With the Fantasy Hockey Top-12, players are seemingly interchangeable based on your preferences, but the Fantasy Hockey Top 25 are going to be mixed a bit more. The further down the road we go, everyone’s player list will differ based on scoring systems and personal preferences. Every one of these players should be taken early in serpentine drafts, late round one to the early third round, or top dollar bids in auction formats. I have Ben Bishop higher than most and I’m sure Tyler Johnson as well, but Tampa has something special down there… makes me glad my brother-in-law gets me free tickets whenever I’m in Florida. In the day and age of the salary cap, teams need to strike while their irons are hot before contracts get to big. Polkadamas predicts the Lightning and Caps will be squaring off in my Eastern Conference Finals…
13) Taylor Hall – Hall is one of the most exciting players in the NHL, his speed and skill set are going to make him a potential fantasy lottery pick for the next decade. The way the future Stanley Cup champs are setting it up this season under new Head Coach Todd McLellen will be Hall, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins again as top line. Though if the “Nuge” gets hurt or misses any time this season the savior of the Oil City Conner McDavid could easily get the top line centering duty and may just surpass Nugent-Hopkins as top dog anyway with skill and unit cohesion alone. With writers, analyst’s, scouts, coaches, and Jesus himself all over McDavid’s satchel he barely has room to breathe, and they can’t stop gushing at his ability and ever single word of it is warranted, he plays and is billed as described. I watched a ton of OHL games last year and was just amazed at the speed at which he played, and saw the game, with Hall the immediate beneficiary of whomever centers his line, and it is Halls line no matter who centers it if he can stay healthy. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 41 G, 40 A, 81 PTS.
14) Ryan Getzlaf – Getzlaf and line mate, crier extraordinaire Corey Perry will always be side by side on the ice and barring injuries I see a solid jump in stats across the board for both of them this season. They are the two players I love to hate the most, thank you Icecube. As mentioned in 2015/16 Hockey Top 12 the Ducks have a new Assistant Coach in Paul MacLean and he will turn the power play around fast. Getzlaf regularly plays 77-82 games per season and is not an injury risk, so drafters breathe easy when he comes to you and gladly take him. Getz will reward you across the stat sheet, and with him dropping dimes like George Jung in 1974, his line mates will benefit immediately. Getzlaf is a mid to late 2nd round pick and if he falls below that you are drafting with idiots, and be sure they spell your name right on the trophy and checks. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 21 G, 58 A, 79 PTS.
15) Joe Pavelski – Pavelski is the new leader of the Sharks and the former Wisconsin Badger is primed for another huge fantasy season, but at the age of 31 could be slowly sliding out of his prime. Regardless he should be the leading scorer in San Jose again this season and top contributor on the Sharks top line and power play unit. Pavelski should be playing on the top line with the 805 year old twins Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau, which ensures that his numbers will be very high. I’d much rather see him line up with Logan Couture, but they will be together on power play unit one and hopefully management smartens up and puts them together. Pavelski provided 70 PIM’s last year with 19 power play makers, making him one of the leagues top finishers and stat fillers. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 39 G, 39 A, 78 PTS
16) Claude Giroux – He is the unquestionable leader to the Flyers team and they go as he goes offensively. With the emergence of line mate Jacub Voracek he now has a running mate who can skate with him. Claude plays a full slate of games in the tough Metro Division, and will still produce even if the Flyers as a team were putrid last season even strength and short-handed. The lone bright spot was the 3rd ranked power play clicked at a 23.4% rate last season, good for 3rd in the NHL. Personally I like to draft guys from winning teams, but you cannot go wrong with the production from Giroux or Voracek- mid 2nd or early 3rd round pick. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 22 G, 51 A, 73 PTS.
Claude Giroux and Jacub Voracek.
17) Jacub Voracek – Just so this doesn’t seem like a repeat of the Giroux profile I won’t repeat all of it. Voracek plays top line minutes and power play time at 3:15 per game and his 11 power play goals are nice as well. Remember what I said about line mates, but finding the third wheel for this line will be key. Brayden Schenn filled in well in that roll last year with 18 G, 29 A, 47 PTS, but he will also need to finally hit the stride that was expected of him being drafted as a lottery pick. Voracek had his coming out party last season and that gig will continue in this season as long as he’s riding shot gun with Giroux driving the Bullies. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 25 G, 46 A, 71 PTS.
18) Ben Bishop – Bishop trains as Sasquatch in his offseason routine running around the Pacific Northwest scaring campers and little kids…Joking, but man he is big enough too. Bishop’s play served notice to the league last year that he is legit as MC Hammer and here to stay like the Beastie Boys. Bishop provided great numbers last year with a 2.82 GA, 40 W, 17 L and 4 SO, and as well as the Lightning are growing and playing Bishop is a slam dunk to repeat those numbers and push Carey Price for top goalie honors in the NHL. Goalies are always some drafters wet dream and Bishop will be dancing through heads on draft day while top end skaters are drafted and drafted with him just sitting there, but not past round three. He is also backed up by Andre Vasilevski who played only 16 games last year, and is great back up goalie to ‘Cuff also tells me that Bishop is slated for a heavy work load again this season. SAGNOF counts in hockey as well as Razzball Baseball, and I bet Ottawa is kicking themselves for dealing Bishop away. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 42 W, 18 L, 7 SO.
Championship number three and counting…
19) Jonathan Toews – Toews is pound-for-pound the best player in the game, he sacrifices a lot of personal glory for team goals first. Toews just as easy could run up offensive numbers with the Crosby’s and Ovechkin’s of the league, but his favorite player was Steve Yzerman and like Stevie, Toews sacrifices offense for an all around game which has garnered three June parades down Michigan Ave. He is no fantasy slouch though and don’t let that fool anyone for weakness or softness. JT is the best two way player in the NHL hands down, and Captain Serious will lead the Champs deep into the post season with the help of Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brett Seabrook and Corey Crawford. This core unit most likely has a few more June parades in them, and playing in the extremely deep Central Division these guys will have to fight for every crumb knocked off the table. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 29 G, 43 A, 72 PTS.
20) Tyler Johnson – As the great rock band The Who once sang: The Kids are Alright, and this group of Lightning players are exactly that…alright! Actually they are damn good, like I said earlier I see this group making another deep playoff run and a Eastern Conference finals dance again. Johnson had his coming out party last year too, and along with line mates Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat these boys were 2nd, 3rd and 4th in scoring in Tampa. The Lightning offense was tops in the NHL last season with 3.16 goals per game, and tied for 13th on the man advantage with a 18.8% conversion rate. I see no reason that this team doesn’t open fire and run wild over most teams they face each night. Coach John Cooper has decision’s ahead of himself this fall on who to put where on power plays and what line is top dog, but grab every piece of the Lightning you can get on your team again this season. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 30 G, 41 A, 71 PTS.
21) Erik Karlsson – He is the closest player in the league to what Paul Coffey considers a great defenseman, and makes him smile ear to ear. A flat out speed demon who is everywhere on the ice averaging over 27 minutes per game. Karlsson was also the Sens lead scorer last season with 21 G, 45 A, 66, PTS, which on paper doesn’t seem like much, but for a defensemen is straight cash money. While I consider Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty the best defensemen in the league, Karlsson will always be the first one picked in fantasy drafts because he scores tons. I easily see him leading the young Sens team in scoring, shots, ice time and the power play time again. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 24 G, 46 A, 70 PTS.
22) Anze Kopitar – Kopitar is Slovenia’s hottest export since Big River Man- Martin Strel, distance swimmer in his 50’s who swims the worlds longest rivers to point out the heavy pollution in them. But Anze is King of Slovenia with two Stanley Cup trophies, and he is still the man with his foot on the L.A. Kings gas pedal.
BIG RIVER MAN – Martin Strel.
Kopitar and Drew Doughty are the unquestioned leaders of the Kings, and they are young and primed for another deep playoff run with the addition of Milan Lucic scheduled to line up on Kopitar’s left wing along with league Sick-Bay Commando Marian Gaborik on the right side. This will be one formidable line in the league this year, and will hopefully light a fire under the mediocre offense the Kings threw out there each night with only a 2.66 goals per game(18th). Los Angeles only had the 11th best power play last season as well, and Lucic being there will hopefully make it elite again. Kopitar played 79 games last year and hasn’t been an injury risk at all during his career. He lead the Kings in points last year with 16G, 48 A, and 64 PTS, this year I see improvement. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 22 G, 48 A, 70 PTS.
23) Pekka Rinne – He played 64 games last season for another battleship in the Central Division. Rinne will be the top dog for another deep playoff run for the Predators again this year. Rinne is very fortunate to have so many good/great defensemen lined up in from of him, and the Preds are returning 11 of the possible 12 forwards from last years squad. With another season to learn Head Coach Peter Laviolette’s offense, and 2nd year phenom Filip Forsberg, things look good in the Music City and I’m a fan. With a team defense that ranked 9th last season the Preds have room for improvement even though they finished with 104 points, the offense is what needs a good kick in the can. 2015-16 PROJECTIONS: 35 W, 21 L, 4 SO.
24) Nathan MacKinnon – With all the Conner McDavid hype this year and Aaron Ekblad hype from last year everyone is forgetting about the 2013 top pick due to his injuries last year and sophomore slump. This season MacKinnon will swing back with a vengence and show everyone he is worth the price of admission, and it kills me to say that due to my absolute hate for Patrick Roy and the Avalanche. Whose fans were spoiled rotten by attaining a 102 point team from Quebec instead of getting an expansion team and suffering like the folks in Miami do each year at 41 home games! MacKinnon only played 64 games last season, but like I said I expect a full frontal turn around from MacKinnon like in that 80’s scream flick Sleepaway Camp. Kid is just to sick to let one season bring him down and playing on the top line with Garbriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene centering them it will be a nice top line in Denver. 2015-16 Projections: 27G, 39 A, 66 PTS.
25) Ryan Johansen – Johansen is really one of my favorite players to watch, and with addition of Brandon Saad, the Columbus faithful will have a season to be really excited about, of course barring the normal 2500 man games lost per season in Ohio. I plan on targeting all three in my upcoming draft season. Right wing Nick Foligno will fill out the top line with Saad and Johansen and form one fun line to watch grow. Last season Johansen held out for more than the usual young guy 2 year bridge contract, and the Blue Jackets brass did not regret paying him large once he hit the ice, and they will not regret that huge contract again this season as he continues to learn, get better and dominate. I’m picking the Jackets to take the 8th playoff spot in the East this year and Johansen to be the scoring leader again. 2015-16 Projections: 32 G, 34 A, 66 PTS.