Semyon Varlamov missed Saturday’s game because of taking a shot to the jaw in warmups. The good news is that he was back on Monday, and the better news is that he did exactly what he did in the season opener: get a shutout. Please, blog, may I have some more?
The hype surrounding Kirill Kaprizov was building for a few years before he came to the NHL. Even with the lofty expectations on his shoulders, he's played at a level higher than anyone expected. On Friday, Kaprizov scored a hat trick on eight shots with two PIM and a +4 rating. He followed that up with another eight shots on Sunday, adding an assist and two penalty minutes. I wrote about a month ago that I expected Kaprizov's shot rate to take a big jump as the season progressed based on his shooting totals in the KHL. Well, sixteen shots in the past two games brings him over 2.5 per game, an average rate for a forward. Add in being just under a point per game and we can basically call the Calder race now. I'm not convinced that it's going to get better in the future as Kaprizov will be 24 by the time the regular season ends, but either way, he should establish himself around a 30+40 pace in a normal season with slight upside on both of those numbers. Kaprizov is definitely a top 50 dynasty asset, but I don't think he pushes the top 25 long term because the penalty minutes will be low and more importantly, I don't think he gets to be a 3.5-4 shot per game guy because he's too good of a playmaker for that. Either way, if you're lucky enough to have him, enjoy it because there's nothing fluky about his performance. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
We're moving to the last part of my rankings before my top 200 list today with the second part of the forward rankings. You can read part one here. I'm going to go about this part of the rankings a bit different than usual. I'm going to do a "best of the rest" section to start off, then I'm going to break down the rest of the forwards into three categories: safe, upside, and specialists. Once you get through the "best of the rest" forwards, we'll be well past the top 100 overall, so at that point in the draft, you need to be targeting what you need. Therefore, following a strict rankings list wouldn't really be the best thing you could do for your team. Obviously ask any questions you have in the comments section, but I suspect that this help quite a bit in the later parts of drafts as a supplement to my top 200 list. Let's get to it!
We're back for part two of the Playoff Manifesto. For those that didn't read Part One, you can read that here. Today, we will cover the Western Conference. To see the template of which I'm working with, check out the details in the Eastern Conference post. For this one, let's get right to it! ST. LOUIS BLUES: 4, 3, 3, 3 This is pretty much the worst streaming schedule possible. There are only three teams that don't have a back-to-back over the last four weeks. We'll get to them later in this post, but at least their games are more bunched together with a 4,3,4 in the first three weeks for both. They're every other night the first two weeks, then have two days off in the middle of the third week, before finishing every other day. Honestly, there's not much to say here. Thirteen games is average so hold the usuals, and don't stream Blues.
Last season, Leon Draisaitl had a massive breakout with 50+55. It seemed naive to expect better, but he's going to blow 105 points out of the water. Draisaitl scored two goals on six shots on Friday before dishing four assists with three shots on Saturday. That brings him to 29+54 in 52 games. That's over an assist per game! Sure, the penalty minutes have dried up and he's -7, but who cares!? He has four points more than his teammate for the most in the NHL and is now over three shots per game. It's not a lock that the Oilers make the playoffs, but they're a clear favorite to make it now, mostly on the backs of Draisaitl and McDavid. Even with the poor plus-minus and PIM, Leon is still the fourth best skater for the season. At this point, his floor is a top ten forward which puts him in a class of the world's truly elite. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
He's backkkk. Justin Williams made his return on Sunday, totaling three shots on goal in 13 minutes of action before scoring the shootout winner for the Hurricanes. So what should we expect from him going forward? Well, the Hurricanes are in a bigger dog fight for the playoffs than expected, so I do expect Williams' workload to ramp up sooner than later. He skated on the fourth line in this game, but there's a spot for him right now in the top six that's currently occupied by Foegele. It should only be a matter of time until he fills that role. How much does that matter? Well, we know that Williams is a great source of shots. He pushed close to three per game last season while totaling 53 points and 44 PIM. That sounds like a guy firmly on the fringe to me. I wouldn't be rushing to grab Williams, especially with Carolina only having one game between now and January 31st, but he's back to elite streamer status with the upside of being a bottom end hold. 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:
Loyal Razzballers know that I've been a big fan of Juuse Saros for a while. He's had a tough start to this season, but I still believe in the player long term. Saros was less than two minutes from a shutout on Tuesday, making 24 saves on 25 shots in the 2-1 win over the Sharks. His overall numbers are still poor, but the Predators have started to tighten up defensively. Saros is still only 24 years old and is one of the best long term goaltending prospects. Saros is starting to see even more action starting five of the last eight games. There's real upside here so if you need goaltending help, I'd grab him now. Additionally, I would try to get him in a dynasty league before he boosts his value back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It was only a matter of time before Vegas got on a heater. The Golden Knights won their fourth straight game on Tuesday night and Jonathan Marchessault led the way. Marchesssault scored a hat trick on a whopping 9 shots on goal to beat the Devils 4-3. While Marchessault hasn't quite gotten back to the level he was at in his first season in Vegas, he has been very good this season. He has 8+13 in 30 games with an elite 104 SOG. If anything, we should expect more goals because even after this hat trick, he's still at a career low shooting percentage. I'm expecting Vegas to go on a massive run soon and Marchessault should be at the forefront. This is also a good point for anyone looking to make a futures bet to place a wager on Vegas to win the Cup. No, I don't think they're the best team, but you can get them at 20 or 22-1 at the moment and they might have the best chance in the league to make the Conference Finals given the weak division. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
The gap between Brad Marchand and the rest of the league right now for fantasy hockey is incredible. Marchand scored five points on Monday, tallying two goals and three assists and a +4 rating. It's nothing new, but the first line in Boston has managed to find a way to get even better. Marchand is crushing every category with 10+18 in 15 games with a +13 rating, 28 PIM and 41 SOG. He's as good of a bet as any to finish as the #1 player in fantasy this season. Honestly, he'd be my pick as long as he avoids a lengthy suspension. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: