Lackeydrinksonme back again, helping out big John at the bar. This is my fourth and final in a series of fantasy hockey skater rankings. As I mentioned, I use 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, among others. I also use the eye test, and I try to consider what team a player is on, their expected linemates, and where they are in their careers. I also try to include my rationale, and for most players will offer a prediction on year end points. 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 some analysis. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.
This list will bring us through the top 100 forwards for this coming season. Consequently, in an RCL League (coming soon!), you'd either have one forward spot left or only your utility to be filled by forwards. This group is an interesting mix of more young guys that I like, guys who I am lower on than consensus, and some safe players that are nice for the bottom of your roster if you took some earlier gambles. If you want to look at my top 80, you can find those lists through this link. Let's get to it!
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!
Rick Nash, the vice president of The Round Face Hockey Club, was traded to the Bruins as they look to make a deep run this postseason. I'm going to have a live trade deadline post again this year updating all of the trades throughout tomorrow. I'm also going to be recording a podcast with Reid right around 3 pm tomorrow to give our thoughts on everything that happens. I have the feeling it's going to be crazy. For Nash, I think he's a solid speculative add if you need the shots. He played on Sunday against Buffalo on the second line, recording five shots on goal in 17:27. He's over three shots per game on the season, the plus-minus should improve on Boston, and everyone can use goals on their team. I don't think he'll be a world beater, but with only 20 games left, it's certainly possible that Nash gets hot with his shot volume. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Yes, I know Ondrej Kase's name is pronounced like case, but let me be punny, will you!? I dug back into the Razzball Hockey archives to find what I first wrote about Kase. And by dug into the archives, I mean I used the simple search bar at the top. The first time I wrote about him was early last season in 2016. "I’ve been impressed with his play and while it’s not enough for now, Kase’s an intriguing dynasty option in deep leagues." And that's me quoting me copying what Grey does! Go check out the baseball side of Razzball and sign up for an RCL. Anyways, a month later, I said Kase has shown enough long-term upside that he should be on the radar moving forward. Well, the seventh round pick is breaking out before our eyes. Kase scored a goal and two assists with three shots in the 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on Thursday, giving him 16 goals and 14 assists on the season, along with a +17 rating in 43 games. It's not all great; the PIM are non-existent and the minutes are quite low at the moment (despite the big game, Kase played only 12:13). Regardless, the 22 year old is already a solid third liner for the Ducks and there could be a bit more here long term. His minutes keep him from being a hold in 12'ers, but I'm definitely streaming him. The hits are awful this season which hurts in deep leagues, but they were fine last season so I think it's a bit of an anomaly. Kase has already exceeded expectations as a 7th round pick, but I think he can turn into a solid 50-60 point player for those of you in dynasties. Let's take a look at what others did around the NHL the last two nights:
Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine. That's the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season. Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night. Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings. That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser). Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties. Regardless, he's blown away my expectations this season. Now, it's not all rosy for fantasy. The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game. On the other hand, he's 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it's hard to complain. There's a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal's future if he can get that shot rate up. Regardless, he'll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it's only going to get better from there. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
This is year three of me writing daily notes for Razzball, and at this point, I don't think it provides a ton of value for me to write the intro paragraph on superstars. That said, four goal games are a different animal. Connor McDavid crushed the best team in the NHL on Monday, scoring a whopping four goals on nine shots and adding an assist in the 6-2 win over the Lightning. We know McDavid is as good as it gets and he's the best player in fantasy for the foreseeable future. This is just a reminder about how good he is (let's not take him for granted) and how bad of a job Peter Chiarelli has done as a GM that McDavid isn't going to be in the playoffs this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Chicago Blackhawks are in last place in their division for the first time in what seems like an eternity. They are lacking in the scoring department in a big way. There's one easily move that Joel Quenneville can make to help their cause: play Alex DeBrincat more. The 20 year old scored his second hat trick of the season on Thursday while adding an assist. He's now tied for third on the team in points and second in goals. However, on a per-minute basis, he scores more goals than anyone on the team by a country mile and he's incredibly close to Kane in points per minute. DeBrincat is averaging under 15 minutes per game on the season and to be blunt, that makes no sense to me. The Blackhawks aren't completely dead in the water, especially if Corey Crawford eventually returns (it's been reported that he could return to the ice "soon"). Either way though, getting DeBrincat more ice time helps the team now and helps his development. He's playing at a 28 goal pace with bottom six ice time! DeBrincat is an elite streamer in 12'ers right now but if his minutes increase as they should, I would bet he becomes a hold down the stretch. Let's take a look at what happened in the NHL over the last two nights:
Hat tricks have been in vogue lately so Blake Wheeler decided to take it to another level. Wheeler scored a hat trick in the first period on Sunday and later added an assist in the 7-1 win over the Penguins. Wheeler has been the fantasy stalwart we've become accustomed to in the early going with 4+8, +3, 12 PIM, 35 SOG and 4 STP in 10 games. I don't know how many more years Wheeler will keep up this level of play but for now, he's a top 20 player with relative ease. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
While the Razzball Hockey committee of one didn't love the Patrick Marleau contract, we did like Marleau for this season in fantasy. Like the majority of his teammates, his season debut went extremely well. Marleau scored twice in his first game as a Maple Leaf registering five shots on goal. His linemates were inconsistent but whether he's with Matthews or Kadri, it doesn't really matter. Marleau scored 27 goals last season and I don't see why he can't get back to that number. Despite ranking him as a top 150 player, he's still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, so grab him now. Here's what else happened around the NHL on opening night: