It was quite the weekend for last season's Calder Trophy winner.  Mathew Barzal entered Friday's game against the Senators with five goals on the season, and he matched that in two games.  Barzal scored two goals and an assist against the Senators before scoring a hat trick against the Maple Leafs on Saturday.  That brings Barzal up to 10+25 in 37 games with solid PIM and an improved shot rate.  He's still only 21 years old so clearly the best is to come.  For the rest of this season, I think he's just inside the top 50 now that his shot rate isn't far from average.  If he can eventually get that up towards three a game, it's game over.  Barzal has top 20 player upside down the line; hopefully the Isles get some more talent around him.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
This is year three of me writing daily notes for Razzball, and at this point, I don't think it provides a ton of value for me to write the intro paragraph on superstars.  That said, four goal games are a different animal.  Connor McDavid crushed the best team in the NHL on Monday, scoring a whopping four goals on nine shots and adding an assist in the 6-2 win over the Lightning.  We know McDavid is as good as it gets and he's the best player in fantasy for the foreseeable future.  This is just a reminder about how good he is (let's not take him for granted) and how bad of a job Peter Chiarelli has done as a GM that McDavid isn't going to be in the playoffs this season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
He hasn't been talked about much but as far as disappointments go, Ryan Johansen is near the top of the list.  It wasn't that long ago that he was a 22 year old scoring 33 goals and 30 assists, followed up by 26+45.  Johansen had 4 straight 60+ point seasons before this year and to be blunt, he's been awful compared to his high standards.  Johansen had his best game in quite some time Thursday, dishing three assists and putting three shots on goal in the 5-0 win over the Kings.  The main reason I'm encouraged by this?  Filip Forsberg.  The Swedish star returned from injury on Thursday and immediately went onto Johansen's wing.  Still, five goals and under 1.5 shots per game on the season isn't going to get it done for Johansen owners.  In the last three games, Johansen has at least three shots on goal, so I think he's going to keep building.  I don't think we see Columbus Johansen again, but I don't see why last season's Johansen can be back for the rest of the season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hat tricks have been in vogue lately so Blake Wheeler decided to take it to another level.  Wheeler scored a hat trick in the first period on Sunday and later added an assist in the 7-1 win over the Penguins.  Wheeler has been the fantasy stalwart we've become accustomed to in the early going with 4+8, +3, 12 PIM, 35 SOG and 4 STP in 10 games.  I don't know how many more years Wheeler will keep up this level of play but for now, he's a top 20 player with relative ease.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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:
Once you get outside of the top 200 overall, you're looking at the last 2-3 picks in a standard 12 man league.  There are a few different ways you can go about making your last few picks.  You can shoot for upside, get a couple safe players if you already have plenty of upside, fill out your last couple defensemen, grab a goalie out of desperation.  I'm going to list a bunch of players in different categories that fall outside of my top 200 that you can target depending on what you're looking for.  I'm not going to go into detail on these guys but I will put them in my order of preference.  Here is my list:
It seems counter-intuitive to say but last season was great for the long term future of the New Jersey Devils.  For the last few seasons, the Devils have been outside of the playoffs but not high enough to get a top 5 pick.  Luckily for them, the lottery ball fell their way and Nico Hischier fell into their laps.  They're still going to be bad this year (if they don't finish last in the Metro, it's a miracle) because their defensemen are an abomination but how bad is going to come down to goaltending and the progression of their young talent.  The good news is their top six has a fair amount of talent for fantasy hockey so they're not a complete wasteland.  Let's take a look at what the Devils are working with:
The greatest goal scorer in the history of the NHL has made a massive push down the stretch to push many teams towards a fantasy championship. While his shot rate and goal rate have dropped this year, Alex Ovechkin is still a monster. He had his best game of the season scoring a hat trick and an assist with six shots in the 5-4 OT win over the Wild. That brings his totals to 33+33 on the season with a solid plus-minus and penalty minute contribution. Obviously it's disappointing his shot rate went from five per game to four per game but it's still outstanding. We discussed on the podcast where Ovechkin will rank for next season and while I don't think he's worthy of the top selection anymore, he's still a top five pick without hesitation. Here's to hoping he finally gets over the playoff hump and Ovechkin gets the accolades he deserves. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
As talked about repeatedly for the last couple weeks in this internet space, this week is the dream for Blues players. Getting three games against Arizona and Colorado is what you hope for. The top line for St. Louis ravished the Coyotes on Monday with all three of them getting at least three points. My focus is going to be on Jaden Schwartz. Schwartz scored two goals and an assist with three shots finishing +4 in the 4-1 win. That gives him 50 points (18+32) in 71 games. Two seasons ago, Schwartz finished with 28+35 in 75 games before last season was ruined with injuries. So which player is he going forward, the one on the verge of 30+40 or this season's 20+35? I would bet on him being closer to 2014-15 than 2016-17. He's still only 24 years old and should continue to play with one of the best players in the game. The shot rate is average and the penalty minutes aren't there but on the assumption he's back in the 60-65 point range, I'll have Schwartz right around the 100 overall mark. My guess it's just outside that number but he's a great target in the middle rounds because we've already seen the upside. Here's what else happened around the league on Monday night:
In these parts, we're a big supporter of the Jets for fantasy hockey. Going back to when I started writing here, the Jets love started with Blake Wheeler. An unheralded superstar, Wheeler has never received the credit he deserves for his consistent level of play. Another year goes by and it's another year where Wheeler is pushing the top ten overall forwards. Wheeler continued his recent hot streak with a goal and two assists with two shots in the 3-2 win over the Flyers. That brings his totals to 22+41 in 73 games with 43 PIM and 230 SOG. The safety he provides is the main reason why I ranked him 21st overall in the preseason and it looks like Wheeler is going to reach that value. So where will he be next season? He's going to turn 31 before next season starts which means he's likely to start marginally declining as he exits his prime. However, his quality of teammate is going to continue to improve as the rest of the Jets core moves towards their prime. Is he going to be worth a second pick again? It's going to be pretty close but at the least, Wheeler will be a high third round pick. I don't see him falling outside of my top 30. Let's take a look at the action around the league the last two nights: