And we’re back! The NHL season starts in just over a month so it’s time to start my rankings. I will end up ranking the top 20 players overall, goalies, 100 forwards, 40 D, and then making a top 200 list before the season starts. For now, I’ll be doing the top 10 overall in this post. As an aside, if you have any interest in writing fantasy hockey posts for Razzball, please let me know in the comments section below. Let’s get to it!
1) Connor McDavid – Don’t overthink it. McDavid played at a 154 point pace last season and is so far above the rest of the field. If you’re lucky enough to pick first, congrats on the big head start over the rest of your league.
2) Nathan MacKinnon – We’ve already reached a decision point in the draft. You can make a case for at least four players in this spot. I’ve decided to put MacKinnon here because he has an incredible shot rate and hits all of the categories extremely well. Even though MacKinnon shot under 10%, he still played at a 34 goal, 111 point pace. The Avalanche power play is a cheat code and I see no reason to expect regression. If anything, I think MacKinnon’s numbers could be a little better.
3) Leon Draisaitl – Somehow, Draisaitl managed to have a better season than the year before. He’s going to be right around three shots per game and is arguably the favorite to have the second most points in the league again. My only pause is that his shooting percentage keeps falling down ever so slightly. It’s extremely difficult to keep shooting 18+%, let alone doing it with this type of shot volume. If he ends up shooting 13% like he did in 2017-18, then we’re looking at a goal total in the low to mid 30’s instead of pushing towards 50 again. I expect somewhere in the middle with elite PPP.
4) Nikita Kucherov – It was tempting to put Kucherov at 2nd overall. His numbers are eerily similar to Draisaitl’s, and we saw in the Stanley Cup Playoffs that Kucherov is still one of the best players in the league. He should be extremely fresh not having played in the regular season, and his floor is around 100 points. Kucherov is also a lock for a great plus-minus and is a solid contributor in penalty minutes. He simply hits all of the boxes.
5) Brad Marchand – This is probably the last year that Marchand will be this high, but he’s consistently been a top 5 forward for the past five years. He crushes all of the categories and I believe that he has the second highest floor for fantasy hockey behind McDavid. Every year, I have people tell me that I have Marchand too high, and every year he ends up being worth his top five ranking. I’m more than willing to take him in this slot again. Marchand closes this tier from 2nd-5th overall.
6) Auston Matthews – Matthews took another step forward last season in the goals department playing at a 64 goal pace. Like Ovechkin in the past, Matthews will give you elite goals and shots, but you’re going to be a bit behind in assists over the other players going in the first round. If you want to be a pessimist, you can note that the schedule will be tougher this year than playing in the Canadian division. If you want to be optimistic, you can note that Matthews only had three assists on the power play last season, a number that should clearly increase. Also, the minutes will be massive as Keefe really rolls his superstar players.
7) Artemi Panarin – It feels wrong to have Panarin this low considering he’s played at a 113 point pace in both of his seasons with the Rangers. The problem is that his shot rate had a big drop off last season to around 2.5 per game. That isn’t going to hurt you overall, but when we’re talking about players in the first round, he’s going to put you a bit behind the eight ball there. Additionally, he’s not giving you any PIM or hits if you use either category. If Panarin stays healthy for the full season, he could push for the #2 overall forward spot, giving him some upside even at this spot.
8) David Pastrnak – Pastrnak had a down season by his standards finishing with exactly one point per game. Most of it can be explained by his shooting percentage dropping and the Bruins PP taking a step back. Considering Pastrnak has been in the 13-17% range since his rookie year, the expectation is for positive regression in the goals department. The shot rate is going to be elite and the goals should follow. I think that it’s more likely that Pasta pushes towards 50 goals than playing at a 34 goal pace again. If the Bruins PP bounces back, we could see a repeat of Pastrnak’s massive 2019-20 season.
9) Mikko Rantanen – Rantanen easily had the best season of his career finishing as the #4 forward for fantasy. The biggest difference was a change in mentality for Rantanen. He was urged to shoot more and Rantanen ended up taking an extra shot per game. That is the difference between being a top 20 player and being a top 10 player. The shooting percentage didn’t decrease despite the increase in shot volume, the PIM are still strong, and Rantanen was a whopping +30 playing on the dominant first line. I think we see Rantanen take a small step back from last season’s 104 point pace, but even with that, he’s a clear first round pick in the back half of the first round.
10) Mitch Marner – Add in another year of playoff disappointment for the Maple Leafs and Marner, but we don’t care about that in fantasy. Marner received extended playing time with Matthews for the first time in years and played at a 100 point pace. Marner also managed to score 0 goals on the power play which is unlikely to repeat itself. Keefe loves Marner as he played over 22 minutes per game which gives him an extremely high floor. He’ll probably score the fewest goals of the players in the top 10, but we could see something around 30+70 from Marner this season. That’s enough to slide into the top 10.
That’s all for now guys. I will have my top 20 out early next week and then I will probably do my full goaltending tiers post. As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or make any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care!