So I gotta admit after doing my preseason rankings it made me realize that the business of ranking players based on potential future performance is f’ing difficult. I’m sure if someone with more fantasy hockey knowledge than me judged my rankings they could find some real stinkers too. All that said, it’s just too much fun picking at the WWL’s rankings. And judging by the amount of time ESPN spends talking about hockey on the network, this is how I would imagine these rankings were put together: Matthew Berry: “Can we get Barry Melrose to do it? No??? Hey! Interns! Are any of you Canadian? None of you?? Alright well who knows who Wayne Gretzky is? Okay good you 2 give me your top 300 players currently playing in the NHL.. By tomorrow!” Let’s call those 2 interns Mike & Ike, just because I love that candy… Alright so probably a little more thought went into it than that, but not much. Lets look at some of the more egregious rankings Mike & Ike made:
Anze Kopitar – C (6th overall): So I know Kopitar pretty well (no not like that). Living where I do the Kings have every game televised so in his 5 years in the NHL I’ve seen hours and hours of him. He’s good. He’s young (just turned 24). He’s got talent around him. But he took a step back last year (25G, 18PPP’s, 233Shots) which for me erased what many thought was his “breakout” in 2009 (34G, 38PPP’s, 259Shots). I could see an argument for Top 20 overall, but 6th is just crazy. I don’t think he even cracks my Top 6 Centers.
Dustin Byfuglien – D (11th overall): Byfuglien the Vampire Slayer 11th? Seriously? I’ve written about him extensively. He’s my #3 ranked Defenseman but he didn’t even crack my Top 30 overall. Prior to last year, his top scoring season was 2008 when he had a whopping 36 Points. I’ll give ‘em that last year was his first in Atlanta…. errrrr….Winnepeg and maybe he set a new bar going forward, but to that argument I say why did he only have 4 Goals and 7 Assists in his last 37 Games?
Zdeno Chara – D (16th overall): Maybe it’s just my anti Defenseman bias, but this one is just dumb. Yes he’s consistent and “safe”, but ESPN has him improving over what he did last season. W-H-Y? I have no idea. He turns 35 before the end of this season and here are his point totals the last 4 years: 51, 50, 44, 44. That looks like a classic decline to me.
Tomas Vokoun – G (17th overall): I like Vokoun alot this year, but to rank him 7 spots ahead of Tim Thomas & 22 spots ahead of Carey Price is wacko. Price will get a minimum of 10 extra starts this season. And I hate to pull this card, but bear with me as I put on my NorthEast bias hat: Vokoun has been in Nashville and Florida his entire career. He has no idea of the pressure cooker he’s walking into.
Mike Richards - C (21st overall): I hate the theme of a player going to a new place and getting a “fresh start”. I mean can’t the exact opposite argument be made? “He’s leaving his comfort zone so look for a drop in production as he gets used to his new surroundings.” Yeah that makes sense.. Actually no. What makes sense is that Richards averaged just 64 Points over the last 2 seasons. Certainly solid but not 1st pick in the 3rd round solid.
Ryan Getzlaf – C (40th overall): 40? 40??? How can you have Anze Kopitar 6th and Ryan Getzlaf 40th? The funniest part is that they’re predicting 83Points, 64PIM’s and 31 Power Play Points for sexy Getzy and just 77Points, 21PIM’s and 25PPP’s for Kopitar.. Sure Kopi’s projected to get 100 more Shots, but that’s worth 34 spots in the rankings?
Mark Streit – D (56th overall): Okay you wanna rank him in the Top 60 ESPN because you think he’ll rebound after a major shoulder injury, thats fine. No problem with that. But the problem is who you have ranked just 1 spot ahead of him – Nicklas Lidstrom. Not only is it not acceptable to put Streit in the same sentence as Liddy; he should’nt even be allowed to shine Lidstrom’s shoes.
Keith Yandle – D (30th overall): So I promised to talk about one of the ESPN rankings I like, and this is it. Yandle is the rare Defenseman who is the primary offensive weapon on an above average team. He should produce solid D1 stats across the board.
It’s tough to get too worked up about any of the later rankings. All the guys start to blend together at a certain point and it just becomes a crap shoot (much like every other fantasy sport). On a related note, I participated in the Yahoo! Friends & Family draft earlier today and I have to admit it didn’t go all that well. I will give more details in my next post, now enjoy your Friday!