Hi, everyone! Lackeydrinksonme here.
This is my second in a series of fantasy hockey skater rankings. As I mentioned, I use 17-18 stats including points per game, points/TOI, Wins Above Replacement, Expected Goals and Actual Goals, and Offensive Point Shares, among others. I can’t avoid using the eye test, and I try to consider what team a player is on, their expected linemates, and where they are in their careers. I also try to include my rationale, and for most players will offer a prediction on year end points.
Like Viz indicated, once you get past the first few names there can be very little separation between certain players, and this obviously isn’t meant to be a comprehensive or be-all end-all ranking. Rather, it’s to give you another perspective on where players are being valued, and might reinforce an idea you have about a skater or surprise you with some analysis. I’ll gladly take questions in the comment section.
- Connor McDavid
- Nikita Kucherov
- Alex Ovechkin
- Taylor Hall
- Sidney Crosby
- Nathan Mackinnon
- Brad Marchand
- Steven Stamkos
- Claude Giroux
- Evgeni Malkin
- Blake Wheeler
- John Tavares
- Patrik Laine
- Jack Eichel
- Phil Kessel
- David Pastrnak
- Vladimir Tarasenko
- Tyler Seguin
- Mark Scheifele
- Auston Matthews
- Johnny Gaudreau
- Aleksander Barkov
- Jamie Benn
- Shayne Gostisbehere
- Jakub Voracek
26) Anze Kopitar – Kopitar had an unreal season last year, with great total points and a solid role on the power play. My one problem is LA’s possession game and the number of shots, but Kopitar is 30 (which is still OK) and should continue to put up a ton of ice time. A little regression might mean 75-80 points, but the talent is certainly there.
27) Brent Burns – Since most possession stats are based off of shots taken, Burn’s stats are off the charts. An elite shot rate and a nearly unmatched offensive role for a D-man, I love Burns, and I would rank him higher if he wasn’t 33. Regression happens, and although 70 points isn’t out of the question I’d rather take someone on the rise, age-wise.
28) Mikko Rantanen – 21 years old, experiencing his own MacKinnon-like breakout in his first full season. 35 points on the power play including 12 goals, 16th in points/TOI, 19th in total offensive point shares. The risk is there because he is still developing, but let’s hypothesize that the sudden burst of talent coming out of Colorado is for real: 90 points for Rantanen.
29) Erik Karlsson – Alright, Ottawa is currently a bit of a dead zone. The thing is, Karlsson is 28 and is right in the prime of his career, with a guaranteed power play role and solid production. If he hadn’t missed 11 games, we might see 7-8 more points while not really playing with anyone amazing. I think 70 points is nearly a lock… my ONLY problem is the supporting cast, but if he gets traded to a contender, consider him a top-15 pick.
30) Patrick Kane – I think Kane’s 17-18 campaign was a disappointment, as his high-round draft pick didn’t pay off as much as others taken in the same rounds. The talent is still there, as are the expected goals and possession stats, but Chicago is stumbling a bit in terms of team quality (28th in PP%, 21st in goals per game) and they haven’t re-tooled as well as some others. If Kane falls, take him, but odds are good he won’t and you’ll have made a more reliable pick early on. 65-point floor, 80 point ceiling.
31) Mathew Barzal – This one is going to be contentious. Possession plagued the Islanders last year, and Barzal still managed to post an incredible Points/TOI and Points/GP. Now Tavares is gone, and Barzal will probably be playing on the top line with decent scoring options and a gigantic power-play role. I think Barzal builds off his excellent 17-18 campaign and could easily post 80 points again. As with Karlsson, I’m only really concerned about the available support.
32) Vincent Trocheck – Florida is going to be terrific this year, regardless of how the lines play out. Worst-case Trocheck is playing with the likes of Nick Bjugstadt or Mike Hoffman, which are absolutely great options. Trocheck is an undervalued commodity now, and has increased his point total each year in the league. A slight regression would be 70 points, but I think that would be the floor of what we could expect.
33) Evgeny Kuznetsov – Not great for possession, but Kuznetsov helps anchor the current Stanley Cup Champion’s top lines. Good points and an opportunity to continue producing if Ovi just keeps firing away, I think the minimum would be 60-65 points, but on the off-chance that Washington figures out their puck control woes another 80-point campaign isn’t out of the question.
34) Leon Draisaitl – Consistency is key, and Draisaitl has now posted consecutive 70-point seasons centering the second line behind McDavid. The lack of power-play opportunities is disappointing, but with good expected-goals numbers and nothing hugely important changing between 17-18 and 18-19, I would expect another solid 70-75 points, almost as a lock.
35) Jonathan Marchessault – The Corsi King is back and I want to rank him higher, if I didn’t feel like Vegas’s first season was a little flukey. Maybe another 70-point season is in the works, especially if the lines click like they did throughout 17-18. There’s room for Marchessault to peak and hit 90 points, but there will likely be some regression from Karlsson and possibly Marchessault himself. Too many variables here for me, but being given the top line again will have its payoffs.
36) Victor Hedman – The number-one defenseman in the league’s most high-powered offense? Yes please. Tampa Bay was the cream of the crop last year and their talent should once again take them well into the playoffs. A good power play role, strong overall production, with OK PIM and hitting his physical peak, Hedman is probably the safest D off the board, and could be traded for terrific value if TBL picks up Karlsson.
37) Nicklas Backstrom – since two shortened seasons Backstrom has posted five straight 70-point campaigns, occasionally tickling and surpassing 80. Nicky B should post another great, safe season with solid production regardless of the line he is on, and if he is available is another safe bet for points deeper in the draft.
38) Filip Forsberg – Forsberg missed fifteen games last year and still managed to match his career high in points. Reasonable power-play production is nice, and coupled with a slight-but-not-luck-based shooting percentage means that if he gets a similar full season under his belt we could eclipse 70 or 75 points.
39) Artemi Panarin – Sporting excellent ratios with point production, possession, and point shares, Panarin is an excellent option at forward. A good bet for high-70 points, my only problem is the supporting cast and fantasy utility. After the top line things start to get thin, and some options, such as Pierre-Luc Dubois, are still unknown. Also posting no more than 24 Power-play points in any season so far and having seriously limited PIM, I just wish Panarin was useful across the board.
40) Brayden Schenn – Schenn’s first season in STL was very productive, and that should continue for 18-19. While historically not quite the high-octane scorer, Schenn upped his shot rate while maintaining a shooting percentage close to his career average. I think 65-70 points is close to a lock, but depending on how Ryan O’Reilly shuffles into the lineup we could see even more opportunities. Not the greatest on the power play, though.
41) Sean Monahan – Consistently putting up around 60 points while steadily increasing his shot rate, Monahan will certainly be involved in a Calgary playoff push. Monahan has historically posted a 14.9% shooting percentage, so all we need is more shots and at 23, the breakout is bound to happen soon, and I want to be on board.
42) Nikolaj Ehlers – The last two seasons have been 82 games each with 64 and 60 points. While not terrific on the power play, I’m going back to the team that Ehlers plays on and will wager that the Jets feel pretty robbed after an amazing season, and will come back looking for more. Ehlers is a playmaker and a gifted skater still coming into his own on the professional scene. 60 points is awesome, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he moved the needle a little higher.
43) Jonathan Huberdeau – I’m loving Florida this year, and in Huberdeau’s first full season he posted career highs in points, shots, and shooting percentage. His possession and expected goals are solid, and I think playing with aggressive and talented linemates who are also still figuring it out will be hugely beneficial. With a healthy season 70 points is a realistic projection, I just wish there were more on the power-play.
44) Sean Couturier – Couturier took a step forward last year, putting up 76 points over the course of his first full season in three years. I’m all in on the Flyers becoming more competitive, but it’s hard to see Couturier repeating this success. His expected-goals would indicate more luck, but his shooting % isn’t THAT far off his career average. It’s a conundrum. 65 points is probably safe, but I wouldn’t expect much more than that.
45) William Karlsson – For many, 2017-18 was entirely a fluke, for Vegas as a whole but specifically for Karlsson, who in his previous two seasons played 81 games each but posted 20 and then 25 points. For those of you who don’t know, his shooting % last year was 23.4%. Hmm. It goes without saying that we should expect a drop, but how far? Without strong power-play production (16 PPP last year) I’m not high on Karlsson, but if he fell this far he’s worth the hope that lightning can strike twice.
46) Mitch Marner – Toronto is so stacked this year, Marner almost feels like a top-20 pick if he could play alongside Tavares or Mathews. ESPN has him listed as the third center on the team, though, so I’m not sure where we will end up or how his skill set will be used. There’s still some flexibility and development so 65-75 points is a nice window, but I expect a power-play drop off and maybe a cut in ice time as TOR finds ways to field all their top guns.
47) Alexander Radulov – 32 years old and playing on one of the best top lines in the league, Radulov is probably primed for another 60-65 point campaign with upside. His shooting percentage last year was a shade under his career average, which is a good thing, and he posts strong power play and PIMs. Radulov is a safe but not thrilling pick.
48) Richard Rakell – I call him “Dick”, and I like how after a few years of seeming like a streamer he has muscled himself into the conversation as an excellent fantasy asset out of Anaheim. Very consistent and solid stats include strong possession, points shares, WAR and expected goals, there’s really nothing to hate here. His point totals have increased every year and he’s only 25, so 60 points with big upside and big value if people forget about him.
49) Jeff Skinner – An extremely solid goal-scorer without much of a recent injury history, I think Skinner will get bumped to the second line to provide some scoring depth for Buffalo. That move helps the team out considerably, but reduces Skinner’s fantasy value. Keeping an eye on this one because if he plays alongside Eichel and Samson it’ll be great, but I think he’ll take a backseat to line up with Middlestadt and Sheary or Okposo. 65 points, but again, watch as the situation unfolds in Buffalo.
50) Brock Boeser – An excellent rookie season has everyone on their toes, but I’m not sure about Vancouver’s trajectory. Nearly a point per game split between G+A, but the quality of linemate has got to be one of the steepest drop-offs in the league. I think Boeser could hit 70 points, but I’m not thrilled about moving the needle much further. The things that I do like are a guaranteed power-play role that should translate into points, and a shooting % that seems in line with his career average at all levels. Ranking Boeser lower seems like a crime, but I’m not moving him up, either.
I’ll be back next week with 51-75. I hope this is helpful, and again might provide some reinforcement for how you are feeling or offer some uniquely high picks. I’ll respond to any questions or comments you might have throughout the week, so feel free to post!!