With just a little over a month left before the puck drops it’s time to drop the rankings on y’all and get this party started! Last season saw the predictable end of Crosby leading the way yet again and guess what? Nothing changes this season. Well, that’s not true, a lot changes this season. Tons of new faces in new places and now the Central Division might be the toughest division to play in, maybe in all of North American sports. This season we’ll finally get a look at all-world rookie Jonathan Drouin and from the video I’ve seen the kid should be a hot commodity right off the bat, or off the stick, or… I get my metaphors mixed up sometimes. Anyway, there’s no need for a lengthy introduction here so lets get right to the top 10:

1)  Sidney Crosby – remains king of the mountain going into 2014-15 and barring an injury he should be the only guy who breaks the century mark for a second straight season. That alone nets him the top slot again, but consider that last season he won the Art Ross by 17 points while putting up 1.3 points per game, the top mark in the league. The only guy who came close in points per was Evgeni Malkin at 1.2 points per game, and Geno isn’t trending up this season. Granted, had Steven Stamkos not broken his leg, he would likely have challenged Sid for the scoring title, which he’ll do this season, but inevitably Crosby remains the best player in the world. I would talk about who he’s going to skate with, but it almost doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine they’ll break up Crosby and Chris Kunitz, who he spent about 80% of his time with last year. Throw in a dash of Geno here and there and Sidney will be just fine. At 27 years old he could be poised to put up the best season of his career, the only question is whether or not the concussion bug will bite him again. He played 80 games last season, a career high, but the injury risk remains. Still, I doubt it stops him from making a run at another Hart Trophy. 2015 Projections: 35 G, 65 A, 100 PTS

2) Steven Stamkos – could very well find himself in the number one slot by season’s end, it really is that close. When he broke his tibia last season he was cranking away with 10 goals in his last 13 games and that’s exactly what you’d expect from him then and what you should expect going into this season. The kicker here is though Stamkos is a filthy finisher, his supporting cast isn’t going to be as good as Crosby’s. Stamkos will spend his time with Ryan Callahan and early predictions have all-world rookie Jonathan Drouin on his other wing. Cally is a great guy to play with but I don’t know that he does a ton to help Stamkos’ final numbers. Cally doesn’t pass the puck all that often and while he can finish, I think Stevey can and will handle putting the biscuit in the basket for the Bolts’ top line this season. Somehow I doubt Drouin lasts long on the top line, if he gets any time there at all, and if we’re lucky it will be Ondrej Palat that takes his place and that, my friends, would make for a very dangerous line. Still, none of these guys are Martin St. Louis, and despite being ancient in hockey years, if Marty was still on Stamkos’ wing I might be inclined to nudge him above Crosby by a few points and label him my number one, but honestly, you can’t go wrong using the number one pick in your league on either guy. 2015 Projections: 56 G, 41 A, 97 PTS

3) Tyler Seguin – isn’t getting much love from other ‘perts but I consider him a sure thing this season, and you can buy that for a dollar! Really you’ll have to pay a lot more than that to get Seguin in auction drafts, but considering that he’s often ranked at least five slots lower than this you might be able to get him early in the second round. For those of you stuck with the 12th pick in a 12-team snake draft fear not! Seguin may very well fall to you, and you’ll get the last laugh. I’ve seen him listed down in the teens and I can’t say I understand why. At 22 he’s entering the prime of his career with a cast of supporting players that is among the deepest and most talented in the league. He’ll spend most of his time on the top line paired with Jaime Benn now that new additions Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky will handle the second line. Can you say depth? That’s Kings level depth right there. Granted this could all fall apart pretty quickly given how injury prone Spezza and Hemsky are, but all things being equal Seguin should challenge for the Hart Trophy this season. The West is scary, y’all! 2015 Projections: 40 G, 54 A, 94 PTS

4) Claude Giroux – started last season so poorly I could have gone out there and done a better job. He didn’t score a goal until his 16th game of the season yet still managed to tie his career high 28 goals giving him 86 points in 82 games. This season he’ll likely be paired with Jakub Voracek again, who after a disappointing 2014 campaign should bounce back and show his true value only helping to further bolster Claude’s numbers. Philly’s defense remains a problem and things became much worse when we learned that Kimmo Timonen was diagnosed with a rare blood clotting disorder that is likely to end his long career. I know I bagged on Kimmo last season encouraging his retirement, but this is not what I hoped to see for a class act like him, even if he does play for Philly. At any rate, the porous Philly D will hurt Giroux’s plus/minus rating and that’s about the only negative I can think of here. With no freakish off season golfing injuries he should be ready to go from game one making up the gap between last year’s numbers and my lofty hopes for his 2015 campaign. That being said, if he keeps getting arrested for grabbing the ass of every cop he sees he might not reach these marks. Less drinky, more scorey! 2015 Projections: 32 G, 61 A, 93 PTS

5) John Tavares – was in the midst of a breakout season when he went down with a nasty knee injury tearing his left MCL and meniscus in the Olympics. His 66 points (25 G, 42 A) were third in the league when he went down and you have to believe he would have challenged for the no. 2 slot if he stayed healthy. All signs point to his knee being okay as he’s taking regular off-season workouts leading up to camp. A healthy Tavares deserves better and I doubt this is the season he’ll get it. Last year Tomas Vanek came to town and the Vanek-Tavares-Okposo line was easily the most deadly in hockey, while it lasted. Sadly, Garth couldn’t pull a Snow job on Vanek who turned down a big contract extension to stick with the Isles and was promptly dealt to the Habs. Had Vanek signed that deal I probably would have ranked Tavares in the top three with Crosby and Stamkos, but c’est la vie! It wasn’t meant to be. This season Tavares and Kyle Okposo remain the top line pairing; the big question is who plays with them? Brock Nelson and Anders Lee are the top candidates to earn the job; though word has it the Isles are wide open and giving a handful of guys a shot at the spot. Tavares is just too good to be ranked any lower, but if it weren’t for Okie, he’d basically be playing alone. Sad trombone. 2015 Projections: 36 G, 55 A, 91 PTS

6) Taylor Hall – stepped up his game last season and broke out with 27 G, 53 A for 80 points in 75 games. All that while playing for the Oil. Yeah, they have some offensive talent, but it doesn’t seem like they can get their act together for very long. Maybe the additions of Teddy Purcell and Benoit Pouliot can help solidify an offensive unit that was Hall’s biggest weakness. His 80 points could have easily been closer to 90 if their possession play wasn’t so bad, but it was, and it will take a big improvement to not hold him back again. That being said, consider Hall was being held back by his team and still put up 80 points. Delicious. Hall anchors the Edmonton power play with 3:10 TOI per game, second only to Justin Schultz, and that’s not going to change this season so expect him to get lots of opportunities on the power play as well.  He’ll remain on a line with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle this season, both of whom should make their own steps forward only helping to bolster Hall’s chances of breaking the 90 point mark, which I think he just barely misses. In any case, expect the 22 year old to take another step forward and join the scoring elite this season.  2015 Projections: 34 G, 55 A, 89 PTS

7) Ryan Getzlaf – After a bleh 2011-12 campaign Getz has posted two consecutive seasons tallying more than a point per game and I doubt that ends this year. With good buddy and ‘bow throwin’ extraordinaire Corey Perry on his wing Getz is poised to put up another MVP caliber performance in 2015. Earlier I mentioned that Crosby won the scoring title by 17 points, well, it was Getzlaf’s 87 that came in second place. Pretty good value considering his ADP last year definitely wasn’t 2nd overall. His 204 shots last year were the most he’s put up since way back when in 2009 when he fired 227 on net. I don’t think he returns to the 30 goal club again this season, last year was the first time he ever broke that mark but the skilled playmaker is a pass first kind of guy and with a clinical finisher like Perry there to put the biscuit home, there’s not a lot of need for Getz to fire another 200 shots on goal. Does that mean he won’t? Not at all, but at 29 years old last year might have been his magnum opus, it’s just a shame it ended in a tough game 7 loss to the Kings. 2015 Projections: 26 G, 59 A, 85 PTS

8) Patrick Kane – was cruising along at a point per game pace until his injury last season, but I’m thinking he stays healthy this season and puts up a career year. Before he went down he posted 12 and 14 game scoring streaks posting 42 points over those 26 games. He’s steaky, yeah, but the streaks are long and heavy on the points, so don’t complain, eh? He just signed a monster long term deal, his team remains one of the most dominant offensive units in the league and at 25 he’s in the prime of his career. I love Kane in roto leagues more than H2H but you can’t really go wrong with him in the first round.
2015 Projections: 31 G, 52 A, 83 PTS9)

9) Tuukka Rask – is the only goalie to breach the top 10 and he barely made it, but he made it. Why? Because he’s absolutely out of his mind good and he’ll likely see more than 60 starts for the first time in his career. After finishing last season with a microscopic 2.04 GAA and a sexy .930 SV% the extra 5-10 starts he’ll see are just icing on the cake. There’s no regression in the works for the 27 year old tender who is in the prime of his career playing for a defensive stalwart in Boston. I wouldn’t draft Rask and I’m not going to because he just costs far too much. Consider that after Rask and Henrik Lundqvist there’s a drop off in talent, but it’s not steep. There will be plenty of quality netminders to choose from in rounds 3 and 4 to waste a pick on a goalie this early. Either way, the Rage Monster is going to produce like whoa for whoever drafts him. 2015 Projections: 62 GP, 40-16-5, 2.14 GAA, .927 SV%

10) Alex Ovechkin – might be the most gifted goal scorer of this generation and netting his fourth Maurice Richard Trophy so far, the most all time, lends credence to that title.Ovi started last season white-hot potting 10 goals in his first 12 games and 40 by the Olympic break. Predictably he slowed considerably after the games but still managed to break the 50-goal mark and finish with 51 overall.  He lead the league in power play TOI and it showed with 24 of those tasty goals came on the power play and I can’t imagine that’s going to be much different than last season. Some other folks think that Ovi is going to top the 50 goal marker again this season but I just don’t see it. Don’t get me wrong, I think he’s still a top 3 finisher and he’s going to come close, but at some point he’s going to start to decline and I think the decline starts this season for the 28 year old superstar. There have been rumblings that his shifts are going to be shortened to try an eliminate the coasting he does when the other team has the puck, so he might not burst out of the gate as ferociously as he did last season and that drops his totals and his overall value.2015 Projections: 48 G, 32 A, 80 PTS

  1. goodfold2 says:
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    4 keepers out of these. which way to go?
    PPP/SHP/hits/SOG/faceoffs other than standard cats.
    spezza/e.staal/skinner/hossa/vanek/palat/lucic/richards/j.williams/soderberg/t.johnson/sekera/zidlicky/greene/methot/upshall/beachemin/maroon/the Ders (a.lee)/Rinne/Khudobin/Bernier
    start 4 C’s/2 Lw/ 2 Rw/1 W/ 1F/ 6 D/1 util/ 3 G/ 4 Bench. i would think Rinne for sure.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      Spezza, Palat, Lucic, Rinne

  2. KHen says:
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    As a Geno Malkin owner in a keeper league I am not looking forward to why he wouldn’t be in the top 10 this year

    • JD

      JD says:
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      @KHen: He’s out of the top 10, but not by much. New coach, new line mates and lower body injury woes.

  3. Harry says:
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    Hey, Great write up JD!

    Where would you be putting Backstrom (Wash) at? Top 20 perhaps? (Yahoo has him all the way down at 70!) I have a limited keeper where I need to pick between keeping Backstrom (Wash), Rinne or Lehtonen.. Thinking Backstrom, and hope to get the other two a little later in the 3-4 round.. may not pan out as its a fairly deep league with lots of Goalie games to play.

    And then I need to pick between Gudas and Palat as my rookie Keeper (league counts all the normal stats + Pims, short handed goals, hits and blks)
    If you have some thoughts on these.. lemme know, and thanks again!

    • JD

      JD says:
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      Thanks mate! The rankings posts will keep flowing out daily for the foreseeable future, so stay tuned! As for Nik Backstrom, he isn’t going to break my top 20 but he isn’t 70th overall, either. He was pushed out of my top 20 but just barely. Don’t listen to Yahoo rankings, they’ll just lead you down a dark path of sadness and defeat.

      Keepers: Backstrom and Palat. Rinne should be fully recovered, but who knows? A goalie with a weak hip scares me and you can likely get him for cheaper than you paid last year. Having Backstrom and Palat on your roster lets you aggressively pursue goalies as needed. As for blocks/hits/SHG… those are stats you can easily get in later rounds or even off the wire.

  4. Pancho says:
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    I have Crosby, Rask, and Ovechkin as my 3 keepers. I’m loving life right now to say the least!

    I’m thinking about putting Ovi on the market for a younger winger and a draft upgrade. Who are some names you would target?

    • Pancho says:
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      I would want a Top 25 player as that young winger.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      Moving Ovi isn’t going to be hard, you just want to make sure you get back what you need. Stamkos and Ovi are the only two guys in the league capable of putting up 50 goals. I don’t think Ovi gets there this season, but he’s going to end up in the 40s at least. I would recommend you try and bring in an elite Dman with a supplemental winger, say like… Ovi for Weber and a Mikael Granlund type. Straight up you could go after someone like Nik Backstrom or Nathan MacKinnon, but really it just depends on what you need stats wise.

      • Pancho says:
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        @JD:

        10 Team 3 Keeper Dynasty League (no draft restrictions).

        Found a three team trade that I liked for Ovi. Just struck the deal last night …

        3-Team Deal

        Brandon trades RW Alex Ovechkin and 5th rd. pick [49 overall] for D Erik Karlsson and 1st rd. pick [6] (via Rossi).

        Rossi trades D Erik Karlsson and 1st rd. pick [6] for RW Phil Kessel and 2nd rd. pick [16] (via Justin).

        Justin trades RW Phil Kessel and 2nd rd. pick [16] for RW Alex Ovechkin and 5th rd. pick [49] (via Brandon).

        • JD

          JD says:
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          So you pulled in Karlsson AND a first round pick for Ovi? Way to be! That’s a baller deal considering your other keepers. Make sure you use that first round pick on a sniper and you’re good to go.

          • Pancho says:
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            @JD: Almost positive Taylor Hall will be in the draft (the team that has him is keeping Ovechkin, Getzlaf, and Ben Bishop), and I noticed you are high on him. If he drops to 6 overall, that seems like a no-brainer, right? None of the other guys in your Top 10 will be available. I think it’s a long shot at 6, but others you have ranked high that could be available: Nathan MacKinnon, Joe Pavelski, Patrick Sharp, Pavel Datsyuk, Shea Weber, and Kyle Okposo to name a few. With Sid, Karlsson, and Rask as my keeper trio, who fits best of those dudes I just listed? I’ll have pick 6, 9, and 12 in the draft, so I am sitting in the driver’s seat here.

            And thanks so much for the content and replies! I’ve been looking for a solid fantasy hockey site for literally years. You’ve gained a follower in me!

            • JD

              JD says:
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              No problem mate, I’m here to help. Thanks for reading!

              Considering most of the top 10 are gone it’s probably a reach for Hall to drop to 6th. I would imagine he’ll be the first or second guy off the board but you never know. If he does fall to you grab him without hesitation. If not, MacKinnon or Pavelski would be the way to go of those you listed. I love Okie, but his value is tied to Tavares in a big way, plus, you know, the Isles. Dats is oft injured and too risky that early, Sharp is due to regress a bit though if Mac and Pavs are gone he’s a good guy to grab, and with Karlsson on board there’s no need to load up your back end with Weber that early either. Always focus on forwards, forwards, forwards early in the draft.

  5. Bryan says:
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    10 man league. Can’t keep first rounders, can only keep 2 years in a row. I’m already hanging onto Jamie Benn (6th round), need to select my second keeper. Draft order will be randomized right before the draft (after keeper selection).

    CAT’s: Goals, Assists, (+/-), PPP, SHP, GWG, SOG, FW, Hits, Blocks
    Positions: 2C, 2RW, 2LW, 2D, 2Util, 2G, 4BENCH

    Cost to keep:
    Hall: 3rd round
    Duchene: 4th round
    Ekman-Larsson: 11th round
    Okposo: 16th round

    So who do I go with? Reasons why/why not? I’m really leaning towards Hall or Okposo.

    • JD

      JD says:
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      No question it’s Taylor Hall. He’ll be one of just a handful of guys to flirt with 90 points and 30+ goals this season. You might have drafted him in the third round, but he’s a consensus top 10 pick now. In your league that makes him especially valuable because you can’t keep first round picks, so props on a great value pick there. I love Okie, but not over Hall. Starting with Benn and Hall in tow and then you get to take a stab at another elite scoring forward to start your draft off? You could potentially start with three top 15 forwards as your scoring core. Cash money.

      • Bryan says:
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        Thanks for the advice, Hall’s +/- kicked my ass last year but I was still leaning towards keeping him and hoping Edmonton finally has a contending team (I mean they have to eventually right?). I’ll likely stick with Hall/Benn and see what else is out there in rounds 1,2,4,5 for additional forwards, goalies and maybe an elite D-man depending on my pick number and who else is being kept.

        • JD

          JD says:
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          @Bryan: Yeah that plus/minus can hurt but consider he finished at just minus-11 last season despite all the Oily woes. If The Nuge and Eberle take their expected steps forward with Hall and Justin Schultz matures a bit I’m thinking Hall’s rating improves, if only marginally. You can try and offset the potential for Halls rating to hurt you by drafting a +/- beast on the back end like Alex Pietrangelo, Matt Niskanen, Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook.

  6. Glen says:
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    Are these based on a standard 6×4? I only see G,A,Pts projections which makes me think yes. Would explain how you don’t have Perry, Benn and Ovi rated higher…

    • JD

      JD says:
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      Yeah, standard 6×4, it’s the most common format used so I always work from that as a baseline. If you have any questions about rankings based on your own league settings just let me know what the settings are and I’m happy to help. Thanks for reading!

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