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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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:

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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:

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I have to admit, I’ve always had a soft spot for Thomas Vanek.  I saw him win the NCAA Championship as Minnesota’s best player as a freshman and fell in love with his offensive abilities before the Sabres drafted him 5th overall.  Vanek was excellent for many years in Buffalo and while his game isn’t where it once was, he can still put up points at a fairly high level.  Vancouver switched their lines recently with Vanek playing with Brock Boeser and Sam Gagner.  They exploded against Chicago on Thursday with Vanek leading the way.  In the 5-2 win over the Blackhawks, Vanek scored two goals and three assists with five shots and two PIM finishing +5.  Vanek now has 10 points in his past 4 games giving him 12+16 in 38 games this year.  The shot rate has been up over the past ten games (3 per) so I’d grab Vanek while he’s on fire, at least as a streamer.  I’m sure his name will be discussed as a trade target again at this year’s deadline and unlike last year in Florida, I think Vanek will make a difference.  Injuries really hurt Florida and Vanek was mostly relegated to 12 minutes on third line duty.  We’ve seen in Detroit last season and Vancouver this year that Vanek is still capable of putting up points.  Let’s take a look at what else happened Thursday night around the league:

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In an opening month where tons of goalies are struggling, Corey Crawford certainly is not.  Crawford continued his excellent play on Wednesday making 35 saves for a shutout against the Flyers.  Crawford sits with a sub 2.00 GAA and > .940 save percentage.  To quote Larry David, “pretty, pretty, pretty good.”  He’s going a long way in masking some of the problems that the Blackhawks have.  Regardless, we all knew Crawford was a #1 fantasy goalie but perhaps he plays his way into the upper tier?  To be honest, the Blackhawks probably need it.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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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:

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We’ve reached the halfway point in my rankings and it’s time to approach the finish line.  I will keep updating this with info for players as Friday progresses but I wanted to get the top 150 out as soon as possible.  Also, sorry for the delay, but the RCL’s will launch this coming Monday in the afternoon.  I’ve had a few technical difficulties setting it up but that should be taken care of by then.  Without further adieu, here is my top 150:

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The Toronto Maple Leafs went from the basement to the playoffs as one of the biggest surprises of the season.  Rookies, Mike Babcock, Frederik Andersen, the vets, everyone contributed to this massive turnaround.  Now, the Leafs are looked at as a perennial playoff team with future aspirations of a true Stanley Cup contender.  I don’t expect them to be a real contender this season, mostly because their blue line still needs a piece or two, but they should be a solid playoff team with plenty of fantasy contributors.  Let’s take a look at the riches Toronto is working with:

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We talked about Mikael Granlund on last Friday’s podcast for a few minutes. Granlund was on an 11 game point streak, the longest of any player during this season, going into Saturday’s game. You can say that he extended it in style. Against the Canucks, Granlund scored his first career hat trick on six shots while also having an assist and finishing +4. That brings his totals to a ridiculous 15+33 in 51 games while being +30. He’s now a top 10 forward on the season based on RCL categories finally delivering on the hype surrounding him entering the league. As for where he’ll be ranked going into next season, check out the podcast. Here’s what else happened around the league this weekend:

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Dating all the way back to the preseason, I called Pekka Rinne the biggest wild card of the fantasy hockey season. In some seasons, he plays like the #1 goalie. In other seasons, he’s been a detriment to fantasy rosters. This year, he’s settled more in the middle but closer to the good side. We saw that top end ability once again on Thursday night when Rinne posted a 31 save shutout in the 2-0 win over the Oilers. So what do we do with him going forward? Honestly, nothing really changes. One, Peter Laviolette has already said that he wants to play Juuse Saros more down the stretch. Two, his variance is so high that any game or even any month doesn’t change his long term prognosis. Basically, if you want to gamble, Rinne is someone worth the shot based on the high upside. If you want stability, stay the hell away. In dynasties, I’m down on him only because I’m a huge believer in Saros but for the rest of the season, I’m more on the side of Rinne being a top 10 goalie the rest of the way. Here’s what else happened around the league the last two nights:

Please, blog, may I have some more?