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 ninth stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we start up our Central Division breakdown in Music City with the Nashville Predators. The Preds are still on the cusp of something great, but their results have only regressed since their 2017 Finals appearance. To land one of the free-agent big fish, they had to salary dump a big fish of their own. In a Central that looks as competitive as ever, here’s who the Preds will rely on to finish back on top.
It was only a matter of time until Vladimir Tarasenko picked up his play. Tarasenko had four goals over the weekend, including a hat trick on Sunday, in two games against the Predators. That gives him an eight game point streak to get to 22+19 on the season. Obviously that's still disappointing, but there's time for him to salvage the season. Hell, the Blues are even in a playoff spot now because of how bad the Western Conference is. Look for them to make some additions at the deadline because of all of the moves they made in the summer. Missing the playoffs would be a major disappointment, and creating depth for the lineup would help things out for Tarasenko. The buy low window is probably closed but there's a strong chance that he's a top 30 player the rest of the way. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's no secret that the Ducks are a mess right now. I said in a post last week that they're the worst team in the league at the moment, but last night's game took the cake. Getting shutout by the Senators is as low as it gets. Sure, Anders Nilsson played great stopping 45 shots, but a lot of them were low quality like the team taking them. This isn't a post about Nilsson, he's barely usable. This is a reminder that you should stream against the Ducks every time you get. Anaheim plays against plenty of bad teams this month (Vancouver 2x, Edmonton, Chicago) yet I still wouldn't hesitate to use any of their goaltenders. Take advantage of the Ducks every opportunity that you get. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It feels like forever ago that Tomas Hertl took the league by storm as a rookie. He's shown signs of promise since, but never really put it together. Until. Hertl had a hat trick on Tuesday to lead the Sharks over the Penguins. That brings him up to 19+22 in 43 games, both numbers rapidly approaching career highs in mid-January. He is providing no penalty minutes and a below average shot rate which caps his long term ceiling, but he looks to be a guy who is a fringe top 100 player for the next few seasons. I would say if I had to say where I rank him next year, my guess is just outside the top 100 just because the downside is much higher for a guy whose sole value is coming from points and not the side categories. Let's take a look at what else happened on Tuesday night:
Cory Schneider has been atrocious all season and Keith Kinkaid has had a brutal December. Enter Mackenzie Blackwood into the crease for the Devils, and the former second round pick has immediately caught fire. Please, blog, may I have some more?
In the game of the night, a stealth Hart Trophy candidate led his team to glory. Johnny Gaudreau scored a hat trick on four shots in the 4-1 win in Winnipeg. Just like that, he's 5th in the NHL in scoring with by far the best shot rate of his career. Couple that with a career high shooting percentage and Johnny Hockey is well on his way to a career high in goals. I've generally been lower on Gaudreau than most, but this year he has proven me wrong. That line is among the best in hockey and Gaudreau is at the forefront. I don't expect him to slow down much in the second half making Gaudreau is a good bet to finish as a top 20 player in fantasy. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday night:
Last year's point leader for defensemen is off to an even better start this season. John Carlson had a goal and two assists on Monday, bringing his totals to 5/8/+6/6/19/8 through eight games. It was hard to see any upside from last season's totals, but some shooting percentage luck could have Carlson around 20+50. Add in a quality plus-minus, and there's a chance that Carlson ends up the #1 defenseman for the season. It's far from a guarantee, but it's abundantly clear through three weeks that last season's big breakout was no fluke. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Jeff Skinner was off to a slow start with the Sabres going pointless in his first four games. That said, having watched all of the games, he was generating plenty of chances and it was only a matter of time. That time was on Saturday, as Skinner did all of the work on Rasmus Dahlin's first career goal getting his first point as a Sabre, and he followed that up with a smooth backhander in the third period for his first goal. Yes, Skinner played only 13 minutes in this game, but I expect him to settle in the 17-18 minute range as the season progresses. Other players had bigger games on Saturday, but I wanted to highlight Skinner for two reasons. One, if you own him, do not panic and hold onto him. Two, if you don't, you might be able to buy low, and I think it's a great opportunity to get a 3 time 30 goal scorer on the relative cheap. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
It's not exactly breaking news that John Tavares moves the needle for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He showed why he was worth the mammoth contract on Sunday, scoring a hat trick on seven shots with two PIM in the 7-6 win over the Blackhawks. The main thing that I want to talk about here is Toronto in general. This offense is incredible, but they also remain a sieve defensively. I have a hard time treating them among the truly elite teams in the league until that is tightened up, at least somewhat. That's why I picked them to finish third in the division again. But for us in fantasy, stream everyone you can for the Leafs, and against them for that matter. I'd have a hard time playing any goalie against them right now; it better be someone that's damn good. They're a fantasy gold mine on both sides. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Hey everyone! I wanted to do a post focusing on things going on during the preseason. Injuries, players that are standing out both positively and negatively, interesting line changes, etc. Let's get right to it!