It’s finally time! ¬†After hours of writing and nitpicking one or two spots for multiple players, my top 50 overall players for this coming season are complete. ¬†This post is long enough so no need to right a long intro, let’s get right into it!
1)¬†Connor McDavid¬†– He should be the #1 overall pick in all drafts for the next 10 years. ¬†McDavid had 100 points last season at age 20 which is simply absurd. ¬†The penalty minutes won’t be great but everything else is going to be elite. ¬†It’s scary to think about how much better McDavid will be down the line but for this season, I expect him to marginally improve across the board from last season. ¬†That’s more than enough to give him the #1 spot.
2)¬†Sidney Crosby¬†– Crosby had his best season in three years last year scoring 44 goals and 45 assists. ¬†The shot rate jumped quite a bit and while his power play assists went down, the power play goals went up. ¬†It was nice to see Crosby become a little more selfish and shoot the puck more. ¬†He’s only behind McDavid because he’s 30 and McDavid is 20 coming off a 70 assist season.
3)¬†Nikita Kucherov¬†– The summer didn’t cool off my love affair for Kucherov. ¬†40+45 in 74 games, +13, 38 PIM, 32 PPP, well over 3 shots per game, what’s not to love? ¬†The crazy thing is his second half numbers are even more outrageous. ¬†I think his minutes increase to over 20 per game now and Stamkos’ return helps give Tampa some balance instead of teams loading up against Kucherov. ¬†I assume ranking him here will put him on a ton of my teams and I’m perfectly fine with that.
4)¬†Patrick Kane¬†– I considered moving him down one spot (it may happen eventually) but for now, I’m keeping Kane at 4th overall. ¬†While 2015-16 was surely not going to repeat itself, Kane scored 34 goals and added 55 assists last season. ¬†His shot rate marginally increased, he was a plus player for the eight straight year and while the power play points dropped, they remain at an above-average level.
5)¬†Alex Ovechkin¬†– I want to move him up but I can’t bring myself to do it. ¬†Ovechkin went from over 5 shots per game to just under 4, and now that he’s in a group with a handful of players pushing four shots per game, that kills his big advantage over the field. ¬†Could it go back up? ¬†Definitely, but it’s a little too risky for me to take him in the top four. ¬†Still, 33+36 with 50 PIM and 26 PPP is nothing to sneeze at and seems like his floor, at least in the goal scoring department.
6)¬†Brad Marchand¬†– My first change from my Way Too Early Top 50, Marchand slides up a spot. ¬†At first glance, I really hate being in the middle of the first round in a snake draft. ¬†The top 5 is clear cut and there are great options in the 13-16 range I’d rather get a chance to pick. ¬†Anyways, Marchand should regress this season, at least in the assists department, but he has plenty of room to spare given that he was the #1 skater last year. ¬†He’s the best six category player given he doesn’t have health concerns.
7)¬†Brent Burns¬†– Burns is my big mover in the early part of my draft board. ¬†After deliberating, I’m sliding him ahead of the next trio of forwards. ¬†The main reason is that he is a big contributor in every category. ¬†The guy I have at #8 is close but has a lower shot rate (although higher point potential) and 9-10 lack PIM. ¬†Burns won his first Norris Trophy scoring 29 goals and adding 46 assists. ¬†He had the most shots on goal in the entire league which is a massive boost coming from a defenseman. ¬†Although he is 32 years old now and the best may be behind him, I think there’s still enough here for Burns to deliver value in this spot.
8)¬†Jamie Benn¬†– I’m moving Benn up for a couple reasons. ¬†As mentioned above, Benn hits all of the categories. ¬†Last year was the year from hell for Dallas and Benn still posted 69 points (nice) in 77 games. ¬†That seems like his absolute floor and since he had 87 and 89 points the previous two seasons, I think it’s a good bet that Benn gets back to being a point per game player.
9)¬†Vladimir Tarasenko¬†– If Tarasenko’s penalty minutes didn’t drop from the 30’s to 12, he’d be one or two spots higher. ¬†Otherwise, we know exactly who Tarasenko is. ¬†We can mark him down for 35-40 goals, 35ish assists, 3.5 shots per game and decent power play points. ¬†The little bit of upside from here is if Tarasenko starts running the power play with¬†Kevin Shattenkirk¬†gone.
10)¬†Tyler Seguin¬†– Like Benn and the rest of the players on Dallas, Seguin had a down year last season. ¬†Still, 72 points in 82 games with almost 4 shots per game is nothing to sneeze at. ¬†I’m expecting him to get back to a point per game and the only reason he’s below Tarasenko is because it’ll probably be a couple less goals and a couple more assists.
11)¬†Braden Holtby¬†– I don’t expect to have Holtby on any of my teams but this is the spot I would start considering him. ¬†Holtby is incredibly safe and has been a top three goalie for each of the past three seasons. ¬†Even if Washington takes a slight step back, I think Holtby has to be the #1 goalie off the board.
12)¬†Jack Eichel¬†– The group of rankers (me) debated putting Eichel up to #8 but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. ¬†Regardless, Eichel had the highest shot rate in the league in his second season. ¬†He had close to a point per game and with the coaching and defensemen
changes upgrades, there’s 90+ point upside. ¬†This will probably be the last season Eichel isn’t in the top 5 overall for the foreseeable future.
13)¬†Patrik Laine¬†– This will probably be a controversial ranking having him one spot ahead of the guy who went one spot ahead of him in the draft. ¬†It’s nitpicking but I lean towards Laine because he has plenty of room to improve on the power play. ¬†Laine had only 14 PPP which will certainly increase. ¬†Laine’s scoring rate was even with Matthews but his shot rate was behind. ¬†It’s reasonable to expect that to increase so while it’s a bit of a gamble, I’d rather take a shot on Laine at this point.
14)¬†Auston Matthews¬†– Forty goals as a rookie is nothing to sneeze at. ¬†Matthews was outstanding and I see no reason to expect regression. ¬†If anything, we could see some improvement in the assist department with a minutes increase. ¬†The lower PIM keeps him here but you could easily put Matthews up to 12th or even a couple spots higher.
15)¬†Evgeni Malkin¬†– On a point per game basis, Malkin was the #1 overall player last season. ¬†The problem is that he’s a massive injury risk. ¬†He should pay off this spot even if he misses 15 games but I have no issue dropping him lower than this. ¬†I simply can’t justify spending a first round pick on a guy who will probably miss 20 games with a bunch of 20 year olds on the verge of superstardom.
16)¬†Erik Karlsson¬†– I also dropped Karlsson a bunch of spots because his shot rate continues to drop. ¬†The penalty minutes also dropped to slightly be average. ¬†The assists are going to be amazing but I’d rather gamble on the previous forwards.
17)¬†Blake Wheeler¬†– There honestly isn’t much difference between Wheeler and Benn. ¬†A six category stud with no injury history, Wheeler scored 74 points last season with 47 PIM and over 3 shots per game. ¬†He set a career high in STP but I think he could actually improve there with the rest of the Jets core moving towards their prime. ¬†Wheeler is incredibly safe even if the Jets load up on the first line and he’s carrying the second line.
18)¬†Mark Scheifele – Perhaps my best prediction from last season was ranking Scheifele in my top 40. ¬†Scheifele posted 82 points in 79 games despite having only 15 PPP. ¬†It’s crazy to think Scheifele has more upside from here but it’s not crazy to think he reaches 90 points this year. ¬†He’s been at least +9 every season of his career and the penalty minutes are solid. ¬†The only thing keeping him this low is his shot rate dropped to right around two per game. ¬†If it gets back into the 2.5 range, Scheifele can provide a top 10 value.
19)¬†Joe Pavelski¬†– I can’t believe Pavelski, he actually missed a game for the first time in six years. ¬†What the hell is wrong with him? ¬†Little Joe dropped from his usual 35-40 goals down to 29 last year. ¬†That said, Pavelski is a lock for 65+ points, close to three shots per game, a +10 or better and solid PPP. ¬†If you want to gamble later on, Pavelski is incredibly safe.
20)¬†Steven Stamkos¬†– The opposite of safe is Stamkos. ¬†He was coming off a down year in 2015-16 and was crushing it to open last season only to suffer a season-ending injury. ¬†Two of the last four seasons, Stamkos missed over half of the season. ¬†However, in the other two seasons, Stammer stayed healthy and had at least 36 goals. ¬†His days of being a point per game player are probably in the past but a 40+30 season could certainly happen. ¬†The upside is high so you can slide up to around Malkin’s spot if you like.
21)¬†Nicklas Backstrom¬†– Backstrom is basically Scheifele except he already has 35 PPP (killing the upside) and he’s about to be 30 years old. ¬†I couldn’t drop him any lower being over a point per game with elite assists and PPP.
22)¬†David Pastrnak¬†– We debated Pastrnak extensively on Thursday’s podcast. ¬†Pastrnak broke up earlier than expected scoring 34 goals and 36 assists. ¬†The Boston first line was the best in hockey and Pastrnak was a big part of it. ¬†He’s still only 21 years old so there is built-in upside. ¬†The minutes should go up marginally and Pastrnak should top 3.5 shots per game. ¬†It’s a little risky but I’m liking him towards the end of the second round.
23)¬†John Tavares¬†– Johnny Who? ¬†Tavares! ¬†That’s for the lacrosse fans out there. If Tavares is going to pay off this value, his power play points will need to increase. ¬†He’s had seasons of 25+ points and others in the teens. ¬†Add in a great shot rate and solid penalty minutes and he’s a safe pick. ¬†His quality of teammate should improve with¬†Jordan Eberle¬†in the fold but there will be a lot of turmoil around the team with Tavares’ free agency looming. ¬†This is the end of this tier starting with Wheeler so if you buy into Eberle helping out Tavares, you can move him up a few spots.
24)¬†Matt Murray¬†– It’s finally Murray’s job without¬†Marc-Andre Fleury¬†looming in the background. ¬†Murray was excellent in his 49 starts last season having 2.41/.923 with 32 wins. ¬†The Penguins have shown no signs of slowing down meaning the wins should keep piling in. ¬†He’s a bit of a risk over the next two guys but I actually feel better about Murray.
25)¬†Carey Price¬†– I’m worried that the Canadiens defense is going to be so poor that Price will have to stand on his head to repeat his previous numbers. ¬†That’s certainly possible because he’s an elite goalie but there’s some more downside for Price than usual.
26)¬†Sergei Bobrovsky¬†– While Columbus was much improved last season with Bob being the main reason, we’ve also seen his downside. ¬†Three of his five years in Columbus have been terrific but the other two were below average. ¬†I think we’re far more likely to see Bob be a top 5 goalie this season than drop back into the #2 goalie range but there is a small chance he bombs like Bishop and Schneider did in this range last season.
27)¬†Max Pacioretty¬†– 35+ goals, 30+ assists, elite shots, below average STP for a star player. ¬†You can lock all of that in for Patches who is as consistent as they come. ¬†He’s a great guy to pair with someone who is below average in shots like Scheifele or Backstrom.
28)¬†Artemi Panarin¬†– The trade to Columbus removing Kane as his linemate doesn’t concern me one bit. ¬†If anything, it may increase his role on the power play. ¬†Panarin has had two straight 30+ goal, 40+ assist seasons and I see no reason to expect that to change. ¬†The increase in shot rate in season two gives me optimism for more improvement in that department.
29)¬†Nikolaj Ehlers¬†– After last season where my team was loaded, it’s going to be much more difficult to own a ton of Jets this year. ¬†Laine and Scheifele receive most of the attention but Ehlers also had a terrific 2016-17 scoring 25 goals and 39 assists with a solid shot rate and PIM. ¬†The upside comes from being 21 years old and having only 12 STP last season. ¬†I’m still all in on the Jets!
30)¬†Jeff Skinner¬†– I may end up sliding Skinner down a few spots when I update but for now, I’m putting him at 30th overall. ¬†Skinner had a terrific season scoring 36 goals on a whopping 281 shots. ¬†If his power play points go up, he won’t have an issue paying off this draft slot. ¬†The team around him is drastically improving so that should happen. ¬†I’m a big fan of the entire Carolina team and Skinner leads that charge.
31)¬†Victor Hedman¬†– Hedman isn’t that far off from Karlsson at this point; it’s basically a drop in shot rate plus Karlsson has done it for longer. ¬†It’s possible Tampa has some issues re-acclimating Stamkos into the lineup but with all of the talent they have, the Lightning power play should be just fine. ¬†The goals will probably drop back into the 10-12 range but 50+ assists again should be a lock with health. ¬†Also, please Jon Cooper, keep Dan Girardi away from him. ¬†Hedman doesn’t deserve that. ¬†Nobody does.
32)¬†Leon Draisaitl¬†– I have a feeling people are going to be higher on Draisaitl than I am. ¬†He’s another player who is a slightly worse version of Scheifele, this time lacking penalty minutes and already having the power play points. ¬†Sure, he could improve slightly due to his age but it’ll take a big jump in shot rate for him to outperform this rank. ¬†To show that, Draisaitl was the 28th ranked forward based on the RCL format last year and that was with 77 points. ¬†I think he’ll be overrated much like Johnny Hockey was last year.
33)¬†Devan Dubnyk – Being the highest ranker of Dubnyk by almost 50 spots paid amazing dividends last season. ¬†Dubnyk won 40 of his 63 starts and posted a 2.25 GAA and .923 sv%. ¬†Being Bruce Boudreau’s goaltender almost guarantees elite stats. ¬†He has #1 overall goalie upside as he showed being on top of the player rater until the last six weeks of the season.
34)¬†Filip Forsberg¬†– I think Forsberg can still take another step forward. ¬†Last season, Forsberg scored 31 goals and 27 assists, a slight step back from last season. ¬†His real drop was on the power play going from 24 to only 9 PPP. ¬†I don’t see any chance Forsberg repeats that; in fact I’d be shocked if he’s not in the 20’s. ¬†Now we’re looking at a 35+35 player with almost 3 shots per game that hasn’t missed a game in his entire NHL career. ¬†He’s a safe pick with upside.
35)¬†Mike Hoffman¬†– Don’t hassle the Hoff, man! ¬†Hoffman took a small step back in goals but progressed significantly everywhere else, finishing with 26/35/+17/51/26/224. ¬†His even strength point totals dropped from the previous two years which gives him a little more upside from last year’s numbers. ¬†Quick, guess where Hoffman finished in the player rater among forwards last year? ¬†9th. ¬†I’m counting on a little regression, mostly in PIM, but he’s the real deal.
36)¬†Patrice Bergeron¬†– Bergeron was dreadful for the first two months of the season and still finished with 21+32 and 302 SOG. ¬†He’s been a plus player for the last decade and his penalty minutes should go back up. ¬†This tier from Forsberg to Kuznetsov may move around a bit for now, I’ll put Bergeron’s high floor here.
37)¬†Wayne Simmonds¬†– Yes, he’s hurt your plus-minus every year, but Simmonds is a 4 category stud. ¬†He’s a lock for close to 30 goals, 100+ PIM, great STP and solid PPP. ¬†It’s all about your team fit but if you get a big assist guy early, I love taking Simmonds.
38)¬†Dustin Byfuglien¬†– Big Buff doing Big Buff things! ¬†Buff was great across the board for a defenseman last year, scoring 13+39 with 3 shots per game and 117 PIM. ¬†Like the rest of the Jets before him, he should improve on the power play. especially in the goals department. ¬†How a guy this good scores 1 PPG is beyond me. ¬†There also is a lack of defenseman in this range which gives him a bit more value.
39)¬†Phil Kessel¬†– Get this man some hot dogs! ¬†Kessel is another player with a very high floor and he actually set a career high in assists last season. ¬†Kessel hit the 70 point mark for the first time in three years and while the shot rate keeps falling, it’s still above average. ¬†Add in elite power play points and there’s enough here to justify a 4th round pick.
40)¬†Mitch Marner¬†– Marner’s rookie season was terrific scoring 19 goals and adding 42 assists. ¬†He also contributed positively in the other categories besides plus-minus where he was break even. ¬†Marner’s upside is tremendous; there’s plenty of Patty Kane in his game. ¬†He’s still only 20 years old so it may be a year or two away but I think he pushes 70 points this year.
41)¬†Cam Talbot¬†– Prince Cam was the #5 goalie overall last season mostly due to his volume. ¬†Talbot started an absurd 73 games and the main reason he’s ranked this high is I think he can come close to that again. ¬†The Oilers are going to get better as a team but they still lack a quality backup behind Talbot. ¬†There will probably be guys who are marginally better than Talbot in GAA and sv% but Talbot will be more valuable because of the extra starts.
42)¬†John Gibson¬†– Speaking of guys who will probably have better numbers than Talbot, Gibson posted a 2.22 GAA and .924 sv% last season, his first as the full-time starter. ¬†The problem is that Gibson won’t come close to playing 70 games with¬†Ryan Miller¬†coming in as the backup. ¬†He’s one of my favorite goalies, especially in dynasties, but he lacks elite volume.
43)¬†Johnny Gaudreau¬†– Look guys, I don’t hate Gaudreau! ¬†People ranked Johnny Hockey ranked in the teens or higher going into last season but he barely cracked my top 50. ¬†Once again, he’s down in the 40’s for me. ¬†Gaudreau had 18 goals and 43 assists last season, a steep drop from the 30+48 he had in 2015-16. ¬†The problem is that he hurts us in penalty minutes, the shot rate is merely average and he’s never been elite on the power play. ¬†In other words, it’s a lot of points and not much else. ¬†This early, I’d rather have guys who contribute in most, if not all of the categories or are elite in multiple. ¬†Gaudreau is neither of those things.
44)¬†Mikael Granlund¬†– The former #1 prospect was a post post-hype breakout scoring 26 goals and dishing 43 assists last season. ¬†He’s basically a Gaudreau clone except with slightly more STP and a better plus-minus. ¬†That said, Gaudreau remains ahead of him because he’s done it for multiple years and has a marginally better shot rate. ¬†His shooting percentage was also much higher than in previous years meaning regression may rear its ugly face.
45)¬†Cam Atkinson¬†– I may end up sliding Atkinson ahead of Gaudreau when I update these rankings. ¬†Look at me talking about updates and these haven’t even posted yet! ¬†Anyways, Atkinson set career highs across the board with 35 goals, 27 assists, +13, 22 PIM, 24 STP and 240 SOG. ¬†He’s also missed 8 games total over the previous four seasons. ¬†I’m intrigued at the possibility of Atkinson playing with Panarin. ¬†If it looks like that will happen, that may be enough to move him up this tier.
46)¬†Evgeny Kuznetsov¬†– Like Bergeron, Kuznetsov was awful to start the season but rallied. ¬†The 25 year old finished with 59 points after scoring 77 the previous season. ¬†The good news is that he was +18, his minutes should increase and more importantly, he should move onto the first power play unit. ¬†A below average shot rate and a slight concern that the penalty minutes were fluky are the only thing keeping him here instead of 10 spots up.
47)¬†Ryan Getzlaf¬†– Why is Getzlaf this low you ask? ¬†Because they are my rankings, that’s why! ¬†In all seriousness, Getzlaf started slow once again but rallied to almost reach point per game status, 73 points in 74 games. ¬†The issue is that his shot rate has fallen below two per game meaning he’ll be hard pressed to top last season’s 15 goals without a rebound. ¬†Getzlaf also averaged over 21 minutes per night and I’d be shocked if they use him that much again. ¬†I’ll probably pass unless I have a ton of goal scorers already.
48)¬†Viktor Arvidsson¬†– The biggest surprise of last season was Arvidsson coming completely out of nowhere. ¬†The Swede scored 31 goals on over 3 shots per game and added 30 assists. ¬†His upside from there comes from the fact that he had only 9 PPP last season. ¬†Like the Jets, I expect the Smashville power play to be much improved this season with a healthy Subban and Josi. I may end up sliding him down a few spots but the playoffs convinced me that Arvidsson is the real deal.
49)¬†Aleksander Barkov¬†– Like Gaudreau, the penalty minutes aren’t there but the points should be plentiful. ¬†Barkov finished last season with 52 points in 61 games. ¬†Yes, he’s missed time in every season to this point but they have been fluky injuries and Sasha will only be 22 years old when the season starts. ¬†A healthy Huberdeau next to him should also help plenty.
50)¬†Matthew Tkachuk¬†– The summer wasn’t enough to cool my love affair for Tkachuk. ¬†Tkachuk scored 13 goals and 35 assists as a rookie while adding 105 PIM. ¬†Sure, that’s nice, but how is that a top 50 player Viz? ¬†Well, let’s run it down. ¬†One, he had only 13 PPP which is easily improvable. ¬†Two, he was a dominant possession player meaning the opportunities will be there. ¬†You rarely see rookies maintain zone possession like Tkachuk did. ¬†Three, I’m loving what the Flames did this offseason on the blue line giving them a core right there with Nashville’s. ¬†That will help all of the forwards. ¬†Lastly, teams have to focus on stopping the Gaudreau line. ¬†You won’t have to take Tkachuk this high but I want him everywhere. ¬†60-65 points with 100+ PIM and a good plus-minus are well within reach. ¬†Eventually, if the shot rate can go up, we could be looking at Simmonds with a good plus-minus.
And there’s 50! ¬†Boy, was that a lot of work. ¬†Please ask me any questions or leave your thoughts in the comments section below. ¬†I’ll be back Monday with a preview of the Columbus Blue Jackets. ¬†Thanks for reading, take care!