It's that time of the year! We are rapidly closing in on the fantasy hockey playoffs, and to help everybody out in terms of streaming and bottom end holds, I am back with my playoff manifesto. For those that are new here, I will break down the schedule of every team in the league over the last four weeks of the NHL Season (that means games starting with this Monday, 3/9) and highlight anything important, both good and bad. A few things to note before I get going.
The first big trade deadline move happened two weeks early. Jason Zucker was sent to Pittsburgh in Bill Guerin's first big move as Wild GM, in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk, Calen Addison, and a first round pick. So what does this do for Zucker's fantasy value? It puts it through the roof. Zucker immediately went on Crosby's wing in his first game, registering five shots on goals against the Lightning in 15 minutes. Sure, he's not going to get PP1 time, but the upside is tremendous given this opportunity. I grabbed Zucker in every league that I could just in case that it clicks with Crosby. We've seen Zucker score 30 goals in a season before and generate a ton of chances; now it'll be even easier with Crosby. As for the Wild side of things, it's a really good return. Addison was the Penguins' top prospect, and while their system wasn't loaded, he safely projects as a second pair, potential PP defenseman. I don't see huge upside, but there's value there. As for Galchenyuk, it can't get any worse than it was in Pittsburgh. He only received 12 minutes in his first game, and I'm certainly not rushing to use him, but it's worth monitoring to see if that changes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three 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:
It was only a matter of time before Vegas got on a heater. The Golden Knights won their fourth straight game on Tuesday night and Jonathan Marchessault led the way. Marchesssault scored a hat trick on a whopping 9 shots on goal to beat the Devils 4-3. While Marchessault hasn't quite gotten back to the level he was at in his first season in Vegas, he has been very good this season. He has 8+13 in 30 games with an elite 104 SOG. If anything, we should expect more goals because even after this hat trick, he's still at a career low shooting percentage. I'm expecting Vegas to go on a massive run soon and Marchessault should be at the forefront. This is also a good point for anyone looking to make a futures bet to place a wager on Vegas to win the Cup. No, I don't think they're the best team, but you can get them at 20 or 22-1 at the moment and they might have the best chance in the league to make the Conference Finals given the weak division. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
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:
The best line in hockey remains in Boston, but the second best at the moment resides in Vancouver. On Wednesday, they were led by Brock Boeser, who had a hat trick and an assist with seven shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over the Kings. Boeser is now up to 7+7 in 12 games with over three shots per game, +6, and six penalty minutes. He's doing a little bit of everything, and with how well the Canucks are playing, there's no reason he can't finish with 35+40 or better. I'd bet on Boeser being a top 50 player at this point and it should only get better in the years to come. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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 19th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re heading East from Toronto – or should I say, est – to Montreal! Last season, coach Claude Julien and the Habs surprised the Atlantic division, coming just a single point shy of a playoff birth. With some young talent taking major steps forward last season, can the Canadiens pull it off again?
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.
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: