It's that time of the year! We are rapidly closing in on the fantasy hockey playoffs, and to help everybody out in terms of streaming and bottom end holds, I am back with my playoff manifesto. For those that are new here, I will break down the schedule of every team in the league over the last four weeks of the NHL Season (that means games starting with this Monday, 3/9) and highlight anything important, both good and bad. A few things to note before I get going.
First off, sorry for the delay in getting a post up following the trade deadline. I'm in Vegas to see the Sabres Friday night and with the snow in Buffalo, traveling issues came up cutting into my time to write. Anyways, this seems like a good point to highlight certain things around the league that are having an impact in fantasy hockey. Next week, I'm going to start with my playoff manifesto so everyone in head to head leagues can plan ahead in regards to streaming and bottom end holds. Let's get to it!
Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. After being initially ruled out for three weeks, Brock Boeser was subsequently ruled out for eight weeks, and possibly the season. Please, blog, may I have some more?
I was expecting a big bounce back from Nazem Kadri this season in Colorado after being stuck on the third line in Toronto last season. It hasn't been spectacular, but Kadri has been a hold all season. He was going through a rough patch with only one point in seven games before Monday, but he broke out in a big way. Kadri scored two goals on four shots and added an assist in the Colorado victory over Detroit. Sure, it's Detroit, but three points is three points. Kadri has already surpassed last season's goal total in 27 less games and the penalty minutes are through the roof. His spot on the top power play unit appears locked in, therefore making him a hold for the foreseeable future. The big offseason trade has been a huge win for the Avalanche, no doubt about it. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's safe to say that at 26 years old, Jonathan Huberdeau has plenty of hockey to play in his career. The scary thing is that he's going to destroy the Panthers point record. In Sunday's big win over the Maple Leafs, Huberdeau had a goal and an assist to pass Olli Jokinen for the most points in franchise history. After last season's breakout campaign where Huberdeau had 92 points, he's on pace to blow by that this season with 61 points in their first 45 games. The shot rate has fallen off to slightly below average, but I don't think anyone who drafted Huberdeau is complaining. He's a safe bet to finish as a top 20 overall player this season, and since he's entering his prime along with some of his other teammates (notably Barkov), the future is incredibly bright. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
James Neal opened the season on an absolute tear, a stretch that included a four goal game. He fell off dramatically over the last two months, but he had another massive game on Tuesday. Neal had a hat trick and an assist in the 7-5 win over the Rangers. So should we care? I mean, the Rangers are a disaster defensively. And the answer is... yes and no. What great advice! It all comes down to your team needs. Neal has been excellent on the power play and should continue to do so on Edmonton's first unit. The goals are going to keep coming in. On the other hand, he's -23 and has only eight assists on the season. If you're desperate for goals and power play points, or are in a league with extra categories that include PPG, then there's a case to hold Neal. Otherwise, I would prefer to stream him so he doesn't tank my plus-minus while also giving less assists than any other fantasy relevant player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three nights:
To say the start of the season for Dallas has been disappointing is an understatement. It looked like it was going to continue being 3-0 late in the second against Minnesota. To quote Lee Corso, "not so far my friend!" The Wild scored six goals over the last 21 minutes of the game to win 6-3, and they were led by Alexander Radulov. Radulov entered the game with only 1+3 in 13 games, and he managed to match those four points in this one. Radulov had three goals and an assist with a whopping 10 shots on goal. This game might have blown the chance to buy low on Dallas players, but I would still attempt to do so given the opportunity. These guys are too talented to not have strong seasons, Radulov included. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Not sure David Pastrnak even knows who Christopher Columbus is, but he sure dominated on his day Monday. Pastrnak won the game for the Bruins scoring all four goals on five shots. Two of those goals were on the power play, he chipped in two penalty minutes, and finished +1. I generally don't like to lead off posts talking about superstars, but I feel obligated to give Pasta props for a four goal game. The top seven going into the season were pretty clear for me but who was eighth was a debate. I ultimately decided on Draisaitl but went with Pastrnak in the nine spot. So far, so good. Look for the Bruins top line to dominate on a nightly basis. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We're at the end of individual rankings! Almost 15,000 words later, we've ranked the top 100 forwards and 40 defensemen. Now, we conclude that with my goaltending rankings. I'm going to start by talking about my goaltending strategy for drafts, then split the goalies into tiers. I'm not going to go in-depth on every goalie, just the ones that I feel are worth talking about, mostly because I'm higher or lower on somebody. The reason I don't want to go very in-depth on every goalie is that the variance on goaltending from season to season is massive. In other words, even the best goalies have poor seasons from time to time, and guys will come out of nowhere to have excellent seasons. Did anyone know who Jordan Binnington was a year ago? The public certainly did not. Robin Lehner and Thomas Greiss were afterthoughts for most. Darcy Kuemper was the backup and wasn't drafted outside of deep leagues. Those goalies were the 3rd-6th ranked goalies at the end of the season. This is why I never draft goalies in the first two rounds, and never more than one in the first 7-8 rounds. If you like to have one presumed top end goalie, that's fine, go for it in the 4th-5th rounds if they're still there. Just do not reach, because the range of outcomes in goalies is incredibly wide, while forwards and defensemen are much more certain. Any other questions on this, let me know in the comments section below. Here are my tiers:
Detroit's season has been over for months, but they haven't mailed it in. The Red Wings have won six in a row and it starts with their first line. Of late, Tyler Bertuzzi has been on an absolute tear. He had two goals and an assist with five shots on Tuesday, his fourth consecutive third point game! That brings him to 21+26 on the season with 32 PIM and a +13 rating, a great number on a poor team. So what's his value going into next season? It's hard to say. He looks great with Larkin and Mantha, but what if the Red Wings bring someone else in and he's not there to open next season? The PIM also aren't at the elite level I had hoped like his old man brought. I do like Bertuzzi a lot for deeper leagues, but for him to be a play in standard leagues, he'll need to get his shot rate up and maintain the role he's had to finish the season. You don't need streaming on Thursday or Saturday given the massive schedules, but if you need a guy, Bertuzzi is a great choice while he's hotter than hell. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: