Lackeydrinksonme here, buying the big Texan some more drinks.
This is my third 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 see part 2 with rankings from part 1 included here.
51) Eric Staal – 7th overall in WAR, 11th OPS, nearly a point per game, Staal looks pretty good until you consider his 17-18 shooting percentage of 17.4 is a full six points above his career average. After 15 seasons in the NHL I think we know what we are getting, and that’s a cool 60 points (and at age 33, even that’s a little suspect). I wouldn’t mind grabbing him if he fell this far, but I’m not hoping for a repeat of last year’s performance.
52) Brayden Point – I love looking at Point from a numbers perspective. He has sneaky upside but loads of consistency, upping his shooting rate but keeping his shooting percentage almost impossibly tight. If he continues to see ice time, I’d put money on another 65-point season and I get the feeling he is flying under the radar. My one complaint is the penalty points, but if you run a league that counts Game-Winning Goals (like me) then consider that Point had 12 of them without a shakeup in his shot percentage. Clutch play for a terrific team.
53) John Klingberg – 2017-18 was a great season for the DAL defenseman, and I expect the production to continue without any real threats for ice time and a good WAR even for a defenseman. Klingberg is 26 and about to hit his physical prime, along with upping his shot rate considerably. I think Klingberg is a nice stash and could pay dividends if DAL cleans up their act.
54) Patrice Bergeron – Bergeron could be seen as a higher-round pick, but I think his upside is limited. His best season, points-wise, came a decade ago and he’s been riding 55-65 points since then. Not bad, but even on a stacked BOS top line I’m seeing him more as an aging playmaker about to hit a decline. I’m expecting a small regression in shooting %, and if he takes a similar amount of shots, there’s just going to be less production, period.
55) Sebastian Aho – Probably another contentious pick, but I think Aho continues to develop down in Carolina. Without Skinner we should see an increase in ice time and shots taken, along with a large power-play role and reasonably talented teammates. 75 points is probably a little high, but not out of the question. I consider him a safe 60 with room for improvement.
56) Mikael Granlund – Granlund’s role as a top-line forward has been established with consecutive 65+ point seasons. There’s a lot to love here, including good production on the power play, but the shots just aren’t there. Averaging a shade under two per game for his career isn’t a recipe for success, especially in a game that uses counting stats frequently like fantasy hockey. Granlund could very easily repeat, but I think it’s more likely we see a small step backward.
57) Clayton Keller – Keller put up 65 points on a team nearly devoid of top end talent. In the last full month of the season with Richard Panik on the team, he put up nearly a point a game, with Panik scoring at a similar rate. Keller’s talent is pretty awesome, and as this young Coyotes team gels I think soon we will find that 65 points is a safe floor for Keller.
58) Viktor Arvidsson – Two 61-point seasons while playing on the top line, I think Arvidsson is in a great spot to repeat. Nice shot rate and a shooting percentage slightly above his career average, with an expected-goals that says he is right on the line. If you’re looking for straight consistency, Arvidsson is your man, and I’m going to call a 63-point season with similar limited power-play points right here, right now.
59) Seth Jones – For me, the first skater off the board from CBJ is Jones. He was given the opportunity to head up the top line last year and took a massive step forward, taking nearly a hundred more shots on the season and seriously increasing power-play production. I think Columbus’s narrow Stanley Cup window has closed, but Jones should continue to be a safe contributor across most categories.
60) J.T. Miller – The Rangers don’t particularly care about fantasy-relevant players, and that’s OK for us. Joining the Lightning will provide Miller with plenty of scoring opportunities as the best offense in the league just gets better. Whether he plays on the top line or second line, Miller is nearly a lock for 55 points and could eclipse that depending on chemistry with his linemates.
61) Teuvo Teravainen – A rising talent with incredible potential, I love watching Teravainen skate. He is 23 and continues to move the needle on what his ceiling might be, and with CAR continuing to figure things out I think there’s an opportunity to build on last year’s 64-point campaign. If he gets top-line playing time and works his shot rate up, 65 points should be easy.
62) Alex DeBrincat – In his rookie season DeBrincat played 82 games and put up 52 points, mostly on the second line. If he stays there, 50 points is probably fine, but if he moves up to the top line we should see an increase across all categories. This one is more of a gamble than others, but the opportunity and talent is there, along with a safety net consistent with last year’s performance.
63) P.K. Subban – With great possession stats and solid offensive point shares, Subban was an integral part of Nashville’s playoff run last year. Extremely solid power-play numbers and time on ice should continue, although I could see the points dropping to 50 or 55 if either his shot rate or shooting percentage regress a little bit (even then I wouldn’t be complaining about from a defenseman).
64) Mark Stone – 17-18 was a point-per game clip for Stone, who is top-lining the woeful Senators. I have a few problems with Stone, and the first is that he has yet to play a full NHL season. There are also the limited shots taken and less-than-illustrious power play production. I could see Stone going early in drafts, but anything past 65 points seems optimistic.
65) Ryan Getzlaf – Getzlaf is 33 and has a pretty clear injury history. I could see continued production to the tune of 60-65 points with power-play upside, but at this point there are more reliable forwards who take more shots and aren’t a liability.
66) Ryan Johansen – Centering the top line for the Preds, Johansen has done some good but underwhelming work. For the last three years he has hovered around 60 points, without anything standing out on the back end. His role can’t really be denied at this point, but the production really isnt there and I can’t envision a ceiling much higher than 60 or 65 points. Consistent, sure, but not blowing anyone’s minds.
67) John Carlson – With a breakout 68 points last year, Carlson will likely be on everyone’s radar as a top-flight defensemen. Is he worth it? Well, the production probably won’t continue. Despite a strong role on the power play, I have to imagine that Carlson comes back down to earth after posting career highs in total shots and shooting percentage last season. Some regression is a must, and it could be closer to 50 or even 45 points. I’m not buying.
68) William Nylander – If your expected goals is higher than your actual goals, then you’re unlucky, and Nylander was the king of bad luck for most of last season. The good news it his shooting % was consistent and his overall production was right on. I think Nylander is going to be undervalued next season, and considering the upgrade his team has had I would venture to say this is a big mistake. 70-75 points is a safe bet, and even if things stay consistent 60 points is great.
69) Anders Lee – Lee is 28 and we’re past the development stage. I think Tavares leaving town is a blessing in disguise for this Islanders team, and I expect the top line to step in to fill the gap. I think 60-65 points is what we will see for the next few seasons given the role Lee has, the one thing I really don’t like is the high shooting percentage but if there’s a void of shots to fill it’s going to be Lee and Barzal filling it.
70) Logan Couture – 4th place overall last year in Wins Above Replacement, Couture is an excellent hockey player but isn’t terrific from a fantasy hockey perspective. His shooting % is bound to drop, which puts another 60+ point season in jeopardy. Couture will be on one of the top two lines and will be featured on the power play, but all signs are pointing to a step back to the mean.
71) Cam Atkinson – Atkinson missed fifteen games last year and his point total suffered, but even if he had kept up his scoring he would have hit maybe 60 points. On name value I don’t think Atkinson will drop this far, but if he does and you’re looking for a safe 50+ points without much upside, grab him. He’s 29 and we know what we’re going to get except for some variation on the power play. For me, it’s a pass.
72) Nico Hischier – 52 points in 82 games in a rookie season isn’t anything to scoff at, and the ceiling has yet to be established. Hischier is 19 and doesn’t quite have the physical presence other young guns do, but if he continues to produce he’ll certainly start seeing more time, meaning more opportunities to produce. A breakout season for the first-round pick is on the horizon, 60 points is a safe floor for Nico with big upside.
73) Kyle Connor – Connor is young talent playing for a Winnipeg team that’s just started to taste real success. Almost 60 points in his first nearly-full NHL season with pretty good time on ice, Connor is similar to Hischier in that a 60-point floor should be pretty safe. The ceiling isn’t quite as high with a shooting % and shot rate that leave something to be desired, but I like Connor for his upside and position on what should be a competitive team.
74) Joe Pavelski – 34 years old with top-line time on ice, a power-play role, 220+ shots per season with room for improvement on shooting %, Joe the American Hero is a bit of an enigma that I would buy shares in for his absolute consistency, but I worry about his age and rising stars on the Sharks that might take some time away. Joe’s career may have peaked but he should remain a fantasy asset, and we still might see another 70-point campaign… there are just others that I would invest in, first.
75) Reilly Smith – Smith took full advantage of an increased role in Vegas, putting up 60 points in 67 games. Right away I can’t help but notice the back-and-forth shooting percentages over the last six years: 8.8, 13.7, 9.1, 14.5, 9.4, 13.6. I’m willing to bet we see another slight dive, and without the shot volume to make up for it I don’t think we reach 60 again, and even 50 seems unlikely. The TOI and usage is there, though, so feel free to gamble.
I’ll be back next week with 76-100. 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!!