Hey guys! Over the next month, I will be taking a look at each team’s players to watch out for going into the 2019-20 fantasy hockey season. This analysis features everything from surefire studs, to sleepers, to streamers, deeper league holds, even to rookie-eligible prospects that may make an appearance at some point this season. Please let me know if you guys enjoy this type of material! Reminder that the stat totals are from last season. Last year my previews went alphabetically, but this year we’re going to go division-by-division, starting with the top team. On our 11th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re headed the city of champions, St. Louis! This team of good old Canadian boys rallied from the basement of the league in January all the way to Lord Stanley’s Cup. There isn’t a ton of turnover going into 2019-2020, but there are some significant question marks on whether guys can repeat their historic performances.
We are at the point in the season where it's more important to lead my posts off with the things that have the biggest impact going forward and not the best performances. Robin Lehner is currently day-to-day with what Barry Trotz called an upper-body injury. When asked if it was a concussion, Trotz wouldn't give an answer. Best wishes to Lehner to a speedy recovery no matter what the issue is, but he does have concussion history. Thomas Greiss started on Thursday and made 35 saves on 37 shots in the 4-2 win over the Senators. I wouldn't expect anything else against the Senators. I have been saying Greiss is must-own for a few months now, but for some reason he's still only 27% owned! If Lehner does miss time, Greiss has a legitimate chance to not only be a #1 goalie the rest of the way, but a top 5 goalie overall. Pick him up immediately if he's still available in your league. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two days:
On January 3rd, the St. Louis Blues were in last place of the entire NHL. Here we are six weeks later and they're safely in a playoff position. The Blues have matched the longest winning streak in the NHL this season at 10, winning two games this weekend in convincing fashion. First, Jake Allen shutout the Avalanche, then Jordan Binnington shut out the Wild on a back to back. Right now, Binnington is as hot as it gets in the league. I don't expect this to continue, but for now, he's a must start every time out. I still view Allen as somewhat of a desperation play, but with how well the team is playing in front of him, I'm fine with streaming him for the time being. Looks like a coaching change was what they needed to right the ship. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It was only a matter of time until Vladimir Tarasenko picked up his play. Tarasenko had four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, in two games against the Predators. That gives him an eight game point streak to get to 22+19 on the season. Obviously that's still disappointing, but there's time for him to salvage the season. Hell, the Blues are even in a playoff spot now because of how bad the Western Conference is. Look for them to make some additions at the deadline because of all of the moves they made in the summer. Missing the playoffs would be a major disappointment, and creating depth for the lineup would help things out for Tarasenko. The buy low window is probably closed but there's a strong chance that he's a top 30 player the rest of the way. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It was less than a week ago that James van Riemsdyk was placed on the fourth line for the Flyers and Scott Gordon had a private meeting with him. Since then, JVR has taken off, with a monster game coming on Monday. He scored a hat trick to give him 5+2 in his last 3 games. Look, we know how good of a player JVR can be; he's been a top 100 player the past few seasons. However, he only has two games the rest of the week, and then he doesn't have a game for all of next week with the Flyers on a bye week. Therefore, I wouldn't be holding him right now. I'd be willing to stream him on Wednesday and Saturday, but I'd cut bait then. However, with a very heavy schedule starting 1/28, including a lot of bad teams, I would look to grab JVR at the All-Star break to get three games in four nights after that break. Then, we see how he does in those three games, and proceed from there. Here's a look at what else happened on Monday night:
We found another goalie out of nowhere! Jordan Binnington was great in his second start on Thursday, allowing one goal on 29 shots in the 4-1 win over over Canadiens. He's been strong in the AHL the last two seasons, and with how bad their other goalies have been, Binnington deserves a chance. Obviously it could collapse at any time, and the Blues' schedule in January is very road heavy. On the other side, there a lot of good matchups over the next two weeks for Binnington. I wouldn't go out of my way in shallow leagues to own him, but Binnington could be a solid streamer with upside for more, especially before the All-Star Break with the Sens, Kings, and Ducks in a row. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's hard to find a bigger fan of Blake Wheeler than yours truly. He's been excellent for years, and while he is showing some signs of aging, he's remained incredibly productive. Wheeler scored a goal and dished three assists in the 7-4 win over the Avalanche, adding two penalty minutes. Wheeler now has 7+48 in 42 games, a very strong point total. So where's the concern? Well, seven goals obviously isn't great, and his shot rate is closer to 2.5 now than 3 per game. Add in a career low shooting percentage and you can see why he's on pace for only 14 goals. He's still solid in PIM and has been a quality +/- player for a long time, so he'll still be a top 50 player for a few years. However, it would be a mistake to expect Wheeler to be a top 20 player again going forward. Here's a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
If you would told me before the season that the Canadiens would be in a playoff spot at the halfway point of the season, I'd have guessed that Carey Price was playing at a Vezina level Yet, here we are with Price struggling and the Canadiens succeeding. However, we've seen a few good starts lately from Price, with his best coming on Thursday. Price stopped all 33 Canucks shots in the 2-0 win over Vancouver. So what do we make of Price? Well, this game was the second of a back-to-back for Vancouver, who lost their rookie phenom, so I don't take much away from this. His other really good games were against Arizona and Chicago; not exactly powerhouses. I feel a little bit better about Price than I did before the season starting, but only to the point that I view him as a middling to bottom end #2 goalie. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
I hope all of you Razzballers that celebrate had a Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays to everyone! The three day hiatus without games is over, so I'm going to do a quick preview of Thursday's games with some streamers, DFS options, and other things I'm looking for. I'll get back to daily notes tomorrow recapping all of these games, so this will be an opportunity to get my thoughts on games out there and either look smart, dumb, or both. Let's get to it!
Eichel and Skinner are getting tons of credit for the great start to the season for the Buffalo Sabres, but Sam Reinhart isn't getting the love he deserves. Reinhart had five assists in two games over the weekend, extending his point streak to 10 and reaching 32 points in 34 games. I've long been a Reinhart supporter but this jump is to an unprecedented level. The former second overall pick does all of the little things so well and this year, he's finally being rewarded for it. I don't see why he can't get 70+ points come season's end. His goals are actually down from last season and with how well the top line is playing, there's no reason why Reinhart can't end up pushing last season's total of 25. He was always expected to be a playmaker going back to his junior days and now, he might set a new career high in assists by New Year's. If you're in one of the 25% of leagues that Reinhart is still available, go grab him immediately. For those who own him, I would definitely hold tight and enjoy the breakout. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: