Ben Bishop didn’t give up a goal for three straight games and the first period in Thursday’s game. Then, something sadly familiar happened: he was injured. Bishop left Thursday’s game against the Wild with Anton Khudobin playing in relief. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The time has come! Today, we start our path ranking the top 200 players in this coming season for fantasy hockey. The plan is to do a post for the top 10 and 20 overall, top 40, 60, 80, and 100 forwards, the top 20 and 40 defensemen, one (or maybe two) large goaltending post, and then top 50, 100, 150 and 200. The last posts will only provide longer details on the players not covered in those other posts. These should come out over the next few weeks leading right into fantasy hockey drafting season. Without further adieu, my top 10!
One of my favorite late round gambles on the blue line this season was Erik Gustafsson. Gustafsson played 35 games last season and has 16 points and two shots per game. That doesn't sound great, but that was with zero power play time and limited minutes. Keith and Seabrook were falling off a cliff giving Gustafsson prime opportunity. He took advantage of it and then some. Gustafsson dished three assists on Monday night while putting a shot on goal and adding 4 PIM. That brings Gustafsson up to a whopping 17+42 with 34 PIM and almost exactly two shots per game. That's with 18 STP, a number which could be higher if he played on PP1 all year. So what do we make of Gustafsson for next season? Well, it's early to say. I think these numbers are mostly sustainable as long as Chicago doesn't add a PP specialist in the offseason. I don't expect them to with the young guys they have coming, especially Jokiharju, but there's always a chance. Gustafsson looks like he'll be a solid #3 next season, possibly a bottom end #2. The goals will probably come down a bit, but 40+ assists should be a near lock with Chicago's style and strong PP, and he's average in PIM and shot rate. If he's going to be better, it's because he takes a few more shots. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
Three years ago, Ben Bishop was the #1 player in fantasy hockey. The following year, he struggled in Tampa, then they moved him to Dallas. Last season, Bishop was solid, but he's been at his best this season. Bishop posted a shutout on Tuesday, stopping all 28 shots he faced in the 1-0 win over the Rangers. Injuries have hurt his volume, but Bishop is approaching a 2.20/.930 stat line. That is pushing towards being the #1 goalie in the league again. He won't end up there because of the lack of starts, but with the Stars battling for the playoffs, Bishop has the ability to win people fantasy titles this season. The Stars play 14 games in the fantasy playoffs (more details on their schedule here) which is the most of anyone in the league. Look for Bishop to be a massive difference maker down the stretch. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Well if I had to guess who would have the second four goal game of the season, I'm not sure Brad Richardson would have been in the first 500 guesses. Richardson single-handedly carried the Coyotes to victory on Thursday with those four goals on six shots, adding two PIM with a +4 rating. Richardson has 16 goals in 48 games now, a career high in his 14th season. For those of you in deep leagues, I would grab Richardson for the faceoff boost too. In standard leagues, I'm probably passing still despite playing at a 27 goal pace. Everything about it screams unsustainable, but we have to give props to him burying four in one game. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We have a new candidate for craziest game of the year. Chicago and Ottawa was a 5-4 game... with 2 minutes left in the first! The game finished with a ridiculous 8-7 score with Alex DeBrincat leading the way on the score sheet. The 21 year old scored a hat trick and added two assists, bringing him up to 32+28 on the season. Not bad for anyone, let alone a 21 year old. In the preseason, I wrote this: "Everything is in place for DeBrincat to score 35+ goals… if Quenneville plays him the minutes he deserves. DeBrincat scored 28 goals and 24 assists as a rookie despite playing only 14:48 per game. It was infuriating that DeBrincat’s minutes down the stretch didn’t drastically increase with the Blackhawks out of the playoff race. He’s a natural goal scorer who needs to get more playing time for the Blackhawks to have any chance at a bounce back. The penalty minutes won’t be there, but 30+30 is well within reason, and there’s still upside from there." Well, Quenneville was fired, but everything else came to fruition. I love DeBrincat now and going forward. Sure, he'll never give PIM, but he should be an annual 30 goal scorer who has some years pushing 40 like this one. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL. Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position. The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion. First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back. Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league. I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out. I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being. Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I've felt that Thomas Greiss was underrated for years. When I started at Razzball, he was battling Halak for playing time and should have received more than he did. Last season, when I was fully buying in, he was a mess. This year, his value was so low that he was a nice gamble and he paid off handsomely. Greiss had a 31 save shutout on Thursday beating Columbus 3-0. Greiss is pushing a .930 save percentage and it's deserved; he's third in the league in goals saved about expectation. The bad news is that his teammate is #2 in that category. Look, Greiss isn't going to get the majority of starts, right around half of the Isles remaining games. However, those starts are going to be extremely valuable. He's only owned in 23% of leagues right now which is far too low. That reason alone is why I'm starting this post with Greiss. I've been saying for over a month that he should be owned in all formats, but if you're lucky enough for him to still be on the wire, go and get him. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Bruins split up their first line recently and there's been one massive winner: Danton Heinen. Heinen had a great rookie season in 2017-18 with 47 points in 77 games. He's struggled mightily this season but Heinen has taken off since moving onto a line with Marchand and Bergeron. Heinen had a goal and two assists with three shots against the Blackhawks on Tuesday. That gives him three goals and three assists in the past four games, with at least three shots on goal in every game. If you're in a 16+ teamer, Heinen should be owned no matter the format. Even in 12'ers, I am good with holding onto Heinen while he's hot and the Bruins have three games in four nights starting on Friday. At the least, he's moved up to elite streamer status as he's as hot of a schmotato as they come. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It was only a matter of time until Vladimir Tarasenko picked up his play. Tarasenko had four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, in two games against the Predators. That gives him an eight game point streak to get to 22+19 on the season. Obviously that's still disappointing, but there's time for him to salvage the season. Hell, the Blues are even in a playoff spot now because of how bad the Western Conference is. Look for them to make some additions at the deadline because of all of the moves they made in the summer. Missing the playoffs would be a major disappointment, and creating depth for the lineup would help things out for Tarasenko. The buy low window is probably closed but there's a strong chance that he's a top 30 player the rest of the way. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: