Hello, everyone! Welcome back to another year of Fantasy Hockey! I am LackeyDrinksOnMe, a Sabres fan who works in college admissions by day and devours hockey analysis by night. Last year, I had a weekly column about week-long streaming opportunities, targeting mostly-available players with multiple games per week, trying to fill slots for the slowest days. In my book, more player starts means more TOI, and the more time you have players on the ice the greater the chance for a lucky assist or to rack up a few extra hits or blocked shots.

I’ve been working on a top-100 skaters for your reading pleasure, ranking skaters on 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, to name a few. Part of what I’ve been trying to do has been to average these metrics for a holistic impression of a skater’s talent, but also supplementing those raw rankings with player age/development and the occasional eye test.

Like Viz indicated, once you get past the first few names there can be very little separation between certain players, and this obviously isn’t meant to be a comprehensive or be-all end-all ranking. Rather, it’s to give you another perspective on where players are being valued, and might reinforce an idea you have about a skater or surprise you with a hot take. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.

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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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It’s that time of the year guys!  Sure, most people are focused on football drafts right now (check out our stuff here, the guys do a great job), but hockey season is also right around the corner.  I’m getting my rankings out a bit earlier this year to give me more time to slightly adjust if need be, but more importantly, to leave more time to do other preseason posts.  I’ll be following a format closer to what Grey has done with baseball.  You’ll have this top 10 post, a top 20 post, then I’ll be doing forwards in groups of 20, defensemen in groups of 20, followed up by one or two goalie posts.  Once those are wrapped up, I’ll make one big list across all positions that will be easy for you to use during your drafts.  Without further adieu, my top ten players for the upcoming NHL season! 

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Monday night was a short slate, but there were a couple great games.  Florida and Edmonton decided that defense (and goaltending) was optional leading to a 7-5 barn burner.  Vincent Trocheck took over the game late, scoring three goals in the third period on six shots to record his first career hat trick.  No matter what format you play, Trocheck has been incredible this season.  By the end of the month, there’s a great chance that Trocheck has set career highs in goals, assists, PPP (already did that) and SOG.  The 24 year old is also a monster in faceoffs, hits, and blocks for a forward as well.  For those of us in standard leagues, Trocheck looks like a top 35 player for this season and in the future, if not even better.  He’s basically Jamie Benn with a better shot rate and a lower floor for penalty minutes (obviously plus-minus can shift year-to-year).  The only potential downside going forward is that Trocheck is already averaging 21:33 per game, which has nowhere to go but down.  Either way, that’s of no concern for me; Trocheck is still underrated in my eyes.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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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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This is year three of me writing daily notes for Razzball, and at this point, I don’t think it provides a ton of value for me to write the intro paragraph on superstars.  That said, four goal games are a different animal.  Connor McDavid crushed the best team in the NHL on Monday, scoring a whopping four goals on nine shots and adding an assist in the 6-2 win over the Lightning.  We know McDavid is as good as it gets and he’s the best player in fantasy for the foreseeable future.  This is just a reminder about how good he is (let’s not take him for granted) and how bad of a job Peter Chiarelli has done as a GM that McDavid isn’t going to be in the playoffs this season.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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The Chicago Blackhawks are in last place in their division for the first time in what seems like an eternity.  They are lacking in the scoring department in a big way.  There’s one easily move that Joel Quenneville can make to help their cause: play Alex DeBrincat more.  The 20 year old scored his second hat trick of the season on Thursday while adding an assist.  He’s now tied for third on the team in points and second in goals.  However, on a per-minute basis, he scores more goals than anyone on the team by a country mile and he’s incredibly close to Kane in points per minute.  DeBrincat is averaging under 15 minutes per game on the season and to be blunt, that makes no sense to me.  The Blackhawks aren’t completely dead in the water, especially if Corey Crawford eventually returns (it’s been reported that he could return to the ice “soon”).  Either way though, getting DeBrincat more ice time helps the team now and helps his development.  He’s playing at a 28 goal pace with bottom six ice time!  DeBrincat is an elite streamer in 12’ers right now but if his minutes increase as they should, I would bet he becomes a hold down the stretch.  Let’s take a look at what happened in the NHL over the last two nights:

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The best line in hockey from last season is at it again.  Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron each had five points in the two Boston wins over the last two nights.  Marchand started off with a goal and an assist with three shots in the 4-1 win over Montreal, then bettered that with a goal and two assists with three shots against the Islanders.  Bergeron dished two assists on Wednesday before getting his second hat trick in the last two weeks on Thursday.  Bergeron is now one point short of being at a point per game while Marchand is well over that, sitting at 1.28 ppg, third in the league.  Marchand has provided slam dunk first down value, just exactly what you hoped for when you selected him this year.  Bergeron has managed to surpass expectations on a per-game basis.  If he didn’t miss time, he’d be a top ten forward on the season.  These guys are the main reason why the Bruins are one of the best teams in the league and a major Stanley Cup threat if they can manage to upset the Lightning.  For our purposes, keep rolling them in seasonal formats, and if you’re someone who fires multiple DFS lineups every night, I would make sure to have a Bruins stack on at least one team every night.  The upside is simply too high to ignore.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

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