Insert 100 emoji! We’re finally getting through the top 100 for the upcoming season which brings us to an interesting group of players. This tier is full of guys who are either high floor, low ceiling or high ceiling, low floor (low is relative to where they are being drafted). There are a few guys from this group that could reach the top 75 but for the most part, these guys are in a tier behind the players in front of them. Here are the links for my top 50 and 75. Let’s get right to it!
76) Brandon Saad – While the Blue Jackets were a disaster in Saad’s first season on the team, Saad progressed nicely with 31 goals, 22 assists and almost exactly 3 shots per game. He’s still only 23 years old and the Blue Jackets can’t be any worse. Saad also only had 8 PPP so there’s potential for around 35+30 here which would push the top 50. He’s never topped 20 PIM which is the main reason he’s outside of the top 75. He’s far too low in other places (153 on ESPN!?) so you should be able to wait even longer than this spot.
77) Kyle Okposo – Okposo’s last year with the Islanders was very solid with 64 points (22+42) with 51 PIM and 23 STP. His shot rate took a big drop off out of nowhere to merely average which should bounce back. Dan Blysma rolls his top 6 big minutes and Ryan O’Reilly (more on him later) is an offensive upgrade over Frans Nielsen so there’s still upside in this spot for Okposo. I don’t see him getting back to 2013-14 where he was almost point per game but Okposo could push 70 points if things break right.
78) Victor Hedman – The only thing keeping Hedman this low is his lack of power play points. He’s never topped 14 PPP (11 last season) and there’s no guarantee Hedman is on the first power play unit this year. He’s incredible in real life and he’s above average in every single category making Hedman a very safe pick. I simply don’t see how Hedman gets to 55-60 points unless his usage on the power play takes a big step forward.
79) Mark Stone – Just like his rookie season, Stone started off slowly and caught fire in the second half. He finished the season with 23 goals, 38 assists while being average in the other categories. I don’t think Stone gets much better than what he is right now but he doesn’t have to at this point.
80) Brendan Gallagher – Gallagher was having an outstanding season until injuries caused him to miss 29 games. In the 53 he played, 19 goals, 21 assists and well over 3 shots per game were massive upgrades over his previous career rates. The power play will take a step back but Gallagher was never a big PP guy anyways and the first line should be terrific. He’s another guy I expect to be drafted later than this but Gallagher should provide great value from this spot forward.
81) Torey Krug – I may have to move Krug higher just to ensure that I get him on the majority of my teams. Krug took a big step forward in assists last season reaching 40 but his goals dropped to 4 because of an absurd 1.6 shooting percentage. Krug took over 3 shots per game last season (elite for a defenseman) so Krug should be scoring 15-20 goals, not 4. 15 goals and 45 assists with his shot rate is outstanding. As much as I dislike the Bruins, I’m driving the Krug bandwagon.
82) Kevin Shattenkirk – After a monster 2014-15 with 44 points in 56 games, Shattenkirk matched the 44 points last season playing 72 games. He went from +14 to -19 showing that we can’t count on Shatt Deuces in that category. The PPP are among the league’s best, the shot rate is above average and the penalty minutes are very good. Shattenkirk’s upside is to be a top 5 defensemen but he carries more risk than the other guys in this tier.
83) Keith Yandle – Defenseman run! I feel like there are more quality defensemen for fantasy than ever before. Yandle’s time in Manhattan saw his numbers take a dropoff from Arizona in the goals and shots. He’s still an elite PPQB with solid PIM and the minutes are going to increase quite a bit in Florida. Yandle should have a much better plus-minus playing with Aaron Ekblad and if that’s accompanied with his old shot rate, I’m far too low on Yandle. 8-10 goals with 45 assists is fairly realistic. At the least, he’s going to be excellent in assists and STP so Yandle’s a nice combo of safe and high upside.
84) Matt Murray – At this point, I’m taking a gamble on the Stanley Cup winner. As I talked about in the Penguins preview, you’re pretty much forced to take Marc-Andre Fleury when you take Murray but that’s perfectly fine. Combined, they are going to be a #1 goalie. In dynasties, move Murray into the top 50 but for redrafts, this is the area where I’d start to target drafting the better half of the Penguins duo.
85) David Backes – I hate the signing in the long term but for this season, Backes going to Boston is the best thing that could happen for his fantasy value. He’ll be slotted into the first line on the right wing with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. The one time that Backes received extended time on the wing, he scored 31 goals. 25 goals and 30 assists is realistic; now add in 80+ PIM and he’s a very nice fit at this point in the draft. Backes could be even better if the power play points get a boost in Boston as well.
86) Max Domi – He’s the second best bet of players in this group to end up in the top 50 next season. Domi’s rookie season was strong with 18 goals, 34 assists and 72 PIM as a 20 year old. With a shot rate boost (just below 2 per game) and a better Coyotes PP, Domi could see a 60+ point season with 70 PIM. Domi also played only 16:22 last season; I expect that to be in the 18-19 minute range.
87) Gabriel Landeskog – Landeskog’s 2015-16 was almost exactly the same as Domi’s in all categories. If you want to go the safer route, I would flip flop the two of them but Domi’s tremendous upside puts him first for me. On one hand, Landeskog is still only 23 and the coaching change could help him quite a bit. On the other hand, his shot rate as plummeted to the point where it’s merely average instead of elite (he’s dropped 101 shots in 4 years). I don’t want the earlier part to suggest Landeskog doesn’t have upside; we’ve seen him score 65 points with great PIM and shots before so he can be a top 50 player again, it’s just that Domi could end up a top 25 player. If I knew the shots would get back to over 200, he’d move up 20 spots or so.
88) Patrik Laine – Laine is the best bet to crack the top 50 despite being a rookie. His goal scoring ability is through the roof and Laine should have a top 6 role right off the bat; Paul Maurice has repeatedly said that Laine will get the “opportunity to excel right out of the gate.” A 30+30 season as a rookie wouldn’t shock me although I expect it to be closer to 25+25. That’ll come with a great shot total and strong PPP. He’s a risky pick in this spot simply because he’s only 18 years old but the upside is too high to ignore any longer.
89) Alex Steen – Another year of the same old story for Steen; very good on a per-game basis but misses significant time. Steen had 52 points in 67 games last season coming in above average in all categories. The problem is that those 15 games missed are on par with past seasons. You simply can’t expect Steen to stay healthy. On a per-game basis, he’d be pushing the top 50 but Steen must be dropped accordingly.
90) Jonathan Drouin – Let’s just forget all of the nonsense between him and the Lightning happened last season. From the time he was recalled to the end of the season (including playoffs), Drouin had 7 goals and 9 assists in 16 games. That was without Steven Stamkos who is almost certainly going to be centering Drouin. If he can get the shot rate up, he’ll be more than worth this spot. Hell, Drouin could stay pay off this spot taking just two shots a game. The only issue is we’ve already seen the downside and while I don’t expect there to be any more issues with the team, it’s not an impossibility.
91) Boone Jenner – Players with 30+ goals and 75+ PIM last season: Wayne Simmonds, Brad Marchand, Boone Jenner. It’s far from perfect with Jenner; he had only 19 assists and was -15. That said the goals, penalty minutes and 225 shots are terrific and warrant a top 100 spot. If he can fix the plus-minus and get to the assists to say, 25, he’s an excellent fit at this point for teams that need goals and penalty minutes.
92) Patrick Sharp – It feels wrong to have him this low but the last two seasons from Sharp could be his new norm. Sharp had 55 points in 76 games in his first season with the Stars with 24 PPP and almost 3 shots per game, a far cry from where they used to be. He gets to play with superstars so I don’t see a dropoff, I just don’t see the upside when he’s going to be 35 this season and the penalty minutes have fallen off too. It’s solid yet unspectacular across the board.
93) Jonathan Huberdeau – The former 3rd overall pick set or matched career highs in all 6 RCL categories. He was average or better in all categories which put him 66th on ESPN’s player rater. The reason he’s lower than that is because it’s hard to count on him being +17 again. If Huberdeau benefits from Yandle’s arrival on the power play, there’s a chance he pushes the top 50 next year. If you are already set in PIM, then you can slide Huberdeau in front of Backes since he should have more points than the guys in front of him.
94) Ryan O’Reilly – His first season in Buffalo was a rousing success with 60 points in 71 games playing an insane 21:44 a game. O’Reilly set a career high with 23 STP and the shots took a slight boost up towards average. I don’t expect a repeat of his -16 either. RoR is this low because he’s never had more than 18 PIM in a season; if your league doesn’t count PIM, move him near 50th overall.
95) Loui Eriksson – After two mediocre years in Boston, Eriksson had a career resurgence with 30 goals and 33 assists. He left the Bruins to go to the Canucks and while that seems like a bad move for fantasy purposes, it’s actually a win. Eriksson with get to play with the Sedin Cyborgs and get a ton of offensive zone starts. The only reason he’s still low is he’s below average in shots and he hasn’t topped 14 PIM in 6 seasons. He’s O’Reilly with a few less shots and assists.
96) Nikolaj Ehlers – I can’t wait for my favorite breakout any longer! Ehlers’ rookie season was up and down like most with 15 goals and 23 assists in 72 games with a solid shot rate. He spent most of the season moving around the lineup with a lot of time on the third line. Now, he’s a lock for the top 6 and almost certainly going to play on the first line with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele. Obviously we can’t hope for a better situation than that. The 20 year old’s offensive talent is through the roof; it honestly wouldn’t shock me if he reached 65 points. I’ll be a little more conservative and say he comes in around 60 points with elite shots and power play points. I’m all aboard the Jets bandwagon for fantasy in current leagues and dynasties.
97) Vincent Trocheck – Trocheck came seemingly out of nowhere to score 25 goals and 28 assists in 76 games with average or better contributions across the board, becoming one of the waiver wire claims of the season. He’s only 23 years old and has become a crucial member of the Panthers core. I don’t think Trocheck has much more upside than this but with some additional power play points, 60-65 points and good PIM are possible.\
98) Jeff Carter – Carter is pretty boring but at some point you have to rank a guy who’s good for 60 points and 3 shots per game. He’s never been a good power play player and the penalty minutes are low but Carter is very safe at this point.
99) T.J. Oshie – I expected Oshie to set career highs last season in his first year in Washington but instead he actually took a step back. Oshie finished with 26 goals, 25 assists and +16 with good contributions elsewhere. I think he’ll do slightly better this year and he’s one of the few players that can be counted on for a great +/- but ~60 points appears to be his ceiling.
100) Sergei Bobrovsky – Last season was a disaster for Bob but if you want to take a gamble on a goalie after Pekka Rinne, he’s your guy. Before last year, Bob had 3 straight seasons of at least a .918 save percentage and above average wins. The goals against average will probably be below average but there’s also the chance he finds Vezina form again. With Torts packing it in, I think Bobrovsky is a safe #2 with the upside to be a #1.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back on Tuesday next week with my preview of the Nashville Predators. It shouldn’t be much longer than that for me to put out my next set of rankings, either through 125 or 150. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. Enjoy the long weekend; take care!