We’re keeping things moving here on the hockey side of things at Razzball as we’re less than two months from the season starting!  It’s not just me: Son has his top 10 out, everyone is posting their football rankings, and Smokey has the EPL RCL set up.  That’s ignoring all of the good baseball psts as we approach the closing stretch.  Today, I’m completing my top 40 forward lists.  Nineteen of these guys were already covered in the top 10 and top 20 posts, so the focus will be on players 20-40.  Let’s get going!

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Now is the time of the year where we see college players decide to forgo their collegiate career and sign an entry level contract.  There have been a bunch of players in recent years who have made an immediate impact, such as Chris Kreider and Brock Boeser.  We could have another name to add to the list.  Ryan Donato signed an ELC with Boston and had quite the NHL debut, scoring a goal and two assists with six shots playing almost 20 minutes..  With all of the graduates the Bruins have had over the last year, Donato is currently their #1 prospect (at least in my eyes).  He was a great goal scorer at Harvard and did very well in the Olympics scoring five goals in five games.  His shot is his best attribute but he’s also a strong skater.  I don’t see superstar upside, but Donato can definitely become a top 6’er.  He’s a streamer for now depending on who he’s with and how many minutes he’s getting, but he’s certainly a solid dynasty target.  Donato played on the first power play unit and the second line on Monday, so here’s to hoping that’s what we get for the rest of the season, at least until Patrice Bergeron returns.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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Evander Kane is a player that I aggressively rank every season.  The shot rate is always elite, the penalty minutes are great, and the goals should come along with those shots.  Thankfully for his owners this year, Kane has managed to stay healthy.  Kane had the best game of his career on Friday, scoring four goals on seven shots and adding two penalty minutes.  He followed that up with eight shots on goal and two PIM on Saturday.  That brings Kane’s totals to 25+25 with 65 PIM and almost 4 shots per game.  Obviously he’s must own, but what is his ceiling going forward?  I don’t think his point totals are going to change much depending on where he signs in the offseason.  What can change is his plus-minus.  Sure, plus-minus is generally hard to predict, but there are some situations that you can feel better about.  Obviously Buffalo was almost worst case for that, and Kane is +5 in San Jose to this point.  Yes, it’s a small sample, but we’ve seen around the league this year that a lot of teams are loaded with big plus-minus totals.  Kane has never been much of a power play guy either, but maybe he goes somewhere that he plays on the top unit and improves.  I feel like he’ll be in the bottom of my top 50, but obviously things can change between now and then.  For those who have him for this year, enjoy him down the stretch.  With his shot volume, Kane can be a massive difference maker if he has some good fortune.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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Gretzky, Lemieux, Forsberg, LaFontaine.  That’s the list of players in the last 30 seasons to have multiple five assist games in one season.  Add Mathew Barzal to the list after Friday night.  Barzal became the first rookie in 100 years to have three five point games in one season dishing five assists in the 7-6 win over the Red Wings.  That puts Barzal over a point per game on the season and makes him the prohibitive favorite for the Calder (sorry Boeser).  Our second podcast ever, which took place before last season, saw Reid and I hype up Barzal for dynasties.  Regardless, he’s blown away my expectations this season.  Now, it’s not all rosy for fantasy.  The penalty minutes are low, but more importantly the shot rate is barely over two per game.  On the other hand, he’s 20 years old and is over a point per game, so it’s hard to complain.  There’s a top 20 fantasy player in Barzal’s future if he can get that shot rate up.  Regardless, he’ll be a borderline top 50 player next year solely for the points, and it’s only going to get better from there.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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In my second half predictions post, I said that Jack Eichel would be in the top 5 in scoring for the rest of the season.  He’s certainly started on the right track.  Eichel scored the OT winner on his seventh shot against the Flames on Monday before exploding against the Oilers with a goal and three assists with five shots on Tuesday.  The Sabres power play looks like last season’s unit again, the unit that was #1 in the entire NHL.  Eichel is leading the way there but has also been dominant in all phases.  He’s currently in the midst of a 7 game point streak totaling a whopping 14 points in those 7 games while averaging almost 5 shots per game.  This game put Eichel above a point per game for the season and I expect him to finish there.  Sure, the plus-minus is poor, but everything else is outstanding.  He’s a first round pick for me next season, no doubt about it.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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There have been a few big games by individuals this season but Patrice Bergeron’s on Saturday is the new leader for the best of the year.  Bergeron scored four goals and added an assist with seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Hurricanes.  Bergeron was the second player this year to score four goals after Alex Ovechkin.  Per usual, Bergeron is crushing all of the categories.  He’s playing around a 40+35 pace while already having a +19 rating, solid PIM and pushing four shots per game.  Bergeron is a slam dunk top 50 player for the rest of the season who should push towards the top 25.  Again, the top line in Boston is as good as it gets and Bergeron is at the forefront of their success.  That line just gave up their first goal against at even strength all season!  Remarkable stuff.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year’s!  As much as I personally don’t care for New Year’s Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs.  I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn’t be better.  Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss!  Anyways, let’s get to what you’re here for…

I’ve talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire.  That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department.  Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs.  That brings Karlsson’s totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating.  Sure, it will regress some because he’s not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let’s give Karlsson his due.  In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals.  He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games.  His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference.  Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it’s not a complete fluke.  Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year:

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There are plenty of great story lines going around the NHL right now.  Vegas’ incredible start, Kucherov and Stamkos dominating, the Blues top line taking off, the Jets breaking out, etc.  Even the Oilers dreadful start is a major talking point but we haven’t talked much about their best player.  Connor McDavid is still only 20 years old and despite the Oilers being a dumpster fire and these other players being the talk of the town, McJesus is only 3 points from the league lead.  In Edmonton’s demolition of Columbus Tuesday, McDavid had a goal and three assists with five shots.  The shot rate is marginally down from last season but he’s well on track to repeat last year’s 30+70.  No matter what awful set of players Peter Chiarelli fills the roster with, it’s good to know McDavid won’t be stopped.  Look for him to win his second scoring title and potentially go for the Hart Trophy again if he can lead the Oilers back to the playoffs (seemingly a long shot).  Let’s take a look at what else happened Tuesday night:

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In Wednesday’s daily notes, I said that if I could, I would be looking to buy low on all of the elite goalies.  Obviously some at different levels than others, but everyone knows my love for Devan Dubnyk and the Wild as a regular season team.  I own plenty of Dubnyk stock again this year and it’s been nowhere near as fun as last season when he took the league by storm.  Dubnyk was a monster on Thursday night stopping all 41 shots he faced in the 3-0 win over the Canadiens.  Four of Dubnyk’s last eight starts (yes, one has bad against Toronto Wednesday but that’s Toronto) have been strong so perhaps there’s something building here.  Expect things for Dubnyk, and the Wild in general, to keep improving sooner than later.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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The difference between Mark Scheifele being a first round fantasy pick and a middling to late second round pick comes down to his shot rate.  He scored 32 goals last season but his 20% shooting percentage was due to regress.  While the shots haven’t been coming in, they did on Thursday and the goals were flowing.  Scheifele scored a hat trick on four shots in the 5-2 win over the Stars.  That brings him to 7 goals and 8 assists in 12 games, an excellent start for Scheifele.  Still, I have to assume the goals are going to drop since he has only 23 SOG on the season.  Scheifele should be a point per game regardless but again, shots are what we need for him to jump into superstar fantasy status.  Let’s take a look at what else happened around the league on Tuesday night:

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