Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another year of Fantasy Hockey! I am LackeyDrinksOnMe, a Sabres fan who works in college admissions by day and devours hockey analysis by night. Last year, I had a weekly column about week-long streaming opportunities, targeting mostly-available players with multiple games per week, trying to fill slots for the slowest days. In my book, more player starts means more TOI, and the more time you have players on the ice the greater the chance for a lucky assist or to rack up a few extra hits or blocked shots.

I’ve been working on a top-100 skaters for your reading pleasure, ranking skaters on 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, to name a few. Part of what I’ve been trying to do has been to average these metrics for a holistic impression of a skater’s talent, but also supplementing those raw rankings with player age/development and the occasional eye test.

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 a hot take. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.

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We’re keeping things moving here on the hockey side of things at Razzball as we’re less than two months from the season starting!  It’s not just me: Son has his top 10 out, everyone is posting their football rankings, and Smokey has the EPL RCL set up.  That’s ignoring all of the good baseball psts as we approach the closing stretch.  Today, I’m completing my top 40 forward lists.  Nineteen of these guys were already covered in the top 10 and top 20 posts, so the focus will be on players 20-40.  Let’s get going!

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It’s that time of the year guys!  Sure, most people are focused on football drafts right now (check out our stuff here, the guys do a great job), but hockey season is also right around the corner.  I’m getting my rankings out a bit earlier this year to give me more time to slightly adjust if need be, but more importantly, to leave more time to do other preseason posts.  I’ll be following a format closer to what Grey has done with baseball.  You’ll have this top 10 post, a top 20 post, then I’ll be doing forwards in groups of 20, defensemen in groups of 20, followed up by one or two goalie posts.  Once those are wrapped up, I’ll make one big list across all positions that will be easy for you to use during your drafts.  Without further adieu, my top ten players for the upcoming NHL season! 

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Reid and I are back taking a big look around the NHL.  After we start off by discussing fantasy hockey playoff strategy, we hit on the latest injuries around the league.  From there, we hit on a wide range of subjects.  Among the notables are the Vezina race being a two horse race now, how remarkable Nathan MacKinnon’s season has been, the playoff battles, and the race to the bottom.  We wrap things up by making picks for The Three Point Challenge.  Be sure to make your picks in the comments section below.  All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast!

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Now is the time of the year where we see college players decide to forgo their collegiate career and sign an entry level contract.  There have been a bunch of players in recent years who have made an immediate impact, such as Chris Kreider and Brock Boeser.  We could have another name to add to the list.  Ryan Donato signed an ELC with Boston and had quite the NHL debut, scoring a goal and two assists with six shots playing almost 20 minutes..  With all of the graduates the Bruins have had over the last year, Donato is currently their #1 prospect (at least in my eyes).  He was a great goal scorer at Harvard and did very well in the Olympics scoring five goals in five games.  His shot is his best attribute but he’s also a strong skater.  I don’t see superstar upside, but Donato can definitely become a top 6’er.  He’s a streamer for now depending on who he’s with and how many minutes he’s getting, but he’s certainly a solid dynasty target.  Donato played on the first power play unit and the second line on Monday, so here’s to hoping that’s what we get for the rest of the season, at least until Patrice Bergeron returns.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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Evander Kane is a player that I aggressively rank every season.  The shot rate is always elite, the penalty minutes are great, and the goals should come along with those shots.  Thankfully for his owners this year, Kane has managed to stay healthy.  Kane had the best game of his career on Friday, scoring four goals on seven shots and adding two penalty minutes.  He followed that up with eight shots on goal and two PIM on Saturday.  That brings Kane’s totals to 25+25 with 65 PIM and almost 4 shots per game.  Obviously he’s must own, but what is his ceiling going forward?  I don’t think his point totals are going to change much depending on where he signs in the offseason.  What can change is his plus-minus.  Sure, plus-minus is generally hard to predict, but there are some situations that you can feel better about.  Obviously Buffalo was almost worst case for that, and Kane is +5 in San Jose to this point.  Yes, it’s a small sample, but we’ve seen around the league this year that a lot of teams are loaded with big plus-minus totals.  Kane has never been much of a power play guy either, but maybe he goes somewhere that he plays on the top unit and improves.  I feel like he’ll be in the bottom of my top 50, but obviously things can change between now and then.  For those who have him for this year, enjoy him down the stretch.  With his shot volume, Kane can be a massive difference maker if he has some good fortune.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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To say James van Riemsdyk had a decent two games would be an understatement.  The Charlie Conway look-alike scored five goals over the last two nights, scoring a hat trick against the Stars on eight shots before scoring two goals and an assist against the Sabres.  That brings JVR to 31 goals and 16 assists on the season with just under three shots per game.  Obviously he’s owned in virtually all leagues at this point, but I wanted to start off with him because he doesn’t get the credit he deserves.  He’s played at a 27+ goal pace for six straight seasons now and the two goals last night gave him a new career high.  I’m not sure Toronto will be to keep the impending UFA past this season, but one thing is for certain: JVR is about to get paid handsomely.  Look for him to maintain his value no matter where he ends up, meaning someone who is a top 75-100 player.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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Hey everyone!  Hopefully your fantasy seasons are still going as we enter the last month of the season.  Instead of normal daily notes, I’m going to discuss one situation for every team throughout the league.  We’ll get back to normal notes on Wednesday morning, but I feel like this was a good chance of pace to highlight some new developments around the NHL.  Let’s get to it!

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I’ll be honest, David Krejci has always been a Guy to me.  Not a guy, not a GUY, just a guy.  I even cut him on Thursday morning to stream a goalie, proof that I am human.  Krejci scored a hat trick on Thursday, scoring on all three of his shots in the 8-4 win over Pittsburgh.  That brings him to 14+19 on the season in 44 games.  He doesn’t quite need that pace to be fantasy worthy, but it’s close because his PIM and SOG are well below average.  In a 12’er, I probably lean towards holding but it’s super close.  Shallower, he’s a streamer, deeper it’s an easy hold.  His playoff schedule is also great so use that to your advantage.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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As far as disappointments for this season go, Cam Atkinson is near the top of the list.  After his breakout last season with 35+27, Atkinson has struggled mightily on the ice and with an injury.  We’re finally seeing signs of Atkinson getting back to last season’s level.  Atkinson scored a shorthanded goal and added two power play assists with five shots on goal in the Columbus win on Monday. That gives Atkinson 4+4 in his last 9 games with at least three shots on goal in each game during that span.  The minutes are strong so that hasn’t been a problem.  The issue has been that Columbus’ power play has been so bad that Atkinson had only 3 STP before this game (which he doubled in this one).  Columbus has been better on the man advantage lately, and the arrival of Thomas Vanek should help them even more.  Atkinson is still available in over 40% of leagues and in a 12’er, I’d grab him right now while he’s finding his groove again.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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