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 fifth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, the Vancouver Canucks! The Canucks have had a busy – and awfully confusing – off-season. Nonetheless, their top-six got much better and their prospects got a year older.
ALL STATS ARE AS OF THE MORNING OF JANUARY 17 BUY: Bryan Little – 46GP 10-18-28. I wasn’t big on Little (haha, get it) going into this season, but he has put together a nice little stretch with eight points in his last six games. He needs to be more consistent to be considered a stream option, but I would try to ride the end of this little hot streak out.
We found another goalie out of nowhere! Jordan Binnington was great in his second start on Thursday, allowing one goal on 29 shots in the 4-1 win over over Canadiens. He's been strong in the AHL the last two seasons, and with how bad their other goalies have been, Binnington deserves a chance. Obviously it could collapse at any time, and the Blues' schedule in January is very road heavy. On the other side, there a lot of good matchups over the next two weeks for Binnington. I wouldn't go out of my way in shallow leagues to own him, but Binnington could be a solid streamer with upside for more, especially before the All-Star Break with the Sens, Kings, and Ducks in a row. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
If you would told me before the season that the Canadiens would be in a playoff spot at the halfway point of the season, I'd have guessed that Carey Price was playing at a Vezina level Yet, here we are with Price struggling and the Canadiens succeeding. However, we've seen a few good starts lately from Price, with his best coming on Thursday. Price stopped all 33 Canucks shots in the 2-0 win over Vancouver. So what do we make of Price? Well, this game was the second of a back-to-back for Vancouver, who lost their rookie phenom, so I don't take much away from this. His other really good games were against Arizona and Chicago; not exactly powerhouses. I feel a little bit better about Price than I did before the season starting, but only to the point that I view him as a middling to bottom end #2 goalie. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
The scores of some of the games over the last two days may have been surprising, but nothing compares to Mike Smith going into Smashville and shutting out the Predators. Smith stopped 43 shots he faced in the 3-0 win over the NHL's Stanley Cup favorite. So what do we make of Smith? Well, facing 43 shots isn't a recipe for success. On the other hand, the Flames have a lot of star power, and Bill Peters has a system that generally leads to puck possession (the downfall in Carolina was goaltending, plain and simple). Smith gave up a bunch of goals to Vancouver last week, so these three games sum him up perfectly. You never know what you're going to get, and it's going to make for a wild ride in head to head leagues. At the end of the day in roto leagues, he should be a solid #2, especially given the volume he's likely to get. Let's take a look at what else happened over the past two nights:
Yes, I know Ondrej Kase's name is pronounced like case, but let me be punny, will you!? I dug back into the Razzball Hockey archives to find what I first wrote about Kase. And by dug into the archives, I mean I used the simple search bar at the top. The first time I wrote about him was early last season in 2016. "I’ve been impressed with his play and while it’s not enough for now, Kase’s an intriguing dynasty option in deep leagues." And that's me quoting me copying what Grey does! Go check out the baseball side of Razzball and sign up for an RCL. Anyways, a month later, I said Kase has shown enough long-term upside that he should be on the radar moving forward. Well, the seventh round pick is breaking out before our eyes. Kase scored a goal and two assists with three shots in the 3-2 win over the Blackhawks on Thursday, giving him 16 goals and 14 assists on the season, along with a +17 rating in 43 games. It's not all great; the PIM are non-existent and the minutes are quite low at the moment (despite the big game, Kase played only 12:13). Regardless, the 22 year old is already a solid third liner for the Ducks and there could be a bit more here long term. His minutes keep him from being a hold in 12'ers, but I'm definitely streaming him. The hits are awful this season which hurts in deep leagues, but they were fine last season so I think it's a bit of an anomaly. Kase has already exceeded expectations as a 7th round pick, but I think he can turn into a solid 50-60 point player for those of you in dynasties. Let's take a look at what others did around the NHL the last two nights:
We've gone without daily notes for five days due to Razzball crashing for a short period of time. The good news is that the problem is fixed and that we are backed! I'm not going to go through every single game over the past five days because at this point, some of it would be outdated. I'm going to go through each team in the league and write a little bit about each of them. Let's get right to it!
It seems like forever and a day since Matt Duchene requested a trade from the Colorado Avalanche. His wish finally came true on Sunday in a massive three-way trade between the Avs, Senators, and Predators. The Sens acquired Duchene, the Predators received Reid's favorite Kyle Turris and the Avs get a ton of future assets. For the Senators, I'm not a big fan. Is Duchene better than Turris? I would say so and Duchene had one more year on his contract than Turris. However, adding a ton here, including a first round pick and Shane Bowers, their first round pick from the 2017 draft, is a lot to add. For Smashville, adding Turris without losing anyone from the current roster besides Samuel Girard is a nice move for a team positioned to go for it. It may be more futures heavy than Colorado originally wanted but boy, did they get a ton in this move. They effectively received 2 1sts, 3 2nds, a third and Andrew Hammond for goaltender depth in the organization. I love this move for Colorado long term, like the aggressiveness of Nashville using futures to push (and like signing Turris immediately to a 6/36 deal), and question Ottawa's decision here. For fantasy, Duchene probably gets a small boost because he should slide onto a line with Hoffman and Stone right away. Assuming Turris plays with Forsberg, I think this move could help him as well (at the least it's neutral). I'm very interested to see if Girard plays for the Avs right away. He looked great in his brief stint for Nashville and the former second round pick could becomes fantasy relevant immediately if he's in Denver. I'll be sure to talk more about this trade with Reid on Tuesday's podcast. Let's take a look at what else happened this weekend around the league:
Hat tricks have been in vogue lately so Blake Wheeler decided to take it to another level. Wheeler scored a hat trick in the first period on Sunday and later added an assist in the 7-1 win over the Penguins. Wheeler has been the fantasy stalwart we've become accustomed to in the early going with 4+8, +3, 12 PIM, 35 SOG and 4 STP in 10 games. I don't know how many more years Wheeler will keep up this level of play but for now, he's a top 20 player with relative ease. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Goals were plentiful around the NHL on Thursday night, none more than in Florida where the Panthers went eight ball, corner pocket on the Ducks. The Panthers won 8-3 with Radim Vrbata leading the way. Vrbata netted his seventh career hat trick and his first three goals as a Panther on six shots. That brings him to 9 points in 10 games with elite shots and solid PIM. I wouldn't expect the PIM to last but the points and shots should be plenty to make him a hold. He's available in over 50% of leagues right now so grab Vrbata while you can. He's a clear must own in 12'ers and probably should be owned in 10'ers as well. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights: