Lackeydrinksonme back again, helping out big John at the bar.
This is my fourth and final 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 also use 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.
You can find the top 75 through the link here.
76) Jaden Schwartz – I had a problem placing Jaden Schwartz. Scoring points at a decent clip when he’s healthy, he isn’t really plagued by possession or shooting issues. If he’s on the top line with Tarasenko and maybe ROR, we should see pretty good production overall. I don’t know if he will play a full season, but if we say he gets 70 games under his belt then 50 points is probably a very safe floor.
77) Roman Josi – NSH does a good job timesharing their defensemen, and P.K. Subban does have the most power-play time, but Josi’s time is now. After firing 250 shots as a defenseman while having some space to improve with shot %, I can see Josi taking a big step forward while Subban takes a step back, with a ceiling over 60 points. The one reason I drop him so far is on the chance that NSH changes up their style of using defenders and goes to a more traditional first- and second-pairs, or Ekholm takes a step forward and garners more ice time.
78) Evgenii Dadonov – Another player who is hard to pin down, Dadonov blew up for FLA last season after being out of the NHL for half a decade. Florida has changed since then and it’s obvious that the new team gels, but it’s harder to extrapolate where we might end up. I like the strong WAR and expected goals, and if we get something like last year we should see at least 55 points. This is a little bit of a gamble, though, as few- if any- players this old have this many unknowns.
79) Ryan O’Reilly – ROR had a fine season in BUF last year, albeit one that was rife with clubhouse issues and attitude problems (I don’t like the guy). The situation in STL needs to be cleared up, along with their weak power play, for ROR’s value to continue. We could see something in line with the last few years, maybe around 60 points, but until I see what line he is on and how he gets along with the team I’m not buying.
80) Jason Zucker – Zucker’s first full season was a nice breakout points-wise, and I think it’s fair to call a small step back with the shooting % at least. The power-play production is nice and should remain, and I think Zucker is a safe 50 point bet with a good 65-70 point ceiling. I consider him to be a little undervalued, but the time on ice and linemates should ensure fantasy relevance.
81) Nazem Kadri – TOR is, again, looking good this year, and having some talent deep in their roster is great for NHL purposes. For fantasy I worry that with all his experience and talent, Kadri will be buried on the third line and his production will drop considerably. I would stash him if he dropped because injuries and line shuffles happen.
82) Matthew Tkachuk – I love this kid, and think he is primed for a big step forward in 18-19. Two years in the NHL and we’ve gotten 48 and 49 points, with an increase in ice time and shot rate. Calgary seems like a team that’s desperate to contend, and Tkachuk is a spot of energy on the second line. If he hits 220 shots we could see as many as 60 points, but for now I like a minimum of 50 with balanced production (including PIM).
83) Jordan Eberle – In previous iterations I’ve stated my opinion that NYI’s top line will still be fairly lethal, and Eberle will be a component of that. Hovering around 60 points for every full season since 2013, I believe Barzal and Lee will prove to be excellent linemates and Eberle will pretty easily reach at least 50 points while leaving room for more.
84) Torey Krug – BOS has a great team this year and a defensive core that’s a nice mix of ageing veteran and young talent. Krug falls somewhere in the middle but fills out a defenseman’s role nicely. Tons of shots, great ice time and power play time, I think even with a little bit of regression in shooting % should put us around 50, 55 points, with a nice amount of power-play production mixed in.
85) Kevin Fiala – Fiala flew under the radar in his first nearly-full NHL season, putting up 48 points (13 on the power-play). He’ll likely still see time on the second line in NSH and should continue to develop. I like the sneaky good WAR and expected-goals, and could see more on the horizon, if not this year then next.
86) Matt Duchene – Duchene took off in Ottawa last year, but if we look at his career he’s been remarkably consistent and should be a safe mid-round pick. The linemates will likely be a problem but the burden of scoring will fall on a few player’s shoulders, and Duchene is what of them. 200 shots and 50 points should be easy, and this top line is going to break one way or another in terms of their effectiveness.
87) Drew Doughty – Doughty has anchored the line in front of Quick for a while, and posts some terrific possession and shooting statistics. I don’t think another season of 60 points should be expected (although it would be a nice surprise), but I would target Doughty as a fringe first defenseman for your team or a very strong 2nd, with a floor of around 45 points and potential for more.
88) Gabriel Landeskog – Playing alongside MacKinnon and Rantanen has its perks, and Landeskog was able to put up 60 points for the first time since 2013-14. I expect both Landeskog’s linemates to continue their outburst of production (mostly) and he should come along for the ride. The only problem is a slight regression is shot rate which will likely limit his point cap, but another huge value season is certainly possible.
89) Tyler Toffoli – Toffoli took 250 shots last year with a reduced shooting percentage and a pedestrian expected goals. If we see any positive movement on both these things with the same shot rate, we could see sixty points. That being said, 50 is a fine floor, coupled with great possession and a decent power-play role.
90) Sam Reinhart – Samson is clearly ready for top-line play in Buffalo, and after steadily increasing his point totals from the previous year we should see another jump in production. Whether on a line with Skinner or Sheary, Reinhart should be part of a more talented offensive machine and the results should come through. The ceiling is high, 60-65 points, and I think at LEAST the trend of increasing yearly points continues, so somewhere around 52-55 is a nice landing zone.
91) Travis Konecny – Konecny nearly reached 50 points on 2nd line last year, and there’s an opportunity for him to move up to the top line alongside Giroux or Couturier. While still young and developing I’m big on all the Flyers, and Konecny could take a big step forward. I doubt he will be valued highly in your fantasy drafts, but I’d be comfortable taking him in mid-to-late rounds and wouldn’t be surprised if he snagged 60 points with decent PIM (I just wish there was more on the power play, but that could be in the cards, too)
92) Evander Kane – Damn this dude takes a lot of shots. He also played a career high in games last year, but won’t shake an injury history any time soon. I have a tough time ranking Kane higher even with the shot volume, as his shooting % isn’t likely to improve and his time on the power play will be completely eclipsed by other players on the team. Strong PIMs, but for maybe 60 games, I’m not thrilled about getting counting stats consistently.
93) Josh Bailey – It’s too late in Bailey’s career for a break out to mean sustained success, and I don’t think he will be featured on the top line on a now-weakened top six. The shots are barely there, we can expect some shooting % regression, basically all signs other than the power play are pointing towards a much less incredible season in New York. Let someone else pick him up to be disappointed.
94) Dylan Larkin – I’m in the Sabres market so I can’t watch blacked-out games on the NHL.tv app, so I watch a ton of Red Wings instead. I love watching Larkin play hockey, but I’m not sure I would grab him for fantasy. Last year he took what seemed like a ton of strange shots and seemed forced into a leadership role, and I expect that awkwardness to continue while he continues to develop. 60 points would be nice, but I think Detroit is bordering on going full rebuild and that doesn’t seem like the best for a developing talent. Too many questions in spite of the fact that he’s clearly a fun and fast hockey player (for Viz’s Dylan Larkin Sleeper post, read here)
95) Bo Horvat – Vancouver is lined up for another middling to bad year, but there are a few (a very few) bright spots on the roster. Horvat should be centering the top line alongside Boeser, and should put up decent numbers in that role. Nothing looks super flashy on the back end, but if we got 80 games and the same kind of production we could sail towards 60 points.
96) Alex Galchenyuk – Galchenyuk’s value was boosted by great possession and good expected-goals, and his situation has bizarrely improved with the move to ARI. I don’t think he will be on the top line, but should get good minutes on a developing squad that isn’t looking for immediate success. In both his full seasons he has passed 50 points, and was on pace to beat that in 16-17. Galchenyuk will likely be overlooked as a terrific mid-to-late round pick with upside and consistent value.
97) Jake Guentzel – Playing on a team with as much talent as PIT will obviously pay off, but I have a few problems with Guentzel. One if that he is still 23, while everyone around him on the top two lines will be at least 30. These players know one another and NHL-level hockey very well, and it may prove to be frustrating to try and make a connection. Guentzel is also listed as a Center on ESPN, which would put him behind both Crosby and Malkin. When trying to find where he’s going to play, every site seems to wedge him in somewhere else, but if he drops to the third his value will drop even more. Finally, while Guentzel will see a bit of power-play time I can’t see the Pens shaking thigns up. 50, maybe 55 points while he’s still developing.
98) Nick Schmaltz – Schmaltz managed to lay claim to 52 points, 13 on the power play, while centering the second and third lines in Chicago. His shooting% was abnormally high, but he didn’t even take 120 shots. If he gets consistent even-strength ice time I bet we see even more shots, and coupled with his strong power-play role there should be plenty of points coming from those lines. Will Chicago contend, probably not, but Schmaltz is a good bet to claim 50 points again, or even to bust out for 60 with a healthy power-play payoff.
99) Brendan Gallagher – Outside an essentially awful expected-goals differential, Gallagher took a step in the right direction last year on a winded MTL team. Playing a full season after missing some time the previous two, Gallagher fired off nearly 280 shots while barely managing 14 minutes a game. If he moves up a line, the late-round flyer will be worth a shot, and could surprise as the top points-getter out of MTL.
100) Anthony Mantha – One of my favorites to watch, Mantha put up nearly 50 points last year in a somewhat confused role, bouncing between the first and second lines while sharing a power-play role. If Mantha is given a bigger role we can certainly expect his production to increase, especially considering his size and skating skill. Once he figures out how to really throw himself around, I expect Mantha will consistently grab 60+ points, and that could happen as early as next year.
I’ll be back sporadically throughout the preseason and will contribute regularly during the season. 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!!