It’s at the point of the season where I start off posts with guys who aren’t trivial holds and can make a difference down the stretch run. I’ve always been enamored with Nick Bjugstad‘s potential, especially after his 24 goal season three seasons ago. Please, blog, may I have some more?
You don't need me to tell you how good Evgeni Malkin is at hockey. I'm still flabbergasted that he wasn't one of the players in the NHL 100 because he's clearly one of the best 100 players ever. Certainly better than Toews or Keith. I also wanted to use the word flabbergasted in a sentence. Oh, yeah, so about that Malkin fella. He scored his 12th career hat trick on Tuesday night as the Penguins kept rolling against the Sharks. Malkin is well over a point per game, gives great penalty minutes, and the shot rate remains over three points per game. As I always say about Malkin, just stay healthy! As noted here, the playoff schedule is rough for the Pens, but Malkin should definitely help you get to that point. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
First off, I hope everyone had a Happy New Year's! As much as I personally don't care for New Year's Eve, this year was different because of the Buffalo Bills making the playoffs. I wish I had video of me celebrating with my dad or an audio recording of my friend, who is in Paris, who heard us yelling on speaker phone and him celebrating in the Paris streets. Couple that with an amazing USA win in the WJC outdoor game against Canada that I was at and things in the sports world couldn't be better. Even the Sabres looked competent today despite the loss! Anyways, let's get to what you're here for... I've talked about Josh Bailey being the waiver wire pickup of the year on multiple occasions over the last couple weeks because, well, the Isles top line is on fire. That said, William Karlsson is easily #2 in this department. Wild Bill, a Razzball favorite from the past (aka favorite of mine), scored the first hat trick in Vegas history on Sunday, scoring three goals and an assist in the 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs. That brings Karlsson's totals to 20+13 in 33 games with a +15 rating. Sure, it will regress some because he's not going to shoot 26.3% all season, but let's give Karlsson his due. In the first 183 games of his career, Karlsson scored 18 goals. He has that beat for the Golden Knights in 37 games. His emergence is a huge part of Vegas shocking the world as they sit atop the Western Conference. Karlsson will drop off some in the second half, at least in the goals department, but make no mistake about it, it's not a complete fluke. Karlsson should be a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last three days of the old year:
Add another goalie to the list of guys who struggled in the opening month only to turn it around. Braden Holtby, the consensus #1 goaltender going into the season, showed us why this weekend with two big performances. Holtby saved 27 shots in Friday's 4-1 win over the Penguins and followed it up with 29 saves in the 2-1 SO win over the Oilers. Just like that, his save percentage is back to its normal level. Sure, the goals against average is still a little high, but goals are up around the league and it's not out of the realm of possibility it goes back down. With the massive win total as well, expect Holtby to get back to the #1 goalie by season's end. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Hello Razzballers, Reid here. While Viz is off doing things in Vegas that will inherently stay in Vegas, I'm going to bring you the daily writeup from the Monday and Tuesday games (doing a separate post for just one game on Monday makes absolutely no sense). Nikita Kucherov is against hot hot hot as he has a goal in each of the first 6 games for Tampa Bay. I'm only going to highlight the notables from these games that you should be focusing on.
While the Razzball Hockey committee of one didn't love the Patrick Marleau contract, we did like Marleau for this season in fantasy. Like the majority of his teammates, his season debut went extremely well. Marleau scored twice in his first game as a Maple Leaf registering five shots on goal. His linemates were inconsistent but whether he's with Matthews or Kadri, it doesn't really matter. Marleau scored 27 goals last season and I don't see why he can't get back to that number. Despite ranking him as a top 150 player, he's still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, so grab him now. Here's what else happened around the NHL on opening night:
It's the final countdown! This will close out my rankings following my Top 50, Top 100 and Top 150 posts. After the Top 200, there will be a revised list coming out later in the week updating for injuries and other moves and a separate post about some players I would target with my last pick or two. Let's get right to it!
When talking about the Carolina Hurricanes schedule in my Playoff Breakdown piece, I said the following: "The Godfather of playoff schedules, the Hurricanes are going to be great on volume alone. They don’t have three games in three nights like Detroit but there’s a pile of back to backs here. There has to be with 17(!!!) games in 28 nights to close the season. That’s two more games than anyone else in the league. Jeff Skinner and Victor Rask should be monsters in the playoffs while Sebastian Aho and Elias Lindholm will be among the best streamers in the league." And that's me quoting me! All of this had held true except for Rask being mediocre. Not bad. Skinner has been the best of the bunch and that continued on Tuesday night. Skinner had two goals and an assist with five shots in the 5-3 loss to the Wild. He's been hotter than a pistol bringing his totals to 35 goals and 26 assists on the season. With the elite shot rate, Skinner is pushing towards a top 50 player going forward. The team around him is getting much better and Skinner is nearing his prime as he turns 25 in May. I don't think we've seen his best yet. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
In the marquee match of the night in Washington, both goalies played extremely well. At the end of the game, Braden Holtby came out on top saving 29 of 30 shots in the 2-1 win over the Blue Jackets. He's managed to find a way to improve his goals against and save percentage the season after winning the Vezina Trophy. His counterpart in this game may be the favorite to win the Vezina this year but Holtby has solidified himself as the #1 goalie in hockey, both in real life and fantasy. I highly doubt that I will draft him next season solely because I'm anti-goalie in the first round but there's no doubt that Holtby will be the first goalie on my board. It looks like this will be the second season in a row that he finishes as the #2 overall goalie and that consistency is exactly what you're looking for in your top goalie. If you can find an issue with Holtby, let me know because he's seemingly perfect. Here's what else happened around the league the last two nights:
Everything we talked about on the trade deadline podcast regarding Alexandre Burrows came to fruition on Thursday night. In Burrows' debut for the Senators, Burrows scored a brace (two goals for those who aren't aware) on three shots playing 14 minutes in the 2-1 win over the Avalanche. I called him a great streamer for this game (streamer success!) and he performed admirably. Do I think he's going to be a huge difference maker down the stretch? Probably not unless he piles up a ton of penalty minutes. However, I do expect him to be useful. While the next two games for the Senators are tough matchups, the Senators play the Stars, Coyotes and Avalanche next week. That is an excellent opportunity to stream Burrows. I'm even fine with grabbing him now just to make sure you have him for those games. As along as he stays on the first line, there's some fantasy value here. Here's what else happened the last two nights:
There comes a point in the season where teams are desperate for their superstars to carry them towards the playoffs. That time is now and it's happening in Tampa Bay. Nikita Kucherov has been spectacular all season but he had his best game Monday night scoring a hat trick on seven shots and adding an assist in the 5-1 win over the Senators. Look how remarkably similar all three goals are: He now has nine points in his last three games and twenty-five shots on goal over the pats four. Kucherov is producing points at the fourth highest rate in the league this season (min 20 GP) and sits as a top ten forward on the season despite missing some time. I had him as a high second round pick going into this season but he's been ever better than that. I expect to have Kucherov ranked as a first rounder going into next season and given that he's still 23 years old, we may not have seen the best from him. Let's take a look at what else has happened in the game around the league the last two nights: NOTE: There is a separate post going up regarding trades that will be updated throughout the trade deadline. For instant analysis, go here
Anyone who reads my posts knows how much I love Evander Kane for fantasy hockey. You're probably sick of me writing about him at this point. Well, I'm leading off with him again today because of the following: a) He had three more points on Thursday night (2+1, 3 SOG), b) nobody else went off because Nino and I just led off with him, c) I watched the entire Sabres game to see Kane's impact, and d) there is no D. Well, there is, watch Dwight Howard and Dennis Schroeder joke about it but not in regards to this point. Anyways, you guys know what to do with Kane at this point. For those who are new here, pick him up and play him! It's an excellent combination of goals, shots and penalty minutes at the moment. Here's what else happened over the last two nights before the All-Star break: