If you didn’t see Part One, check it out here. Let’s get right into Part Two.
Tier Eight: Elite Upside But Medium Floor
46) Jordan Kyrou
47) Alex DeBrincat
48) Mark Scheifele
49) Johnny Gaudreau
50) Pavel Buchnevich
51) Connor Bedard
52) Pierre-Luc Dubois
53) Nikolaj Ehlers
54) Martin Necas
55) Joe Pavelski
56) Evander Kane
57) Travis Konecny
58) Tyler Toffoli
59) Jeff Skinner
60) Filip Forsberg
All of these guys have had monster seasons in the past besides Bedard, whose upside is undeniably. Most of these guys don’t have the floor of the previous tier, but they have the same upside. Kyrou had a massive jump in shot rate last season, and crossed 70 points for the second straight season. The problem is that his plus-minus was -38. Woof. I expect it to improve, but it is a concern because the Blues look stuck in mediocrity. The PIM/hits are weak as well. I trust the scoring, but at what cost?
If DeBrincat clicks in Detroit, he could get 40 goals again. That said, I expected him to click in Ottawa last season and it didn’t really happen. He’s rarely been good at even strength, and who knows if the elite minutes hold in Detroit. Wide range of outcomes here from solid to a top five goal scorer in the league.
Scheifele set a career high in goals, but his assists plummeted. Like the guys before, he’s sucked at even strength because he’s a dumpster fire defensively. Maybe Vilardi helps fix that? He’s also a trade candidate if the Jets start poorly. I think he’ll get back to around a point per game, but it’s far from a lock.
I kind of want to throw out everything out the window for Columbus guys last season, Gaudreau included. Their blue line was mediocre… by AHL standards. A healthy Werenski would help fix the PP, and the young guys should continue to grow. I’ve historically been the low man on Gaudreau, which burned me twice but has been good otherwise. This season, I’m somewhat in on him.
I absolutely love Buchenvich as a player. He’s been over a point per game in each of his two seasons with the Blues. The problem is his shot rate catered last season on top of missing 20 games. If he gets back to around 2.5 per game and stays healthy, he beats this rating easily. If he stays below two per game, that’s a huge hit to his value.
Bedard could come in and set the world on fire as a rookie. I don’t really want to pay to find out though, unless I have a bunch of safe players already. Chicago is going to be a dumpster fire for at least another season and his linemates aren’t going to be anything special. This could blow up in my face, but I’m okay with it.
Dubois moves to Los Angeles, where he should get to play with Fiala. They aren’t the exact same player, but Dubois should find success with Fiala just like he did with Connor in Winnipeg. He hits all of the categories extremely well, so unlike other guys in this tier, the question is how many points does he get? The minutes could also take a down tick as that line probably gets less time than the Kopitar and Danault lines at evens.
I can’t quit Ehlers. He has missed significant time each of the last two seasons, and the minutes dropped a lot. I’m expecting a bounce back from Ehlers, potentially career highs across the board if he finally gets the PP time he deserves.
Necas just had his breakout, happening after some people started to give up on him. All of it looks sustainable, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes another step forward.
The only bad thing to say about Pavelski is his shot rate has trended down. Other than that, the 39 year old continues to dominate at both even strength and on the power play. He takes a hit in PIM leagues, and you never know if Father Time catches up, but with his linemates, I’m buying on Pavelski repeating his numbers again.
Kane’s PP1 time is in doubt, which does hurt his value. He also lacks in assists compared to the other guys in this range. However, he mashes every other category, and it appears that they’ll keep him stapled to McDavid. Kane is a great fit for most teams.
In a disastrous season for the Flyers, Konecny was a major bright spot. He was over a point per game, over three shots per game, and had elite PIM. The only thing he was low on was PPP, and I’m not sure that gets better given their team. Konecny could potentially get traded as well. Either way, he’s another guy that fits all team builds.
I’m extremely bullish on Toffoli. He’s coming off an excellent season in Calgary, and now he gets to play with Hughes and Bratt. Maybe he doesn’t get PP1 time, but that’s just fine. If he did, he’d probably be a top 50 player, and all that would take is an injury or somebody struggling. I’m targeting him everywhere.
Skinner was fantastic last season, setting a career high in assists while scoring 35 goals again. Add in three shots per game and solid PPP to go with his always good even strength production, and Skinner was a top 50 forward last season. It’s definitely repeatable, but I’m a bit worried about the assists maintaining.
I want to be even higher on Forsberg, but the time has come to drop him. The injuries are too frequent, and the Predators lost some offensive talent, namely Duchene, who he’s clicked with. There is a chance that Novak and/or Evangelista build on their finishes to last season and Forsberg gets back to pushing a point per game with elite goals. I’m definitely not quitting on him, but there’s plenty of risk here.
Tier Nine: Middle Round Safety Or Upside
61) Adrian Kempe
62) Cole Caufield
63) Patrik Laine
64) Jared McCann
65) Claude Giroux
66) Trevor Zegras
67) Elias Lindholm
68) Jesper Bratt
69) Bo Horvat
70) Brock Nelson
71) Jonathan Huberdeau
72) Nazem Kadri
73) Mathew Barzal
74) Sam Reinhart
75) Valeri Nichushkin
At this point, we want to be targeting certain statlines based on our team build. I can make cases for or against all of these guys, but I’d say I’m in on most of them. I want to buy back on the Flames this season. Even more so than Columbus, I’m willing to throw a lot of last season away and hope that they get back to their previous forms. I want to be all in on Bratt, but it’s extremely points heavy. Without the help in shots and PIM/hits, he needs 70+ points to be worth it here. I think he can do that, but the floor is low without the peripherals. I’ve come away with Nelson on almost of all of my teams so far. He’s played his way into being an elite goal scorer, and if the Isles can ever get anything out of their PP, Nelson can get to a point per game.
Being through the top 75 forwards (I usually go to 80), I’m going to highlight a bunch of guys that I have outside the top 125 of my rankings, but I’m targeting them in the middle to late rounds.
With the departure of Killorn, Brandon Hagel almost has to be on the first unit by default. He scored 30+34 last season and while there’s a chance Tampa loads up the top line with Stammer-Point-Kucherov, I don’t think that will be their norm. Hagel will get to play with elite linemates and now get to be a consistent part of their top PP. I’m buying last season and then some.
There’s some old Razzball Hockey podcasts in the archives where Reid and I buy Pavel Zacha stock. His first season in Boston was a big success with 57 points. Now, his minutes are going to rise significantly, and that includes PP1 time. The shot rate is dreadful which caps his ceiling, but Zacha has 70 point upside if things break right.
Tyler Bertuzzi steps right into the Bunting role in Toronto, except that Bertuzzi is much better at hockey. The lack of PP1 time caps his ceiling a bit, but I’m expecting a big season for Bertuzzi, something near his 30+32 from years ago.
I thought Logan Cooley should have been the first pick in his draft class due to his upside. As mentioned throughout my posts, I’m somewhat bullish on Arizona this year, and Cooley is a big reason for it. He’s the perfect late round gamble.
Everyone seems to be out on Lucas Raymond after a dreadful season, but he’s still only 21 years old and now he gets to play with DeBrincat. He screams a post-hype breakout similar to Necas last season.
Give me all of the Gabe Vilardi stock. The move to Winnipeg gives him a first line role with elite offensive players. The back injury that plagued him early in his professional career appear to be behind him. Natural improvement, increased opportunity, and better linemates position him to be a massive value late, especially if the shot rate upticks.
Connor Brown is getting massive hype this preseason as he’s been playing with McJesus and Kane. He’s a huge injury risk, but Brown is the perfect late round target. If he struggles to start, cut him and move on. There’s a chance he’s a hold for the entire season.
I can’t believe I’m typing this in 2023, but Jonathan Drouin, fantasy value? It really looks like Colorado is going to start him with MacKinnon opening night. Honestly, everything is in play for Drouin. He could be so bad he’s waived, he could stay on the first line all season and resurrect his career, or something in between. But again, it bears repeating: take gambles at the end of your draft because there will always be somebody mediocre on your waiver wire. You should be shooting the moon at the end unless you’re in super deep leagues where mediocrity has value.
Ryan Hartman always seems to be underrated on draft night. Sure, he doesn’t get top power play time, but he still gets to play with Kaprizov and Zuccarello. They don’t have anybody to replace him either. If your league has PIM, he’s a huge value, but either way, I have Hartman as a bottom end hold to open the season.
That’s all for now guys. If I have the time, I will get out a list of bold predictions for Monday. If not, they will be out either Tuesday or Wednesday, with daily notes coming quickly. The season is upon us! As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below. As noted yesterday, it may take me a bit to answer, but I promise that I will, and also JKJ should be giving his advice as well. Thanks for reading, take care!