Hey guys. Before my posting becomes more sparingly throughout May, June and July, I went through my top 10 players for next season here on Wednesday. Now, I’m going to go through 11-20 covering the end of the first round and most of the second round in standard leagues. Let’s get right to it!
11) John Tavares – He’s been an absolute monster in the playoffs so far and he could easily slide into the top 10. That said, I think he’s a clear step behind the first tier now after he was in that tier at the beginning of last season. After a big 2014-15 where he had 86 points and was one point away from the scoring title, Tavares took a step back in every category this year but plus-minus (he was only +1 better). He’s still only 25 years old and Tavares has an easy path to improvement next year. His special teams points were the lowest of his career for any full season so a bounceback there gets him back towards 80 points. It isn’t a knock of him being in this spot, in fact I think he closes the previous tier. I just have the other guys in his tier slightly ahead of him. P.S. I have no idea how ESPN ranks him 30th for next season. Blasphemy.
12) Braden Holtby – Alright, here’s my disclaimer. If I had the wheel in a standard roto 12’er, I could see taking a goalie since you won’t get one otherwise until pick 36. It all depends on your league dynamics and how often people draft goalies in the early rounds. If 15 goalies are going to go early, then I’d probably take one on the wheel but if it’s only 7 or so, I’d just wait and get another stud skater. I would never take a goalie this early in a head to head league, it’s simply not worth it where variance swamps everything for goalies in one week. Anyways, Holtby was terrific all season finishing 2nd in the player rater mostly due to a ridiculous 48 wins. A 2.20 GAA and .922 sv% is nothing to sneeze at either. The Caps are going to be extremely good for a while and the safety plus upside he provides has him as my number 1 goaltender.
13) Evgeni Malkin – I really hate this spot and ranking but I couldn’t bring myself to rank Malkin any lower. On one hand, he’s going to get you a point per game and be above average to elite in every single category. On the other hand, it’s a near certainty he’s going to miss 15+ games at this point (it was 25 this past season). I completely understand if people want to pass him up because they don’t want to take the gamble on him. That said, if by some miracle he stays healthy or misses say, 10 games, Malkin could produce as much as the guys ahead of him. He’s in a tier of his own so you can easily slide him around where you think is right. The only firm stance that I have is that even though I have him ranked 13th where based exactly on my rankings you’d go Holtby and Malkin on the wheel, I definitely wouldn’t do that. There’s too high of a chance that Malkin misses time that you’d be stuck without a skater in the top 35 pairing him with a goalie.
14) Carey Price – This is a weird place in the draft. I feel like you could justify about 20 different players to fill out the rest of the top 20, a bunch of which have been here for years and another group who are new to the party. Price was going in the first round this season after the 2014-15 season where he was the #1 player by a mile. Unfortunately for those who took him, Price missed almost the entire season due to injury after an excellent start. That said, it’s nothing that should linger into next season and Price will only be 29 years old when next season starts. He’ll seem like more of a gamble to the general public than he really is; I can see taking him early in the second round.
15) Ben Bishop – The number one overall player this season, Bishop was outstanding all season while the team is front of him struggled or was decimated by injury. It’d be nice if we got more starts from Bishop which is the only reason why he’s this low. As of now, Andrei Vasilevskiy is still in Tampa and while he’s there, he’s going to get his fair share of starts. If Tampa decides to move Vas in the summer, I’m moving Bishop up. I expect Tampa to be better in the regular season next season and with a 2.06 GAA and .926% from Bishop, the wins should increase.
16) Jack Eichel – Alright, let’s get crazy again! Eichel had a solid rookie season with 24+32 with almost exactly 3 shots per game and solid special teams points. The Sabres played much better down the stretch and that includes Eichel with 15 points in his last 18 games. Dan Blysma is going to give Eichel huge minutes next season and the Sabres should improve around him based on their ages and offseason acquisitions (Steven Stamkos perhaps?). I’d be shocked if he didn’t get at least 70 points next season and expect him to be in the low 80’s. Add in a shot boost as most second players have one and I see a line similar to what Vladimir Tarasenko had in 2014-15: 77 GP, 37+36 with 264 SOG, possibly closer to 30+45 give or take 5 points due to power play variance. I highly doubt you’ll have to spend a pick on him this high but I want him desperately.
17) Brent Burns – My mancrush was much better than anybody could have expected last season putting up a monstrous 75 points (27+48) with 53 PIM, 30 STP and an insane 353 SOG, second in the league for all players as a defenseman. He took 108 more shots than last season! While I do expect his numbers to take a slight step backwards next season because it’s hard to get 30 STP in a year, even with 60-65 points Burns should hit value here.
18) P.K. Subban – While Subban’s numbers look similar from last season look similar to 2 seasons ago, Subban actually took a big step forward last season. Despite playing 14 less games in 2015-16, Subban had the same amount of assists and marginally more PIM, SOG and STP. The only downside was he scored only 6 goals but that was simply because of a comically low shooting percentage. Something like 12+50 with very good numbers in the other categories seems reasonable.
19) Kris Letang – My biggest hit from last season (I had him ranked 3rd among defensemen and in the top 40 overall), Letang was outstanding this season with 67 points in 71 games plus elite numbers in PIM, SOG and STP. At first, I was going to rank Letang ahead of Burns and Subban but decided against it because of his injury history; the 11 games he missed this year was his lowest in 5 seasons. Letang is in the same boat as Malkin in that he gives you this value missing 10 games.
20) Evgeny Kuznetsov – I was torn between a lot of different guys in this spot; in no order they are Nikita Kucherov, Anze Kopitar, Corey Perry, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon and Kuznetsov. At the end of the day, I decided to go with Kuznetsov for a couple reasons. One, he just had 77 points as a 23 year old. Two, he had 18 PPP which is low for somebody of his talent. This is because he didn’t spend the full season on the first power play unit which is always among the best in the league. Three, he’s either going to play with Alex Ovechkin or be on the second line getting easier matchups. There is no four (that’s me copying Grey!). Fifth, he just had a massive shot boost from 127 to 193 so if he gets another slight boost, his shots become a plus for him. Lastly, he was just +27 and while you can’t count on that repeating itself, the Caps should be terrific again next season so Kuznetsov is as close to a lock as is there for a big plus-minus. I think the picks in this general area will depend a bit on who you get in the first round.
That’s all for now guys. To be honest, I’m not exactly sure when my next article will be as the offseason starts for me now. That said, I will have a few posts go up in the coming months over time with two definites, one recapping the draft and another at the beginning of free agency. There will be one in the next few weeks as well, probably an update of the Razzball Bracket Challenge after this round is complete (damn Ducks!). If you have any questions, please leave them below as I will get notified when you post them and will respond as soon as possible. I’d like to thank you all for following along my first season at the helm and I look forward to making the Razzball side of hockey even stronger having a full offseason to prepare. Take care everyone, talk to you soon!