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.

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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!

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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! 

Please, blog, may I have some more?

As far as disappointments for this season go, Cam Atkinson is near the top of the list.  After his breakout last season with 35+27, Atkinson has struggled mightily on the ice and with an injury.  We’re finally seeing signs of Atkinson getting back to last season’s level.  Atkinson scored a shorthanded goal and added two power play assists with five shots on goal in the Columbus win on Monday. That gives Atkinson 4+4 in his last 9 games with at least three shots on goal in each game during that span.  The minutes are strong so that hasn’t been a problem.  The issue has been that Columbus’ power play has been so bad that Atkinson had only 3 STP before this game (which he doubled in this one).  Columbus has been better on the man advantage lately, and the arrival of Thomas Vanek should help them even more.  Atkinson is still available in over 40% of leagues and in a 12’er, I’d grab him right now while he’s finding his groove again.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

Rick Nash, the vice president of The Round Face Hockey Club, was traded to the Bruins as they look to make a deep run this postseason.  I’m going to have a live trade deadline post again this year updating all of the trades throughout tomorrow.  I’m also going to be recording a podcast with Reid right around 3 pm tomorrow to give our thoughts on everything that happens.  I have the feeling it’s going to be crazy.  For Nash, I think he’s a solid speculative add if you need the shots.  He played on Sunday against Buffalo on the second line, recording five shots on goal in 17:27.  He’s over three shots per game on the season, the plus-minus should improve on Boston, and everyone can use goals on their team.  I don’t think he’ll be a world beater, but with only 20 games left, it’s certainly possible that Nash gets hot with his shot volume.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

It took a few injuries, but we finally had some goaltender movement.  Petr Mrazek, who appeared to be Detroit’s franchise goalie less than two years ago, is now a member of the Flyers.  In return, Detroit received two conditional draft picks.  Best case scenario, they’ll get a 2nd and 3rd round picks.  Worst case, they only get a 4th.  So what is the fantasy impact?  I’ve been writing for a few weeks that Mrazek should be owned everywhere because he was finally playing well.  That’s clear as day now going to a much better situation in Philly, so grab him if he’s still available.  As for in Detroit, it should be Jimmy Howard’s show.  He has a .910 save percentage this season, which is closer to his career norm than last season’s .927 in 26 games.  I don’t see him as being much more than a desperation play going forward outside of the best matchups.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

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:

Please, blog, may I have some more?

The way young players have stormed the league in recent seasons, people just assume Sam Reinhart won’t get much better and be a bust.  If Reinhart wasn’t the second overall pick, he’d be impressing everyone with his improvement.  While I don’t think he’ll ever be a true superstar, I’m still a big fan of Reinhart going forward.  Reinhart was on the ice for all four Sabres goals on Thursday, scoring a goal and two assists with two shots in the win over the Islanders.  That puts Reinhart at 15 points in his past 16 games making him an elite streamer at the moment.  For those in dynasties, Reinhart should develop into a top 100 player eventually but towards the bottom end.  He’ll be a beast in real life, but the lack of PIM will keep his value down.  For those in redrafts, use him while he’s hot.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:

Please, blog, may I have some more?