts with Sidney Crosby. On Friday, Crosby scored two goals and an assist with four shots to push the Penguins past the Devils. He followed that up on Sunday with a hat trick on six shots against the Panthers. Both are huge wins for the Penguins given their current injury situation and it was massive for people in the fantasy playoffs. Here’s to hoping you have Crosby because you’re ahead of the field right off the bat. He’s the number 1 skater at the moment and as of now, I’d rank him first overall going into next season. That can be debated at a later time but there’s no denying that Crosby is having one of the best seasons of his illustrious career. Here’s what else happened over the last four days:

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Early in his career, Jason Pominville was one of the most underrated forwards in the league. You could lock him in for 60+ points in his prime and he even reached 80 in a season. In recent years, there’s been a fairly big drop off but for the last month, it’s been a blast from the past. Pominville had a massive game on Tuesday night scoring two goals and two assists with three shots in the 4-2 win over the Jets. Going back exactly one month, Pominville has 5 goals and 12 assists in 14 games. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. There’s only one game tonight and the Wild are in it. If he’s still available in your league, pick him up to stream. Since they play Friday and Sunday as well, I’m definitely holding Pominville for the rest of the week and then reevaluating on Sunday night. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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First off, I’d just like to apologize to everyone for not having daily notes on Monday morning. I wasn’t feeling too well Sunday night; one minute I’m watching the beginning of the Seahawks game and the next thing I know it’s 10 AM! Thankfully there was only one game on Monday night so it wasn’t the end of the world. Anyways, Sebastian Aho scored his first two NHL goals on Saturday and added an assist in Carolina’s 5-1 win over the Capitals. That brings Aho’s totals to 2+7 in 14 games which is great for the 19 year old. Unfortunately, that’s accompanied by exactly 2 shots per game and only 2 PIM on the season. Add in the fact that the minutes are low (12:13 in this one) and I don’t think you can hold onto Aho in standard 12’ers. That said, he’s going to remain a great streamer for assists and is a Razzball favorite for dynasties. Let’s take a look at what happened over the weekend plus the one Monday night game.

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When players get interviewed before their first game, they always give the same boring mundane answers. “I’m focused on keeping things simple out there.” “I’m just going to play my game,” etc. They dream of scoring a goal in their first game. Well, Auston Matthews did just that in his first game. And then he did it again. And again, and again. The first overall pick from this year’s draft became the first player in NHL history to score 4 goals in his debut, doing so on 6 shots playing 17:37 against the Senators. And the Leafs still lost! Man, they are horrible. Everyone is going to overreact to this game so I’ll be the one to say that you need to lower expectations. Yes, there will be flashes from Matthews but like any rookie, consistency will come and go. He also won’t get to play a team as hopeless defensively as the Senators are again any time soon. There’s no doubting that Matthews will be a superstar but in the fantasy realm that we live in, don’t think he’s going to be a top 50 player this season or anything outlandish after one game. Here’s what else happened around the league in the first two nights of the season:

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We are through 149 players in my rankings; I can’t believe there’s still 101 players to go! Thanks to a commenter, I realized that I had Tyler Toffoli ranked twice. I’m only human! Anyways, things are already getting thin at this point in drafts. There will be some guys who are here for their safety but I’m deferring to players with upside at this point in the draft. Locking in 45-50 points is fine and dandy but I’d rather shoot the moon and work the waiver wire during the season. Let’s take a look at the best players who make up the second half of standard drafts:

Please, blog, may I have some more?