OCT. 1 UPDATE: The regular season is here, and teams are making their final roster cuts. That also means we’ve reached our final threshold of fantasy draft study time. If you haven’t drafted yet, enjoy this last update. Good luck in your 2018-19 pools!
The latest update also includes some juggling based on camp battles – especially near the bottom of the rankings and in the “On the Bubble” section, where I have added many names. I’m looking for young upside here. Don’t chase low-ceiling veterans such as, say, Derick Brassard in the late rounds. Take a swing for the fences on Jack Roslovic or Perry’s replacement, Troy Terry. If he’s cut by next week, no problem. You can drop him. But you want guys like these in the late rounds with potential for scoring-line deployment and ceilings not yet established.
Some of you have been following my top 200 for years now, but for the uninitiated, there are a few key rules to know:
(a) This is a working list. I will periodically update it based on injuries, training camp battles and freshly announced line deployments. The ranks won’t shift much at first, but the pre-season will yield some noteworthy changes.
(b) Friendly reminder: these are fantasy rankings, not real-life rankings. I promise you I don’t think Carey Price is the 85th-best player in hockey. I just don’t love him as a pool pick given his recent injury history and the fact he plays for a bad team in a division with, arguably, three of the NHL’s top five teams entering 2018-19.
(c) You’ll see a few players who aren’t even guaranteed roster spots ranked ahead of players whose production you can set your watch to, such as Ryan Donato over Adam Henrique. The point is: you want to spend your late-round picks on guys with plausible upside to turn a massive profit. Veterans like Adam Henrique will populate the waiver wire all year, so there’s no point drafting them. Take the kid with potential and you can always drop him after a few weeks.
These rankings factor in the following categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, shots, power play points, hits, blocks, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.
Let’s begin! Please point out any glaring omissions in the comments.
1. Connor McDavid, C, Oilers: Only this young man and Wayne Gretzky have won two scoring crowns by age 21. The legend is real. Congratulations if you have the No. 1 pick in your draft.
2. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Lightning: A scoring machine in his prime surrounded by elite teammates. As safe a pick as you can find. The floor is probably 90 points now.
3. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Avalanche: Can you believe he’s still just 22? Scary to think he could improve on last season’s 97 points. Given his history of minor injuries, better to bet on a repeat than an improvement.
4. Sidney Crosby, C, Penguins: So weird to use the term “boring” – but that’s what Sid is in Round 1 of the fantasy draft. It’s a compliment. That’s exactly what you want. You know you’re getting 80 points or more, with a surge back toward 90 not out of reach.
5. Brad Marchand, LW, Bruins: Only McDavid, Kucherov and Evgeni Malkin average more points than ‘Nose Face Killah’ over past two seasons. Marchand has grown into a truly elite player, especially given his PIM contributions for pools that count them.
6. Patrik Laine, RW, Jets: The 50-goal season is coming, and so is the Rocket Richard Trophy. Both probably happen this season. He just needs to shoot a bit more and avoid those occasional lengthy slumps. He’s already produced as the best era-adjusted teenage goal scorer in NHL history with 80 goals in his first two seasons. This is the year he takes the mantle from Ovie.
7. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals: Still holds a strong case for a top-three selection in leagues that count hits and shots, and we’ve learned to stop betting against him winning more goal-scoring crowns. That said, he’s partied so (deservedly) hard after winning the Cup that we should half-seriously wonder if he starts his season a bit sluggish.
8. Steven Stamkos, C, Lightning: Had the best playmaking season of his career with 59 assists. Even if that number comes down a bit, he’s too good a shooter to score just 27 goals again, so the goals should trend back up. The net result should be point-per-game production or better.
9. Auston Matthews, C, Maple Leafs: Leads the NHL in 5-on-5 goals since his career began. To reach that MVP-caliber summit, he needs more power play time and better health. It looks like he’ll finally get that tasty look on Toronto’s top power-play unit, so brace yourself for a superstar-level breakout.
10. Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins: His production warrants a rank five spots higher, but consider that last year’s 78 games was his highest total in nine years. Malkin still averages 13.8 missed games per season across his 12-year career. It’s wise to draft him expecting a 70-game player – albeit an amazing one.
11. Claude Giroux, LW, Flyers: Finished No. 2 in points last season, flourishing with a move to left wing, and while he’s back among the top tier in fantasy, asking him to replicate a 102-point season at 30 is a lot.
12. John Tavares, C, Maple Leafs: Don’t count on him to win a Hart or Art Ross Trophy with the hyped move to Toronto but, given the talent he’ll play with, not to mention the favorable matchups he’ll get if teams choose to key on the Auston Matthews line instead…a career year wouldn’t be utterly shocking.
13. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Lightning: Picking any goalie in the first round of a pool carries risk, but Vasilevskiy checks all the boxes you want: elite pedigree, elite team, monster workload, weak backup option. He’s less likely to wilt in the second half this time around, too, as his body should be more habituated to playing 60-plus games.
14. David Pastrnak, RW, Bruins: He plays on hockey’s best line, he’s already become an 80-point scorer by 21, and he looked like a superstar, not just a star, in the playoffs. Would a 40-50-90 season surprise anyone at this point?
15. Mark Scheifele, C, Jets: Has already established the nice point-per-game floor we need from our first-round picks. But the 14-goal, 20-point explosion in 17 playoff games suggests he might have one more production spike left in him. He’s safe and has upside to boot.
16. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Flames: Whether it’s James Neal, Elias Lindholm or Matthew Tkachuk over the course of the season, it seems Gaudreau and Sean Monahan get a skill upgrade on their right wing regardless, which could catapult ‘Johnny Hockey’ to his best numbers yet.
17. Erik Karlsson, D, Sharks: Healthier than last year, free of team turmoil and joining the best selection of teammates he’s ever had. I’m not saying we go bananas and price him back into the first round, but he’s a fun buy who might have the highest ceiling of his career to date, as scary as that sounds.
18. Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks: The team around him is crumbling, but he still produced second-round value at worst last season. He’s peaked but still has many years left as an upper-crust scorer.
19. Blake Wheeler, RW, Jets: The production and linemates say he should be ranked higher. He’s undoubtedly a stud, but he’ll be 32 when the season starts, so there’s a decent chance 2017-18 was his peak.
20. Taylor Hall, LW, Devils: The Hart Trophy winner and No. 1 ranked player in Yahoo leagues last season, 19th? Everything went perfectly for Hall last season, especially his health. He’ll be a star again, but we have to price the injury risk into his rank a little bit. Early-round picks don’t win your pool, but they can lose your pool.
21. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Jets: Some of his underlying save metrics suggest he’s tier 2, not tier 1, but he’s a monster talent backstopping what might be the NHL’s best team. I wouldn’t fault anyone for ranking him as the top fantasy goalie for this season.
22. Jamie Benn, LW, Stars: His team disappointed again last season, but he quietly didn’t. At least 34 goals and 79 points in four of his past five seasons.
23. Jack Eichel, C, Sabres: New number, new linemates and hopefully better luck for that ankle of his. Time to give us that 40-40-80 year, Jack.
24. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Capitals: For years, he and Nicklas Backstrom were split into 1A and 1B roles centering Washington’s top two lines. Now it feels like Kuznetsov has separated to claim the top job permanently, cemented as Ovie’s puck distributor.
25. Brent Burns, D, Sharks: After years of ranking Burns and Erik Karlsson in their own special ‘Rob Gronkowski’ tier, they’ve come back in the pack of fantasy D-men slightly, so we don’t have to reach on them anymore. Burns has as good a chance as any to lead all blueliners in goals, points and shots. I wouldn’t worry too much about Karlsson stealing opportunities from him. Coach Pete DeBoer will find a way to deploy both effectively.
26. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Blue Jackets: One of the only elite goalies from 2016-17 who maintained his level of play in 2017-18. That’s worth a lot in this fickle era of netminding. Injuries to his D-corps may mean he has to handle more high-quality scoring chances than normal in October, though.
27. Tyler Seguin, C, Stars: Has only hit the 80-point plateau once, so maybe the ceiling isn’t quite what we expected, partially because he’s become a more complete real-life player.
28. Victor Hedman, D, Lightning: The reigning Norris Trophy winner is in his peak years now, and they’re great. He’s as safe a pick as any player on the board at any position.
29. Aleskander Barkov, C, Panthers: Finally stayed relatively healthy and showed he’s a front-line star. On top of his great two-way skills, he has sublime hands and a good chance to improve on last year’s 78-point breakout.
30. Pekka Rinne, G, Predators: Won the Vezina Trophy just weeks after being pulled three times in one playoff series. Are you drafting Good Rinne or Bad Rinne? There’s a strong chance Juuse Saros steals more starts in 2017-18, but Good Rinne should still prevail in the regular season and be a top-10 goalie at worst on such a strong team.
31. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Avalanche: His first-round draft pedigree tells us to absolutely believe last year’s explosion, though his production is heavily influenced by linemate MacKinnon’s. Both have tough acts to follow. Rantanen won’t come at massive discount like he did last year, either.
32. Braden Holtby, G, Capitals: He’s the reverse Rinne. Had a nightmarish regular season before discovering his old, dominant self in the playoffs. Three straight seasons of elite production before laying an egg with fantasy owners in 2017-18, so it’s likely that was the anomaly. Expect a rebound, especially with no more Philipp Grubauer breathing down Holtby’s neck.
33. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Blues: His down year was unexpected, but the Blues have added a lot of veteran forward talent around him this summer, meaning he’ll have better insulation. At 26, he shouldn’t be declining. Count on a return to the 40-goal, 75-point range.
34. Phil Kessel, RW, Penguins: Perception of laziness? Trade rumors? Hot dogs? Keep all the silly judgements coming, because they help Kessel consistently fall later than he should in drafts, allowing us to scoop him up at a bargain. Likely doesn’t have another 92-point supernova in him, but he’s always reliable as a RW1 in pools.
35. Artemi Panarin, LW, Blue Jackets: Showed last year he was no Patrick Kane coattail rider, actually outscoring Kane after the trade to Columbus. Speaking of trades, will Panarin still be a Blue Jacket come October? Stay tuned. For now, draft him expecting him to suit up for them. They need him in a crucial season.
36. Mitch Marner, RW, Maple Leafs: Realized his monster potential with huge second half last year. Playing with Tavares now. A real chance to be 2018-19’s top breakout player, but the hype machine will jack up his draft-day cost, too. I’ve received a lot of heat for ranking Marner “too low,” and I don’t get it. I’ve priced him among a slew of point-per-game players, implying he’s going to improve by 10 to 15 points and smash his career bests. This hike in value is high enough.
37. Anze Kopitar, C, Kings: Average out his 2016-17 flop (52 points) and his career-best 2017-18 (92 points) and you get 72 points. Sounds about right to me for the powerhouse two-way pivot.
38. Leon Draisaitl, C, Oilers: Particularly with Ryan-Nugent Hopkins locked in as McDavid’s left winger, the Draisaitl-playing-with-McDavid dream seems over. Draisaitl will continue centering Oilers’ second line.
39. Clayton Keller, RW, Coyotes: Great start and great finish in rookie year. Shifty, dynamic talent should fill in that muddy middle with more consistent play and reach new echelon as a sophomore.
40. Ryan Getzlaf, C, Ducks: The “aging Ducks” narrative can work in poolies’ favor. Getzlaf isn’t really declining yet, with 134 points over 130 games in past two seasons. But maybe we can get him a round late on an “over the hill” discount.
41. John Klingberg, D, Stars: Power play maven averages 58 points per 82 games in four-year career. Locked in as a top-five fantasy defenseman.
42. John Gibson, G, Ducks: Good enough to win the Vezina one of these years, and reaching 60 games was a huge step last season given his propensity for minor injuries.
43. Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders: No questioning his magical skill, but life without Tavares could suck 10 or 15 points off Barzal’s point total as teams can key on his line now. He’ll be fine in long run but has mild fantasy bust potential this year.
44. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Jets: So much stat-category goodness. His 82-game averages over past five seasons: 17 goals, 55 points, 121 PIM, 211 hits.
45. Brock Boeser, RW, Canucks: Looks like he’ll be a 40-goal man as early as this season. Only a matter of time. I had Boeser too low considering he’s one of the few players in the league with 50-goal upside. Not saying he’ll hit that mark this year, but he was already at a 38-goal pace as a rookie.
46. P.K. Subban, D, Predators: Shot puck more than ever and scored more goals than ever last season. Fantasy D-men who can crest the 15-goal mark are gold.
47. Frederik Andersen, G, Maple Leafs: In real life, he’s a good-but-not-great goalie. In fantasy, he’s an excellent source of counting stats because he plays a ton on a team that wins a lot. Easily a top-10 goalie in pools.
48. John Carlson, D, Capitals: Plays meaty minutes and racks up points surrounded by great scoring forwards. He’s part of an unusually large tier of blueliners capable of 60-plus points this season.
49. Jakub Voracek, RW, Flyers: His yearly point fluctuations are maddening, but even his “bad” years represent a pretty high floor. Draft him for 65 points, and maybe he’ll make you look like a genius with one of those 80-point campaigns.
50. Brayden Point, C, Lightning: Talent rises to the top. Last year, he was technically slated to open as Tampa’s third-line center, but that didn’t last long. Tyler Johnson’s his right winger now, and Point is coach Jon Cooper’s pet. Will play big minutes in a loaded top six and isn’t done ascending.
51. Filip Forsberg, LW, Predators: Sneaky value play? Surface stats look like his normal production. but he did it in fewer games last year. Prediction: career-best numbers for Forsberg, his first 70-point effort.
52. Sean Monahan, C, Flames: Body rebuilt with four off-season surgeries but expected to be ready for start of season. Still joined at the hip with Gaudreau, which is a very good thing.
53. Rickard Rakell, LW, Ducks: Has established himself as a safe bet for 30 or more goals, with more upside than a lot of other guys in that tier.
54. Vincent Trocheck, C, Panthers: Underrated. A natural scorer who will have some combination of good linemates, whether it’s Jonathan Huberdeau or Mike Hoffman on the left.
55. William Nylander, RW, Maple Leafs: He was good but didn’t progress on the vast potential he showed in rookie year. If Matthews makes a big leap this season, linemate Nylander likely will, too. His ceiling remains high. Should we worry about the lack of a contract? There’s a risk of rust or a temporary demotion to a lower line at this point. But the upside is so great that I’m hesitant to drop him in the rankings. He’s worth the gamble.
56. Alexander Radulov, RW, Stars: Great fit on Dallas’ powerhouse first line and plays a ton of minutes, too. If new Stars coach Jim Montgomery tries to spread out their scoring more and breaks up the Big Three, it would hurt Radulov’s fantasy value.
57. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Panthers: Has carved out a solid Alex-Tanguay-esque existence. High-end skill, can hang on any scoring line, not a huge source of goals.
58. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Flyers: Remember what I was saying about the 60-point defensemen? Here’s another who can reach those heights again. He’s a puck-moving dynamo on a team with an offense on the rise.
59. William Karlsson, C, Golden Knights: Undervaluing him? Maybe but, hey, he wasn’t even on the list last year. Let’s not get greedy expecting 43 goals again. How about 30? Nothing wrong with that.
60. Kyle Connor, LW, Jets: So much going for him. Blinding speed and all but guaranteed mega-star linemates. Last season wasn’t the final breakout. Connor will reach another level in 2018-19.
61. Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals: Probably juuuust beginning his decline, but should remain an excellent assist man who piles up power play points.
62. Sean Couturier, C, Flyers : A tricky pick. Amazing real-life player became a legit fantasy force centering Giroux. Couturier also scored just five goals in 32 games over the last three months of the year. As an elite shutdown artist, he’s asked to do a lot more than just score, and maybe that sucks some offense out of his game. Also rehabbing a knee injury and not yet guaranteed to be ready for opening night.
63. Mikael Granlund, RW, Wild: Looks like his huge jump in production two years ago was his peak, so we’re looking at a nice 60-point floor for the playmaking winger.
64. Mark Stone, RW, Senators: Injuries cut the best season of his career short. He’s one of the game’s most underappreciated two-way players and a good pool pick, too, but it feels smart to downgrade every Ottawa player given the team’s current turmoil.
65. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Jets: Yet another gifted Jets forward. Only 13 of 60 points came on power play last year, which tells us he’s good enough to score in any role – but also reminds us how much competition there is for the plum scoring assignments in Winnipeg.
66. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, LW, Oilers: Had 15 points in last 13 games of season playing with McDavid. No reason not to start them together this season. If ‘The Nuge’ sticks, he will turn a massive profit for his fantasy owners. He’s probably my favorite value pick in pools right now.
67. Drew Doughty, D, Kings: Coach John Stevens took the shackles off a bit, and it was no coincidence Doughty enjoyed his first 60-point campaign. That ranked him seventh in points among blueliners. It’s a reminder that, while he’s on a Hall of Fame trajectory in real life, he remains slightly overrated in fantasy hockey.
68. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins: Fantasy football fans: Bergeron reminds me of Larry Fitzgerald, in that we might think his age implies a decline but his situation remains favorable. Bergeron has two of the best forwards in hockey on his wings and could actually produce career-best numbers if healthy this season. He set personal bests in goals per game and points per game last year.
69. Sebastian Aho, C, Hurricanes: A special talent overshadowed by the abundance of exciting young players in the NHL. His 16 points in 16 March games suggest he can keep rising toward a point-per-game ceiling over the next couple years.
70. Tuukka Rask, G, Bruins: And so begins the “boring veteran” tier in goal. Rask will start at least 50 games, win at least 30 games and should have above-average rate stats in goals-against average and save percentage. A nice mid-range starting goalie pick for teams who want to take scorers with their first couple selections.
71. Matt Murray, G, Penguins: Still has the ability to become the game’s best goalie in real life and fantasy, and his horrible 2017-18 numbers make him a potential bargain in drafts. The injuries can’t be ignored at this point, though. They’re far too frequent.
72. Evgenii Dadonov, RW, Panthers: Another underrated Panther. Can play either wing and will have Barkov or Trocheck as his center. The kind of guy you steal way later than you should in casual drafts against fans who don’t know him very well.
73. Alex DeBrincat, RW, Blackhawks: Led Chicago with 28 goals as a rookie and should improve on that number this season. The Blackhawks roster has been gutted of so much talent in recent seasons. They need DeBrincat. He’s ticketed for a big role again and working on a loaded first power play unit out of camp.
74. Tyson Barrie, D, Avalanche: He’s top-10 in points among all defensemen in the past four seasons. And yet the trade rumors persist year after year in Colorado.
75. Dougie Hamilton, D, Hurricanes: Good chance he sees more ice time in Carolina than he did in Calgary, though he’ll have less talent around him. Those two factors should offset, keeping his fantasy value about the same.
76. Martin Jones, G, Sharks: Rate stats just OK, but he’s started at least 60 games three straight seasons. For pool purposes, he’s like a poor man’s Andersen and a good back-end starter.
77. Roman Josi, D, Predators: Four straight seasons of at least 12 goals and at least 49 points. You’re just fine if he’s your No. 1 fantasy blueliner. It’s a remarkably deep year for ‘D’ in pools.
78. Seth Jones, D, Blue Jackets: Arguably the game’s best blueliner after the all-star break last season. Showing why scouts projected him to be a phenom leading up to his draft year. Knee sprain is a bummer. He won’t miss much more than a month of the season, but our fantasy teams will suffer enough injuries once the games start, so it’s a dangerous proposition to draft ourselves into health woes.
79. Logan Couture, C, Sharks: He out-Pavelski’d Joe Pavelski with a quiet 34-goal effort last year. You know what you’re getting with Couture: top-six minutes and good secondary scoring. He’s a nice No. 2 center in pools.
80. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Golden Knights: Another relatively conservative rank for a Golden Knights player. Like with Wild Bill, I still expect excellent production from Marchessault, but with about 10 points shaved off last year’s 75.
81. Brayden Schenn, C, Blues: Looks like he won’t play with Tarasenko but will stay with Jaden Schwartz to start the year as the Blues try to spread out their scoring more.
82. Max Pacioretty, LW, Golden Knights: Four straight 30-goal efforts before last season’s flop, and he’s not even 30 years old yet. He should recover most of the way, and a new team should only help. Paul Stastny as a linemate is an upgrade over what Montreal was offering at center. That said, I’m not giving Pacioretty a huge jump this time, as I had already priced my predicted rebound and trade into his rank earlier.
83. Joe Pavelski, C, Sharks: Averaged 39 goals from 2013-14 to 2015-16. Averaged 26.5 goals the past two seasons. At 34, he’s clearly in decline, but Pavelski’s decline years are still better than most guys’ peak years.
84. Carey Price, G, Canadiens: There’s no denying Price’s otherworldly talent, but these aren’t talent rankings. They’re fantasy rankings. Price (a) has lost major time to injury in two of his past three seasons and (b) plays for what looks like one of the Eastern Conference’s weakest teams and will play half the year without Shea Weber. Price isn’t worth the risk.
85. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Coyotes: Waiting for that geyser-like eruption of offense now that he finally has better scorers around him, and I want to predict it happens this year, but I thought the same thing last year.
86. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Avalanche: Even with MacKinnon and Rantanen busting out on his line, Landeskog merely climbed back to his customary 25-goal, 60-point range. He seems to have reached his ceiling. That’s OK. He’s still well worth owning.
87. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Blues: Kept scoring even when the Blues struggled to. Much better forward talent up front this year in St. Louis. Will that boost his assist total?
88. James van Riemsdyk, LW, Flyers: Not a versatile player but a wizard in the blue paint who can get at least 25 goals in his sleep.
89. Eric Staal, C, Wild: Posted the highest shooting percentage of his career during that 42-goal outburst. Factoring in some luck regression and the fact he turns 34 in October, bet on 32 this time around, not 42.
90. Nico Hischier, C, Devils: His 52 points as a rookie were second on Devils and 41 fewer than MVP Hall. Expect that gap to shrink, in part because Hall might come down to earth a bit, but also because Hischier should keep getting better.
91. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, Predators: Reliable 30-30-60 producer who’s worth taking a bit earlier in leagues that count shots. He’s good for about 250 of those per season.
92. Jaden Schwartz, LW, Blues: Extremely valuable and underrated player when he’s in the lineup. If only he were in the lineup more often. He’s become one of the bigger injury risks in the game.
93. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Flames: Whether he gets a shot on the Flames’ top line or stays on the second, he has improved linemates regardless. Breakout alert.
94. Nazem Kadri, C, Maple Leafs: Two straight 32-goal seasons, and his “third-line” designation isn’t too scary since he plays in so many situations.
95. Antti Raanta, G, Coyotes: Incredible .930 SP in first season as a No. 1 goalie – and a .945 mark after all-star break. If he was that good on a bad Coyotes team, he has some attractive upside should Arizona climb the standings this season.
96. Anders Lee, LW, Islanders: Fresh off his first 40-goal season but gets an obvious downgrade with Tavares gone. Looks like won’t start season on Barzal’s wing. Best to expect 30 goals instead of 40 and pay accordingly.
97. Jonathan Quick, G, Kings: Not a cream-of-the-crop fantasy commodity anymore, and his acrobatic style still makes him susceptible to injury, but he’s still plenty good and plays a lot when he’s healthy.
98. Ryan Johansen, C, Predators: A few years back it appeared he’d grow into a perennial 70-point guy. Looks like he’s a 60-point guy instead. He’s a No. 2 center for fantasy, but where are the goals? Has 14, 14, 15 the past three seasons.
99. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Golden Knights: We love the guy, and he’s shown he can be a league-winning fantasy asset in the right situation, but his concussions and age make the risk at least as great as the reward.
100. Devan Dubnyk, G, Wild: Among the league leaders in most stat categories since taking over as Minnesota’s starter a few years back, but there’s a chance this year’s Wild team is the worst he’s had in front of him. Bank on fewer wins.
101. Jeff Carter, C, Kings: Was pretty durable until last year but, at 33, health woes more likely to persist than before. Still a good source of goals who will come cheaper than he did last year.
102. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Blue Jackets: Blossomed into Columbus’ No. 1 center with 26 points in final 31 games as rookie. They picked this kid third overall for a reason. He’s the real deal. Just hope his linemate Panarin doesn’t get traded.
103. Keith Yandle, D, Panthers: Doesn’t have the accolades and cachet of some other stud blueliners, so he’s often a bargain in pools. You can get him at the ADP of a D2, but he’ll score like a D1.
104. Ben Bishop, G, Stars: He can be your starter if you take him, but you need to pair him with a good No. 2, as you know Bishop will miss time with some sort of malady. Happens every year.
105. Dylan Larkin, C, Red Wings: He’s unquestionably Detroit’s No. 1 pivot now. Lack of goals and a weak supporting cast limit his upside for now. More interesting if Filip Zadina makes the team and ends up on his line.
106. Ryan O’Reilly, C, Blues: Posts respectable point totals even when he’s not his team’s No. 1 center, but he’s currently lined up with Tarasenko on line 1. Might we see O’Reilly post career-best numbers?
107. Bo Horvat, C, Canucks: The Canucks are “his” team now with the Sedins retired. Horvat has elevated his points per game every season and can probably do it once more. He’s more of a two-way guy than a powerhouse scoring threat, though. It’s Boeser and Pettersson’s job to be the latter.
108. Mike Hoffman, LW, Panthers: If the scandals are truly behind him and he can focus on hockey, this ranking might be too low, as Hoffman joins a team with superior forward talent to Ottawa’s.
109. Ilya Kovalchuk, LW, Kings: He’s one of the best goal scorers of his generation, so he should make an impact even at 35 in his return from KHL. Will speed of game catch up to him, though? He’ll score but he won’t move mountains. I could see a 25-25-50 type of line, but there’s still a 35-35-70 ceiling if he hasn’t missed a beat.
110. Matt Duchene, C, Senators: Quietly came on with 34 points in 35 games after all-star break. History of inconsistency and bad current team situation make me wary he can sustain that, however.
111. Ivan Provorov, D, Flyers: An all-around stud and future Norris Trophy contender who is slowly adding offense to his game. Provorov was already useful in fantasy leagues last year and should be a must-own guy this time around.
112. Morgan Rielly, D, Maple Leafs: No. 1 defenseman on one of the NHL’s highest-scoring teams is a lovely role. Got his first 50-point campaign last year and should maintain that level.
113. Jeff Skinner, LW, Sabres: Still just 26. If he ends up with Eichel, Skinner will have his best linemate in years, if not ever. Look for him to rejoin the 30-goal club.
114. Zach Werenski, D, Blue Jackets: Positive reports about his recovery from shoulder surgery. Now he’s on track for the season opener. Great news.
115. Evander Kane, LW, Sharks: Goal-scoring binges. Fights. Hits. Slumps. Injuries. Teammate feuds. At least you know what to expect now if you board the Kane rollercoaster.
116. Kris Letang, D, Penguins: Can produce fantasy value worth a much higher rank than this, and he did stay healthy last year, but his previous injury history is so serious that every big hit he takes could be a season ender.
117. Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks: An extremely popular real-life player who was always a little overrated as a fantasy contributor and has seen his value shrink in recent years. At this point we can’t bet on the offense returning to what it was a few years back.
118. Ryan Ellis, D, Predators: Scored at by far the best pace of his career once he joined the lineup last season. With so many great blueliners in Nashville, though, he has to fight for power play time, holding back his ceiling a little bit.
119. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bruins: Prodigious young talent should keep climbing this list for years to come. Played more than 22 minutes per game as a rookie last year.
120. Elias Pettersson, C, Canucks: Absolutely dominated the Swedish League as a teenager. Might he go first overall if the NHL redrafted 2017? Has been everything we hoped he’d be in the pre-season. Poised to challenge for the Calder Trophy now.
121. Travis Konecny, RW, Flyers: A secret star when he’s playing on line 1 with Giroux and Couturier but has stiff competition at right wing from Voracek and Wayne Simmonds, so the line deployments bear a lot of watching with Konecny. For now, looks like Konency indeed starts the year on Line 1. Great news for his fantasy owners.
122. Torey Krug, D, Bruins (-58): We associate big bombers with scoring goals on D, but little Krug really fills the net, too. Charlie McAvoy gets the hype, but Krug remains the best fantasy option on Boston’s blueline – when healthy. Unfortunately, he’s out with an ankle injury. He’ll be re-evaluated in three weeks, which means three weeks is his best-case scenario.
123. J.T. Miller, LW, Lightning: Roughly a point-per-game player after trade to Tampa. His production depends a lot on his linemates, but he’s slated to start 2018-19 with Stamkos and Kucherov again. Giddyup.
124. James Neal, RW, Flames: Looks like Elias Lindholm is first up to play with Monahan or Gaudreau, but that could change at any point, and Neal has fantasy value even as a second-liner.
125. Nick Schmaltz, C, Blackhawks: Whether he’s a left winger or center, expect Joel Quenneville to squeeze the talented Schmaltz into the top-six role he deserves.
126. Mathew Dumba, D, Wild: Should continue pumping in goals with his big shot. If your D1 is a big assist guy, Dumba’s a perfect complement in your D2 slot.
127. Jake Guentzel, LW Penguins: Too high? Too low? He’s an animal in the playoffs but was a bit of a bust in the regular season last year. Have to think he finds more consistency. It’ll help if he can stay with Crosby full-time.
128. Paul Stastny, C, Golden Knights: Careful. He looked great centering Ehlers and Laine as a rental for Jets but won’t have linemates that good in Vegas. He’s a 50-point guy, maybe a bit more, but don’t draft him as your top center.
129. Corey Crawford, G, Blackhawks: Deserves a much higher rank, but on top of Chicago looking like the Central’s worst team now, Crawford’s brain health and career are legitimately in question. He’s back on the ice working out, so that’s a start, but the red flags are just too numerous. He’s an avoid for me in fantasy drafts – unless he’s available dirt cheap at a no-risk price.
130. Jason Zucker, LW, Wild: Often gets his points in bunches. Last season was just so perfect for him, though, and his centers are aging, so I see him sliding back to the 25-goal range.
131. Reilly Smith, RW, Golden Knights: Handy, useful, speedy player who tops out in the 20-40-60 range and may regress slightly along with the other Vegas troops.
132. T.J. Oshie, RW, Capitals: Sneaky-oldish at 31 and no longer an automatic first-liner. Best years behind him but still a skilled depth option for your team.
133. Casey Mittelstadt, C, Sabres: I love Mittelstadt’s skill set and see a lot of Barzal in him. Just keep in mind that a 50-point rookie year would be great – and that it’s not guaranteed, whereas the guys just above him on this list are all locks for 50, with the exception of Pettersson, whom I slot higher because he has a better chance to become his team’s top offensive center. Mittelstadt will be Buffalo’s No. 2.
134. Jordan Eberle, RW, Islanders: The connection with Barzal is great, but Eberle looks like he’ll start the season with Lee and Brock Nelson. Less exciting.
135. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Hurricanes: Nice chemistry with Finnish countryman Aho, but will they open season as linemates? Doesn’t look like it. Teravainen has competition in young gun Andrei Svechnikov.
136. Cam Atkinson, RW, Blue Jackets: Shook off slow start to finish with totals around his career norms. Probably won’t score 35 goals again, but 25 is a perfectly reasonable ask.
137. Sam Reinhart, RW, Sabres: Argh. He was fantastic in second half. And he was terrible in first half. Guessing which version of him you get has become a headache, but the upside remains tantalizing if he falls far enough in your draft.
138. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Sabres: Maligned in real life but has been consistently useful in fantasy, especially for hits/blocks leagues. Decent chance his numbers improve with the Sabres adding so much talent, so this might be the last time he comes at a D2 price.
139. Mike Smith, G, Flames: An injury and horrible finish after returning (2-6-0, .880 SP) tainted an otherwise great season. He’s not finished at 36 and makes for a good value play. Why use a higher pick on Price when you might be able to wait several rounds on Smith?
140. Kevin Fiala, LW, Predators: Came back from broken leg to become a nice weapon on Preds’ second line, and he was a first-round pick in 2014, so he’s no fluke. Fiala should at least match his 23-25-48 line and will likely top it if he maintains his pre-season assignment on line 1 with Forsberg and Johansen.
141. Yanni Gourde, RW, Lightning: Pro: has scored everywhere he’s played in his life and placed third in rookie points. Cons: finished season with one goal in 15 games and will have a tough time cracking Tampa’s top two lines. Place your bets. So far, so good, as he’s leapfrogged the banged-up Tyler Johnson for second-line duty.
142. Roberto Luongo, G, Panthers: Still capable of great rate stats, but his age limits his volume, and he gets hurt more often now. Plays less than most starters.
143. Kyle Palmieri, RW, Devils: Averages 29 goals per 82 games in three seasons as a Devil. Gets a lot of his points on the power play, and his spot there is secure.
144. Mikhail Sergachev, D, Lightning: Picked up 40 points and barely played at all as a rookie. The kid’s that good. There’s room for growth as soon as this year.
145. Jonathan Drouin, LW, Canadiens: Starting to feel like the true breakout would’ve happened by now if we ever were going to see it. He’ll continue to get big opportunities with Habs, at least. Drouin was always better as a winger anyway, so shifting back there is good news for him.
146. Jake Gardiner, D, Maple Leafs: Forget the infamous “minus-5” game. He’s a nice offensive D-man for any fantasy team.
147. Jake Allen, G, Blues: I give up. He’s impossible to predict year to year, month to month, game to game. Allen will be 28 when the season starts, so we can’t call him a prospect anymore. Don’t draft him as your starter, but he’s a good, streamable stash as your backup. He’s worth riding when he gets hot.
148. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, Rangers: Potential discount coming off an injury, but the 2018-19 Rangers might also be one of the weakest teams he’s ever played for. We thus may not get Glory Days Shattenkirk.
149. Mika Zibanejad, C, Rangers: If he can get through a full season healthy, he has a chance for career-best numbers across the board, so he’s somewhat of an upside play in the third tier of fantasy centers.
150. Aaron Ekblad, D: Hedman, Chris Pronger and Ed Jovanovski are examples of big phenom D-men to who took time to develop big offense. Ekblad’s numbers don’t wow, but he’s ahead of their pace at his age. Might we see a big statistical leap one of these years?
151. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Rangers: One of so many Ranger forwards who will probably get 20 goals, probably get 50 points and could play anywhere in the top nine. None of it is particularly exciting for poolies.
152. Wayne Simmonds, RW, Flyers: A longtime fantasy favorite of mine saw his value shrink a bit with his top-six role no longer guaranteed. Still extremely helpful in leagues that count his PIMs, though even those shrunk for him last year.
153. Anthony Mantha, RW, Red Wings: Strong bet to lead the Wings in goals again, but watch out for Zadina. If you’re not on the first line in Detroit, you’re in a bad fantasy situation, especially if Henrik Zetterberg doesn’t play this year.
154. Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Hurricanes: He’s a powerful, hardworking sniper with potential to make a Tarasenko-like impact. If he survives nine-game threshold to make team, he’ll be a nice steal.
155. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sabres: Dahlin is the most hyped blueline prospect since Denis Potvin. But if Dahlin even gets 40 points, he’ll be the third 18-year-old defenseman ever to do it, and even that would make him a solid but unspectacular fantasy option. His Year 1 forecast looks better in real life than fantasy.
156. Elias Lindholm, RW, Flames: Looks like he’ll get the first chance on Calgary’s top line, but keep in mind Lindholm may not do as much with that assignment as natural goal-scorer Neal would. Lindholm is young, but it’s not like he’s a rookie. The ceiling isn’t epic.
157. Joe Thornton, C, Sharks: He’s so savvy that he’ll keep piling up assists as long as he’s on the ice. But he might be one more major knee injury away from retirement, so don’t overpay.
158. Ryan Pulock, D, Islanders: Every Islander player might hurt your plus-minus this year, but Pulock is a rocket launcher from the point who should be a power play weapon for the Isles from Day 1. He’s my favorite sleeper on defense.
159. Alex Galchenyuk, C, Coyotes: I liked him as a draft-day steal, but a “week-to-week” lower-body injury is quite the momentum killer for a guy trying to win a prominent scoring-line role to start the year. I’ve gone from bullish to bearish.
160. Will Butcher, D, Devils: Brian Rafalski clone had Brian Rafalski numbers for Devils last year. Only an asset in assists right now. Not a big source of goals or PIM or hits.
161. Mark Giordano, D, Flames: Playing some of his best defensive hockey ever these days, but his points are starting to dry up as he reaches his mid-30s. He’s no longer a top-drawer fantasy option.
162. Cam Fowler, D, Ducks: Smooth skater never quite scores as much as it looks like he should, but he’s a good secondary contributor of offense in pools with deeper D-corps.
163. Ryan Suter, D, Wild: Monitor his recovery from ankle surgery to make sure he starts his year on time. Given his age, it’s no guarantee he comes back as good as he was before.
164. Josh Bailey, RW, Islanders: The wagon is no longer hitched to Tavares, but Bailey, not Eberle, is running with Barzal in the pre-season.
165. Patric Hornqvist, RW, Penguins: His rough style costs him a handful of games every year, but he’s quite a gem in special-category leagues with his blend of goals, shots and hits. Starting year with Crosby.
166. Tyler Johnson, RW, Lightning: Point totals the past five seasons: 50, 72, 38, 45, 50. We can spot the anomaly pretty easily at this point.
167. Kyle Turris, C, Predators: Whether your draft a guy like Turris depends on what you’ve drafted so far. Do you have too many young fliers? Nab Turris for a floor play. But if you have a ton of safe vets, you don’t want a low-ceiling team with too many Turrises.
168. Brandon Montour, D, Ducks: As predicted, he blossomed into fantasy relevance once given a full-time NHL role, and he’s not done his climb. Great natural offensive skill.
169. Ondrej Palat, LW, Lightning: Great defensive forward in real life. In fantasy, he’s pretty vanilla, best used as an injury fill-in or as depth in deeper leagues.
170. Patrick Marleau, LW, Maple Leafs: Remember, if he’s fast and durable, he’s not really “old” on the ice. He’ll get some power play time, some good linemates and at least 20 goals.
171. Nick Bjugstad, RW, Panthers: Moving to Barkov’s wing was a boon for him. You just have to be careful not to reach too far on a guy whose value rises and falls with his line deployments so much.
172. Henrik Lundqvist, G, Rangers: ‘The King’ had a 3.75 GAA and .901 SP after the all-star break. He won’t be that bad this year, but life for a 36-year-old goalie on a rebuilding team won’t be peachy.
173. Nolan Patrick, C, Flyers: Injury-plagued summer meant a slow start as a rookie, but he’s set to hold down the No. 2 center job and should have some nice linemates in Philly. He’s a fun flier and a hold in keeper leagues, too.
174. Mike Green, D, Red Wings: Someone has to quarterback the Wings’ power play, and Green will keep holding down that job, but further decline isn’t out of the question for a 32-year-old coming off neck surgery.
175. Philipp Grubauer, G, Avalanche: My top breakout goalie pick this year appears set to open as a “backup,” but he’s a good bench stash behind injury-prone Varlamov, who is entering the final season of his deal. Grubauer, meanwhile, just signed a three-year, $10-million extension with the Avs. Can you guess which goalie GM Joe Sakic is betting on long-term? This is a platoon situation. Unfortunately, both will siphon fantasy value from each other.
176. Semyon Varlamov, G, Avalanche (-8): See above.
177. Justin Faulk, D, Hurricanes: If righties Hamilton and Brett Pesce hold down top-four spots, does Faulk, just a couple seasons removed from an All-Star Game, wind up on the bottom pair? I’m avoiding him in drafts unless he’s traded, in which case his value could change significantly.
178. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Kings: Let’s set the floor at 20 goals and 200 shots. If Carter stays healthy all year, maybe Toffoli creeps back up toward 30 goals. Still in his prime at 26.
179. Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bruins: Flashed some fun power forward potential as a rookie, especially in the playoffs, though his skill set means he can play on a scoring or checking line. That makes him handy in real life but could cause his fantasy value to fluctuate a bit.
180. Brandon Saad, LW, Blackhawks: Had one power play point last year, and we can’t assume he makes those points back, as he’s never been a big power play guy in his career. The speed and smarts aren’t translating to big fantasy value.
181. David Perron, RW, Blues: Career year in Vegas. Third tour in St. Louis should yield his typical St. Louis numbers. He’ll be added and dropped a lot in standard-sized leagues.
182. Shea Theodore, D, Golden Knights: Who says Vegas can’t have sleepers anymore? I’m looking at its young players who carry high-end pedigree, including Theodore, who was always projected to be a good scoring defenseman at the NHL level and should continue trending that way.
183. David Krejci, C, Bruins: How many games he gives you is always a mystery, but he remains locked in as Boston’s No. 2 center, with young and improving linemates.
184. Derek Stepan, C, Coyotes: Speculating here that Stepan isn’t Keller’s center by season’s end. Galchenyuk and maybe, finally, Dylan Strome are the competition.
185. Duncan Keith, D, Blackhawks: Posted a 10-year low in points per game last year, and he’s 35, so the downward trend may continue for the future Hall of Famer.
186. Mikael Backlund, C, Flames: Talented enough to outscore several of the forwards ahead of him on this list, but he’s entrenched as a two-way guy whose primary role is defense, not offense, capping him in the 45- to 50-point range.
187. Cam Talbot, G, Oilers: A nice late-round Hail Mary if you believe he and the Oilers rediscover their 2016-17 form. But should we have confidence in a team that made so few improvements this off-season?
188. Brendan Gallagher, RW, Canadiens: The 31 goals were nice, but he had 29 goals and 47 missed games over the previous two seasons combined, so I’m staying conservative here.
189. Chris Kreider, LW, Rangers: Solid power forward who appears to be done ascending. Blood clot is scary because it can become a recurring problem for some players.
190. Alex Tuch, RW, Golden Knights: Departure of James Neal opens up a scoring-line spot for this hulking net crasher. He was a first-round pick before the Wild gifted him to Vegas. The potential is real. A late-round home run swing with upside.
191. Bryan Little, C, Jets: Loss of Paul Stastny means Little likely will play with Ehlers, Laine to start the year. A great gig if he can keep it, but will he? Jack Roslovic lurks.
192. Jack Roslovic, RW, Jets: An excellent prospect who can play wing or center. If he can force his way into the top six, he has monster breakout upside, a-la teammate Connor last year. Watch Roslovic closely. Even with the season starting, the battle between him and Little isn’t finished yet.
193. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Senators: He already has a man’s body, so the only thing stopping him from being an impact NHL rookie at 18 was himself, as he had to decide whether to turn pro or stay at Boston University. Well, as of this week, Tkachuk has left the Terriers and signed his entry-level deal. On the sad-sack Senators, He’ll get every opportunity to make an impact just as his brother Matthew did two years ago in Calgary. Just don’t over-reach, as the Senators can send Brady to OHL London or AHL Belleville after the nine-game threshold if he doesn’t look ready.
194. Mikko Koivu, C, Wild: Excellent career as a captain and shutdown center. Offense in decline at 35, though, and he hasn’t posted a 20-goal season in nine years.
195. Ty Rattie, RW, Oilers: Any winger on McDavid’s line is an automatic must-own, and Rattie has that assignment to begin the year. I’m skeptical he keeps the job, as I wouldn’t rule out Kailer Yamamoto making the team and getting a shot, but we have to respect Rattie’s fantasy value as long as he has the gig.
196. Troy Terry, RW, Ducks: Terry was already one of Anaheim’s two best forward prospects, and he’s tentatively tabbed to replace Perry on a line with Getzlaf and Rakell. Terry thus needs to be owned in all fantasy leagues until we learn otherwise.
197. Patrick Maroon, LW, Blues: He’s produced in spurts on scoring lines at every stop of his career and looks like he’ll start the season with O’Reilly and Tarasenko. That’s an easy path to fantasy value.
198. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Canadiens (NR): Score one for the Habs after all the criticism they took for supposedly reaching on Kotkaniemi at third overall this past June. I was driving that bus, I must admit. But he looked good in the pre-season and will start with the big club. You need to add a prospect like this for his upside, even if he ends up droppable in a few weeks.
199. Timo Meier, LW, Sharks (NR): Broke out for 21 goals, has a high-end prospect pedigree and will play with Couture and Tomas Hertl. Lots to like here.
200. Tage Thompson, RW, Sabres (NR): Coming over in the O’Reilly trade freed this towering talent to climb the depth chart. He’s shown some exciting skill in the pre-season and appears poised to open the year on a scoring line. Remember, at this point in the draft, you’re better off grabbing guys with unknown ceilings. The players whose ceilings we already understand can be scooped up later if our home-run swings flop.
ON THE BUBBLE: Max Domi, Carter Hutton, Ryan Donato, Henri Jokiharju, Andreas Johnsson, Danton Heinen, Conor Sheary, Cory Schneider, Nick Leddy, Alex Goligoski, Pavel Buchnevich, Nino Niederreiter, Tomas Hertl, Colton Parayko, Josh Manson, Charlie Coyle, Anthony Beauvillier, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Alexander Wennberg, Adam Henrique, Zdeno Chara, Kyle Okposo, Noah Hanifin, Dylan Strome, Vladislav Namestnikov, Colin Miller, Oscar Klefbom, T.J. Brodie, Milan Lucic, Micheal Ferland, Valeri Nichushkin, Sami Vatanen, Kailer Yamamoto, Thomas Chabot, Robby Fabbri, Henrik Borgstrom, Samuel Girard, Thomas Vanek, Kasperi Kapanen, Sam Steel, Tobias Rieder, Jeff Petry, Petr Mrazek, Kevin Labanc, Jake Muzzin, Robin Lehner, Alexander Steen, Tyson Jost, Martin Necas, Jacob Trouba, Miro Heiskanen, Jakub Vrana, Robert Thomas, Jordan Kyrou, Filip Chytil, Michael Rasmussen, Joel Armia, Jesse Puljujarvi, Alex Nylander, Chris Tierney, Daniel Sprong, Tyler Ennis, Kristian Vesalainen, Alexander Kerfoot, Valentin Zykov
DROPPED OUT: Filip Zadina (sent to AHL), Tom Wilson (suspension coming), Carter Hart (sent to AHL), Henrik Zetterberg (retirement), Corey Perry (knee surgery; out five months); Eeli Tolvanen (sent to AHL); Thatcher Demko (concussion, out indefinitely), Dustin Brown (broken finger: out indefinitely); Lias Andersson (sent to AHL)