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.

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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!

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We’re back continuing this season’s rankings.  You guys know the drill by now so I’m not going to waste your time with a big introduction.  My main thought is that the tier that started with #8 overall (check out the top 10 here) actually goes to around 18th overall instead of 15th.  The gaps between these players are much smaller than in the past so you can go a lot of different ways based on personal preference.  Do you want higher upside, the safer player, six category guys?  All of this is in play and will make for some interesting draft strategy.  Strategy will come in later posts, but for now, let’s get through the top 20:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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After a massive breakout in which he scored 72 points in 77 games and Tampa Bay made the Cup Finals in 2014-15, everyone expected Tyler Johnson to push his way into superstardom.  Then he struggled massively in 2015-16 scoring 38 points in 69 not-so-nice games.  “It’s okay, he’ll bounce back!”  Kind of, but 45 points in 66 games wasn’t necessarily what people hoped.  “Write him off, that was a fluke!”  Nope, Johnson is back on track.  Johnson scored a hat trick on Tuesday putting six shots on goal in the 5-4 win over Carolina.  He now has 16 goals and 18 assists in 42 games with a +11 rating.  The shot rate on the whole doesn’t look great, but Johnson has 33 shots on goal in his past 9 games, in which he has 8 goals.  The player that was tied for the team lead in points during the regular season and led a Cup finalist in points in the playoffs looks to be back.  If he is, Tampa is going to be even more unstoppable.  Johnson is available in around 25% of leagues and if you’re lucky enough to be in, grab him immediately.  If you own him, props for grabbing him and don’t look to sell high because we know the upside.  Let’s take a look at what else happened the last two nights:

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There have been a few big games by individuals this season but Patrice Bergeron’s on Saturday is the new leader for the best of the year.  Bergeron scored four goals and added an assist with seven shots in the 7-1 win over the Hurricanes.  Bergeron was the second player this year to score four goals after Alex Ovechkin.  Per usual, Bergeron is crushing all of the categories.  He’s playing around a 40+35 pace while already having a +19 rating, solid PIM and pushing four shots per game.  Bergeron is a slam dunk top 50 player for the rest of the season who should push towards the top 25.  Again, the top line in Boston is as good as it gets and Bergeron is at the forefront of their success.  That line just gave up their first goal against at even strength all season!  Remarkable stuff.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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Growing up, the Avalanche were always my second favorite team.  My grandpa was a huge Peter Forsberg fan and it didn’t interfere with my Sabres since they were in the Western Conference.  I’ve always kept a close eye on them even though my rooting interests are now firmly with the Sabres and “Team Whoever I Bet In Game X.”  Anyways, Gabriel Landeskog has been a personal favorite of mine in this new Avalanche era.  He became the youngest captain in the league when it wasn’t cool to make your young top pick a captain.  Landeskog won the Calder and led the Avs on a massive warpath to a shocking #1 seed in 2013-14.  When I started at Razzball, things looked on the up for Landeskog at 23 years old.  Then, like the rest of the Avalanche organization, Landeskog struggled mightily.  Thankfully for all of us fantasy owners, he’s back.  Landeskog had the best game of his career on Saturday scoring a hat trick and two assists with five shots against the Lightning.  Sure, the Avs lost, but it doesn’t change his stat line for us!  The Kog now has 13+11 in 28 games with a strong plus-minus and solid PIM plus shots.  In fact, I’d be surprised if the penalty minutes don’t jump soon.  It’s amazing that Landeskog just turned 25 so he’s not even in his prime yet.  Look for him to be a top 100 player for the rest of the season and for at least the next few years.  Let’s take a look at what else happened over the weekend:

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We’ve gone without daily notes for five days due to Razzball crashing for a short period of time.  The good news is that the problem is fixed and that we are backed!  I’m not going to go through every single game over the past five days because at this point, some of it would be outdated.  I’m going to go through each team in the league and write a little bit about each of them.  Let’s get right to it!

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