We are reaching the end of my forward rankings as I complete the top 100 today. Drafts are starting to approach, so my plan is to power through defensemen and goaltending by the middle of next week so everyone has my rankings available. Again, for those who haven’t seen my earlier rankings, you can see them here. Let’s get to it!
81) Jonathan Toews – I’ll be sliding up Toews 5-10 spots forward spots from here when I update as this was an oversight on my part. Toews set a career high in both goals and assists last season with 35+46. The PIM are always solid and the shot rate is better than average. The question is how sustainable are the points? The previous three seasons he had 58, 58, and 52 points in 80, 72, 74 games respectively. An increase in shot rate also came with a big jump in shooting percentage over the last two seasons, so color me a bit skeptical. That said, 65ish points with solid secondary numbers has plenty of value in the middle rounds.
82) Anders Lee – Lee had a solid season with 28 goals and 23 assists with 58 PIM and an average shot rate. The frustrating thing with Lee is that he doesn’t get many power play points which would drive his point totals up significantly. However, I am expecting a big bounce back from Barzal which would help Lee in the process. I think he gets 30+ goals again and with those PIM, that’s more than enough to be worth it here.
83) Matt Duchene – Nashville finally acquired Duchene after years of trying. He’s coming off a career high 31 goals, although that’s mostly due to shooting 18%. He doesn’t take penalties and the shot rate is only average, so his success will come from points. I don’t love having him this high, but we’ve reached the point in my rankings where I’m not expecting big things from any of these guys. We know Duchene has plenty of upside and I’m hoping he finds it with his new linemates.
84) Nino Niederreiter – If I knew who Nino would play with, I might have him quite a bit higher. In his 36 games with Carolina last season, he had 30 points. If it looks like he’ll be with Aho and Teravainen with Svech on the second line, then Nino is a great value. He’s still worth a middle round pick if he’s on the second line but keeps PP1.
85) Nico Hischier – This ranking is under the assumpion that Hischier starts the season with Hall but also hedging towards the possibility that it’s Hughes (more on him shortly). Hischier had 47 points in 69 games last season, which doesn’t look great. However, Hall missed a lot of the season which hurt Hischier quite a bit. Subban’s arrival should help the power play quite a bit where Hischier can easily improve. Additionally, he’s still only 20 years old and we can expect natural progression in year 3. I expect Hughes to get the hype, and he’ll pass Hischier soon enough, but for now I prefer Nico.
86) T.J. Oshie – Oshie had a strong season with 25+29 in 69 games. The crazy thing is that he don’t have to expect too much regression from his 17% shooting. The problem is Oshie is his shot rate is below average, he’ll be 33 in December, and he’s starting to miss time more regularly. That said, I’m still expecting a solid season from him, and his ability to hit all of the categories well besides shots makes him a nice middle round pick.
87) Ryan Getzlaf – Getzlaf is in a similar spot to Oshie except it’s more assists and less goals. I’m not worried about Getzlaf’s -19 as Ducks goalies had a .880 sv% last season with him on the ice. Given that they have arguably the best goalie in the league and a great backup, that won’t repeat itself. I think the Ducks bounce back to the fringe of playoff contention now that Carlyle is gone so if anything, I may be underselling Getzlaf and one of his other linemates (he’s coming up…)
88) Rickard Rakell – …Right now! Rakell had a disastrous season with 18 goals after having 33 and 34 in the previous two campaigns. My expectation is that he gets back to the 30 goal range this season, especially if the Ducks put Kase on the first line. (Side note: the fact that they are even considering trading Kase for Faulk hurts my brain). The shot rate is strong and we can expect his shooting percentage to bounce back. The one worry is that he’s missed 10-13 games in four of his five seasons, but I’m hopeful for health.
89) Jack Hughes – Alright, I expect Hughes to be long gone by this ranking and I know that could blow up in my face. I have no doubts about Hughes long term, but I am a bit worried for this season if he starts on the second line. I’m not a huge Gusev fan, Bratt is okay but should be on a third line, and Simmonds is shot. He’s quite thin, doesn’t take many penalties, and he’s more of a playmaker than a shot taker. As mentioned above, if it looks like he’ll be with Hall, I’ll shoot Hughes up, but I’m expecting a slow start and improvement in the second half. I see him as a trade target a month or two into the season.
90) Anze Kopitar – It’s hard to imagine Kopitar having a worse season than last year. That said, he still had 60 points and only one PP goal. I’m definitely not targeting Kopitar, but there becomes a point where the player is too good to pass on. This will be something close to 150th overall (probably just ahead) and while I still don’t like the Kings, I expect a bounce back from Kopitar and Doughty.
91) Mikael Granlund – Coming off 69 and 67 point seasons, Granlund scored only 54 last season, including a paltry 5 in 16 games with Nashville. The hope is that starting the season fresh in Nashville and with better linemates (Duchene) will get him back into the 60-65 range. The shot rate is almost exactly average and the PIM are below average, so we need those points for Granlund to be a hold instead of elite streamer. We’ve seen the upside and it’s too good to ignore in this range.
92) Ryan Johansen – I almost never own Johansen because I hate players that don’t shoot the puck. His shot rate is abysmal and a lot to overcome in roto leagues. That said, he did have 50 assists last season and provides quality penalty minutes. If Forsberg and Arvidsson can manage to stay healthy, that line should do a ton of damage. In the right team builds, RyJo is worth taking in this part of the draft, especially in head to head.
93) Dylan Strome – The trade to Chicago revived Strome’s career as he had 51 points in 58 games with the Blackhawks. All signs point for him to be with Kane and DeBrincat again, so 70 points is within reason. The problem is that Strome took well below two shots per game in Chicago and doesn’t provide penalty minutes. He needs to be at 60+ points to even consider holding him given those weaknesses, so the downside is apparent. However, Strome might be the favorite to have the most points of anyone in this post so again, this is an area where you draft for team needs.
94) Kyle Palmieri – Palmieri has been a steady performer for the past four seasons. In 2018-19, Palmieri had 27+23 in 74 games with three shots per game and solid PIM. It’s not exactly exciting, but the quality stats across the board are very useful in this part of the draft, especially in roto leagues. The good news is that there is still some upside, mostly in assists, if Hughes or Hischier take a leap on line one between Palmieri and Hall. A healthy Hall would also go a long way. I expect Palmieri to be undervalued and think he has a good chance to set a career high in points.
95) Bo Horvat – Dr. Bo sliced up the competition to the tune of 27+34 last season. This is despite a defensive role that he’s been forced into. The encouraging thing is that his shot rate took a massive step forward. The tough part is that he’ll probably be in the same role again. My hope is that Miller goes onto line 2 with Ferland on line 1, which should help Horvat plenty. Additionally, Hughes running the PP with Miller added on to Horvat, Pettersson and Boeser should make the first unit deadly. I don’t think there’s huge upside here, but given that Horvat increased his shot volume last season and still shot a lower percentage than the previous two seasons, I think a repeat is very likely with some small upside from there.
96) Brayden Schenn – His second regular season in St. Louis was a big step back, with 17+37 in 72 games. The PIM are very good, so the question is what happens to his shot rate? Two seasons ago, it was over 2.5 per game. Last season, it was barely over 2. I think we find a middle ground, but more importantly I think the points go back, specifically the goals. Last season was the second worst shooting percentage of Schenn’s career. He’s a nice fit for most squads in the middle rounds because there’s a real chance we get 65+ points again with good PIM.
97) Jason Zucker – The next three guys are my favorite bounce back players for this season. Zucker followed up his big breakout with only 21+21. Sure, it came with decent shots and penalty minutes, but it was a massive disappointment. The biggest factor? The Wild shot 6% with him on the ice last season. That’s comically low. Zucker remained a possession beast and a healthy Dumba should get the power play back on track. Whether it’s Fiala or Zuccarello on RW1 for the Wild, I think we see Zucker pushing 30 goals again with quality contributions across the board.
98) Nikolaj Ehlers – Ehlers scored 21 goals last season in 62, not far off the pace of 2017-18’s 29 goals in 82 games. The problem is that his assists went down to 16 from 31, and 39 two seasons ago. To be quite honest, I’m dumbfounded that his assist totals were so low. I wish that the Jets had a better second center than Little, but Ehlers and Laine should work well together again. I expect talent to persevere here.
99) William Nylander – Nylander’s season was a disaster as his holdout dragged into the season and he only played at a 0.5 PPG pace after that. However, all indications are that Nylander will start the season on Matthews’ wing again. There could also be a spot on PP1 if Marner’s holdout drags into the season. Either way, Nylander should score enough points with Matthews that he pays off this ranking, even with low PIM.
100) Andreas Athanasiou – I had to sneak a Razzball favorite a.k.a. one of my favorites into the top 100! A favorite streamer of mine, Athanasiou became a hold last season with 30 goals and 24 assists, along with 38 PIM and an above average shot rate. Do I think it gets better than 30 goals? Probably not, although it should get close. However, he should have improved linemates this season, presumably Zadina. Additionally, there is power play upside. Regardless, 27 even strength goals can’t be ignored, more ice time could be on the horizon, and I’m betting on Athansiou’s game breaking speed.
That’s all for now guys. We’ve finally wrapped up the forward rankings with close to 10k words. Lots to break down but hopefully it provides plenty of value for all of you. My hope is to get out my top 20 defensemen on Saturday morning. Worst case, it will be out on Monday. As always, feel free to ask any questions, give any comments, or leave any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care!