The best goal scorer of all-time started off the season on the right foot. Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and added two assists in the Washington 5-1 win over the Rangers. Please, blog, may I have some more?
Remember when the Kraken took Vitek Vanecek in the expansion draft and then traded him right back to Washington? Imagine where Washington would be if they only had Samsonov. Vanecek had a 36 save shutout in the 4-0 win over the Hurricanes. He missed some time recently, but Vanecek is approaching a 2.30/.920 line. He's been miles better than Samsonov despite Samsonov winning at a much higher clip. Amazingly, Vanecek is still available in over 70% of leagues at the time of this writing. I'm not saying that he's going to be a workhorse, but Vanecek will be splitting at the very least, and his numbers are clearly good enough to hold. This season has been quite encouraging for Vanecek's long term prospects as well. He's not a lock to be the Washington goalie of the future, but it's certainly in play now. At the least, he looks the part of a capable tandem. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Those of you that have been patient holding Evander Kane for almost four months were rewarded on Saturday night. Kane played his first game of the season with the Oilers and went right on McDavid's wing. Kane scored in the first period and finished with three shots in the 7-2 win over the Canadiens. He's still available in 50% of ESPN leagues and very close to that on other sites. Kane is a must own immediately, and if you use FAAB, you should bid a large amount of your budget. Yes, he could do something stupid and be banished, but the upside is too high for him to be on waivers. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It looks like I was a year early predicting Matthew Tkachuk to be a top 20 fantasy hockey player. It also looks like I sold him a bit short. Tkachuk had five assists on Monday, all of which came in the first two periods. He's playing at a 40+50 pace with well over three shots per game, elite play at even strength and the power play, and plenty of PIM. The first line in Calgary is playing just about as well as any line in the league with Tkachuk leading the way. He's a top ten skater on the season now, and while I wouldn't rank him as a first round pick i.e. the top 12, he's a slam dunk top 20 guy. Guys who absolutely dominate all of the categories are harder to come by, and the only two that have been better so far are Marchand and Kadri. For the rest of the season, I'd take Tkachuk over Kadri too, and long term, Tkachuk is the top guy. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
We don't know what's going to happen come playoff time, but the Florida Panthers have established themselves as a regular season juggernaut. After destroying the Stars 7-1 on Friday, they came back to score nine goals on Saturday, beating Columbus 9-2. Among the highlights between the two games were Sam Bennett scoring a hat trick on Friday and totaling six points between the two games, Jonathan Huberdeau having six points, and MacKenzie Weegar having a rare four point game from a defenseman on Saturday. They're clicking on all cylinders right now and that means great things in fantasy. They have ten skaters that I consider locks to be held, and another four that are quality streamers depending on team needs. Side note, I'm going to do another hold/stream list soon. Could we see the Panthers win their first playoff series since 1996? As long as their goaltending is passable, it's firmly in play despite being in a division with three elite teams. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Jeff Skinner scored 40 goals in 2018-19 playing on the first line with the Sabres. Then, for no reason at all, Ralph Krueger decided that Skinner shouldn't play on the first line anymore. Last season, Krueger thought that Skinner, on a team devoid of talent, should play on the fourth line, or even be scratched. Needless to say, Krueger was one of the worst coaches in the league and quickly lost his job. Since Don Granato took over, Skinner has been back in the role he should be, and he's been thriving in the early part of this season. Skinner scored two goals and added an assist on Saturday against the Maple Leafs. He has 5+4 in 14 games so far with a whopping 47 shots on goal. The shot volume will go a long way towards Skinner finding his goal scoring touch again. I don't think he's a slam dunk hold in 12'ers just yet, but he's an elite streamer with clear upside in his role. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Razzball favorite Oliver Bjorkstrand had his second 3+ point game of the young season on Thursday, dishing three assists and adding two shots in the 3-2 OT win over the Islanders. That's seven points in four games and the equally encouraging sign is that Bjorkstrand played over 20 minutes in this game. He's owned in almost every league like he should be, but the upside may be even higher than I gave Bjorkstrand credit for. I have no doubt that the goals are going to come, but the playmaking has improved leaps and bounds over the last season plus. I don't think he can quite get to being a top 50 player in a best case scenario, but top 75 is attainable. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Things have changed quite a bit with goaltending in the NHL since I started writing at Razzball. When I started, there were tons of workhorses with very few teams using a platoon. Now, more than half of the teams have a duo where the backup is getting at least 1/3 of the starts, if not a complete split. Among the few workhorses that we have left, there are only six that I completely trust to be a #1 goalie this year. I am breaking down all of the goalies in the NHL into tiers (and ranking them within in each tier), but be sure to understand how your league format can change the value of certain players. For example, if you're in a head to head league, Marc-Andre Fleury is going to be more valuable than in a roto league because the volume should be there. In a roto league where you have a set number of starts, someone like Ilya Sorokin, who, barring injury, should start 35-40 games, gets a boost because the quality of starts matters a lot more than volume. If you have specific questions, ask them in the comments section, but I'll have a quick note on everyone when necessary. Let's get to it!
It's not the first time this season, but Jonathan Huberdeau had five points in Tuesday's 7-4 win over the Predators, scoring twice and adding three assists. I know I'm a broken record with Huberdeau, but there's no superstar that gets less recognition than Huberdeau does. Thankfully, the Panthers clinched a playoff berth with the victory so he'll get back on the big stage. He's playing a 95 point pace again and should be around 25th overall going into next season in standard leagues. If your league doesn't include shots, he'll be even higher. It took longer than anticipated, but Huberdeau has proven to be worth the third overall pick from 10 years ago and then some. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Injuries are a part of the game, but always terrible to see. Unfortunately, a Razzball favorite went down on Monday night. Brendan Gallagher broke his thumb and is out multiple weeks. If you have an IR spot, definitely stash him, but if you don't, you can sadly let him go. So who gets the boost in Montreal? Jesperi Kotkaniemi moved to the wing and took Gallagher's spot which boosts him up to a solid streamer from a middling one. Eric Staal scored the overtime winner in his Canadiens debut and is now centering Toffoli and Drouin. He looked completely shot in Buffalo, but maybe the trade plus the easier division rejuvenate him. Let's see how he looks over the next couple games before we use him. I also really like what I've seen from Josh Anderson lately who is playing more minutes. The assists are brutal, but the goals and shots should be quite good. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Things have taken a dramatic turn for the fourth playoff spot in the West division. With the Blues crumbling, Arizona has played its way into the fourth spot. They opened up a three point lead on Sunday night, almost exclusively because of Jakob Chychrun. Chychrun had the first hat trick of his career, tying the game late in the third before scoring the winner in overtime. That gives him twelve goals on the season pushing towards three shots per game and with elite penalty minutes. He's a solid #2 for this season, but what's the long term ceiling? Chychrun just turned 23 years old and this jump in shot rate does a lot for his long term value. In terms of dynasties, Chychrun has shown me enough this year to warrant a spot in the bottom of the top ten for defensemen, making him a #1D. He's a stud, plain and simple. Arizona has been a surprise offensively, and a lot of it has to do with their kingpin defenseman. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's no surprise that the Sharks gave up five goals on Saturday. They've continually allowed a lot of goals and are arguably the best matchup you can hope your players are facing at the moment. It was the top line's turn for the Blues as they combined for eleven points. Ryan O'Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists while Jordan Kyrou scored two goals and added an assist. Perron is now above a point per game and RoR is exactly at it. Kyrou cooled off after a hot start, but he's cemented himself as the third member of this line. The schedule gets pretty tough going forward for the Blues, but I still think I would hold Kyrou in all formats. The upside is through the roof and with the Blues in more of a battle for a playoff spot than they would have anticipated going into the season, I expect the top line to continue getting big minutes. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend: