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:
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 21st stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re shuffling off to Buffalo to talk about the Sabres! 50 years of existence for the Sabres, and what a time it should be to be rooting for them. With some interesting offseason moves to add some much-needed depth, will this be the year Buffalo claws for a wildcard spot?
We are almost done with forwards as we'll get through the top 80 forwards after this post. Reminder that I will go through the top 100 forwards, then go to an overall top 200 at the end where more forwards will be added. To see my top 60 forwards, you can go through this link here. Let's get to it! 61) Joe Pavelski - It is going to be weird seeing Pavelski in a Stars uniform. He's coming off a great season with the Sharks with 38 goals and 26 assists in 75 games. I do have a few concerns though. One, he shot 20.2% last season, a number surely to regress. That success covered up the second point, that his shot rate dropped down to 2.5 per game, quite a down tick from previous levels. Three, he's 35 years old now, and while I don't expect a massive dropoff, we probably have seen the best of Pavelski. On the good side of things, the Dallas power play should be incredible, and odds are Pavelski will get to play with one of the other star forwards. Two seasons ago, Pavelski had 22+44. I do think the assists go back up towards that number in Dallas, but the goals probably go back below 30 unless the shot rate goes back up.
We've reached the finals in almost all formats making this the best time of the year in fantasy hockey. That's if you're still in, of course. I will continue the weekly previews that I've been doing over the last few weeks to provide some strategy and planning ahead in regards to streaming. Again, this is meant to be a compliment to the Playoff Manifesto, not a replacement, so be sure to check that out as well here. Let's get to it!
For those of you doing well in your head to head leagues, this is the most important post of the year. This is my annual playoff manifesto where I break down every team's schedule for the last four weeks of the season. I tell you who are the best teams and players to stream from, who you should look to trade for or away if your deadline hasn't passed, and it allows you to plan ahead with ease. For those who haven't read it in the past, the numbers in the parentheses are how many games the team plays in each of those weeks, with the last number being the last week in the season and preceding accordingly. This is going to be a massive post so let's get right to the 2019 Playoff Manifesto!
Long time readers know that I've long been a fan of Bo Horvat's game. Horvat scored two goals on four shots with two PIM in the 4-0 win over the Ducks on Monday, getting him to 23+25 on the season. The big deal here is that Horvat is averaging almost three shots per game, now a massive jump from previous years where he was below 2.5. He also has 29 PIM, a career high. Look, Horvat is never going to be a fantasy superstar. He's destined to be the #2 center in Vancouver behind Pettersson. However, now that there are other young players blossoming around him, his quality of teammate is so much better that his offense should continue to improve. Horvat is on pace for over 60 points, and I wouldn't be surprised if we see him in the 70-80 range once he enters his prime in a year or two. In dynasties, he's a guy I'd target because while he's established himself over the last five seasons, the best is yet to come. For a look at all of the trades from yesterday, read here. Let's take a look at what else happened on Monday:
It's no secret that the Ducks are a mess right now. I said in a post last week that they're the worst team in the league at the moment, but last night's game took the cake. Getting shutout by the Senators is as low as it gets. Sure, Anders Nilsson played great stopping 45 shots, but a lot of them were low quality like the team taking them. This isn't a post about Nilsson, he's barely usable. This is a reminder that you should stream against the Ducks every time you get. Anaheim plays against plenty of bad teams this month (Vancouver 2x, Edmonton, Chicago) yet I still wouldn't hesitate to use any of their goaltenders. Take advantage of the Ducks every opportunity that you get. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Patrice Bergeron has had an excellent career to this point, one that gives him a chance at making the Hall of Fame one day if he ages well. To this point, we've seen no signs of him slowing down. That continued on Tuesday as Bergeron scored two goals in his 1000th career NHL game. He became the fifth Bruin to reach that mark, and he'll be 3rd all-time early next season behind Bourque and Bucyk. On a per-game basis, this has been the best season of his career. He has 18+28 in 37 games with an elite shot rate. This is his eighth straight season with a Corsi over 56%. Bergeron is arguably the best defensive center in the game who is good enough to dominate the other team's top players on a nightly basis. His prowess is what gives the Bruins a chance to upset someone, presumably Toronto, in the first round of the playoffs. I wouldn't be selling high if I owned him; the first line is so damn good that very few teams have a chance against them. Let Bergeron continue to provide great value to your team. Here's what else happened on a busy Tuesday night:
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:
To say the season for Philadelphia as been a mess is an understatement. First they fire Hextall as GM, then the mess last week of Hakstol being fired as coach, only to still be the coach for a couple days as new GM Chuck Fletcher said no decision has been made, only for Hakstol to be fired anyways. They were in last place in the Eastern Conference on Monday when Fletcher decided to recall Carter Hart. The 20 year old is arguably the best goaltending prospect in the league, and he received his first NHL start on Tuesday. Hart saved 20 of 22 shots against the Red Wings getting his first career win by a score of 3-2. Look, I'm not saying Hart is a future superstar. Goaltending is extremely unpredictable and it seems like Philadelphia has been cursed in net for a while. However, he has as good of a chance as any young goaltender to be a starter for years to come. For that alone, he's worth grabbing in all formats, especially dynasties. Who knows how long that Fletcher keeps Hart on the big squad, but it seems like he should be up going forward. Either he plays so well they have to roll Hart, or they fall out of it completely and want to get him more playing time. There's no guarantee it's good now either, but I doubt another goalie with more upside will show up on the waiver wire later on in the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: