Hello everyone! For those that missed it, my top 10 for next season came out last week. You can find those rankings and what I’ll be posting in the future here. Today, we’re going through the top 20 overall. I’m sure it’ll be another monster post so let’s get right to it!
11) Johnny Gaudreau – As scoring jumped across the league, Gaudreau found another gear last season. He set a career high in every category but PIM (he was 2 short), including 99 points. I’ve been lower on Gaudreau than consensus for years now, and the last two years it hurt a bit, especially last year. This ranking does scare me a bit because you’re buying him at his peak value. However, he has stayed incredibly healthy over the years, he bumped his shot rate up to almost exactly three per game, and at 26 years old, Gaudreau should be entering his prime. I have a feeling I’ll end up sliding Gaudreau down a few spots eventually, but he’s definitely in this tier that starts with Draisaitl at 8th overall.
12) John Tavares – Tavares was incredible in his first season with the Leafs scoring 47 goals and adding 41 assists. He also posted a career best shot rate at right around 3.5 per game. On one hand, his 16.4% shooting was a bit high even for him. On the other, Tavares had 9 power play assists, a number that should go up. I wish Babcock would give him and Matthews more minutes, but it appears that it’s not in the cards. Regardless, I think Tavares ends up around 40 goals this season but adds on a few assists. He’s missed more than five games in a season once in his career (back in 2013-14) so like Gaudreau before him, Tavares is a pick for safety.
13) Auston Matthews – It sounds a bit silly to say that Matthews is risky, but he has managed to miss 14 games and 20 games in the past two seasons. However, we’re looking at an elite shot rate and the chance at 45+ goals with health. I’m also not too worried about last season’s plus-minus because Toronto goalie’s had an .888 save percentage when he was on the ice last season. That number will surely increase. Along with potential health questions, the main thing that keeps Matthews down is the lack of penalty minutes. If you are in a league without PIM, I’d have him at the top of this tier at 8th overall. Play him more minutes Babcock!
14) Tyler Seguin – Despite a poor start that saw him face scrutiny from the higher ups in Dallas, Seguin still posted 80 points and over four shots per game. Seguin is an incredibly safe option who now has additional power play upside with the arrival of Pavelski. His penalty minutes are below average in general (he has the occasional decent year), but otherwise it’s a strong stat line across the board. It’s not exciting, but it gets the job done.
15) Brayden Point – I don’t love Point at this ranking so maybe I’ll drop him down eventually, but it’s hard to ignore 92 points in 79 games. His situation can’t get any better and Point has been making a big jump every season of his pro career. A big jump this year will be necessary in order to counteract shooting regression as Point shot 21.5% last season. That said, Point is a lock for a strong plus-minus and elite points, including the power play. My hope is that Point can get his shot rate back to average for a forward as it was two years ago. You’re forced to plug a couple holes later on by taking Point in the second round, but he also gives you a massive boost in four categories.
16) Blake Wheeler – This might be the last year that Wheeler comes in this high in my rankings. A long time Wheeler backer, he actually tied a career high in points last season with 91. However, his shot rate is trending down and his goal rate has dropped as a result. I’m also a bit sour on Winnipeg that season and Wheeler is about to turn 33 years old. That said, he posts huge PIM and has missed 8 games in 11 seasons. He easily has the lowest floor in terms of goals for players in the top 20, but Wheeler pairs up with a ton of players extremely well.
17) Jack Eichel – Eichel totaled 82 points in 77 games last season with right around four shots per game. He’s still only 22 years old so it wouldn’t shock me if he took another step forward this season. Eichel made a nice jump in terms of possession last season and they’ve added some defensemen and forwards that should help in that regard. He’ll also have a new coach who can’t be as clueless as the last one. I assume he’ll be ranked much lower than this by consensus but that’s perfectly fine with me.
18) Andrei Vasilevskiy – Loyal Razzballers know my stance on goalies. For those that are new, welcome! In general, I do not take goalies in the first two rounds. Not getting the forwards with elite floors hurts you too much while goaltending variance makes it too risky to select a goalie early. I assume Vasilevskiy will go in the first round in drafts so this ranking prices me out, but if he’s still there in the middle of the second, I’d consider it. Tampa is still the best team in the league in my opinion meaning Vas will pile up wins. His save percentage has increased the last three seasons and his goals against average has dropped. I assume Vasilevskiy ends up somewhere between last season’s 53 starts and the 65 starts of 2017-18 which is plenty of volume as teams start to limit their #1’s. I never want to call a goaltender safe but Vasilevskiy is the closest thing to safe since I started writing at Razzball.
19) Sebastian Aho – Aho made a big leap in year three with 30 goals and 53 assists with three shots per game. I’ve long been an Aho fan but I never expected to rank him this high a few years ago. However, the move to center really opened up Aho’s offensive game. Now that Svechnikov should be on his wing, he’ll be generating even better chances. There is also additional upside on the power play as Aho scored only 3 PPG last season. It feels a bit aggressive, but I’m good with betting on Aho this year.
20) Brent Burns – Like Wheeler, this could be the last season that Burns is ranked this high. Burns set a career high in points last season with 83 (16+67) while maintaining his massive shot rate (300 SOG). I don’t love the Sharks this season as the loss of Pavelski should hurt and their roster has started to get pretty thin, but Burns should still be able to post big numbers. He’s the pretty clear #1 defenseman who is also incredibly safe; Burns has played every game for each of the last five seasons.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll try to get my top 40 forwards post out on Friday this week. As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below. Be sure to check out Sven’s team previews that will be coming out in the meantime. Thanks for reading, take care!