All of the people who have read me since I started writing here three seasons ago (it's going by quick!) knows how big of a fan I am of Dr. Bo Horvat. In a game where the Canucks were massive underdogs in Boston, Horvat led the Canucks to a major upset, scoring two goals and two assists with four shots and six PIM in the 8-5 win over the Bruins. That brings Horvat's totals to an outstanding 9+6 in 17 games with 19 PIM and around 2.5 shots per game. All of the attention is going to Elias Pettersson, and he deserves plenty of it, but Pettersson's arrival finally puts Horvat in a role that he can thrive in. Yes, Horvat has been fairly luck to this point in terms of on-ice shooting percentage, but he's doing the heavy lifting and still producing plenty offensively. The question isn't whether Horvat is a hold or not, it's how high his ceiling is. I don't see a top 50 player, at least not until his linemates improve, but with how the Canucks are playing, he should be a top 100 player. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
Hello everyone! After spending most of the last two months in Vegas (including during the Stanley Cup Finals), I'm back home and ready to start writing again. I'll be picking up things in August when I'll be writing multiple posts a week, including my rankings early on in the month. I have a few questions I would like the readers to answer in terms of what they'd like me to write besides my rankings, but I'll leave that for the end of this post. For now, I'm going to write a quick blurb on the five biggest moves of the offseason and what their impact is for both real life and fantasy. Let's get to it!
Nothing like a revenge game against your former team to get your current team back on track. Local Razzball favorite Mike Smith saved all 28 shots against his former team leading the Flames to a 3-0 win over the Coyotes. Smith has been outstanding this point becoming one of the greatest values in fantasy hockey to this point. The save percentage is among the league's best and the wins are more than solid. Since I'm all in on the Flames this year, I don't see why the team in front of him would get worse. To make things better, the Flames don't have a quality backup goalie. Smith is going to be a massive workhorse going forward and should be a borderline #1 fantasy goalie. Not bad for someone drafted in the very late rounds. Let's take a look at what else happened over the previous two nights:
Reid and I talked about John Tavares extensively on Tuesday's podcast. We both saw him as a viable option for The Three Point Challenge but decided to go elsewhere since it's rare for someone to post consecutive three point games. Well, Tavares shoved it up both of our you-know-wheres! He scored a hat trick and added an assist in the 5-3 win over the Coyotes. All of a sudden, a slow start (3 points in 7 games) has been erased with Tavares at 10 points in 9 games. This is why we wait at least a month before we panic about players, especially studs like Tavares. Look for him to be his usual self going forward, which means being a top 20 forward. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
While the Razzball Hockey committee of one didn't love the Patrick Marleau contract, we did like Marleau for this season in fantasy. Like the majority of his teammates, his season debut went extremely well. Marleau scored twice in his first game as a Maple Leaf registering five shots on goal. His linemates were inconsistent but whether he's with Matthews or Kadri, it doesn't really matter. Marleau scored 27 goals last season and I don't see why he can't get back to that number. Despite ranking him as a top 150 player, he's still available in over 50% of ESPN leagues, so grab him now. Here's what else happened around the NHL on opening night:
Once you get outside of the top 200 overall, you're looking at the last 2-3 picks in a standard 12 man league. There are a few different ways you can go about making your last few picks. You can shoot for upside, get a couple safe players if you already have plenty of upside, fill out your last couple defensemen, grab a goalie out of desperation. I'm going to list a bunch of players in different categories that fall outside of my top 200 that you can target depending on what you're looking for. I'm not going to go into detail on these guys but I will put them in my order of preference. Here is my list:
The St. Louis Blues had quite the roller coaster ride of a season in 2016-17. They started off slowly before rallying to the point where playoffs were a certainty. That didn't stop Doug Armstrong from shipping out Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline after they couldn't agree to a contract extension. Despite the loss of Shattenkirk and Robby Fabbri to a torn ACL, the Blues upset the Wild in the first round of the playoffs before losing to the Predators in round 2. There are some questions on the blue line and in net but their forward group, if healthy, has incredible depth plus elite talent. Let's take a look at what Mike Yeo has to work with:
There's nothing better than playoff hockey! If yesterday is a sign of things to come, we're in for an amazing two months. Reid joins me as always and we start off by doing a news update. The Stars hire a new coach who is their old coach and Vegas appoints their first coach in franchise history. We talk about the Sabres press conference yesterday along with Vladimir Sobotka returning to St. Louis from the KHL, a move that has already paid dividends. From there, we talk about each of yesterday's games focusing on one or two major takeaways from each. Awards get our focus after that as we pick our finalists and winners for each of the major awards before making up some awards from a fantasy hockey perspective. We wrap things up with Three Point Challenge picks for both tonight and Friday. Make sure to make your picks below! All of that and more on the latest edition of the Razzball Hockey Podcast brought to you by Seatgeek and Draft!
Elias Lindholm (1 G, 2 A, 2 SOG, +2) was the fifth overall pick in the 2013 Entry Draft and at the ripe old age of 19 made his NHL debut this season. The 'Canes were kind enough to loan him to the Swedes for the WJC, but he just got back and decided to throw a party with three points to help the surging Hurricanes crush the Leafs 6-1 last night. Just before he did that, he scored nine points in seven games (2 G, 7 A) in the World Junior Championship helping to drive the Swedish team to the gold medal game; sadly they fell to the Fins 3-2 in OT. Lindholm then almost immediately flew back to the states, crossing who knows how many time zones, to make practice and take his place on the Carolina roster. After practice Wednesday morning he worried he would be too tired to play well, saying he hoped he would "feel better tomorrow." Welp, it looks like he was feeling just fine! Impressive, maybe the Swedish media wasn't going insane touting him as the next Peter Forsberg last year. So what's this kid all about? Well, Lindholm plays like he’s much older than his 19 years, and not in a bad way. His hockey IQ seems to be at least above average and given his age the hope is he'll only get smarter and better as he continues to play. He displays a strong set of great qualities to see in a guy his age with superb hands, good vision, and very tasty playmaking and passing abilites. He keeps his head up, can play both ways, works hard, has a great attitude and gets results on the ice. What more could you want? Plant fields of this kid! So far he has 10 points in 22 games and despite his recent surge I don’t think he’s worth owning just yet. That being said, he could see his worth skyrocket and fast if he brings some of his overseas success back to the NHL. The 'Canes called him up in hopes that he would help their fight for a playoff spot and if he does he'll stick around. He's young, and he might get tired fast, but by the time your fantasy squad is gearing up for the playoffs, he may end up as a key guy you stream to win. Until then he’s keeper league material and a must own there for sure. Anyway, here's what else I saw in the world o' fantasy hockey last night:
Like I’ve said a few times, I’m usually cautious with young Russians. They tend to dominate overseas, come to the NHL over confident and get spanked. Well, Vladimir Tarasenko (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG, +2) is a bit different, and he’s something special. Yet another weapon in the deep quiver of the St. Louis Blues, the 23 year old Russian winger has points in four straight with six points (2 G, 4 A) over that span. What’s more, he’s on pace for around 30 goals and 50-plus points by season’s end. That’s a very nice rookie year for a kid who is considered the best Russian talent of the 2010 draft, who after solving some contract issues with his father’s team in the KHL, has come over to the NHL and made an immediate impact. He has incredible hands, as is often the case with these dynamic young Russians, a lightening quick release and a good nose for the back of the net. He uses quick bursts of speed to get into position to either score or help create opportunities, so he isn’t one dimensional in the offensive zone either. Considering he’s been playing professional hockey since the ripe old age of just 16, he’s more ready than most kids his age to adapt to the speed and physicality of the game at the NHL level, and it’s showing. Given all that, I’m happy to throw caution to the wind and get on the Tarasenko express! He should be owned in every keeper league and warrants consideration in deeper standard formats as well. Come next season, everyone will be talking about this kid. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night: