The day has come!  The NHL Season starts today!  I’ll be waiting for daily notes until Friday since there are only four games tonight, but for this post I’m going to write about one thing I’m looking at closely for each team.  Yes, some teams don’t start until Friday, but we’re covering all 31 of them here.  Let’s get to it!

Boston Bruins- Can Karson Kuhlman look like he belongs in the top six?  Kuhlman is getting first crack with DeBrusk and Krejci.  If he sticks, we’re looking at a quality streaming option.  If not, Heinen or someone else will go into the top six.

Buffalo Sabres – Can Victor Oloffson get off to a hot start on the first line?  I’ve talked about him plenty lately, but you can’t ask for a better spot as a rookie than with Eichel and Reinhart.

Detroit Red Wings – Who is running the first power play unit?  I was hoping for Filip Hronek, but it could be Dennis Cholowski.  It won’t automatically make either guy a hold, but it’s a big boost.

Florida Panthers – How does Quenneville distribute the minutes?  Boughner used to give the top guys massive minutes, will that continue?  It could hurt a guy like Vincent Trocheck, but I doubt it.

Montreal Canadiens – Will Nick Suzuki stick with the team?  I like him plenty long term and they seem intent on trying him on the second line to open the season.  Perhaps he earns streamer status quickly?  I also want to see how Jesperi Kotkaniemi looks in the early part of the season.

Ottawa Senators – How does the first line look?  Was Stone the only reason the first line was dominate last season, or is Brady Tkachuk capable of driving play already?  There’s not much to see here but if that line can hold up against other top lines, that bodes extremely well for the team’s future.

Tampa Bay Lightning – How does Patrick Maroon fit into the first power play unit?  He won’t get a ton of time at even strength, but Maroon could work his way into being a hold if he gets the power play time and adds penalty minutes.  He’s my favorite streamer to open the season.

Toronto Maple Leafs – What is the minutes distribution between the two power play units?  Last season, it was fairly even, but it looks like Babcock is loading up the first unit this season.  This is critical for Andreas Johnsson and Tyson Barrie‘s value on both sides of the spectrum.

Carolina Hurricanes – Same question as Toronto.  It looks like Brind’Amour is balancing out their PP units which I’ve never been a fan of.  A Svechnikov-Teravainen-Nino-Aho-Dougie power play would be outstanding but we’re getting nothing close to that.  Since I’m high on a lot of Carolina players, I’ll be watching this closely.

Columbus Blue Jackets – Will Alexandre Texier lock into the first line?  Also, will he get power play time?  I am never sure what Torts is going to do with young guys and I have no clue with Texier, but I’m buying stock now just in case it clicks.

New Jersey Devils – How do the goalies look?  I would rather gamble on MacKenzie Blackwood than Cory Schneider but it looks like Schneider will be the 1A to Blackwood’s 1B.  Seeing how the Devils look defensively along with how the goalies look will go a long way between the Devils being a playoff contender or not.

New York Islanders – What defenseman is going to step up?  Is it Devon ToewsRyan Pulock?  Even Nick Leddy?  Maybe it won’t be any of them, but I feel like someone will emerge to be a bottom end hold.

New York Rangers – How are the blue line minutes distributed?  After Trouba, it’s a big question mark.  I’m hoping for Tony DeAngelo to get 20+ minutes and for Adam Fox to earn a decent role quickly.

Philadelphia Flyers – Can Shayne Gostisbehere and/or Ivan Provorov bounce back?  Obviously the upside is higher with Ghost Bear, but Provorov did score 17 goals two seasons ago.  I’m starting to get a little bullish on Gostisbehere straightening things out again with Hagg on the third pair and mostly on PP1, but time will tell.

Pittsburgh Penguins – Does Patric Hornqvist play PP1 and on the first line?  He looked rough at times last season, but you can’t ask for a better situation than playing with Crosby.  Makes for a nice DFS play early.

Washington Capitals – Who will play with Carlson?  It looks to be Jonas Siegenthaler which won’t do us fantasy players much good.  Side note, Richard Panik is on PP1 until Kuz comes back making him a nice deep league streamer.

Chicago Blackhawks – Will Alex Nylander actually play with Toews and Kane?  I have my doubts that Toews and Kane play together to begin with, but that’s a big leap of faith on Nylander.  If he does, then we’re talking elite streamer with hold potential.

Colorado Avalanche – Can Nazem Kadri bounce back like I think he will?  His shot rate dropped drastically last season but I still think there’s a 30 goal, 250 shot guy in Kadri, especially being on the first power play unit.  How he gels with Burakovsky and Jost will be huge for Colorado’s outlook.

Dallas Stars – Is Alexander Radulov really not going to be on PP1?  I get having him on the second line instead of Pavelski, but it seems insane that he wouldn’t be on the first power play unit.  I like Hintz, but he’s no Radulov.  I have no long term doubts but it could hurt him early.

Minnesota Wild – How balanced are the forward minutes?  I have little to no idea how Boudreau plans to use these guys and who will be with who.  They’re another team where the power play minutes distribution will be telling.

Nashville Predators – How good can Forsberg-Duchene-Granlund be?  That’s a lot of offensive firepower.  Granlund is coming off a bad season by his standards, Forsberg dealt with injuries, and Duchene was great in Ottawa but struggled in Columbus.  If these guys can click, we could see huge offensive totals.

St. Louis Blues – Can Robert Thomas make a big jump already?  I love him long term, but it’s hard to say if the jump happens this year or down the line.  It looks like he’ll get the power play time but who knows about even strength.

Winnipeg Jets – Can Andrew Copp keep up?  Bryan Little is out so Copp is getting first crack at 2C in the meantime.  His performance will impact Laine and Connor more than boost his own value.  Also, who plays the most on the blue line besides Morrissey?

Anaheim Ducks – Will Maxime Comtois keep a roster spot for the season?  There’s a ton of upside here and he’s starting the season with Getzlaf making him an interesting early streamer.

Arizona Coyotes – Can Derek Stepan be the pivot between Kessel and Keller?  Both players are great offensively and brutal defensively at this point in their careers.  If they want to be a net positive to the team, Stepan will have to be very good defensively.  Playing with those two, he should work his way back to elite streamer status at the least.

Calgary Flames – Um, nothing?  I feel like we know who the Flames are at this point top to bottom.  I guess how David Rittich looks?

Edmonton Oilers – Who plays with McDavid and can they do anything?  These wingers are an embarrassment and I can’t bet on any of them to perform.  I guess James Neal could bounce back but I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Los Angeles Kings – Can they get anything from the second line?  Ilya Kovalchuk and Jeff Carter fell off hard last season while Adrian Kempe didn’t take a step forward.  They’ll need this group to perform at a top six level if they have any chance of hanging around the playoff picture.

San Jose Sharks – How many more minutes do the top six players receive?  With Pavelski gone, we could see small increases in some cases or a big jump for someone like Kevin Labanc.  Their first game against Vegas will be very interesting to see how the Sharks match up, especially without Kane for three games.

Vancouver Canucks – What defensemen are on which power play unit?  They have flip-flopped a bunch in the preseason so it’s hard to say whether Alex Edler or Quinn Hughes will be on the first PP unit.  Same goes with Bo Horvat as the Canucks may balance out their units more than I had hoped.

Vegas Golden Knights – Will Cody Glass stick with Stone and Patches?  The former first round pick played with those two in Vegas’ last preseason game.  There’s a chance for Glass to contend for the Calder if he plays there all season.  He’s a great spec add in deeper leagues and is worth streaming early to see if he can run with that role.

That’s all for now guys.  I’ll be back on Friday with actual notes on regular season games!  As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below.  Thanks for reading, and good luck to your teams!

  1. Tony Stark says:
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    Great stuff Viz! In my ten team league Kuznetsov was dropped. If I pick him up in my EPSN league I think I can use my one IR spot for him since he is suspended. Is he a must add? I have Stamkos, Malkin and Hischier at Center.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Thanks! Wow, that’s insane. You can’t put suspended guys on IR, but even still, Kuznetsov needs to be owned immediately. It’s only a three game suspension so it’s not a big deal.

      • Tony Stark says:
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        Thanks Viz I will pick him up for sure!

  2. DTW says:
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    Out of Samsonov, Glass, Oloffson which would u use first waiver priority on?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Lean Olofsson, Glass close second

  3. Marco Kirillov says:
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    Hey Viz, in the end my team is like this:
    13 team League ESPN –
    Scoring:
    G (4 points)/A (2) /PIM (0.5)/PPG (1.5)/ PPA (1)/SHG (3)/SHA(2)/FOW (0.1)/FOL (-0.1)/HAT (5)/SOG (0.4)/HIT (0.2)/BLK (0.4)
    GS (0.5)/W (4)/L(-3)/GA (-3)/SV (0.4)/SO (5)/OTL (-1.5)
    H2H Non Keeper – 23 skaters (max 18 per game) – 2 Goalies (1 per game) – 5 IR spots

    C – Barkov, Couture, Kadri, Dzingel, Texier, Steel

    LW – Kane, Schwartz, Ferland,

    RW – Kane, Meier, Laine, Reinhart, Brown, Olofsson, A.Nylander

    D – Hamilton, Dahlin, Chabot, Sergachev, Hughes, Klefbom, Toews

    G – Andersen, Rittich

    Any soft spot I gotta address?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      I’d like a better second goalie, but I’m not too worried about it, overall I’d be pretty thrilled with this team

      • Marco Kirillov says:
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        I made a smarter draft the last year, hope it pays off, I liked it also.
        The goalie situation is problematic because my league is pretty deep, in the FA there’s only Markstrom, Kuemper, Blackwood, Howard, Crawford…

        • Boblawblaw says:
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          Very nice team. Go get markstrom now. Seems crazy he isnt owned.

  4. Matt says:
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    I’m worried my defense is complete trash. 10 ESPN Roto Standard

    F Patrick Kane
    F Brad Marchand
    F Auston Matthews
    F Taylor Hall
    F Mark Scheifele
    F Timo Meier
    F Andrei Svechnikov
    F Filip Forsberg
    F Patrik Laine
    D Cale Makar
    D Mikhail Sergachev
    D Tony DeAngelo
    D Shayne Gostisbehere
    D Quinn Hughes
    UTIL Brock Boeser
    Bench Nazem Kadri
    Bench Evgenii Dadonov
    Bench Chris Kreider
    G Frederik Andersen
    G Philipp Grubauer
    Bench John Gibson
    Bench Thatcher Demko

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      It’s not ideal but there’s plenty of upside there at least and my god, your forwards are insane

  5. nightpandas says:
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    Hey Viz do you see Greiss as an upgrade over Howard?

    Been offered Greiss Laine Keller for my Howard Atkinson Guentzel

    12 team h2h
    G A Pts +/- Sog Hits Blocks
    GS W L Sv% Sho

    My goalies right now are Hellebuyck Rantaa Howard

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Answered elsewhere

  6. Jon says:
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    Hey Viz,

    Help me make some possible tweaks at the end of my roster?

    Would you add Krejci, Theodore, Konecny, DeAngelo, DeBrusk, Nyquist, Bertuzzi, Kapanen, Schwartz, Shattenkirk, Sergachev, Getzlaf, or Jeff Carter over Quinn Hughes, Parayko, Ristolainen, Perron, or Stepan?

    Categories are G A +/- PPP FOW SOG HIT DEF

    Thanks!

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      I would definitely get rid of Parayko, he does very little offensively. I would lean Sergachev for the upside as his replacement, although Theodore or DeAngelo are reasonable, assuming you want to replace him with a defenseman. I’d also drop Risto and grab one of the other two I mentioned before, although that one is closer.

      As for the forwards, I would leant owards holding them mostly to see how Stepan looks with Kessel and Keller. Could revive him.

  7. Gerald says:
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    Hey Viz

    Whats going on wit dustin byfugelin ? Why is he contemplating retirement? is It cuz he had 2 previous back surgeries? the checking catching up with him? I think i drafted him too early this year lol he was on the board i think i took him 9th round….. whoops Any way whats your current outlook on him to start the season. Do you think he comes back in a couple weeks

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Hey Gerald, we don’t have all of the details, just that he’s contemplating retirement. He’s played a lot of hard, physical minutes in his career and like you said, has had back issues, so that could definitely be a reason for it. Maybe he’s lost the passion, it’s all really speculation, but that’s why I dropped him into the 150-170 range in my top 200, I forgot where exactly. Even if he decided today he’s coming back, I wouldn’t expect him until November having not played at all in 5 months. My guess is he comes back at some point, but I have no idea when.

      • Gerald says:
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        Crap i shouldn’t have drafted that bum lol would you drop him now for a guy like angelo

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          Depends on your league format and if you can afford to wait for a definitive answer as to what his plan is or not.

  8. Peter says:
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    Viz, thank you for all that you and Sven do! Your analysis is the only stuff worth reading, and what I base much of my draft strategy! My team, standard league. G, A, SOG, +/-, PPG, PP, SHG, GWG; W, S%, GAA, SO. (No PIM, hits or blocks).

    Gaudreau
    Hall
    Forsberg
    Aho
    Meier
    Zibanejad
    Radulov
    A. Svechnikov
    Teravainen
    Hischier
    Schwartz
    E. Staal
    Zucker

    Trouba
    Morrissey
    Dunn
    Toews
    Klefbom

    Mrazek
    Schneider

    I know I waited on goaltending, but I feel pretty good about these 2 guys at least being average. Supposedly Schneider is back to his old self… lets hope.

    Your thoughts please??? Don’t hold back! 🙂 And thank you again!

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Thanks Peter, I greatly appreciate that! The offense is looking great and that’s most important when there are 8 offensive categories to 4. The defense isn’t ideal, but these guys at least have plenty of upside. You’ll have to track the bottom three closely and make a move if necessary.

      Obviously I’m a big fan of Mrazek, but I am lower on Schneider than most. I just can’t buy into him being back all the way after 3 years of being below replacement level. I also don’t see big upside because Blackwood is getting 30 games bare minimum, if not a full split, and honestly I expect him to get more starts than Schneider by the end of the season. I could be wrong, but I don’t like betting on guys to “bounce back” after 3 years of being awful. Considering that Mrazek isn’t risk free himself, you’re in a really bad spot if it goes wrong, so I’d be very aggressive in picking up goalies as speculation adds, even if the odds of there being another Binnington is extremely low. All in all, I’d prefer to have a better second goalie, but considering that I say offense is more important and to wait on goalies all of the time, I’m much more okay with this than most other writers would be. I think you’ll have a good to very good team either way and be in contention all season, but you probably need some good fortune in net, be it from those two or someone else you get, to be a true contender for first place.

  9. Peter says:
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    Viz, thank you! I completely agree with your assessment. I know I am rolling the dice with my goaltending. With that said, I will certainly be watching for the next backup taking over the starting job, and/or the next Biddington!

    Thank you again!

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      No problem! Best of luck!

  10. jason batteiger says:
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    12 teamer with hits/blocks/PPP/SHP/faceoffs/points (in addition to goals and assists), goals against added to (min 3 starts per week) h2h keep 7 league.
    C (2) mackinnon (K), monahan (K), dubois (K), kadri karlsson (14)
    LW (2) e.kane (K), schenn (11), niederriter (RW, 15) perron (RW, 22), pearson (11 shots)
    RW (2): rantanen (K), t.meier (LW, 8), kase (17), eberle (waivered over olofsson who i drafted)
    F (2)
    W (2)
    D (6): klingberg (K), dougie (9) morrissey (13), edler (16), gardiner (19), seabrook (21), fabbro (23)
    G: (2): price (K), mrazek (10, 4th goalie off the board post keepers, this league people keep a lot of goalies), demko (18)

    somebody just dropped j.bailey, him over pearson? bailey isn’t strong in hits/blocks and i don’t yet have a clear idea if i’m in good shape there. how much FAAB too, i won eberle for 5 and nobody else bid over zero. bailey likely projects at more points though. i had kassian last night till kase (and steel) were IR’d but then with less than hours till tonight’s game time ruled back in, comtois to minors. hockey is just the worst at injury updates. so i dropped kassian for kase.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      League is definitely brutal in terms of updates. Yeah I think I’d grab Bailey over Pearson, like you said the points are a nice upgrade. I don’t know how much FAAB your league has but I’d probably go on the smaller side, Bailey isn’t that valuable with the extra cats.

      • jason batteiger says:
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        100 total, standard (i’d assume that’s standard anyway, but hell it’s also standard to have big blind ante be the size of a 9-10 handed table even when really short handed at some spots, which is completely asinine. i’m not saying big blind ante itself is asinine (that’s a great idea) but big blind ante should be the same size as the antes would be added together for however many people are at the actually table at the time)

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          Yeah, I’d go a few bucks then but nothing big.

          Big blind ante is definitely the way to go. I don’t mind keeping it the size of the big blind no matter if it’s 6 or 9-10 people, mostly for simplicity sake. It kind of defeats the purpose if people are anteing different amounts because a player busted the hand before so keeping it the same throughout the full BBA throughout the tournament is fine to me. However, if you are 5 handed or less, the ante should definitely switch to the size of the small blind instead. Still paid out by the big blind, but you’re right that the ante definitely needs to get smaller when you’re that short handed, and using SB size is an easy adjustment to make.

          • jason batteiger says:
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            right, that’s fine, have it at least be close to commensurate, so from 9 down to 6 say it could be full big blind, then 5-2 small blind size or something like that. i know some of the VERY big tournaments though still do 9-2 same size ante, meanwhile my much smaller local casino does the much smarter version we’re talking about (cutting in half when down to 5)

            – my local casino also is much better at certain rulings than what the WSOP does. there was a pot this year in the main where an old guy (who probably gets away with this shit routinely at his local casinos/house games) raises from the button. a younger pro looking guy calls from the big blind. on flop the old man pretends (probably, it could’ve been an actual mistake here, BUT even if it was he needs to be warned) to think he acts first and out of turn checks. young pro from BB now bets with nothing, old man raises, hand over. if there was any ruling on that old guy it certainly wasn’t shown on the footage nor even really much mentioned by the commentators. either angling b.s. or accidental, but either way gotta be warned then penalized if done a 2nd time.

            • jason batteiger says:
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              one easy fix is if you check out of turn more than once you can no longer raise on that street, that would clear up the worst part of it; and/or just penalize somebody who often keeps checking out of turn. i get that some people can’t hear or see very well, the dealers should be helping with telling where the action is and how much the previous bet is. that samartino dealer f’up being the opposite of what they should be doing (dealers). honestly if WSOP just made sure the dealers they have are the best dealers all this stuff gets fixed very easily. good dealers know to stop any angling, know to tell the action, bets etc. i run house games and i’m quite good at this (i deal with inebriated people constantly, so it’s much needed, otherwise hands would take forever and have errors)

  11. toolshed says:
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    Hi viz, with the last pick of my draft I took niku as a reserve def. I needed a cheap def to stay under my cap. We only count goals and assists. Should I continue to hold him or try to find somebody else? I only have 1 other reserve def. We start 4 def total. Do you expect him to return to the Peg as one of their starters when he recovers from his groin injury?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      I’d probably try to find somebody else. I do expect he’s back at some point, but it’s hard to say when and the upside isn’t high enough to justify waiting on his return.

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