We have now reached the point of doing individual positions before I complete a top 200. Through the top 20 overall, I have covered 18 forwards, one defenseman and a goalie. For now, I’ll be holding off on the last two. I’ll be covering the top 100 forwards in posts of twenty going forward. For today, I will go through the top 40. Let’s get right to it!
1) Connor McDavid – McDavid through Rantanen are all covered here.
2) Nikita Kucherov
3) Nathan MacKinnon
4) Patrick Kane
5) Brad Marchand
6) Alex Ovechkin
7) Sidney Crosby
8) Leon Draisaitl
9) David Pastrnak
10) Mikko Rantanen
11) Johnny Gaudreau – Gaudreau through Aho are covered here.
12) John Tavares
13) Steven Stamkos – I did not include Stamkos in my top 20 originally and that was a mistake on my part. While I do expect some regression in his shooting percentage and his minutes aren’t elite, there’s still so much to like about Stamkos. He’s on the best team and the best power play in the league and we saw last season that he can push 100 points. Something in the 35-40 goal range with 50+ assists is doable and his injury risk is a bit overstated.
14) Auston Matthews
15) Tyler Seguin
16) Brayden Point
17) Blake Wheeler
18) Jack Eichel
19) Sebastian Aho
20) Taylor Hall – Hall’s season went to waste as injuries limited him to 33 games. In those 33 games, he was outstanding with 11+26 with 3.5 shots per game. The Devils have finally made some big acquisitions this offseason as they won the Hughes lottery and traded for Subban, both of which should help Hall and the Devils power play. Last year, I had Hall as a top 10 player and that’s possible again. The upside is there, but there’s also a bit more risk since he’s had injury issues before.
21) Mark Scheifele – Scheifele was excellent last season with 38 goals and 46 assists. He’s also one of the few players that we don’t expect massive regression from a 19% shooting season as his career average is 15.7. The encouraging thing is the shot rate took a big jump off to almost 2.5 per game after being around 2 the previous two seasons. He hits all of the categories reasonably well and is a near-lock to be above a point per game.
22) Dylan Larkin – Larkin has the massive breakout I predicted in my bold post from last season, although he fell just short of the 80 points I said he would get with 73 in 76 games. 75 penalty minutes were a career high and the shot rate was incredible. Being -6 isn’t devastating either and given how well the Red Wings did with him on the ice, he could easily be positive. The one question mark is the power play. Larkin had 15 PPP which was easily a career high. Can the Red Wings PP get better with Zadina in the fold? Then even this ranking is too low. If it stays poor, then Larkin has this one weakness behind every top 25 forward and almost every top 40.
23) Aleksander Barkov – Barkov found an offensive level that I didn’t think he was capable of. He finished with 96 points, well above his previous career high of 78. I do have some concerns though. One, his shot rate plummeted, going from 256 in 79 games to 206 in 82 games. Two, we know his PIM will be dreadful. Three, he already played 22:21 per game with Boughner, who loved to play his studs massive minutes. I don’t expect it to drop drastically under Q, but it could go down by a minute or two. Love the player in real life, but I might end up dropping him even lower than this just because he’s riskier than most of the guys around him. If he goes back down to say, 85 points, this ranking is too high.
24) Patrice Bergeron – If Bergeron could stay healthy, he’d be pushing the top 1o. That’s how good he’s been the last two seasons. Last season, Bergeron totaled 79 points in 65 games, was +23, over 3 shots per game, and had his best season on the power play in over a decade. Nobody has any chance of containing their top line. The problem is that he’s missed 17 and 18 games in the past two seasons and he’s 34 years old. He’s generally been healthy otherwise so the hope is that it’s not age related and he’ll get back to playing 75+ games. If he does, he’ll be a big value in the third round.
25) Artemi Panarin – Panarin made the move to the Big Apple when he’ll join the Rangers, who are nearing the end of their rebuild. We know what we’re getting from Panarin: around a point per game and decent stats in the other categories. He’s a very safe pick with some upside if the Rangers power play is better than Columbus’ last season. Panarin only had 18 PPP last season, a very low number considering all of the players who were in the mid to high 30’s.
26) Mitch Marner – Marner was terrific with Tavares last season with 94 points and a big jump in shot rate towards three per game. The concern is obviously the contract dispute. This ranking has already taken into account that this could linger into the season. Obviously if nothing gets done any time soon, I will drop him lower. If he could play, he could be even better next season as he had less PPP in 2018-19 than 17-18.
27) Matthew Tkachuk – Tkachuk put his offensive game together in his third season accumulating 77 points. The PIM were strong, but as great as they could be with 62. There’s always the chance that he gets into it a few more times and gets 100+ PIM. There aren’t many players who have 75+ point, 100 PIM upside. This is the start of a tier until Svechnikov of players who can push a point per game and give you at least 50 PIM, if not more.
28) Gabriel Landeskog – The Kog had the best season of his career with MacKinnon and Rantanen totaling 75 points in 73 games. Much of that success came from his shot rate making a huge jump to around 3.5 per game. He’s a great player to get because of his ability to hit all of the categories well.
29) Alexander Radulov – Another personal favorite, Radulov was excellent last season with 29+43 in 70 games, +22, 54 PIM, 23 PPP and almost exactly three shots per game. Now, Pavelski will jump on the first power play unit in place of Spezza or Hintz. This is obviously a big upgrade and gives all of the Stars more upside. I expect him to be ranked lower which will give me plenty of Radulov shares.
30) Timo Meier – Meier had his breakout in his second full season, scoring 30 goals and 36 assists with 55 PIM and over three shots per game. The 22 year old has plenty of upside from there. One, he played less than 17 minutes per game last season. That could easily push towards 20 with the Sharks getting surprisingly thin this offseason in terms of forwards. Two, he had only 10 PPP. With the departure of Pavelski, Meier should be one of the focal points of the power play. Three, he’s still so young that natural growth is a near-certainty.
31) Andrei Svechnikov – I wrote an extensive sleeper post on Svechnikov that you can read here.
32) Patrik Laine – Laine had his nightmare season last year and still managed to score 30 goals. The crazy thing is 15 of them came in one month! The PIM took a nice jump up and he maintained his shot rate, but his percentage went from 18.3 to 12.2. Laine is a rare player in that I actually expect him to be closer to the 18.3 than the 12.2. That jump alone gets him back into the high 30’s, and there’s obviously upside from there. Remember, he’s still only 21 years old! I expect a bounceback season and I might move him ahead of the tier above him eventually.
33) Evgeni Malkin – At first glance, 72 points in 68 games doesn’t look so bad. However, I am starting to get pretty worried about Malkin. He was a complete disaster at even strength defensively, finishing -25. Sure, part of that was Kessel, but his replacement in Galchenyuk isn’t any better defensively. The Penguins blueline is a trainwreck so they won’t be helping him out. Also, the shot rate dropped down to below three per game. Malkin missed 14 games again as well, which we’ve come to expect. Now, still being at a point per game with elite PIM is excellent, there’s no down playing that. However, I’m probably passing on Malkin altogether this year as the drop down to 12 even strength goals can’t be ignored, plus he has the injury downside.
34) Filip Forsberg – Forsberg struggled in his return from injury, finishing with 28+22 in 64 games. However, he did have the best shot rate of his career which put him at a 36 goal pace. The real problem was the Nashville PP. They were the worst in the league which gave Forsberg only 10PPP. Now that Subban is gone, I hope that Laviolette realizes that 2D on the PP is always terrible. There’s big upside here that Nashville figures things out and Forsberg ends up getting to 80+ points with a good shot rate and passable PIM.
35) Jonathan Huberdeau – I admittedly don’t know what to do with Huberdeau. He was having a solid season and then 27 points from March 1st on in 19 games to finish with 92. The PIM were solid as was the shot rate, although he was -14. All of the concerns that I have with Barkov I also have with Huberdeau, which explains him down at 35. Could he be great again? Absolutely. Would be surprised if he fell back down to 70 points? Not really.
36) Alex DeBrincat – My aggressive ranking of DeBrincat last season paid off with 41 goals and 35 assists. Yes, the PIM aren’t good, but you can’t ignore 41 goals. Additionally, he had 39 more SOG last season than in his rookie season playing the same number of games. If he can make another jump, even with some shooting regression he should get to 40 goals again.
37) Vladimir Tarasenko – Tarasenko started last season off horribly but managed to get back to 33 goals and 35 assists in 76 games. He also maintained his elite shot rate. I don’t want to expand on Tarasenko because we know what he is at this point. He’s someone who has an extremely high floor that’s a lock for 30+ goals, solid assists, and a great shot rate.
38) Evander Kane – To be blunt, Kane lost his mind multiple times last season resulting in a whopping 153 PIM. He finally reached the 30 goal mark again, adding 26 assists and an excellent shot rate. Kane is another guy that we know what we’re getting. We can expect 25-30 goals, 100+ PIM, and 3.5-4 shots per game. Like Meier, he has additional upside in terms of more minutes and the power play, although Kane’s upside on the PP is lower than Meier’s since he’s generally not a good power play player. That said, all he needs is the opportunity to top last season’s 11 PPP. Kane is always a staple of my teams, especially in roto where those big numbers in PIM and shot rate go a long way.
39) Mark Stone – Stone’s big jump to 33 goals can be attributed to a nice jump in shot rate as his shooting percentage was in line with career norms. At first glance, Stone’s numbers in his time in Vegas look much worse than when he was in Ottawa. However, Stone was at three shots per game in Vegas and had horrible shooting luck. Vegas also shot 7.8% when he was on the ice; his career average in Ottawa was 10.6. It wouldn’t shock me if we see Stone finish at +30 or better this season being on a much better Vegas team. The lack of PIM and an average shot rate cap his ceiling, but the floor is quite high.
40) Claude Giroux – Giroux is quite boring at this point like Tarasenko is. Last season, Giroux scored 12 less goals this two seasons ago despite taking 36 more shots. That shows how lucky his 34 goal campaign was. As long as Giroux is with Couturier, Giroux is a lock for a solid plus-minus and being around a point per game. If there’s any upside, it’s in the PPP. He dropped down to 23 last season, including only two goals.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back at some point early next week with my top 60 forwards post. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, please write them below. Enjoy your Labor Day weekend and thanks for reading, take care!