We've finally reached the final four weeks of the regular season. That means fantasy hockey playoffs! This post is meant to help you plan for this specific week on a micro-sense. For the macro picture, check the the Eastern Conference Playoff Manifesto here and the Western Conference here. We'll take a look at every day this week and point out the best streamers to use or what games to target. Let's get to it!
At the time of his injury, Victor Olofsson was leading rookies in points. That's not to say that he was the Calder favorite because he certainly was not, but he was in the race, albeit in the third spot. Sadly he missed 15 games, but he picked up right where he left off. Olofsson scored two goals on Thursday, including the game winner, in the 4-3 OT win over the Blue Jackets. That gives him 18+19 in 43 games, a great season from my favorite preseason target for my last pick in drafts. Sure, the PIM are non-existent and the shot rate is slightly below average, but Olofsson has lived up to expectations. He's an old rookie at 24, but he should get a bit better going forward. His role as a PP1 sniper and top six winger is locked in going forward and his chemistry with Eichel is outstanding. If he was dropped in your league, grab him immediately. Let's take a look at what else happened on Thursday:
Andre Burakovsky has gone back and forth between bottom end hold and elite streamer for most of the season. Right now, we're in one of his upswings again. Burakovsky had a goal and three assists in the 6-1 Colorado win over the Sabres on Tuesday. That's a whopping 10 points in the last 4 games and 14 in the past 8 for Burakovsky. He also has Ottawa, the Kings twice, and Buffalo again over the next three weeks. He's an easy hold while he's on fire and the schedule remains incredibly soft. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
There wasn't a lot of action the last two days after the All-Star Break, but sadly we saw what certainly appeared to be a severe injury. Linus Ullmark has established himself as the clear #1 goalie for the Sabres this season playing at a league average level. He collapsed to the ice on Tuesday against the Senators with what appeared to be a bad leg injury. There hasn't been an update yet, but I would be surprised to see if he ends up out for the season. So what does that mean for the Sabres and for us fantasy hockey players? Well, the Sabres are far from the best situation, but Ullmark has been serviceable. Carter Hutton has been one of the worst goalies in the league, so unless he has a bunch of good starts in a row, I have no interest in using him. I suspect that Jonas Johansson is called up from Rochester. Johansson is a former third round pick who was an AHL All-Star this season. He's taken a huge jump forward as he was serviceable in the ECHL last season but that's about it. However, goalies are strange and perhaps he catches lightning in a bottle. I wouldn't rush to add him, but he's a name worth monitoring. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
He's backkkk. Justin Williams made his return on Sunday, totaling three shots on goal in 13 minutes of action before scoring the shootout winner for the Hurricanes. So what should we expect from him going forward? Well, the Hurricanes are in a bigger dog fight for the playoffs than expected, so I do expect Williams' workload to ramp up sooner than later. He skated on the fourth line in this game, but there's a spot for him right now in the top six that's currently occupied by Foegele. It should only be a matter of time until he fills that role. How much does that matter? Well, we know that Williams is a great source of shots. He pushed close to three per game last season while totaling 53 points and 44 PIM. That sounds like a guy firmly on the fringe to me. I wouldn't be rushing to grab Williams, especially with Carolina only having one game between now and January 31st, but he's back to elite streamer status with the upside of being a bottom end hold. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
It's safe to say that at 26 years old, Jonathan Huberdeau has plenty of hockey to play in his career. The scary thing is that he's going to destroy the Panthers point record. In Sunday's big win over the Maple Leafs, Huberdeau had a goal and an assist to pass Olli Jokinen for the most points in franchise history. After last season's breakout campaign where Huberdeau had 92 points, he's on pace to blow by that this season with 61 points in their first 45 games. The shot rate has fallen off to slightly below average, but I don't think anyone who drafted Huberdeau is complaining. He's a safe bet to finish as a top 20 overall player this season, and since he's entering his prime along with some of his other teammates (notably Barkov), the future is incredibly bright. Let's take a look at what else happened over the weekend:
Life without Couturier hasn't been as good without Claude Giroux. He started the turnaround on Thursday night. Giroux scored two goals and two assists with three shots and two PIM in the 5-3 win over Carolina. That brings Giroux up to 17 points in 22 games, not exactly lighting the world on fire, but the shot rate is the best of his career. 75 shots in 22 games is a huge step forward, and if that continues, we could be looking at a new career high in goals. Yes, he only has 7 to this point, but we could be on the verge of a heater. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
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 11th stop on the 31 in 31 tour, we’re headed the city of champions, St. Louis! This team of good old Canadian boys rallied from the basement of the league in January all the way to Lord Stanley’s Cup. There isn’t a ton of turnover going into 2019-2020, but there are some significant question marks on whether guys can repeat their historic performances.
From an individual standpoint, this season couldn't be going any better for John Tavares. That continued on Monday night as Tavares scored 4 goals in the 7-5 win over Florida. That brings Tavares to 45 goals and 86 points, both career highs. Obviously we know to roll Tavares every time out, but where does he rank going into next season? He's bumped his shot rate back up to an elite level and his plus-minus is by far a career best. Is that sustainable? It might be given how good Toronto is. This, of course, assumes that Marner returns next season. I don't think he'll make my top 10, but it will be very close. At the least, Tavares will be in consideration for the wheel in a 12 team draft come September. Let's take a look at what else happened over the last two nights:
In my Monday post, I called Frank Vatrano the best streamer of the night. As simple as my rationale was, getting to play with Barkov does wonders for anyone. Vatrano has been playing well lately, but the jump to the first line helps tremendously, and he showed how on Monday. Vatrano scored a goal and dished three assists in the 6-2 win over the Sharks, putting five shots on goal in the process. Normally, I'd say go get Vatrano right now to see what happens. There's definitely upside going forward. The problem is that the Panthers don't play again until next Friday. For those in roto leagues, I would grab Vatrano now and stash him on your bench. In head to head leagues, I would wait until the middle of next week unless a spot opens up on your roster due to someone going on injured reserve. However, I definitely want Vatrano for the back-to-back next weekend, so don't wait until last minute so you avoid somebody else sniping you on him. There's a real chance Vatrano, who was a prolific AHL goal scorer and showed upside before in Boston, could become a hold for the rest of the season. Let's take a look at what else happened this week: