We have now reached the point of doing individual positions before I complete a top 200. Through the top 20 overall, I have covered 18 forwards, one defenseman and a goalie. For now, I'll be holding off on the last two. I'll be covering the top 100 forwards in posts of twenty going forward. For today, I will go through the top 40. Let's get right to it!
Hello everyone! For those that missed it, my top 10 for next season came out last week. You can find those rankings and what I'll be posting in the future here. Today, we're going through the top 20 overall. I'm sure it'll be another monster post so let's get right to it! 11) Johnny Gaudreau - As scoring jumped across the league, Gaudreau found another gear last season. He set a career high in every category but PIM (he was 2 short), including 99 points. I've been lower on Gaudreau than consensus for years now, and the last two years it hurt a bit, especially last year. This ranking does scare me a bit because you're buying him at his peak value. However, he has stayed incredibly healthy over the years, he bumped his shot rate up to almost exactly three per game, and at 26 years old, Gaudreau should be entering his prime. I have a feeling I'll end up sliding Gaudreau down a few spots eventually, but he's definitely in this tier that starts with Draisaitl at 8th overall.
Three years ago, Ben Bishop was the #1 player in fantasy hockey. The following year, he struggled in Tampa, then they moved him to Dallas. Last season, Bishop was solid, but he's been at his best this season. Bishop posted a shutout on Tuesday, stopping all 28 shots he faced in the 1-0 win over the Rangers. Injuries have hurt his volume, but Bishop is approaching a 2.20/.930 stat line. That is pushing towards being the #1 goalie in the league again. He won't end up there because of the lack of starts, but with the Stars battling for the playoffs, Bishop has the ability to win people fantasy titles this season. The Stars play 14 games in the fantasy playoffs (more details on their schedule here) which is the most of anyone in the league. Look for Bishop to be a massive difference maker down the stretch. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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'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:
The trade deadline is rapidly approaching and we saw our first big move happen over the weekend. Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann were traded to Pittsburgh for Derick Brassard, Riley Sheahan, and three draft picks. So what does this do to their values? Well, let's start with the easy ones. Sheahan is fantasy irrelevant as a fourth line center. McCann is currently playing as the third line center for Pittsburgh with Malkin down, having Pearson and Hornqvist on his wings. With no power play time, he's a bottom end streamer, but there is some upside here. Bjugstad is centering the second line, but even when Malkin comes back, the plan is for Kessel to be on his wing. I'd say this gives him a small boost to his value, but I wouldn't rush to own him. Bjugstad's situation in Florida was pretty good from a fantasy perspective. Brassard gets the biggest boost here, but to what level? Obviously he was a disaster in Pittsburgh since they acquired him. Florida is starting him on the wing with Trocheck and Hoffman. This is a huge upgrade for Brassard who becomes an elite streamer. However, this might only last for a while as I expect Florida to flip Brassard closer to the deadline. That means big minutes for now which is obviously great, but who knows where he gets moved. Maybe it's somewhere that would be good for his value (e.g. Winnipeg, who tried to get him last year before Pitt did), but it could also be somewhere like Colorado or Boston which wouldn't be great. In a deep league, I would grab Brassard immediately. In standard leagues, I'd use him tonight against the Blues and go from here. Here's some other observations I've made over the last few days:
In my Monday post, I called Frank Vatrano the best streamer of the night. As simple as my rationale was, getting to play with Barkov does wonders for anyone. Vatrano has been playing well lately, but the jump to the first line helps tremendously, and he showed how on Monday. Vatrano scored a goal and dished three assists in the 6-2 win over the Sharks, putting five shots on goal in the process. Normally, I'd say go get Vatrano right now to see what happens. There's definitely upside going forward. The problem is that the Panthers don't play again until next Friday. For those in roto leagues, I would grab Vatrano now and stash him on your bench. In head to head leagues, I would wait until the middle of next week unless a spot opens up on your roster due to someone going on injured reserve. However, I definitely want Vatrano for the back-to-back next weekend, so don't wait until last minute so you avoid somebody else sniping you on him. There's a real chance Vatrano, who was a prolific AHL goal scorer and showed upside before in Boston, could become a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened this week:
The Penguins have been on quite a tear lately, and it's not just their All-Stars. Over the weekend, Jake Guentzel destroyed the Ducks and Kings. In the Penguins comeback against the Ducks, Guentzel had a hat trick on seven shots with two penalty minutes, before scoring two more goals on six shots against the Kings. That brings Guentzel to 23 goals, which is already a career high. The shot rate has taken a big jump as well, although we can't expect him to shoot 19% all season. Regardless, Guentzel has settled into being a top 100 player who is a clear hold in all formats. As long as he continues to play with Crosby, things will be just fine. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Things can change quickly in hockey. Matt Murray led the Pens to two Stanley Cups, then struggled mightily last season and to open this year. Now, Murray has caught fire once again. The netminder had a 33 save shutout on Friday against the Jets. That means in his last 6 games, he's allowed 6 goals total with his worst save percentage being .931. We've seen the upside before, and that's of a top 5 goaltender, if not more. First off, he's somehow available in 15% of leagues, which is absurd. If you're lucky enough to be in one, grab him immediately. Two, if you own Casey DeSmith, you can safely drop him. Lastly, I doubt you'll be able to trade for him given his hot run, but I'd much rather do that than sell high. The upside of Murray is too high to pass on, and with the Pens playing as well as they lately, the floor is fairly high too. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
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: