We’re cutting right to the chase today with forwards ranked 41-60 for this season. You can see the Top 40 here.
41) Patrick Kane – It feels wrong to rank Kane this low. Maybe it is. But Chicago is going to be a complete mess, and I don’t see Kane being traded until closer to the deadline. Kane has already been bad at even strength and now he loses DeBrincat. -30 isn’t out of the realm of possibility. Will the PP be good enough around Kane for him to repeat last season’s 31 points? He doesn’t take penalties or pile up hits, which already lowers his ceiling. The shots will be elite, and I’m sure he’ll get plenty of points, but it could be harmful elsewhere. Kane is a guy I’m not looking to draft, but to target in a trade around New Year’s if you’re doing well to have him for the stretch run on a presumed new team.
42) Chris Kreider – Another ranking that could be too low, Kreider is coming off a 52 goal season when his previous career high was 28. He had a whopping 26 PP goals as the Rangers top unit dominated the entire season. So what’s the expectation for this season? The situation is great, but is it realistic to expect 50 goals again? I don’t think so. He went from 2 shots per game to over 3. Does that hold? It could, but no guarantee. In hits leagues, he’s definitely higher, but the PIM dried up. Kreider has never topped 25 assists so I’m more comfortable drafting him in this range because something in the 40+25 range is more likely. That has value, but you need to have the correct other pieces already drafted.
43) Tim Stutzle – After a dreadful start to the season, Stutzle finished the season extremely strong with 28 points in 25 games. Now, he gets DeBrincat and Giroux on his wing. It’s hard for a team to acquire two guys in an offseason that are a better fit to play with Stutzle. The 20 year old appears on the verge of superstardom; this could be the last year that you can get Stutzle outside of the top 35 or so. I might end up ranking Stutzle even higher because D.J. Smith said on Wednesday that he plans to keep their top PP unit from last season in tact because of how well they played. I thought there was a chance Stutzle would lose his spot to DeBrincat, but for now, that doesn’t look to be the case. I’m tempted to swap Stutzle and DeBrincat, but also don’t want to overreact. Regardless, I’m expecting big things this season.
44) Vladimir Tarasenko – Tarasenko had his first season over a point per game of his career after missing most of the previous two seasons. The shot rate was over three per game, the PPP was solid, and I love his linemates in real life (more on them shortly). A year away from being hurt should only boost his confidence. Thomas should continue to improve, and he’s already one of the best playmakers in the league. I love the chances of that line doing damage again, and I think Tarasenko’s shot rate puts him first out of that trio.
45) Pierre-Luc Dubois – Dubois’ first full season in Winnipeg looked much better than the previous year which had to deal plenty of COVID travel issues. Dubois set a career high with 28 goals, piled up 106 PIM, and close to three shots per game. He fits every team, and I think it could get better next season. Dubois had only 4 PP assists, and while I don’t expect some massive total, around 10 is my expectation. I also like the chances of Perfetti being a much better third wheel this year to Dubois and Ehlers (assuming they stick together).
46) Pavel Buchnevich – Buch set career highs across the board in his first year with the Blues. He’s a clear plus asset in all categories making him a great target early on no matter what your early picks were. As covered in Tarasenko two spots above, this Blues line is among the best offensively and none of it looks unsustainable.
47) Matt Duchene – It looked like Duchene was going to be an albatross contract for the Predators after two mediocre seasons, and a dreadful 2020-21. Instead, he manages to go 43+43 with elite PPP and a strong shot rate. Credit to him for turning it back around. Forsberg and Duchene found incredible chemistry, and it didn’t really matter who was playing at center. Yes, his shooting percentage is going to regress a bit, but I don’t think PPP will that much even though he had more PPP last season than the previous three combined. The Predators top unit was revamped stylistically and it completely worked running it through Josi, Forsberg and Duchene.
48) Evgeny Kuznetsov – Similar to Duchene, Kuznetsov got back on track last season to finish one point shy of a point per game. The big thing was Kuz started to shoot the puck at an average rate again after two bad years in that regard. The PIM are solid, and Kuznetsov has a bigger PP role now in the role Backstrom used to have.
49) Elias Lindholm – Lindholm lost both of his linemates so I’m not sure how much his excellent season last year pertains to this coming one. The good news is that Huberdeau is every bit of the playmaker that Gaudreau is, if not better. Lindholm has stayed incredibly healthy throughout his career, and I loved seeing the big jump in shot rate. It could go up given the gap between Gaudreau and Huberdeau in shot rate. Lindholm could have a small PP boost role too. Lindholm was the 12th best forward last season which obviously is due for regression due to a +61 rating, but I do think Lindholm should end up right around a point per game again.
50) Patrice Bergeron – How much does no Marchand for the first two months hurt Bergeron? This ranking banks in a decent sized dropoff, which I want to do because of Bergeron being 37 years old as well. Generally, he’s been a lock for +20 or better, and the shot rate being among the best in the league. I don’t think that really changes, but the PPP probably takes a hit in the early going, especially with McAvoy out too. If anything, I’ll end up sliding Bergeron down last minute.
51) William Nylander – Nylander set a career high in both points and shot rate last season. He was -7, but that was because Leafs goalies could barely stop the puck with him on the ice. We know we’re getting elite PPP from Nylander, so the overall contribution will be strong outside of PIM. The one concern is that Tavares will miss the start of the season, and Tavares is already starting to lose a step. There isn’t much quality for Toronto outside of the first line, so Nylander’s quality of linemate is the worst it’s been in years. I think he’s good enough that it won’t be a huge hit, but Nylander might not have the playmaking around him to get back to 34 goals again.
52) Dylan Larkin – Larkin was back to putting up three shots per game, resulting in a career high 31 goals. The main problem with Larkin is that he’s been a minus player in every season since his rookie year, and the Detroit PP hasn’t been good in that time. Does that change with a legitimate second line behind the top line now? Also, Perron on the top PP could help a bit, but Larkin has never topped 15 PPP in a season. For a player of his caliber, that’s quite surprising. I do think Larkin’s ceiling is a bit higher than most of the guys in this range for that reason because if he ended up getting 20 PPP, he’ll be over a point per game.
53) Brayden Point – It’s actually been three seasons since Point topped a point per game. The Tampa top line hasn’t been as dominant at even strength in the last two seasons, and Point doesn’t give much in the PIM department. That said, he’s still going to be close to that point per game mark, the power play points should be great, and the floor is quite high. Point is one of the best safe options towards the back end of the top 100, but it feels disappointing since he was a top 20 player three years ago.
54) Vincent Trocheck – It’s been four seasons since Trocheck looked on the verge on fantasy superstardom with 31+45, elite shots, and great PIM. That level of play could be back in play this season. There’s risk in this ranking, but Trocheck gets to play with Panarin, one of the premier playmakers in the league. Strome wasn’t far off a point per game player over the last three seasons and I believe in Trocheck’s talent more than Strome’s. Trocheck also should step into PP1 in Strome’s spot, one of the best PP’s in the league. I expect the shot rate to shoot back up and for Trocheck to deliver at the beginning of his big deal in Manhattan.
55) Valeri Nichushkin – Big Val was one of the key players for the Avalanche last season, putting up 52 points in 62 games and being a dominant play driver. He was rewarded with a big contract to stay with the Cup champions. I’m buying Nichushkin to be even better this season with increased power play time. With Kadri gone, he should have that role permanently. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s close to a point per game with three shots per game and elite plus-minus.
56) Jordan Kyrou – Kyrou was superb last season topping a point per game in his second full season. With an increase in minutes a near certainty, repeating that is well within reason. Now, it’s almost impossible to hit less than Kyrou does, so in hits leagues, he should be way lower than this. But as mentioned earlier, I want to get pieces of this Blues offense.
57) John Tavares – Tavares to set to miss the first week of the season with an oblique injury. That’s not why he’s down this low, but it doesn’t help matters. JT has been trending in the wrong direction for a while now, and while I don’t expect him to become a 60 point player yet, his name value is going to put him way out of my range. Tavares is being carried by his power play ability now because he’s dropping off hard at even strength. All of the underlying numbers are looking bad too. No thanks.
58) Sam Reinhart – Reinhart was everything that I expected in his first season in Florida finishing over a point per game. He was elite on the power play and an even strength, leaving his only weak spot as penalty minutes or hits. Depending on what the lines look like for Florida, this could be too far too low for Reinhart. If he played with Tkachuk and Barkov, they would have 60%+ of the shots and expected goals without a doubt and they’d all probably top 90 points. Reinhart is extremely safe, but his ceiling doesn’t quite reach some others because the shot rate and PIM aren’t at an above average or better level. The one way he tops it is more minutes under Maurice.
59) Joe Pavelski – The third member of the Dallas top line, Pavelski has carried over the elite play from the bubble to two straight regular seasons. His numbers are quite similar to Reinhart now, a slightly better shot rate with a slightly worse power play production plus age working against him. At some point, the 38 year old is bound to drop off a bit, but his linemates are so good that it should be just fine. He could even get a small uptick in ice time with DeBoer, who isn’t afraid to give his first line massive minutes.
60) Tage Thompson – Homer alert! Well, Thompson shocked the world by scoring 38 goals last season. There is a lot of skepticism over his contract since last season was a complete outlier, but none of it looked fluky. He has an elite shot that he gets on net over three shots per game, the power play runs through that shot, and he should have better support behind the top line this year. Finishing the season with 24 goals in his last 38 games is insane. He took off once Tuch entered the lineup, and Tuch’s not going anywhere. The Sabres will be better at evens with Power showing in his small sample that he will drive play even in the hardest of matchups. He was the #66 forward last season despite being -17, so lessening that should let him easily pay off this rank.
That’s all for now guys. JKJ will have more of his defensemen rankings coming out later today so be on the lookout for that. My plan is to compile a top 200 list tomorrow to get out for Friday, and then going back to the forwards on Monday with full details. I simply want to get that list out in case people have drafts this weekend. As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care
Update: Top 200 should be out Friday middle of the day,