Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon. Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split. Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year. I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players. For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there. In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume. If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary. Let's get to it!
Injuries have robbed us of an amazing Cale Makar season. The good news is that he's back now and dominating games on a consistent basis. Makar had three assists with four shots in Colorado's 5-2 win over the Ducks on Monday. That brings Makar up to a point per game on the season with a +12 rating in 22 games that isn't a fluke at all. We've seen a slight uptick in his shot rate this season, but a big jump there is what it will take for Makar to move into being a top five defenseman instead of being a middling to bottom end #1. With how well he plays in his age 22 season, I have no doubt that it's coming. For dynasties, I think he has to be the top defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
One of my bold predictions from the season that already looks awful is that Chicago would be the worst team in the league. Their season has turned around on the back of somebody who was expected to be a tertiary option. Kevin Lankinen was third fiddle going into the season behind Delia and Subban, but that has changed quickly. Lankinen stopped 34 of 35 shots that he faced on Tuesday in the 2-1 OT win over the Stars. That brings Lankinen's save percentage to above .930 and a GAA approaching two. I didn't imagine a Chicago goalie would even be worth streaming this season outside of playing against Detroit, but Lankinen has played his way into being an easy hold. Will it last? It's impossible to say with goalies. Either way, he should he held until he cools off, assuming that eventually happens. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's time to get rolling with my fantasy hockey rankings. Instead of starting with my top 10 and going from there, I'm going to be starting with goaltenders today, defensemen Tuesday, and then forwards and my top 200 by the end of the week. I will be ranking the guys in order, but I am putting more focus on tiers than the exact rankings of players. I will be writing in detail about guys that I aggressive with in my rankings, either because I like them a lot or also don't want anything to do with them. Let's get to it!
Andre Burakovsky has gone back and forth between bottom end hold and elite streamer for most of the season. Right now, we're in one of his upswings again. Burakovsky had a goal and three assists in the 6-1 Colorado win over the Sabres on Tuesday. That's a whopping 10 points in the last 4 games and 14 in the past 8 for Burakovsky. He also has Ottawa, the Kings twice, and Buffalo again over the next three weeks. He's an easy hold while he's on fire and the schedule remains incredibly soft. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
He's backkkk. Justin Williams made his return on Sunday, totaling three shots on goal in 13 minutes of action before scoring the shootout winner for the Hurricanes. So what should we expect from him going forward? Well, the Hurricanes are in a bigger dog fight for the playoffs than expected, so I do expect Williams' workload to ramp up sooner than later. He skated on the fourth line in this game, but there's a spot for him right now in the top six that's currently occupied by Foegele. It should only be a matter of time until he fills that role. How much does that matter? Well, we know that Williams is a great source of shots. He pushed close to three per game last season while totaling 53 points and 44 PIM. That sounds like a guy firmly on the fringe to me. I wouldn't be rushing to grab Williams, especially with Carolina only having one game between now and January 31st, but he's back to elite streamer status with the upside of being a bottom end hold. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I talked a lot about Taylor Hall in Monday's post (you can read that here). The trade that I was talking about happened on Monday with Hall moving to Arizona. In the trade, Hall and Blake Speers went to Arizona for a 2020 conditional first-round draft pick, a conditional 2021 third-rounder, along with forward prospects Nate Schnarr, Nick Merkley and defenseman Kevin Bahl. First, let's look at this from Arizona's perspective. It's a steep price to pay for a rental, but Hall is the best player traded in quite some time, and Arizona is looking to snap a long playoff drought in a weak division. I totally get the move given their strong defensive talent but lack of overall offensive talent. Hall played on Tuesday dishing an assist and adding a shot in 18 minutes. He played with Christian Dvorak and Clayton Keller. In Monday's piece linked above, I said to buy Keller going forward due to his recent play. This only enhances his value. Same goes with Dvorak, but he moves up to an elite streamer for now. As for New Jersey, it's hard to complain about this return. You have potentially two first round picks in this deal, but at least a 1 and 3. Bahl is a monster coming in at 6'7 and can skate fairly well. I don't see a PP guy there, but he should be a modern stay-at-home who is strong on the PK. For those in deep leagues, he should be a very good hits/blocks guy down the line. Merkley has decent upside, but he has already had reconstructive knee surgery. He's not the best skater, but he has great hockey IQ and should end up as a playmaking center in the middle six. Schnarr was a third round pick in 2018 who didn't show a ton of offense until after he was drafted. He then exploded in Guelph last season, but he's struggled in the AHL so far. That isn't a surprise as many 20 year olds struggle in their first pro season. I don't expect a ton, but there's a decent chance he ends up an NHL'er. All in all, seems like this trade has the potential to be a win-win once you consider that Hall seemingly didn't want to stay in New Jersey. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Loyal Razzballers know that I've been a big fan of Juuse Saros for a while. He's had a tough start to this season, but I still believe in the player long term. Saros was less than two minutes from a shutout on Tuesday, making 24 saves on 25 shots in the 2-1 win over the Sharks. His overall numbers are still poor, but the Predators have started to tighten up defensively. Saros is still only 24 years old and is one of the best long term goaltending prospects. Saros is starting to see even more action starting five of the last eight games. There's real upside here so if you need goaltending help, I'd grab him now. Additionally, I would try to get him in a dynasty league before he boosts his value back up. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Joel Quenneville saw that Sergei Bobrovsky was rounding into form on Saturday after a strong performance against his old team. He rewarded him by starting him on Sunday despite being the second game in as many days. Bob delivered once again. After making 33 saves in the 4-1 win over Columbus, Bobrovsky stopped 30 of 31 shots in the 5-1 win over the Sharks. Yes, the season has been worst case scenario to this point for Bob. However, there's still plenty of time to turn it around and I think we see it. Sure, maybe he won't be the top 5 goalie he's been in the past, I can almost guarantee that. However, he could end up being a #1 again and for that reason alone, he's a great trade target. Over the rest of this month, he plays Tampa twice and Boston, with some decent offenses and poor ones mixed in. However, look at this January schedule: OTT, BUF, PIT, ARZ, VAN, DET, MIN, CHI. Not exactly a murderer's row. In fact, they don't even play Tampa again after this month. If I owned Bob, which I do, I'm being patient because I think it's going to turn around. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
The last lottery pick for the Washington Capitals has really come into his own. Jakub Vrana had an incredible weekend, starting with two goals on eight shots against the Sabres. He followed it up with a hat trick on five shots against the Flames on Sunday. That brings Vrana to 9+5 in 16 games with just under three shots per game. He's a main stay on the second line and second power play unit, so the question is whether or not he's a hold. For now, I lean towards yes. I don't think it'll last all season, but Vrana is playing excellent hockey right now and I want to take advantage of it. The 23 year old has made a jump in every season of his career and looks to be down that path again. Given that he had 24+23 last season, another slight improvement will get right right onto the fringe. Vrana isn't an automatic add given that Washington has only two games this week, but I'm holding onto him while Vrana has his foot on the accelerator. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend: