We’re going to keep the rankings rolling today with my defensemen tiers. As a reminder from the goaltending rankings, I will be ranking the guys in order, but I am putting more focus on tiers than the exact rankings of players. Please, blog, may I have some more?
With almost the entire league in action on Monday, we were hoping for some entertaining hockey. We got that and then some. We had the Sabres come back from 2-0 down with an ECHL goalie who hasn't played any game in over a year to beat the Islanders. Colorado came back from two down in the third twice to beat the Sharks. Montreal scored in the last minute of the game before winning in OT against the Leafs. The Wild were down 2 with 10 minutes, then tied the game with the goalie pulled and won in regulation against Vegas. Even for teams that didn't finish them off, the Stars came back from two down in the third to get a point. Also, Columbus came back from 3-0 down in the third to tie it and lose in overtime. Nights like Monday are a reminder of why hockey is incredible during the regular season. Let's take a look at what happened in each game on Monday night:
Going into the season, I was high on Aaron Ekblad because the reports out of Florida were that Yandle was going to get scratched to open the season and his future was in doubt. One bout of COVID later, and Yandle was in opening night and scored. For the bad luck I've had on rankings this year
, Yandle has not impacted Ekblad one bit. Ekblad had hit a bit of a rough patch over the last week, but he fixed that in a big way on Thursday. Ekblad scored two goals and added two assists with six shots in the 5-4 win over the Predators. That brings Ekblad to 8+7 in 22 games, an incredible rate of goals for a defenseman. Add in three shots per game and strong PIM, and Ekblad has a chance at finishing as a #2D this season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
To say I've been bullish on Filip Forsberg for half a decade now would be an understatement. To say I've been over-bullish is probably fair. Call it stubbornness, call it belief in the player, whatever you want, but I was the high man on Forsberg this year and I think we're finally getting that massive season we've all been waiting for. Forsberg was incredible on Thursday night, a back-and-forth affair between the Panthers and Predators. Forsberg totaled five points, two goals and three assists, with eight shots in the victory. For the season, that puts Forsberg at 6+5 in 10 games with exactly four shots per game. Pretty, pretty, pretty good. He hasn't even played Detroit yet! If he keeps shooting four shots on per game, he'll be a slam dunk top 50 player with upside from there. Forsberg is at 15% shooting right now which isn't far off his norm. The minutes are starting to go up a bit which is the main thing which held him back under Laviolette. Thirty goals and over a point per game isn't out of the question. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Last season, Leon Draisaitl had a massive breakout with 50+55. It seemed naive to expect better, but he's going to blow 105 points out of the water. Draisaitl scored two goals on six shots on Friday before dishing four assists with three shots on Saturday. That brings him to 29+54 in 52 games. That's over an assist per game! Sure, the penalty minutes have dried up and he's -7, but who cares!? He has four points more than his teammate for the most in the NHL and is now over three shots per game. It's not a lock that the Oilers make the playoffs, but they're a clear favorite to make it now, mostly on the backs of Draisaitl and McDavid. Even with the poor plus-minus and PIM, Leon is still the fourth best skater for the season. At this point, his floor is a top ten forward which puts him in a class of the world's truly elite. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
I hope that all Razzballers had a great festive period! It's time for an updated hold/stream list, so I'm going to get right to it! ANAHEIM DUCKS Hold: Getzlaf, Gibson, Fowler Stream: Rakell, Silfverberg, Lindholm, Kase Rickard Rakell is right on the fringe, but he has missed the last three games. He's not good enough that he's a must hold, so I cut him on one of my teams. I will probably look to stream him when he returns, but if someone else picks him up, it's not the end of the world. Cam Fowler is super boring but he's doing just enough to be a bottom end hold.
Who had Noel Acciari scoring seven goals in one week this season? Alright, who had Acciari scoring more than seven goals this season? After Acciari scored a hat trick last Monday against the Senators, Acciari managed to follow it up with another hat trick plus an assist against the Stars on Friday. Acciari scored again on Saturday against Carolina completing one of the craziest weeks we've ever seen from a depth hockey player. So should we care? Probably, yes. He's playing with Jonathan Huberdeau who is piling up assists looking to feed Acciari at the moment. The problem is that Acciari isn't getting power play time yet, but he could get PP2 time sooner than later. However, he still played over 17 minutes last game without the power play time which is enough to have value. He's the epitome of a hot schmotato so I would look to stream him against Tampa on Monday and carrying that into Saturday's game against Detroit. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Hat tricks aren't that uncommon in the NHL. First period hat tricks are. Evander Kane became the first player in Sharks history to do so, scoring three goals and adding an assist with five shots in the 5-2 win over the Hurricanes on Wednesday. Kane has long been a player that I rate higher than consensus because of his shot rate and penalty minutes. Kane has four goals and two assists in four games since returning from suspension to go along with four PIM and 13 shots. Pretty, pretty good. I don't think it's a coincidence that the Sharks went 0-3 without Kane and are 3-1 since. With their current depth issues, Kane should be leaned on heavily giving him a great chance at a top 50 fantasy season. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
On Monday, I wrote the following about James Neal: "As long as he’s on the first power play unit, Neal has a real chance to bounce back. I wouldn’t hold him yet, but he’s a solid streaming option." And that's me quoting me copying what Grey does! Well, I hope that you streamed him on Tuesday. Neal stayed on the first power play unit, and the time to hold him is now. Neal scored four goals on eight shots on Tuesday, playing almost 21 minutes, in the 5-2 win over the Islanders. Two of those goals came on the power play where it's clear Edmonton is using him as one of their primary shooters. Am I saying Neal is going to score 40 goals again? Definitely not. However, the upside is too high to leave him on the waiver wire. He's always had a quality shot rate and there's a chance of good penalty minutes on top of the goals. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's now time to move on to defensemen for my rankings. I'll be doing the top 40 defensemen in two separate posts, with the top 20 in this one. I have gone through the top 100 forwards so you can check those out through the hockey page. For now, let's get right to the blueliners! 1) Brent Burns - You can check out Burns in the top 20 here. I feel like I ranked him too low, so when I do my top 50 overall post, I may slide him up a bit. 2) John Carlson - Burns is in a tier by himself, and who to put at the top of tier two is has been a big internal debate for me. I ultimately decided on Carlson for the safety. Carlson put up 70 points last season, 33 of which were on the power play. Both numbers are incredible. He's also a plus player most seasons and there's no reason to expect a change. The one concern is that his shot rate plummeted last season from almost 3 shots per game to about 2.25. That's still solid for a defensemen, but nowhere near a great asset. Even given that, Carlson was the #3 defenseman last season. Hopefully there's a bounce back in his shot rate, but either way it's high floor and high ceiling.