Growing up, the Avalanche were always my second favorite team.  My grandpa was a huge Peter Forsberg fan and it didn’t interfere with my Sabres since they were in the Western Conference.  I’ve always kept a close eye on them even though my rooting interests are now firmly with the Sabres and “Team Whoever I Bet In Game X.”  Anyways, Gabriel Landeskog has been a personal favorite of mine in this new Avalanche era.  He became the youngest captain in the league when it wasn’t cool to make your young top pick a captain.  Landeskog won the Calder and led the Avs on a massive warpath to a shocking #1 seed in 2013-14.  When I started at Razzball, things looked on the up for Landeskog at 23 years old.  Then, like the rest of the Avalanche organization, Landeskog struggled mightily.  Thankfully for all of us fantasy owners, he’s back.  Landeskog had the best game of his career on Saturday scoring a hat trick and two assists with five shots against the Lightning.  Sure, the Avs lost, but it doesn’t change his stat line for us!  The Kog now has 13+11 in 28 games with a strong plus-minus and solid PIM plus shots.  In fact, I’d be surprised if the penalty minutes don’t jump soon.  It’s amazing that Landeskog just turned 25 so he’s not even in his prime yet.  Look for him to be a top 100 player for the rest of the season and for at least the next few years.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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Reid and I talked about John Tavares extensively on Tuesday’s podcast.  We both saw him as a viable option for The Three Point Challenge but decided to go elsewhere since it’s rare for someone to post consecutive three point games.  Well, Tavares shoved it up both of our you-know-wheres!  He scored a hat trick and added an assist in the 5-3 win over the Coyotes.  All of a sudden, a slow start (3 points in 7 games) has been erased with Tavares at 10 points in 9 games.  This is why we wait at least a month before we panic about players, especially studs like Tavares.  Look for him to be his usual self going forward, which means being a top 20 forward.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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All everyone talked about in the preseason was wondering how bad Vegas was going to be in their expansion year.  Sure, it’s only two games, but boy did they have some excitement.  On Friday, Dallas was dominating Vegas in their franchise opener but was only up 1-0 in the third.  Down goes Ben Bishop which opened up the door for James Neal to give the people of Las Vegas some relief in an awful time.  Neal scored two goals in the third period to propel the Golden Knights to victory.  To top off the weekend, Neal scored another goal, this time the game winner in overtime, to give Vegas two wins to start the season.  Neal is still available in over 40% of leagues and if you are in one of them, grab him.  The shot rate is going to be elite along with solid penalty minutes and goals.  At least for now, I’m not overly concerned about the top guys on Vegas having bad plus-minuses either.  Let’s take a look at what else happened in the first (long) weekend of the NHL season:

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Last season for the New York Rangers was both a success and disappointment.  The Rangers were the 4th team in a 4 team race in the Metro division last season but that was a huge boost to their playoff chances since that meant they would cross over into the Atlantic Division.  After beating the Canadiens in the first round, the Rangers were upset by the Senators in Round 2.  A few big offseason moves give the Rangers a different feel than in the past.  Off went mainstays Derek Stepan and Dan Girardi, in comes Kevin Shattenkirk.  A few forwards will be placed into bigger roles giving us a few potential value forwards.  Let’s take a look at what Alain “The Brain” Vigneault has to work with:

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If you’ve watched the Jets play this year, you don’t need me to tell you how talented Patrik Laine is. His shot is among the best that I’ve ever seen and his skating is explosive in its own right. The Jets top six was in a slump so Paul Maurice shuffled the lines on Tuesday. Granted, they play against the Stars, but the early returns were outstanding. Laine led the way scoring another hat trick on six shots while adding two penalty minutes. This puts him at 26 goals and 21 assists in 51 games, the second best goal rate in the league behind Sidney Crosby. I had him ranked in my top 100 going into the season but the days of getting him in that area of drafts is over. Hell, his days of going outside the first two rounds are over. The Jets are loaded with talent around him and Laine will only get better being 18 years old. Is he a first rounder next year? Right now, I’d lean towards no but he’s firmly in the second round and it could certainly change over the next six months when I put my rankings out for next season. Regardless, watch this kid when you get the chance because it’s remarkable. Here’s what else I saw around the league the last two nights:

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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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There have been a lot of bad trades over the last five years in the NHL. It’s no surprise that Nino Niederreiter has turned into an excellent player in Minnesota after being traded by the Islanders, the team who drafted him fifth overall. Who knew trading a player who just went in the top five in the draft at 20 years old was a bad idea? Anyways, Nino has been solid for a few years now but he’s starting to peak in his age 24 season. Niederreiter scored two goals and an assist with four shots in the 4-3 win over the Coyotes on Thursday. This brought Nino to 30 points (14+16) on the season while being +18. The PIM are below average and the shots are barely above two per game but with his developing power play prowess to supplement his even strength play, Niederreiter is looking like a clear hold at the moment. Hopefully everyone in dynasties held onto him because the best is yet to come. Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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I both love and hate the first few weeks of the season. Love, because the excitement of the start of the NHL season makes me feel like I’m twelve again, collecting Pepsi bottle caps with the faces of all my favourite players on the under-side; and memorizing all the stats on my hockey cards – that my step-mom will eventually sell without my permission, in a box for $2 at a garage sale. Yeah, Gretzky rookie card and all. Sigh.

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It’s the final countdown! We’ve finally made it to the end of the top 250. We are to the point where you are taking guys with your last few picks so I’m going to limit the details here. Target categories that you need some reassurance in but be prepared to cut these guys if necessary. If you want to handcuff your goalie, this is also the time to do it. Let’s finish this bad boy up!

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