We’re moving to the last part of my rankings before my top 200 list today with the second part of the forward rankings. You can read part one here. I’m going to go about this part of the rankings a bit different than usual. I’m going to do a “best of the rest” section to start off, then I’m going to break down the rest of the forwards into three categories: safe, upside, and top streamers. Once you get through the “best of the rest” forwards, we’ll be well past the top 100 overall, so at that point in the draft, you need to be targeting what you need. Therefore, following a strict rankings list wouldn’t really be the best thing you could do for your team. Obviously ask any questions you have in the comments section, but I suspect that this help quite a bit in the later parts of drafts as a supplement to my top 200 list. Let’s get to it!
TIER SIX: THE BEST OF THE REST
53) Brock Boeser
53.5) Nikolaj Ehlers
54) Travis Konecny
55) Oliver Bjorkstrand
56) Teuvo Teravainen
57) Brock Nelson
58) Brady Tkachuk
59) David Perron
60) Victor Olofsson
61) Elias Lindholm
62) Anze Kopitar
63) Timo Meier
64) Jonathan Marchessault
65) Kirill Kaprizov
66) Logan Couture
67) Cam Atkinson
68) Jason Zucker
69) Sean Monahan
70) Tomas Hertl
EDIT: Thanks to Fungazi for pointing out I forgot Ehlers somehow. Ehlers was outstanding last season and with a full season with Stastny at center, we could see career highs. The lack of PP1 time is what keeps his ranking down. PP2 should be improved, but if someone went down or Ehlers was simply given the chance to play on the first power play unit, he could get to a point per game.ejh
Boeser was disappointing last season, mostly driven by shooting percentage. I’m expecting a bounce back for a couple reasons. The biggest one is that the Canucks have atrocious depth and Boeser should play even more this season. There’s also a chance he plays on the first line with Pettersson and Miller, although I doubt it. The bigger thing is that Vancouver plays their top unit as much as anyone in the league as a percentage of power play time. At this point, with Toffoli gone, they have the clearest 5 man unit ever, so Boeser should get massive PP minutes again and is primed for a points increase. Konecny was outstanding last season, largely driven by finally getting power play time. I’m banking in a little regression from the shooting percentage, but I think the break out was real. A longtime Razzball favorite a.k.a. a Viz favorite, Bjorkstrand had his breakout but people didn’t notice because he suffered an unfortunate injury. He had 21 goals in 49 games getting over three shots per game. Yes, he had only 15 assists, but Bjorkstrand also had only six PPP. There are no PIM, but 35+ goals is firmly in play.
Teravainen is another play who we know what we’re getting. He’ll be close to a point per game, largely from assists, with mediocre shots and no PIM. Even with that, he’s as good of a bet as any outside the top 50 to put up a point per game. Nelson really came into his own last season setting a career high in goals and assists despite playing 13-14 less games than every other season of his career. Most of it was driven by playing more minutes which should be repeated. There’s even some upside here since he had only 7 PPP. Tkachuk is in a unique category of elite PIM and elite shots. He’s a great play driver and the addition of Dadonov should help him on the first line. Yes, Ottawa is still a long way from contending, but I’m expecting Tkachuk to take a leap offensively in year three.
Perron is a plus across the board. It’s funny to think that he was a disaster in Pittsburgh and now, five seasons later, is as safe as it comes. He’s a great fit for any team. Olofsson is my favorite last round pick last season which worked out incredibly well for everyone. I’m expecting the shot rate to go up in year two, but this ranking is hinging on Olofsson playing on the first line with Eichel and Hall. It’s hard to predict if he’ll be there as it could be Reinhart or even Cozens, but most projections have Olofsson there for now. He could drop down a decent amount, but if he’s there, Olofsson could take another step in year two. Lindholm took a step back last season, but nowhere near as much as his linemates as he actually set a career high in goals. I’m expecting a small bounce back from the Calgary top line because of the division change so Lindholm is another safe choice in the middle rounds.
The Kings are a disaster, but Kopitar is still putting up big points. It’s not going to be exciting, but you can still count on him for 45ish points this season. Meier is another player who took a big step back last season, but given how poor the Sharks depth is, I’m banking on a minute increase for the top guys on San Jose (more of them coming soon). The shots and PIM are very nice and there’s upside in terms of PPP. Marchessault is the safer version of Meier with a bigger shot rate. My only concern is that he’s traded, but I think it’s unlikely at this point.
Kaprizov finally comes over from Russia after scoring over 0.5 goals per game over the last two seasons. He’s a dynamic offensive player who should move right onto the first line with Fiala and some random guy they’re pretending to have play center. It’s a gamble, but I’m expecting him to score 20ish goals with quality shots right away. Couture is primed to bounce back for the same reason as Meier. Same story for Atkinson, who is still a shooting machine. I think it’s more likely he crosses the 20 goal mark and pushes towards 25 than being in the 15 range he would have been in last season through 56 games.
As mentioned in part one, I’m a huge fan of the Malkin-Rust-Zucker line. He had 6+6 in 12 games with a solid shot rate once he was traded to Pittsburgh and I don’t see why that can’t be sustained. My only concern is that he won’t be on PP1, but if there is an injury, he’s the natural replacement which helps his upside. I think Zucker can approach his previous career high pace which was 33+31 over 82 games. Boring Sean Monahan remains boring, but I do think he bounces back a tad. Honestly, I have nothing to say about him as we all know who he is. Hertl’s drop off came almost entirely by going from 11 PPG to 2 PPG. I’m a broken record on the Sharks, but we know Boughner loves to give his studs a ton of minutes and while the games against Colorado and Vegas could be rough, the Sharks should do well against the other California teams in their 16 games.
SAFE PLAYERS OUTSIDE THE TOP 70 FORWARDS
Note: These guys aren’t in order but they will be in the Top 200
Eric Staal, Dylan Strome, Brandon Saad, Jamie Benn, Alex Radulov, Tomas Tatar, Tyler Toffoli, Viktor Arvidsson, Matt Duchene, Kyle Palmieri, Anders Lee, Jordan Eberle, Chris Kreider, Evgenii Dadonov, Jakub Voracek, Kevin Hayes, Reilly Smith, William Karlsson, Ondrej Palat, Brayden Schenn, T.J. Oshie, Jakub Vrana, Paul Stastny, Sam Reinhart, Ryan Strome, Tyler Bertuzzi, Tom Wilson, and Joe Pavelski
Staal’s move to Buffalo was one of the most surprising trades of the offseason. He should play with better linemates than he has over the past two seasons but will also be on PP2 instead of PP1. I’m not expecting a huge season, but he should be a bottom end hold. Toews being out indefinitely and Dach being out for the season elevates Strome to a huge role. The shot rate won’t be good, but he could push a point per game and has a high floor. As long as his brother stays with Panarin, I’m expecting Strome to put up the same numbers again. Benn, Radulov, and Pavelski will be the first line now with Seguin down. I think they’ll going to be bounce back a bit, but I’m tempering expectations.
Toffoli’s move to Montreal is hard to gauge for fantasy purposes, but it should be somewhere between where he was in Los Angeles and Vancouver. Saad moving to Colorado puts him on the second line with Kadri. That should be good for even strength, but I don’t expect a lot of PPP given how much Bednar plays the top unit. I’m expecting Arvidsson and Duchene to push back towards 2018-19 levels. I’m completely in on Vrana, but it’s hard to see him taking another step unless he ends up on PP1, which will take an injury. He’s getting up there in age, but Stastny should be a great late round pick this season. Moving back to Winnipeg centering Laine and Ehlers should do him wonders.
HIGH UPSIDE FORWARDS OUTSIDE THE TOP 70
Rickard Rakell, Clayton Keller, Jake DeBrusk, Jeff Skinner, Dylan Cozens, Vincent Trocheck, Martin Necas, Alex DeBrincat, Dominik Kubalik, Andre Burakovsky, Max Domi, Alexandre Texier, Denis Gurianov, Roope Hintz, Anthony Mantha, Dominik Kahun, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto, Anthony Duclair, Owen Tippett, Josh Anderson, Nick Suzuki, Nico Hischier, Jack Hughes, Anthony Beauvillier, Alexis Lafreniere, Kappo Kakko, Kasperi Kapanen, Robert Thomas, Ilya Mikheyev, Nick Robertson, Cody Glass, Alex Tuch
A quick blurb on each guy:
Rakell – still has a top line role and has scored 30 twice before. Can he get the shooting percentage back up?
Keller – Tons of talent, but it hasn’t translated to success since his rookie year. I expect him to go earlier than I want to take him based on name value.
DeBrusk – If he starts on the top line until Pasta returns, he’s going to be excellent for the first month of the season. If he’s not, then he’s an elite streamer.
Skinner – He’s one year removed from 40 goals instead of playing with Johansson, Sobotka, and other bums, he’ll play with Staal and Reinhart/Cozens/Olofsson to start. The 40 goals is an outlier unless he’s back with Eichel, but a bounce back is well within reason.
Cozens – He should make an instant impact in Buffalo. I’m targeting him late in drafts because there’s a realistic chance he plays with Eichel and Hall and if that happens, he’ll turn into a hold just like Olofsson did last season.
Trocheck – I’m still a sucker for his upside that he showed in Florida. There’s some real upside for Carolina’s second line.
Necas – Could he finally have the big breakout? Big believer in the talent, but the shot rate and playing time really need to increase. Probably passing on him looking to stream him, but don’t mind drafting him late to see how it goes.
DeBrincat – Should be on the top line with Strome and Kane. Their depth is so poor that big minutes should be in the cards. Huge bounce back candidate as his shot rate actually improved from his 41 goal campaign.
Kubalik – I like the player, but I’m really worried about him with Toews injured and Saad gone. I have no idea who he’s going to play with, probably the recently signed Carl Soderberg? The power play points should improve, but they have to for Kubalik to have any chance of coming close to last season.
Burakovsky – Looked great on the second line last season and has a good chance of repeating with Saad’s addition. He’s also the first guy added to PP1 when somebody goes down.
Domi – I firmly believe that Domi is a better center than winger. He should center Atkinson, and we’re only two years removed from a 28+44 season.
Texier – Like Necas, I’m not drafting him because I like other players more for upside, but he’s going to be a great streamer and I don’t mind someone drafting him just to see how he starts.
Gurianov – He looked great in the playoffs and additional opportunity should be there this season. Easy path to improvement after averaging only 13 minutes per game last regular season.
Hintz – Same as Gurianov except 15 minutes played last season.
Mantha – I absolutely love Mantha as a player, but he’s a fairly big injury risk. Honestly, I should have him in tier six because the upside is a top 50 player, if not higher. He deserves to be in the top 100 overall so that will be noted in the top 200.
Kahun – This is a shot in the dark, but I’ve always liked him as a player and I expect him to play with Draisaitl to open the season. If that happens, he could blow up. My favorite deep league target this season and a canidate for my last pick in drafts.
Puljujarvi – This is dependent on Puljujarvi playing with McDavid, but if he does, there’s obviously huge upside.
Yamamoto – He was a point per game last season before his injury. I don’t expect that, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.
Duclair – Duclair had a very nice season in Ottawa and now finds himself in Florida. He’s on the fringe of being draft worthy, but if we find out he’s going to start the season on the top line, Duclair is a must draft.
Tippett – Tippett is the other logical option for the first line. With his incredible shot, he could make an impact right away. I have him in the same camp as Necas and Texier
Anderson – I like Anderson as a player, but given the massive injury risk, I do not like the trade for Montreal, and I really hate the contract they gave him. Last season was a disaster for him before the injury, but he should play in the top six, presumably with Toffoli and Suzuki. If you need PIM and shots late in the draft, he’s a solid dart throw.
Suzuki – I thought Suzuki played extremely well in the playoffs and is in a prime spot to break out in his second season.
Hischier – He’s out to start camp now and I haven’t heard a time table. For now, I’m not drafting him, but if he is back to start the season, you can’t rule out a third year breakout.
Hughes – Hughes won’t be as bad as last season, but it won’t get any easier in that division. The upside is huge so he’s a reasonable dart throw.
Beauvillier – He’s been a favorite streamer of mine, but I think this could be the season Beauvillier becomes a hold for extended stretches.
Lafreniere – This year’s first overall pick could have a great year, but that’s contingent on playing with Panarin. We know what the first line will be for New York, so it’ll come down to Lafreniere or Kakko for the other winger spot with Strome and Panarin, but my guess is it’s Kakko. That’s a guess, but I think we see Lafreniere with Chytil to start while getting PP time. I like him a lot as a player, but for this season, I assume he’ll be drafted before a spot I’m comfortable with.
Kakko – I loved Kakko as a prospect and I’m not pivoting off him despite a horrendous rookie season. If he sticks on Panarin’s wing, I think we see a breakout.
Kapanen – Absolutely love Kapanen as a late round pick. He should be playing with Guentzel and Crosby to start the season, and while he won’t be on PP1, he should still see more PP time than he did in Toronto.
Thomas – I’ve been Thomas’ hype man for years now and I think this could be the big breakout. Next week, when I do a list of players I’m targeting, he’ll definitely be on it. He had 42 points in 66 games last season with only 14:34 of ice time. Now, I’m expecting him to play with Schenn and Schwartz giving him a big minutes boost. All in on Matchbox Twenty.
Mikheyev – Mikheyev looked excellent until his injury last season. If he slides right back into LW2 with Tavares, he could play himself into a bottom end hold. The worry is that…
Robertson – … Robertson takes Mikheyev’s spot. Long term, I like Robertson a lot, but for this season, it could be difficult for him to get the minutes necessary to be fantasy relevant. I can see it happening in certain games, which could make him a nice DFS target.
Glass – With Stastny gone, he’ll get every opportunity to center Stone and Patches. Massive blowup potential with the only threat being Stephenson.
Tuch – One of these years, Tuch will get the ice time he deserves. It still may not be this year, but his excellent play in the postseason makes me think there’s a chance. One injury to any of the top six wingers, and Tuch will be must own.
David Krejci, Ryan Getzlaf, Phil Kessel, Ondrej Kase, Mikael Granlund, Nikita Gusev, Pavel Buchnevich, Tim Stuetzle, Drake Batherson, James van Riemsdyk, Jaden Schwartz, Anthony Cirelli, Alex Killorn, Zach Hyman
I have a hard time seeing any of these being a hold for the whole season which is why they fall into this category. You have a mix of old guys who don’t carry that upside anymore, young guys who will be too inconsistent, or players who fill both categories e.g. Hyman. The one guy I really have interest in is Kase. You could make a case for drafting him with your last pick as well. As discussed on this website in full sleeper posts before, he’s an analytics darling. There’s a chance that he gets first crack on playing with Bergeron and Marchand while Pastrnak is out if they want to keep DeBrusk with Krejci. If that happens, we could see Kase get off to a torrid start.
Alright, another 3,000 words in the books for you guys. There’s a chance I get my top 200 list on New Year’s Day, but odds are I will get that posted bright and early on Saturday. As always, feel free to ask any questions, give any suggestions, or make any comments below. I hope that you all enjoy your New Year’s Eve in a safe manner. Let’s hope that 2021 gets us back to relative normalcy sooner than later. We’re only two weeks away from the season; all of the excites! Thanks for reading everyone, take care!