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:
Life without Couturier hasn't been as good without Claude Giroux.  He started the turnaround on Thursday night.  Giroux scored two goals and two assists with three shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over Carolina.  That brings Giroux up to 17 points in 22 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but the shot rate is the best of his career.  75 shots in 22 games is a huge step forward, and if that continues, we could be looking at a new career high in goals.  Yes, he only has 7 to this point, but we could be on the verge of a heater.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
One of my main focuses as far as team projections go is coaching, especially when it deals with goaltending.  I always love the Isles goalies because of Trotz, or Arizona because of Tocchet.  Well, I made the mistake of not giving enough credit to Dave Tippett going to Edmonton.  Tippett has always had great defensive teams in Arizona, and that's continued in Edmonton.  The biggest beneficiaries have been the goalies, and over the weekend, that was Mikko Koskinen.  Koskinen had a 29 save shutout on Friday against the Devils before saving 31 of 33 shots in the 6-2 win over the Ducks on Sunday.  His numbers are spectacular as are Mike Smith's.  Do I love these guys going forward?  No, I still prefer the Isles guys, for example.  That said, I probably undersold both of these guys.  I think both Koskinen and Smith need to be held and could be decent #2's for the rest of the season.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
While general sports fans were watching playoff baseball (Go Braves!) or Sunday Night Baseball, hockey fans saw one of the best performances of the season take place on the first weekend.  Anthony Mantha scored four goals on eight shot, including the winner in the last minute of the game, to beat the Stars 4-3.  This comes after an incredible performance in his season opener in which he scored a goal and two assists with five shots and four penalty minutes in the upset win over Nashville.  In both games, the players on the top line were at or above 20 minutes each.  That's extremely encouraging for their long-term success.  Obviously we're not expecting Mantha to be a top 25 player all of a sudden, but the potential is there for 30 goals, 50 PIM and a very good shot rate.  Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Today, we wrap up my defensemen rankings going through the top 40.  Guys that don't make this list will creep into my top 200, but these 20 blueliners will be the last guys that get a whole paragraph on them.  For those who didn't see it, my top 20 can be read here.  Let's get right to it! 21) Seth Jones - I know it will be controversial that Jones isn't in my top 20.  A lot of my concerns with Jones last season were founded.  His huge jump in shot rate dropped almost all the way back to where it was in 2016-17.  His power play totals plummeted.  His assists and goals both dropped despite the team shooting 9.9% while Jones was on the ice last season, the best of his career.  Am I expecting a big bounce back?  Not really.  The loss of Panarin should help increase his PP role, but he could also lose PP1 time to Werenski.  Obviously he could get back to 2017-18 form where he was a bottom end #2, but I have my doubts.
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 15th stop, we finish off the always competitive Central Division with the Minnesohhhhhta Wild. With a pending GM change stalling RFA signings and an already old core only getting older, I personally think this will be a miserable season for the Wild. That being said, there are some fantasy impact players:
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: