Long term hockey relationships can be the source of fantasy gold. Consider the illustrious history of such legendary lovebirds as Gretzky-Kurri, Hull-Mikita, Hull-Oates (yes, “Hull & Oates”), Trottier-Bossy, Lemieux-Jagr, Lindros-Leclair, and those-were-the-days when Crosby-Malkin, and Toews-Kane were linemates. The less romanticially-inclined out there might simply call them ‘Pairings’. Call them what you will, when you see chemistry like that on the ice, it’s something to behold. And when you successfully draft one of these duos to your fantasy team, it feels like an absolute coup, doesn’t it? You sit there basking in your 3rd round glory: “I’ve got Getzlaf AND Perry!” and dreaming of doubling up your point total on almost every Anaheim goal this season. But in a deep redraft or dynasty league, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get both, even with your first two picks. So what’s a deep leaguer to do? For every Gretzky to Kurri, there has always been that third wheel, catapulted into short term fantasy relevance as long as they stay on that line. Correctly identify the answer to that trivia question and you’ve got yourself a bona fide sleeper, and maybe even a keeper. So who are the candidates a quarter-way into the season?
As a Sabres fan, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. After two years of tanking, they ended up with Sam Reinhart and more importantly, Jack Eichel. In the Sabres first preseason game, Eichel showed why he was worth tanking for scoring a shorthanded goal and adding an assist. Sabres coach Dan Blysma has Eichel currently slated to be the second line center with multiple 30 goal scorer Matt Moulson and burgeoning power forward Zemgus Girgensons. It's a great situation for Eichel to thrive, even as an 18 year old. I currently have Eichel at 51st overall (rankings here) and I feel great about having him ranked higher than anywhere else. The combination of speed and power that he has at such a young age is incredibly rare. In dynasty leagues, I'd have him ranked after the big 7 and McDavid. Bottom line is: Teams usually play half of their starting roster in one preseason game and the other half in the next so it's tough to come away with major takeaways from preseason. That said, it could be very telling as to who will play on what line which has a major impact on players' value. Let's take a look at who had a big impact over the first three days of preseason:
Hello all! I’m taking over the rest of the fantasy rankings from Polka. I would have some minor changes to his list, but his rankings are very solid so I will leave them alone and start at number 26. You can find the top 25 under the rankings tab here. While you are still targeting the best player available this early in the draft, you have some maneuverability if you’re looking to target certain categories or positions. From 26 to 35, there’s mostly a bunch of veterans who have proven their worth over the years. From 36 to 50, you’re predominantly looking at incredibly young players poised to break into the league’s elite this season. Let’s get to it!
When the season started I was mostly worried Zdeno Chara (1 SOG, -1) had lingering nerve damage after he’d been fighting the issue over the last season or so. Last year he had difficulty holding a stick towards the end of the year, but all signs looked good in the preseason so I ranked him accordingly. Well, the hand is fine, but the knee? Not so much. Chara suffered ligament damage to his knee yesterday while laying a big hit on NHL scoring leader John Tavares (1 A, 4 SOG, +1) in yesterday’s game. He’ll miss 4-6 weeks at which point they’re going to determine whether or not he needs surgery. Wow, that sounds terrible. They have to wait over a month just to see if the knee is bad enough that Chara needs to go under the knife? Let me just go ahead and call this right now, he needs surgery. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s done for the year, but you can’t just drop him until we know for sure, so stash him on IR and hope for the best. In the meantime this is a big blow to the Bruins and fantasy owners alike. Not only does it hurt his owners, but also Chara serves as the lynchpin to the Bs both offensively and defensively. They haven’t been playing well as a team to start the year and this injury will further erode their ability to step up and deliver. Tuukka Rask’s meh play is likely to continue to a degree, or at least continue more than we would have expected this season with Chara out. I want to say that this is going to give guys like Torey Krug (4 SOG, -1), Dennis Seidenberg (1 SOG, +1), and Dougie Hamilton (1 SOG) a boost in value that will come with an uptick in playing time, especially on the powerplay, but I really don’t think that’s the case here. I think the B’s are poorer without Chara, and the ripple effect will hurt more than it will help. You know, Johnny Boychuk (1 SOG, +1) sure seems like a good option right now, so may—oh right, well played Garth Snow. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Patience is a virtue, that’s what they always said. Who are they? They don’t matter. What matters is the idea. As I’ve grown and aged like a fine wine I’ve discovered that patience is indeed a virtue. It doesn’t really matter what aspect of life you want to touch on, being patient is going to help you get where you want to go, and get what you want to get. So what do you need to achieve fantasy hockey glory? Say it with me now class, patience! Yes ladies, you need to relax and be patient. Every season some guys start slow. Every season some guys start hot. Every season the guys who started hot but had no business doing so, by and large, slow down or just stop scoring. Every season the guys who started slow but had no business doing so, by and large, start scoring. I’m fielding a lot of questions about whether or not to trade Nathan MacKinnon away for pennies on the dollar. Brock Nelson seems to be the guy everyone is willing to add and they don’t care who they drop to get him and Valeri Nishushkin is actually getting dropped after just two games. Two games, people. Are you kidding? Nelson has no track record, Nishushkin is playing sick and MacKinnon? You want to call what MacKinnon is doing a slow start already? You cray! If you want to throw away your fantasy season before it starts make those knee jerk moves now. If you want to win, sit tight and wait at least a few more games to see how the cookie crumbles. And for the record, no don’t trade MacKinnon. No, don’t drop Nuke for whatever wire fodder had a decent two game start and no, Nelson isn’t going to be the next big thing. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend:
We’re down to the final week of the season and most leagues have already been decided, but for those of you in leagues who are still fighting it out to the last puck drop, I’ll keep posting my daily roundups to keep you informed. Though I only took over Razzball Hockey halfway through the season I have to say I’ve enjoyed writing every word and I hope that I’ve been able to help shepherd a few of you to success this season. If not, well, I only take credit when you win, so don’t come knocking with all that sadface “I lost!” nonsense! Seriously though, it has been and I hope will continue to be a blast. Now then, for those of you still on the hunt for a title, how can we help? Patrik Hornqvist (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG, 2 PIM, +3) might be an option! To hell with might, he’s the best option you’ve got this late. Even if it wasn't this late, the way he's been playing over the last two-three weeks has been unbelievable. I didn't mention him because there were other, hotter, better bets to ride to a title but I guess I can't deny it anymore. Horny has posted a whopping 10 points in his last five games with no signs of slowing down. Granted, no signs means squat because this kind of play is way above Hornqvist’s head, but while he’s scoring like there’s no tomorrow, you should add him, because in a few days there’s going to be no tomorrow! At least for fantasy hockey leagues this season, that is. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey this weekend: