The hockey season has finally started! With four games in the books, I’ll wait until tomorrow night to recap them all instead of doing a very short post today that would mainly consist of gushing over Auston Matthews‘ debut. Instead, there is a podcast that will be posted in the afternoon (I’m editing it this morning) and then this post, something I’ve been excited to do for a while. I’ve mentioned repeatedly how poor the rankings are for the “big” websites so I’m going to review ESPN’s final staff rankings. You can find them here to follow along. Yes, their rankings include time on ice but there is still a pile of things that are unexplainable. At the end of this post, I’ll list some players who I am much higher or lower than consensus on plus some streamers for Thursday. Let’s get to it!
It already gets messy in the top 20. There are 8 goalies in their top 20, including 3 goalies in the top 7. In 12 man leagues, Jonathan Quick and Martin Jones are first round picks in their minds. I hope to God you guys didn’t follow their lead. There is too much unpredictability in goaltending to use a first round pick on one, let alone these two. It makes even less sense to have goalies that high by ESPN’s standard because they have an extra offensive category and it puts you way too behind the 8 ball offensively. Johnny Gaudreau and Artemi Panarin have little to no shot at paying off a early second round pick since they don’t contribute more than an average return in the non-points categories. Taking one of them ahead of Tyler Seguin is blasphemy; he’s the better version of both players in real life and in fantasy.
I can’t even guess why Nicklas Backstrom is 23rd or why Tyler Toffoli is 39th. Backstrom is below average in goals and shots, yes the assists are excellent but it’s not enough for a second round pick. Toffoli gets 30 goals and a nice plus-minus (never a guarantee) and is average at best everywhere else. Drew Doughty and Shea Weber in their top 50 is hilarious even with time on ice included.
Meanwhile, Ryan Kesler comes in at 60th. A guy who hasn’t topped 53 points in 5 seasons and is on the steady decline. While Taylor Hall is 66th. Hall just had 65 points with an elite shot rate and 54 PIM of his own. He played just as many minutes as Kesler. Apparently Kesler’s extra 20 PIM override the extra 10 points and 100 SOG Hall provides. Complete nonsense. Meanwhile, Chris Kreider comes in one (1!) spot after Hall in their rankings. Got to get those 45 points and 70 PIM in the 6th round :/ Henrik Zetterberg is ranked like it was a few years ago just like Kesler.
I don’t know what the Avalanche did to the ESPN staff but it must have been horrible for them to be ranked so low. Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog are 88th and 89th while Matt Duchene is 127th. Yes, the Matt Duchene who just had 30 goals is behind players like Tomas Plekanec, Justin Abdelkader, Craig Smith and Nick Foligno. Foligno had 37 points last season and 53 PIM. Seems worthy of being ranked 123rd overall. In the same range, I can’t possibly explain why Devan Dubnyk is 119th as G18. He was #11 last year, the team has a great coach now and he’s a clear workhorse.
I won’t go all the way through 250, the bottom end of drafts is simply taking fliers, but man there’s some funny stuff through 200. There are more 30 goal scorers below Duchene somehow, notably Brandon Saad and Jeff Skinner. Ryan O’Reilly‘s 70 point pace season on top of the highest ice time for all forwards in the NHL was barely worth a top 150 spot. Justin Faulk‘s goal aren’t worth a spot in the top 150 along with Boone Jenner, who is incredibly disrespected after a 30 goal, 75 PIM season (1 of 3 in the entire NHL). Vincent Trocheck‘s monster second half put him at 185th overall. Sure, take Mikael Backlund ahead of him, that’ll do well.
I almost cried laughing when I saw Alex Galchenyuk down at 180th overall. Could you imagine getting him in the 15th round? A 22 year old who just scored 30 goals, is getting additional minutes and is peaking? Then I actually did cry from laughter when I saw Evander Kane ranked 197th. Other guys get massive boosts for decent PIM and points. Kane gets over 100 PIM and has the third best shot rate in the league and he’s barely in the top 200.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think ESPN was directly trying to sabotage their readers. It’s just a complete mess year after year and one of the main reasons I wanted to start writing about fantasy hockey. The amount of quality content out there is minimal and I look forward to my ranking on FantasyPros to show that. More importantly, I thank each of you for reading the things that I write and listening to the podcast.
LOVE / HATE
Looking at my rankings compared to consensus, there are far more players that I am higher on but the ones that I’m lower on, I’m generally much lower on. In my top 50, there are only two players 15 spots on lower on (Gaudreau and Panarin) and I’m 28 and 23 spots lower than ADP respectively. On the other hand, there are 7 players I “love” in my top 50 and it was 8 before the injury to Jack Eichel. You can find out all of my details on my rankings at fantasypros.com; for simplicity, I’ll list the 10 guys in each category that really stand out to me:
LOVE: Connor Hellebuyck, Vincent Trocheck, Sam Reinhart, Charlie Coyle, Nikolaj Ehlers, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan MacKinnon, Devan Dubnyk, Jake Allen, Sam Bennett
HATE: Chris Kreider, Ryan Kesler, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Zdeno Chara, Henrik Zetterberg, Artemi Panarin, Tyler Toffoli
Alex Killorn (16.7%) – Possibly my favorite streamer, Killorn gets a home matchup against the Red Wings getting to play with Tyler Johnson and Nikita Kucherov. Great spot to be in.
Pavel Buchnevich (9.3%) – The Butcher makes his NHL debut for the Rangers tonight against the Islanders. He’s going right into the top six and I think he gets on the score sheet tonight.
Derek Grant (0.1%) – Super deep league call! With all of the Sabres injuries, Grant has a chance to play on the second line tonight. He scored 27 goals in 36 games last season in the AHL and has had an excellent preseason so I think he’ll get the opportunity to show what he can do. EDIT: With Ryan O’Reilly expected to play now, Grant becomes less appealing. He’ll still get power play time but the expectation is that he’ll drop to the 4th line.
Al Montoya (1%) – It’s rare to include a goalie stream this early but Montoya is a rare backup getting a start game one due to Carey Price having the flu. The Sabres are depleted right now so it’s a pretty good spot.
That’s all for now guys. Be sure to check out the podcast that drops in the afternoon that includes some big picture things, short term stuff like injuries and then other interesting discussions. I’ll be back Friday morning with my first set of daily notes for the season recapping all of the games from Wednesday and Thursday. As always, feel free to ask any questions or post any comments below. Take care!