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!

ESPN’S RANKS

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 AbdelkaderCraig 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 HellebuyckVincent TrocheckSam ReinhartCharlie CoyleNikolaj Ehlers, Brendan GallagherNathan MacKinnonDevan DubnykJake AllenSam Bennett

HATEChris KreiderRyan Kesler, Tomas PlekanecAndrei MarkovDuncan KeithDrew DoughtyZdeno CharaHenrik ZetterbergArtemi PanarinTyler Toffoli

THURSDAY STREAMERS

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!

  1. Shitwolf says:
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    good read homie! I like your style

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Shitwolf: haha thanks! I actually wish I had more time to break it down more thoroughly but I feel like the main points got across. I know they are not a hockey website but man, they couldn’t care less about their ranks.

      • Shitwolf says:
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        @Viz:

        I feel you man this is my first year doing fantasy and before I found razz I was lost… a lot of my *top* players did poorly…. greinke ugh… but then I won my league using a lot of what I learned from this site…. although I traded lucroy for posey cuz I listened to greys hate for him bahaha… keep up the good work I like the stream suggestions do they come out the night before or just same day?

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          Glad to hear you won your league! Haha it was fun listening to JB and Grey debating over Lucroy on the podcast this year. Grey is right though, catchers are useless.

          To your question, they come out every day in the daily notes. I try to get them posted at 3 AM EST, midnight PST, so they are out in the morning; at the latest they’ll be up at 8 AM EST. I don’t want to be a day ahead on streamers because too many things can change for streamers in one day e.g. Montoya wouldn’t be here if I posted them yesterday, the news on Price wasn’t out yet. The only time I include them the night before, and it’s sometimes, not always, is when there is only a couple games in a night; then I don’t do daily notes the next day so I i either include both day’s streamers in that post or I edit them in later on.

          • Shitwolf says:
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            @Viz:

            Cool that makes sense! Thanks for doing it… who would you roll with tonight Hella vs Carolina or dubnyk vs st Louis

            • Viz

              Viz says:
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              No problem at all. I’d go with Dubnyk, it looks like a tougher matchup on the face of things but with the Blues on the second of a back to back, I think it’ll be a tighter game while Jets Canes should be open. I do think Hellboy has a slightly better chance of winning if that matters more to you but I think that Dubnyk’s got a good chance at a win and I expect a better GAA and sv%.

              • Shitwolf says:
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                @Viz:

                Wicked I had him in also but gave a second thought when I saw carolina

  2. Jonathan A says:
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    Hey there, just wanted to get your thoughts on the team below. 14 team keeper league.
    Stats G A P PP +- Hits

    Claude Giroux Phi – C

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Edm – C

    Alex Galchenyuk Mon – C

    Nikolaj Ehlers Wpg – LW,RW

    Max Pacioretty Mon – LW

    Mikkel Boedker SJ – LW

    Dylan Larkin Det – C,RW

    Vladimir Tarasenko StL – RW

    James Neal Nsh – RW

    Brendan Gallagher Mon – RW

    David Pastrnak Bos – RW

    Bryan Little Wpg – C

    Shayne Gostisbehere Phi – D

    Shea Theodore Anh – D

    Stephen Johns Dal – D

    Sami Vatanen Anh – D

    Brayden Schenn Phi – C,LW

    Mikko Rantanen Col – RW

    Travis Konecny Phi – C

    Mathew Barzal NYI – C

    Ben Bishop TB – G

    Carey Price Mon – G

    Connor Hellebuyck Wpg – G

    Antti Niemi Dal – G

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Jonathan A: Looks really good, it’s definitely not my strategy to take early goalies but considering that, you did well. Theodore was sent back down to the AHL though so look for somebody else in that spot.

  3. Man Of Steel says:
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    Great article! I noticed Kane is available in my 8 team league, is he worth picking up?
    Do you know what Defensemen were on the main power play line for the Oilers last night? They may be available in my league and I would like to stream them tomorrow as we have daily changes.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Man Of Steel: I think he should be owned, yes. The shots and PIM are outstanding and if you include hits, he’s even better.

      • Man Of Steel says:
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        @Viz: Thanks! Who are the Defensemen I should be targeting for the Oilers? I am trying to figure which two were on their top power play line. I am new to fantasy hockey and was wondering if there is a way to get that info.

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          @Man Of Steel: Oh sorry, I looked up the details and forgot to write them! Klefbom is definitely your guy, he played over 6 minutes on the power play yesterday. Sekera was in the high 3’s, then everyone else was less than 2 minutes so your preference should be Klefbom and if he’s not available, sekera. The Oilers generally use Eberle on the point so only one defenseman on the first unit (Klefbom).

          • Man Of Steel says:
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            @Viz: Great information thanks!

  4. Scott says:
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    Crossing streams on Grant and Montoya there, Viz. Expecting lots of SOG and Saves?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Scott: It was more of a deep league call for the people in crazy 20 team leagues; now RoR is expected to play which might kill Grant’s value, I’ll edit that part if I get confirmation.

  5. howtathor says:
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    Right on Viz! When I was preparing for my draft, couldn’t believe the ESPN rankings. Needless to say I was happy to have guys like Mckinnon and Galchenyuk buried down the list so as not to be TOO accesible.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Right, it’s horrible that for part of your draft strategy, you have to account for where these guys are ranked on ESPN and how long you can wait on them until somebody notices.

  6. Matt says:
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    10-team Standard ESPN Roto

    Thoughts on picking up Jeff Zatkoff/Peter Budaj with Quick injury pending?

    Drop Sam Reinhart (last bench player) to get him? Goalies are Allen & Bobrovsky

    Also how bad does the Eichel injury affect his rankings? Usually got in between picks #55-60

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Matt: Depends on how many goalies you’re starting but Zatkoff should be the main guy going forward if you need a goalie. It drops him quite a bit since he’ll be out at least a month but there’s no guarantee it doesn’t linger. You got great value and unfortunately it got screwed by injury. I wouldn’t look to be giving him away if you have IR spots though.

  7. Lenny says:
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    Thanks Viz, good stuff. This would have been awesome before the season started though. My league didn’t even draft until Sunday this week and this would have been helpful. I know you’re busy, and I couldn’t agree more with the analysis, but maybe next year this can come out earlier.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @Lenny: If you look at my top 250 rankings where I have everyone on one page, it says in the chart how far above or below ADP I am. In that regard, this info was already there, I just expanded. Basically, the only new thing in this post was ripping ESPN, which I agree I wish I could have got done earlier but it’s something that goes on the back burner. Pumping out an article a day plus podcasting twice a week put this one on the back burner.

      • Lenny says:
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        @Viz: Understood, and I did use your top 250 ranks for the draft. All these bums in my league use the espn sheet religiously so that’s why I mention anything at all.

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          @Lenny: Good to hear, you must have had a pretty big edge then in the middle to late rounds. My biggest problem was that I kept putting it off to do podcasts but wrote some notes for when I got to it. Then I’d get a chance to do some writing and ESPN would update their rankings a bit so it eliminated some of my talking points. Next year, I’m going to look to get it out 2-4 weeks before the season starts and to hell with their updates.

  8. Quick Sycamore says:
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    I got Ehlers with my last pick in the draft, I knew I’d he able to get him there too. Including him I have 4 love players, also exciting.
    These kinds of articles are great especially if someone is just getting started in fantasy hockey.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Thanks! Damn that’s insane value on Ehlers; good to hear 🙂 Any other suggestions for articles you’d like to see?

      • Quick Sycamore says:
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        @Viz: Yeah hopefully Ehlers pays off. I dropped Pastrnak for versteeg yesterday, and of course he has a 4 point game. Someone picked him up today before the game even started. Looks like he’s gone now. Oh well. As for articles I have no idea lol

  9. The Harrow says:
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    when are your rankings showing up in fantasy pros? this probably has nothing to do with you at this point anymore, but they are still showing you last updating the 29th.

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Yeah, I submitted an update last night and earlier today so it must be on their end. I’m not sure how long it’ll take; perhaps I can email you the list? I have to mess around with FantasyPros when I get a chance

      • The Harrow says:
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        @Viz: yeah, jay/tehol have had issues last year at least too. [email protected]

        • The Harrow says:
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          @The Harrow: do send it there unless there’s some way to update it here on site.

          • The Harrow says:
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            @The Harrow: yeah i guess either email that or i’ll just ask one by one tomorrow and hope you see it in time. it’ll be hopefully only the obvious things, like how much lower on eichel, how much higher on helly etc.

            • The Harrow says:
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              @The Harrow: i just whined at FP to update your rankings, since you sent them in yesterday night.

  10. The Harrow says:
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    couple of things grabbed maroon yesterday, and that worked out well. is fiala actually staying up or are NAS just taking their sweet ass time here?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Well done. No guarantee but the expectation is that Fiala is going to stay up; I think he’d have to be a disaster to go back down.

      • The Harrow says:
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        @Viz: ok, then dropping maroon to stream a D man or that grant guy at BUF. will have too many LW’ers to hold maroon if fiala is staying up.

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          I’d probably steer away from Grant now that RoR is going to play. Grant will be in the lineup and second power play unit but the expectation is that he’ll be on the 4th line tonight now.

          • The Harrow says:
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            @Viz: ok, i’ll probably grab some blocks with a d-man.

  11. Scott says:
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    Viz,
    I have to decide on 2 of these goalies today:
    Fleury vs Wsh
    Montoya @Buf
    Halak @NYR

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Man, that’s tough. What matters most to you, the win or just a good start?

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      My first thought is sit Halak but I don’t feel great about it.

      • Scott says:
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        @Viz: Yeah, me too. This are my first starts of the week, so anything is good.

  12. Joey Jo Jo Jr Shabadoo says:
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    CRAP, apparently parenteau is going with josefson and zacha (zacha not a bad thing probably, but it’s not good time and not the possible hall matchup)

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      Yeah it’s definitely frustrating, I do think he ends up there eventually though and it’ll be decent in the short term.

  13. DancinHomer says:
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    Nice work, this was a really good read @Viz !

    had a quick question for ya, one of my leaguemates dropped out last minute, so we needed to push our draft back till this upcoming Monday & losing the whole 1st week.

    that being said, do you by chance update your rankings once the season started? I’d love to get an idea how you’d rank players now that the season is underway and there’s been some breakouts/ injuries.

    Cheers

    • Viz

      Viz says:
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      @DancinHomer: thanks! I haven’t done a thorough update since the season just started but if you give me your email address, I can send you my most recent list later tonight. It doesn’t include injuries to E. Kane and Quick but everything else is up to date (Eichel, Schwartz etc.)

      • DancinHomer says:
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        @Viz: that would be awesome. Is there way to PM my address to you so it’s not posted on a public forum?

        Thanks again!

        • Viz

          Viz says:
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          @DancinHomer: actually I think I can find it on our dashboard, there’s an email listed with your post. I will comment here when I send it to you and you can let me know, either later tonight or at the latest, tomorrow morning.

          • DancinHomer says:
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            @Viz: sounds good. Thank you again

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