It's now time to move on to defensemen for my rankings. I'll be doing the top 40 defensemen in two separate posts, with the top 20 in this one. I have gone through the top 100 forwards so you can check those out through the hockey page. For now, let's get right to the blueliners! 1) Brent Burns - You can check out Burns in the top 20 here. I feel like I ranked him too low, so when I do my top 50 overall post, I may slide him up a bit. 2) John Carlson - Burns is in a tier by himself, and who to put at the top of tier two is has been a big internal debate for me. I ultimately decided on Carlson for the safety. Carlson put up 70 points last season, 33 of which were on the power play. Both numbers are incredible. He's also a plus player most seasons and there's no reason to expect a change. The one concern is that his shot rate plummeted last season from almost 3 shots per game to about 2.25. That's still solid for a defensemen, but nowhere near a great asset. Even given that, Carlson was the #3 defenseman last season. Hopefully there's a bounce back in his shot rate, but either way it's high floor and high ceiling.
Hey everyone! I'll be starting my rankings next week, but for now, I'll be writing a post on offseason winners. Losers will be coming tomorrow. There has been plenty of player movement that I haven't broken down yet so we might as well get right to it! WINNERS Mikhail Sergachev - I already wrote a sleeper post on Sergachev that you can read here.
Long time readers know that I've long been a fan of Bo Horvat's game. Horvat scored two goals on four shots with two PIM in the 4-0 win over the Ducks on Monday, getting him to 23+25 on the season. The big deal here is that Horvat is averaging almost three shots per game, now a massive jump from previous years where he was below 2.5. He also has 29 PIM, a career high. Look, Horvat is never going to be a fantasy superstar. He's destined to be the #2 center in Vancouver behind Pettersson. However, now that there are other young players blossoming around him, his quality of teammate is so much better that his offense should continue to improve. Horvat is on pace for over 60 points, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see him in the 70-80 range once he enters his prime in a year or two. In dynasties, he's a guy I'd target because while he's established himself over the last five seasons, the best is yet to come. For a look at all of the trades from yesterday, read here. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday:
It's not exactly breaking news that John Tavares moves the needle for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He showed why he was worth the mammoth contract on Sunday, scoring a hat trick on seven shots with two PIM in the 7-6 win over the Blackhawks. The main thing that I want to talk about here is Toronto in general. This offense is incredible, but they also remain a sieve defensively. I have a hard time treating them among the truly elite teams in the league until that is tightened up, at least somewhat. That's why I picked them to finish third in the division again. But for us in fantasy, stream everyone you can for the Leafs, and against them for that matter. I'd have a hard time playing any goalie against them right now; it better be someone that's damn good. They're a fantasy gold mine on both sides. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Hey guys! Sven here and instead of a 31 in 31 today, I figured I’d try something new. I recently did a draft for a 10-team season total league, and thought you guys would like to have a look as a frame of reference for your drafts! This draft required: 8F, 5D, 2G, four bench and one rookie included in the 19 picks. The categories for our league are: G/A/PPP, W/SO/OTL.
Lackeydrinksonme here, buying the big Texan some more drinks. This is my third 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.
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:
I'll be honest, a year ago, I never thought I'd be writing about Alex Stalock again. After a few years of being the backup in San Jose, Stalock was shipped to Toronto, where he was immediately waived to play in the AHL. In the summer of 2016, Stalock signed a two-way deal with the Wild but never played in Minnesota, only in Iowa. After Kuemper's struggles last year and Stalock recording a .926 sv% in the A, the Wild let Kuemper go and decided to sign Stalock to be their backup this year. Sadly, Devan Dubnyk was injured on Tuesday and is week-to-week. We discussed this on yesterday's podcast, but Stalock becomes a clear must-own until Dubnyk returns. He made me look good as he shut out the Maple Leafs on Thursday night stopping 28 shots he's faced. Grab Stalock now before somebody else. The Wild are getting healthy and playing great defensive hockey at the moment so for at least the next week, Stalock should provide great value. Here's what else happened the last two nights:
I've generally been lower on players like Johnny Gaudreau than consensus for fantasy hockey. The penalty minutes aren't there, the shot rate was good but not elite, and the power play points were in the same boat as shot rate. It's why I've had him ranked as a third or fourth round pick because if he hasn't not a point per game, he's not giving you value. Well, Gaudreau is laughing in my face at a point per game. Gaudreau extended his point streak to ten games on Monday scoring a goal and an assist against the Capitals. That gives him an incredible 31 points (10+21) in 20 games so far this season. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's pretty good. Johnny Hockey and the Flames look excellent right now (nods in approval since they're my Cup pick) and Gaudreau is going down the path of being a second round pick in the future. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday night:
Minnesota played an excellent game on Thursday booking an impressive 5-2 win over the Blackhawks. Sadly for them, it came at a brutal cost. Charlie Coyle and Nino Niederreiter both left the game injured and were already ruled out for Saturday's game. Coyle was hit in the back of the leg with a shot while Nino looked to suffer an ankle injury that could cost him multiple weeks. Hopefully you have an injured reserve spot for both of these guys but Nino definitely should be held through the injury. With Mikael Granlund out as well, the Wild are getting extremely thin. So who gets a boost? Jason Zucker (1+1, 5 SOG) becomes must-own in 12'ers while Chris Stewart (2G, 5 SOG) moves back on to the streaming radar. We'll have a clearer picture tomorrow but this is a big blow to the Wild and fantasy teams in the short term. Here's what else happened the last two nights around the league: