It's time! Today's post will cover my current Top 20 players overall for the upcoming season. For those that are new to Razzball, my rankings consider goals, assists, special teams points, and shots on goal first and foremost. I put secondary value into plus-minus and PIM/hits as their values shift depending on league format. It's easier to stream players in these categories, especially PIM/hits, so I put priority into scorers, and especially shot volume as it is the best predictor for goals. Let's get to it!
We found a new level of ridiculousness on Thursday night. The Canadiens were in Florida and they managed to tie the record for the most goals in a first period in modern NHL history, and they did it in barely over 13 minutes! Both Montreal goalies allowed 3+ goals in the first 13 minutes, and Sergei Bobrovsky allowed goals on the first three shots he faced. My god. The Panthers ended up winning 9-5 to keep pace in the Eastern playoff race. The only player who made more than two points was Matthew Tkachuk, who had a goal and three assists to keep up his torrid pace. Thanks Aleksander Barkov for not getting three points when I pick him in the three point challenge! Anyways, Florida is battling hard for a Wild Card spot, so expect their studs to get all of the minutes they can handle. For playing all games against Eastern teams the rest of the way, Florida's schedule is fairly soft, so expect it to come down to the wire. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Even with Columbus up 4-0 halfway through the game, it never felt remotely close to over. In the span of the first four minutes of the third period, the Penguins turned a 4-1 deficit into a 4-4 battle. A careless overtime penalty set the stage for Sidney Crosby to score the overtime game winner to complete the comeback. Crosby had a goal and two assists with four shots in the win, setting up a game on Thursday with the Islanders for the first wild card spot. While he's not at his peak anymore, Crosby still has a chance for 100 points again. You don't need me to tell you how good Crosby is, but where he'll rank going into next season is an interesting debate. My guess is that it's somewhere around 20th overall, a clear second rounder in drafts, but perhaps it's a few spots above that. Even at 36, he's given us no reason to expect him to slow down. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Another star player has made his way to the Eastern Conference well ahead of the trade deadline. We already had Horvat and Tarasenko move, and now we have a former Conn Smythe winner. Ryan O'Reilly was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with Noel Acciari, for a bevy of draft picks. The Wild also acquired a pick for retaining salary, and there were prospects involved, but none of them are particularly relevant. For fantasy, we care about RoR and Acciari. Let's start with Acciari because it's easier. Acciari moved right onto Toronto's fourth line. He scored a goal against the Blackhawks on Sunday, and is piling up hits. He'll be a deep league value for his hits and decent goal rate. O'Reilly is an interesting debate. He's easily having the worst offensive season in the last decade. On the other hand, RoR has been playing much better lately, and he went right onto the second line with Tavares and Marner. He dished an assist in his debut on Saturday playing just over 16 minutes in the 5-1 blowout against Montreal. He also won 12 of 14 draws, which is notable that he bumped Tavares from the faceoff circle most of the time. I'm not rushing to pick up RoR, mostly because we know that he's not cracking Toronto's first power play unit. That said, there's upside in Toronto that he couldn't touch in St. Louis again. If you want to stream him on Tuesday against the Sabres and see where it goes, I can get behind that.
Ottawa had much higher hopes this season than sitting barely above .500. They are playing better hockey lately, going 7-3 in their last ten, following two straight wins to open the week. Ottawa had a massive comeback on Monday, scoring twice in the last 2:14 before winning in overtime against Calgary, 4-3. They found a great performance from a goalie making his NHL to earn a 3-2 SO win over the Islanders on Tuesday. Offensively, they were carried by Tim Stutzle. Stutzle had a goal and three assists with three shots and two PIM on Monday and then a goal and an assist with three shots and two PIM, plus the shootout winner, against the Islanders. The minutes are massive right and he's rewarding D.J. Smith by playing at a 40-50 pace. Amazing stuff from someone who just turned 21 years old. The shot rate has been trending in the right direction for months so while he's a clear top 50 guy now, the debate is how high he should be ranked in dynasties? He's not in that top tier, but he's probably in the tier right behind it. Stutzle's offensive upside has true superstar value. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The Senators have been a disappointment this season despite their big forward acquisitions in the summer. Turns out that you can't get away with completely ignoring the blue line and being forced to give bad players big minutes. Anyways, we don't care about that for fantasy, we care about their scoring, and their top players have largely delivered. Claude Giroux had a great weekend, totaling three goals and two assists with ten shots over two games. Giroux is having his best goal scoring season since his monstrous 34 goal, 102 point season in 2017-18. Unsurprisingly, that season and this season are Giroux's two highest shooting percentages, but it seems a bit more sustainable in this environment in Ottawa. Even with an inconsistent PP1 role, Giroux has still played his way into being a bottom end hold in all formats. The one problem is that after Ottawa's game on Tuesday, they don't play again until February 11th. My biggest point here with bottom end holds over these bye weeks is that you need to know your league format and whether the waiver wire is strong enough that you can drop someone like Giroux to get more games. In head to head leagues, volume is king, so you can make a case after Tuesday that you can let him go for players with a bunch of games after the All-Star break. In roto, I would hold onto Giroux without hesitation. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It has been a terrible year for Kris Letang on and off the ice, but mostly off. He suffered a stroke and his father passed away shortly after. After almost a month away from the team, Letang returned on Tuesday and carried the Penguins to victory. Letang had a vintage performance, scoring two goals and two assists with six shots, four hits, and two blocks in the 7-6 OT win over the Panthers. I'm not going to say Letang will have a monster second half based on one game in his age 35 season. The good news is that there's a lot of games left for him to make an impact, and we know how big the upside is. If I said Letang was a top five defenseman the rest of the way, would you be shocked? I wouldn't. Now, the floor is much lower in the past, even assuming he can stay healthy. However, Pitt is starting to round into form, offensively at least, and the opportunity is there for a big finish. If your team is in position where you need to take a gamble, I would float some offers to the Letang owner. If I had him and was patient through the first three months, fingers crossed that he can salvage the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
There used to be a time where players received a massive fantasy boost playing with Tyler Seguin. That time has now passed, but right now, he's getting the boost playing with Robertson. With Hintz injured, Seguin has moved onto the first line centering Robertson and Pavelski, and he's blown up. On Thursday against the Kings, Seguin had two goals and an assist with five shots and two PIM. In the six games since Hintz was out of the lineup, Seguin has five goals and three assists with 22 shots on goal. It's unclear when Hintz will be back, but until he does, Seguin is an automatic hold in all fantasy formats. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
As good as the Jets have been, Friday was a huge boost for their team. Not only did they get Wheeler, Schmidt and Perfetti back, Nikolaj Ehlers returned for his first game since the second game of the season. He immediately went onto a line with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Kyle Connor, and it worked out as well as it has in the past. In the 4-2 win over the Lightning, Dubois scored two goals with four shots and four PIM, with Connor having a goal and an assist plus four PIM of his own. Sunday was even better with Connor scoring a hat trick, Dubois dishing four assists, and Ehlers scoring a goal and two assists. This line has the potential to be one of the best in hockey yet again, and with Dubois playing the best hockey of his career right now, it can be even better than last season. All of them are easily top 50 players with Connor in the top 20, and the other two with the potential to push towards that, but probably a step behind that. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
This Nashville Predators team plays nothing like the style we've come to expect from them over the years. They're hemorrhaging chances left and right, especially against top competition. So needless to say, it was always going to be difficult for them to get a result in Carolina. Luckily for them, they have Juuse Saros. Saros had the second most saves in a non-OT game in NHL history on Thursday saving 64(!) shots in the 5-3 win over the Hurricanes. I bet over 30.5 saves for Saros, can I get paid double for him going over twice? Ha! It's going to be hard for Saros to improve in GAA considering the team in front of him, but he's been playing much better lately to the point where the save percentage should be an elite asset once again. Saros is still a #1 fantasy goalie, both for this season and in dynasties. Amazingly, despite making his debut seven seasons ago, he's still only 27 years old. Let's take a look at what else happened the last two nights:
The Blues are in the middle of a brutal schedule, playing three back-to-backs in a row, including four games in six days. They pulled off the first back-to-back through Alberta before going to Vancouver on Monday. There, Jordan Kyrou stole the show. Kyrou scored a hat trick on five shots while adding an assist in the 5-1 win, giving him 10 points in his previous four games. Unfortunately for Kyrou, he was injured late in the game and missed Tuesday's debacle against the Kraken with a UBI. It's unclear how serious it is, but I do find it a bit encouraging that the news that he was out came later on Tuesday instead of immediately after the game Monday or early Tuesday. With only one game over the next week, let's hope that he misses minimal time while he's on a heater. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Despite the Stars coming up short, Jake Oettinger had arguably the best goaltending performance in a playoff series ever last season against the Flames. Oettinger was at that level again on Thursday, stopping 45 of 46 Washington shots in the 2-1 win. While the wins are a little lower than you'd expect given Dallas' record, Oettinger has established himself as a clear #1 in fantasy. It's not quite in the top tier in redrafts, but it's not far off. Oettinger, who turns 24 on Sunday, is right near the top in dynasties. Dallas has their entire core locked up, including Oettinger, and they're thriving under DeBoer. Let's take a look at what else happened the last two nights: