Hey guys, hope your weekend went well! I’m back to get you through the top 100 of my rankings. After this, the player pool is going to thin out pretty quick, especially at goaltender, so this is the range where you should be getting your second goalie if possible. I’d also make sure to get out of the top 100 with at least one defenseman as the dropoff after the top 13 is pretty steep. At this point of your draft, the core of your team is starting to form so you don’t have to be strict in the rankings and go best player available. If you still need a goalie, don’t be afraid to take them a round higher than where I have him. If you need PIM badly, get one of the PIM guys on the list because after the top 100, there’s only a couple guys who can good offensive contributors while being strong in PIM, etc. Let’s get to it!
76) T.J Oshie – The American who rose to fame in the 2014 Winter Olympics in the dramatic shootout against Russia is in prime position to have his best season in the NHL. His offseason trade to the Capitals set up Oshie to play on the first line and first power play unit with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, two talents better than anyone he’s played with on the Blues. Oshie is a solid source of PIM, his special teams points are a near certainty to rise and his shot rate went up significantly last year (10 more shots in 7 less games than 2013-14). Career highs across the board is within the realm of possibility.
77) Andrew Ladd – Just like the Jets organization, their captain is trending in the right direction. Ladd posted a career high in assists, PIM and STP last season while his shot rate returned to being above average. Ladd is also incredibly durable missing 7 total games the last 7 seasons. He’s one of the best possession lines in hockey with Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little meaning Ladd should also be a plus player like he’s been the last three seasons. He’s arguably the safest player at this point in the draft and has some upside to past last season’s totals.
78) Marc-Andre Fleury – A player who has often been a scapegoat for the Penguins in the playoffs, Fleury had the best season of his career last year. Usually, Fleury posts great win totals while being average or worse in GAA and SV%. Last year, his win total was lower than normal but he posted a career best goals against average, second best save percentage and had double the amount of shutouts he’d had in any other year of his career (10). With the additions the Penguins made, Fleury has the potential to gain those wins back and if he can keep the other stats up, this ranking is far too low. However, I expect his numbers to regress back to his norm a bit as the Penguins should play a very aggressive open style of hockey leaving Fleury vulnerable defensively at times.
79) Nick Foligno – Foligno showed a side of his game that very few thought existed; legitimate offense. Foligno had 13 more goals and 10 more assists than his previous career highs from the first seven years of his career, posting an incredible 73 points (31+42). The big increase was mostly caused by 26 special teams points when his career high was 10 before. With Brandon Saad currently slotted into the first line with Ryan Johansen and Foligno, he has the potential to duplicate last year. However, as much as like those players, I expect Foligno stats to slide a little bit. He has a low shot rate for a forward; last year was a career best and he was right around 2 per game. Scoring 30 goals shooting the puck that little is incredibly difficult and his shot rate could go back down with Saad joining his line. If it goes back to where it was two years ago (1.6 per game), that’s an absolute disaster. His penalty minutes took a big hit last year as well. The ceiling is high as we saw last year but the floor is lower than one would think.
80) Victor Hedman – Detailed analysis on Hedman here. With all of the offensive talent the Lightning have plus the clear opportunity has for Hedman to quarterback their power play, Hedman is in a great spot to step into the fantasy elite for defensemen as he’s done in real life.
81) Chris Kreider – Few players in the league can match the speed and power that Kreider possess. He has the upside to join the David Backes, Gabriel Landeskog and Wayne Simmonds tier from the top-75. His shot rate went up, his PIM is as good as everyone else in that group and he has the talent to bury 30 goals. The only reason he comes in lower is he’s never been a good power play player to this point in his career (he only had 8 power play points last year and only 1 power play assist!) This could potentially turn around with Keith Yandle being on the Rangers but the slow pace of the power play has never been Kreider’s game. Fifty points and a great source of penalty minutes seem to be Kreider’s floor. If things actually click for him, he has 30 goal upside.
82) Cory Schneider – Schneider is rarely mentioned when talking about elite goaltenders in the NHL but he absolutely deserves to be. In his first full season as a starter, Schneider posted numbers similar to when he backed up in Vancouver and New Jersey with a 2.26 GAA and .925 sv%. The only reason that Schneider isn’t ranked higher is that the Devils simply aren’t good. They’re in a very good division where they are bottom dwellers with Carolina. The wins simply aren’t going to be there for Schneider. Ideally, you should pair Schneider with a goalie on one of the best teams in the league to make up for the wins and let Schneider boost your ratios.
83) Evgeny Kuznetsov – Kuznetsov was hyped for years as the next great Russian player to come over and he showed why last year in the playoffs. He was simply dominant at times against the Islanders and Rangers and looks to finally be the supplemental scorer that the Capitals have lacked for years. His shot rate was poor during the regular season but he showed in the playoffs that he should grow into a dominant shooter taking 3 per game. He’ll also have new Capitals addition Justin Williams on his wing who is a great possession player. It’s an aggressive ranking but the upside is also through the roof.
84) Shea Weber – More to read on Weber here. If you’re looking for a safe pick in this area of the draft, Weber is your guy. You’re getting an elite shot rate from a defenseman, around 50 points and solid PIM totals.
85) Keith Yandle – Unlike Weber before him, Yandle is full of upside. His plus-minus shouldn’t be horrible in New York like it’s been, he’s one of the best power play QB’s in the league giving him elite special teams points totals and an excellent shot rate. Further analysis here.
86) Jason Spezza – Spezza’s first season in Dallas went fairly well posting 62 points (17+45), 26 of which came on the power play. On the top Stars unit which has the potential to be the best power play in the league, those numbers can easily be repeated. Spezza also had the lowest shooting percentage of his entire career last year; a bounceback to his usual range would get him back into the low 20s in goals. The addition of Patrick Sharp will also benefit Spezza putting either Sharp or the young talent Valeri Nichushkin on his wing. The days of posting 90 point seasons are behind Spezza but his floor is incredibly high and has 70 point upside.
87) Pavel Datsyuk – The man with the best set of hands I’ve ever seen on the ice, Datsyuk hasn’t slowed down yet posting 65 points in 63 games last year at 36 years old. He also remained one of the few players you can guarantee a quality plus-minus from with his 10th season out of 13 being +10 or better. While his age hasn’t slowed down his play,they have on his body; Datsyuk’s missed significant time 4 of the past 5 seasons. He’s also a virtual blank in penalty minutes (he hasn’t had 20 or more in 6 seasons). If he could find a way to stay healthy, he’d be much higher on my list. This ranking is assuming he misses 15-20 games.
88) Scott Hartnell – Hartnell’s first season in Columbus was an incredible success posting 60 points and 100 PIM. If you’re behind the pack in penalty minutes, Hartnell is definitely a player to target being one of the last players who is a plus offensively while posting gaudy penalty minute totals. The main reasons Hartnell is lower than the rest of the big penalty minute guys are age and power play questions. Players who play the physical grinding game that Hartnell tend to suddenly fall off a cliff offensively. While Hartnell is only 33 years old, he’s played over 100 games in his career and the downside of his career may be rapidly approaching us. There is also talk from Columbus that Hartnell will no longer be on the power play for Columbus and, at the least, won’t be on the top unit. The lack of special teams points would be a big blow to take this early in the draft and could drop Hartnell in the 50 point range instead of 60 maintaining last year’s even strength totals.
89) Ondrej Palat – The third wheel to Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov, Palat proved his rookie year wasn’t a fluke last year putting up 63 points in 75 games with a ridiculous +31. The Triplets are one of the best lines in hockey and can be counted on to be among the best players in plus-minus in the entire NHL. From a fantasy perspective, Palat comes in far behind his linemates because his goal totals lag behind them and his shot rate is under two per game, very poor from a forward. The one thing that can Palat can realistically do to be a steal at this price is improve on the power play. The Triplets are getting the chance to start the year with Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman on the point of their power play unit meaning they could all improve their gaudy point totals. Just don’t reach assuming that’s going to happen.
90) Roman Josi – Josi’s outlook can be read here. Keep it open for the next guy too! A repeat of last season is possible but his floor is ultimately capped playing with Weber and the potential emergence of Seth Jones into a bigger role.
91) Oliver Ekman-Larsson – If it wasn’t for a near-certain horrible plus-minus, Ekman-Larsson would be much higher. He’s a great source of goals, shots and special teams points if you’re willing to live with the plus-minus. If you have players from Tampa Bay or Pittsburgh on your team already and can survive the -20 or worse, bump OEL up 10-15 spots. He’s also the end of the elite defensemen so you should have drafted at least one of these guys.
92) Antti Niemi- Niemi starts a run of goaltenders who have the upside to be a top 10 fantasy goalie but have a big question mark or two keeping them down towards the bottom of the top 100. Niemi’s move to Dallas could be the final piece that pushes the Stars into the Western Conference elite. It was a great move to revitalize his career going from a Sharks team on the decline to a Stars team on the rise. The question with Niemi is how many games he’s going to play. Lindy Ruff has a history of riding his number one goalie and playing him a ton of games even with a quality backup. As a Sabres fan, I saw it first hand for 15 years especially when the Sabres had Ryan Miller (more on him shortly) and Martin Biron. However, if Niemi slips at all, he won’t be afraid to play Kari Lehtonen for extended stretches and ride the hot goalie. In a rotisserie league where you have a capped number of starts, I absolutely love the idea of pairing up Niemi and Lehtonen and playing the Stars goalie every game.
93) Roberto Luongo – Unlike Niemi before him, there are no questions about Luongo’s playing time. Just like his former teammate Cory Schneider, Luongo’s biggest question mark is if he can post a quality win total. Unlike Schneider’s Devils, the Panthers are on the cusp of breaking through and making the playoffs. Luongo should post an above average goals against average and near-elite save percentage; sadly he’s not a lock for 30+ wins since his days of being a true workhorse appear to be over.
94) Jake Allen – Will this be the year Allen finally wrestles the job away from Brian Elliott and plays 55+ games? Formerly one of the best goaltending prospects in the league, Allen is at the age (25) where you usually find out how good a goalie is going to be. The Blues have been a regular season powerhouse the last few years giving Allen the potential for a big win total if he plays enough games. His goals against average should be very good when he plays with an average save percentage. Like the Stars duo, pairing up the Blues goalies would be a good strategy.
95) Martin Jones – The last goaltender in this tier, Jones was traded to Boston for Milan Lucic only to be shipped back to California to be the Sharks #1 goalie. Jones has showed flashes during his time backing up Jonathan Quick but with only 29 games started under his belt, we have no idea if he’ll be able to handle a big workload or quite simply, how good of a goalie he actually is. While the Sharks are a team on the decline, they still should fight for a playoff spot and added a few defensively responsible players (e.g. Joel Ward) which should put Jones in a better spot than Niemi was in last season. He’s a high risk, high reward pick at this point.
96) Tyler Toffoli – Toffoli progressed nicely in his sophomore season posting 49 points (23+26) while increasing his shot total by over half a game and adding a decent penalty minute total. The 70’s line with Toffoli, Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson look to be the main offensive line for the Kings again this year while the Anze Kopitar line does the heavy lifting. The upside for Toffoli is through the roof; his shot is incredible and he had only 5 power play points last year (he had more shorthanded points than power play points!). There’s no reason why it should be that low. Even getting into the high teens, a reasonable expectation, Toffoli could go 30+30 with a very good plus-minus and shot rate. He’s a great target if you need goals and shots at this point.
97) Mike Hoffman – Just like Toffoli before him, Mike Hoffman has great upside because he didn’t get power play time last year with Ottawa. Here are the list of players who had more goals than Mike Hoffman at even strength last season: Rick Nash, Steven Stamkos, Corey Perry, Alex Ovechkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nikita Kucherov. That’s it. All of those players are in the top 30 of the rankings. Hoffman is this low because he only had 21 assists last season and 14 PIM. While he should be on the Senators power play this year, it looks like he’s going to be on the second unit. At this point, I’d be absolutely thrilled to get Hoffman because if that changes and he gets top power play time, he could be a top 50 player.
98) Derek Stepan – Stepan had the best season of his young career putting up 55 points (16+39) in 68 games with an outstanding +26. Stepan has been +8 or better every season of his career which is a nice plus. I’m expecting Chris Kreider to emerge (see above) which will benefit Stepan greatly. Like the rest of the Rangers roster, I expect a boost for Stepan in special teams points with the addition of Keith Yandle. The PIM will be very low and his shot total will be average or slightly worse but Stepan has 70 point upside when few players do at this point.
99) Nick Bjugstad – Bjugstad showed flashes last season posting 24 goals and 19 assists as a 22 year old. Like the rest of the Panthers, Bjugstad is positioned to breakout this season. The acquisition of Reilly Smith from Boston gives Bjugstad a pass-first winger to play with. His shot rate made a big jump last season approaching three per game and that should continue to increase. The top line should garner most of the attention from other teams leaving the Bjugstad line to go against lesser competition. He won’t be a good source of assists but 30 goals and 250+ shots is possible.
100) Sam Bennett – Time for a sleeper pick with massive upside! The fourth overall pick from 2014 provided a spark for Calgary in the playoffs. Now, the 19 year old will slot into the second line for the Flames and get a chance to show that he belongs in the big leagues. He’s not getting the hype fellow rookies Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are getting (deservedly so) but Bennett is seemingly a forgotten man. He has the upside to put up similar point totals to them being a year older and on a much better team. Rookies have adjusted to the league much better in recent years and I’m calling a 60 point season from Bennett.
There’s your top 100. The hockey coverage at Razzball is about to start picking up. Preseason started yesterday and while there were only a couple games with mostly AHL level players, by Tuesday night most teams will have played a game or two and I will recap the biggest developments from the first couple days. I plan on getting through at least the top 150, if not the top 200 by the end of the week and Razzball Commenter Leagues will be open very soon. As always, feel free to comment below with any questions you have with the rankings or anything else. You can also follow me on twitter @RazzballViz. Take care Razzball Nation!