Back already? An abbreviated NHL off-season means the fantasy-hockey calendar will soon ramp up. Here’s hoping it’s easier to prepare for 2021-22 than it was for 2020-21. Entering last season, players from seven NHL teams hadn’t played for almost a year. We had 2020 bubble tournament hangovers and team COVID-19 outbreaks to deal with. Player values were wildly unpredictable.
Entering 2021-22, things aren’t fully back to normal by any means, as we’re evaluating players after a 56-game season in which they played solely within realigned divisions. But with a more traditional off-season flow, maybe it’s a bit easier to forecast fantasy values. It will never be tougher than it was last January, at least.
With that, we dive into the first addition of my top 250 fantasy players of 2021-22. Let’s do this! We’ll start with the disclaimers. Make sure you read them before diving into the rankings.
(a) This is a working list. I will periodically update it based on injuries, training-camp battles and freshly announced line deployments. The rankings won’t shift much at first, but the changes will become more significant as the pre-season progresses, prospects do or don’t make their teams and injuries occur.
(b) These are fantasy rankings, not real-life rankings. I obviously don’t think there are 37 hockey players better than Mark Stone. In fantasy, though? He’s not a dominator when it comes to scoring goals, generating shots or throwing hits.
(c) In previous incarnations of this list, I haven’t awarded enough value to the “stat stuffers,” the players who provide well-rounded contributions in many roto categories. You’ll notice massive year-over-year leaps for players like Brady Tkachuk and Darnell Nurse. It was overdue. The stat suffers can carry your team.
(d) You’ll see a few players who aren’t even guaranteed long-term roster spots ranked ahead of players whose production you can set your watch to, such as Matt Boldy over Alex Iafallo. The late rounds are for chasing big rewards on minimal risks. A prospect like Boldy could completely change your team’s fate if he wins a job and challenges for the Calder Trophy. If he doesn’t make the team? You can cut him, and Iafallo types will always be waiting for you on the wire.
(e) So what’s with the weird clusters of goaltender teammates? In this platoon era, we have to look at the position differently. Many creases project to have timeshares and, for teams that haven’t yet revealed which goalie will get the lion’s share of starts, I’ve paired the stoppers together in the rankings, from Spencer Knight and Sergei Bobrovsky to Petr Mrazek and Jack Campbell. If one begins to separate from the other in training camp, I’ll give the 1A a major jump.
(e) These rankings factor in the following categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, shots, power-play points, hits, blocks, wins, goals-against average, saves, save percentage and shutouts.
(f) It’s an annual tradition for me to accidentally omit a big-name player. If you notice a conspicuous absence, tweet me @THNMattLarkin. Thanks!
1. Connor McDavid, C, Oilers: Our parents tell us tales of fantasy seasons past in which Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux were so dominant that they were illegal to draft. If McDavid gets any better, some pools will have to consider that, too. He’s a human cheat code.
2. Leon Draisaitl, C, Oilers: Over the past three seasons, Draisaitl ranks second in goals, second in assists, second in points and, crucially, first in games played. He’s the safest pick in fantasy hockey.
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Lightning: His past four seasons have produced two Vezina Trophies and four finalist finishes. He’s the fifth goalie ever to lead the league in wins four straight years. He offers a significant advantage over every other player at his position.
4. Auston Matthews, C, Maple Leafs: The best goal-scorer on the planet will get 60 one of these years…if he can play a full season. He’d be my No. 2 player if not for his propensity to get dinged up.
5. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Avalanche: Floor in an 82-game season is probably 40 goals, 90 points and 300 shots. He rounds out the ‘God’ tier.
6. Artemi Panarin, LW, Rangers: Only McDavid and Draisaitl average more points across the past two seasons. Panarin as a Ranger: 113 points per 82 games.
7. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals: Even if, going into his age-36 season, he’ll never be a 50-goal man again, he remains a fantasy monster. You can still count on him for 40 goals, 300 shots and 200 hits.
8. Brad Marchand, LW, Bruins: I’ve surprised myself ranking him above David Pastrnak, but the Nose Face Killah deserves it. He’s scored at a 100-point pace in four straight seasons, he’s more durable than ‘Pasta’ and contributes more to the rough-stuff fantasy categories.
9. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Lightning: Showed in his sublime post-season that he’s still the same world-class player after hip surgery. As the Lightning chase a three-peat, however, he could be a candidate for load management and some missed games during the fantasy-hockey playoffs, a.k.a. the end of the regular season.
10. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Avalanche: No one doubted Rantanen’s top-tier playmaking ability, but he busted out as a goal-scorer last year. That raises his fantasy ceiling to that of a top-five player.
11. David Pastrnak, RW, Bruins: That a point-per-game campaign felt like a disappointment tells you how special he is. He shared the Rocket Richard in 2019-20 and remains one of the safest picks to contend for it in 2021-22.
12. Mitch Marner, RW, Maple Leafs: Only three players have more assists in the past three seasons. If he and Matthews can play even 70 healthy games together, Marner should finally join the 100-point club.
13. Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks: The most “boring” elite-player pick keeps adding to his Hall of Fame credentials. Kane has finished as a top-five scorer in four of his past six seasons.
14. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Jets: Volume is at a premium during the NHL’s new goalie-platoon era. No goalie has more games or saves across the past four seasons, and Hellebuyck also sits second in wins and third in shutouts over that span. He has started 16 more games than the second-busiest goalie since 2017-18. Oh, and he’s really good.
15. Aleksander Barkov, C, Panthers: Last season felt like a put-it-all-together campaign for Barkov, who captured the Selke Trophy. He’s a complete 200-foot player but not at the expense of his fantasy value. He’s still an annual threat for top-10 production. It’s also possible we haven’t seen his best season yet given his improved supporting cast.
16. Cale Makar, D, Avalanche: He’s already producing at the rate of Erik Karlsson’s peak, if not better, in just two full NHL seasons. If any blueliner this millennium can make a run at 100 points, it’s Makar, especially when he calls so many elite players teammates.
17. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Panthers: He’s no longer underrated. You probably have to pay a second-round price for him now. But that’s OK. He’s floated comfortably north of a point per game for three consecutive seasons.
18. Sidney Crosby, C, Penguins: He’s a floor play at this stage of his career, but the floor is still so high: point-per-game production and 200-plus shots at worst. Crosby may not compete for scoring crowns anymore but remains an all-star-caliber player.
19. Mika Zibanejad, C, Rangers: Two seasons ago, he sniped 23 goals in his final 22 games. Last season, he delivered three hat tricks and two six-point games. He’s win-you-your-pool good when he’s on a heater, and he started last season slowly after recovering from COVID-19, so he may be a bargain.
20. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Senators: Even if his offense doesn’t take a step forward, he’s the frontrunner to lead the NHL in shots and hits. If he can improve incrementally and produce something like a 30-30-60 offensive stat line, he’s a first-rounder. If you believe that’s a conservative estimate? Go ahead and reach on him with a top-15 selection. I’m jealous of any team that picks him before I can.
21. Mark Scheifele, C, Jets: The deeper analytics suggest Scheifele is overrated, but that doesn’t affect his fantasy outlook much because he plays so many minutes. His per-60 stats aren’t so efficient, but he nevertheless averages 34 goals and 85 points per 82 games across his past five seasons.
22. Sebastian Aho, C, Hurricanes: Am I crazy or is he somehow still underrated? It’s a strange thought for someone who is pretty much a lock for 30 goals and 80 points.
23. Elias Pettersson, C, Canucks: Give all the Canucks mulligans for a cursed 2021-22. We haven’t seen the best of ‘Petey’ yet. There’s a 40-goal, 90-point season in him. He’s an electrifying talent.
24. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Wild: Met the considerable hype and was immediately one of the league’s best players as a rookie. What might he do if his ice time spikes to reflect his talent? Perennial all-star alert.
25. Adam Fox, D, Rangers: With a strong finish to his rookie year followed by a Norris Trophy in his abbreviated sophomore campaign, Fox has 65 points in his past 82 games. He’s a dynamic puck-mover in a great fantasy situation. Also underrated in pools for his contribution to the blocks category.
26. John Carlson, D, Capitals: He’ll deliver top-five fantasy numbers at his position in his sleep, and he’s durable to boot. One of the few D-men worthy of being picked in the first couple rounds.
27. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Blackhawks: Which was the anomaly: DeBrincat’s 41-goal breakout in 2018-19 or his 18-goal flop in 2019-20? The latter year had a massive shooting percentage regression, so it wasn’t a surprise to see DeBrincat get back to his top-tier sniper numbers last season, burying 32 goals in 52 games. That’s the real version of him. You can feel safe paying for it in your draft.
28. Matthew Tkachuk, RW, Flames: Isn’t quite as prolific as younger brother Brady in the shot and hit categories, but Matthew is still excellent in both, and he has a higher scoring floor at this stage of his career.
29. Brayden Point, C, Lightning: Don’t confuse playoff pools with regular-season pools. He’s an easy top-five pick in April. In September drafts? He’s more of a rock-solid second- or third-round pick who has shown he can score 90-plus points but, because he’s asked to do so much at both ends of the ice, could range as low as 70.
30. Victor Hedman, D, Lightning: The future Hall of Famer delivered an elite fantasy season despite playing hurt for much of it. A healthy Hedman still has the ceiling to match almost any other D-man in pools.
31. Shea Theodore, D, Golden Knights: He doesn’t bring much to the grit categories, but he offers so much offensively that it doesn’t matter. Only two D-men average more shots per 60 at 5-on-5 over the past two seasons.
32. Igor Shesterkin, G, Rangers: He’s positioned for one of the bigger workloads in the league, he’s already played at an elite level with poor defensive play in front of him, and the team in front of him looks improved defensively going forward. Shesterkin has the upside to finish as the No. 1 fantasy goalie as soon as this season.
33. Darnell Nurse, D, Oilers: He’s a plus contributor in goals and points playing in the most fertile fantasy environment, he’s in his prime and loads up on hits, blocks and shots, too. Pro-rated pace last season: 23 goals, 53 points, 226 shots, 171 hits, 146 blocks. Are you kidding me? Even if his crazy-high shooting percentage regresses to the mean, he’s still the most balanced contributor among all fantasy D-men.
34. Jake Guentzel, LW, Penguins: Is it just me or does no one talk about Guentzel? It’s strange considering he averages 38 goals and 82 points per 82 games in his past three seasons. He’s a stud pick in pools every season.
35. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Avalanche: He’s not as physical as he used to be, but he remains an extremely safe bet for point production playing alongside MacKinnon and Rantanen.
36. Kyle Connor, LW, Jets: A full season of Connor should deliver, at worst, 35-35-70, and 40-40-80 is hardly a stretch for the speedy shot generator.
37. Steven Stamkos, C, Lightning: He still scores enough to be a first-line fantasy center when he’s in the lineup. But you have to draft him assuming he plays about 60 games at this point. That said, his 60-game sample will still trump most players’.
38. Mark Stone, RW, Golden Knights: We all love Mark Stone. He’s one of the best hockey players on Earth. Honestly, though? He’s become mildly overrated in fantasy because he’s not an overly impactful contributor in goals, shots, hits or blocks.
39. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, Hurricanes: The potential is just limitless. He has the talent and drive and physicality to become an all-around fantasy superstar. I got caught over-projecting him a bit last year, so I’ve scaled back my hype. Did I go too far, though?
40. Tyson Barrie, D, Oilers: Staying in Edmonton is wonderful news for Barrie’s pool value. His defensive shortcomings matter little in the fantasy realm. He’s a point- and shot-producing machine.
41. Robin Lehner, G, Golden Knights: One of the biggest, most purely talented goaltenders in the game now gets the net to himself on a top Stanley Cup contender. He’d rate as a top-three pick in net if it weren’t for the injury risk.
42. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins: We’ll see him decline one of these years but, at 36, he’s as valuable as ever. Puts up strong goal and point numbers playing on hockey’s best line, and, wow, does he still pepper the net with a lot of shots.
43. Max Pacioretty, LW, Golden Knights: If you use your top couple picks on a playmaker and a goalie, Pacioretty can supplement you nicely in the goal and shot categories while he makes magic with Stone.
44. John Tavares, C, Maple Leafs: Does Tavares present a buy-low opportunity? He’s coming off a down year, the image of his scary playoff injury is burned into the hockey world’s collective mind, he’s locked into a scoring-line role and power-play duty in a rich fantasy environment, and he’ll be just 31 when the season starts.
45. Dougie Hamilton, D, Devils: The safest source of goals and shots among all fantasy defensemen for several years running now. But Hamilton has spent most of his career playing for above-average teams. The rebuilding Devils have potential but aren’t a lock to improve or ice even a top-20 offense this season, so Hamilton has more downside than normal.
46. Darcy Kuemper, G, Avalanche: Over the past three seasons, Kuemper graded out in the top third of the league in goals saved above average per 60 at 5-on-5 among goalies with at least 1,000 minutes played. He did so playing in Arizona. Now we’re dropping him into the all-world Colorado lineup. We cross our fingers he can stay healthy, because he’s capable of being a league winner if he does.
47. Quinn Hughes, D, Canucks: He should rank far higher in points-only leagues, as he’s one of the few blueliners capable of pulling a Makar and producing a point-per-game season. Under my scoring parameters, however, Hughes takes a hit because he brings little in the grit categories.
48. Nikolaj Ehlers, RW, Jets: Talent was never in question for the speedy Ehlers. The consistency was missing until last season. If he maintains it? This ranking is probably too low.
49. Brock Boeser, RW, Canucks: Still odd to see no 30-goal seasons on his resume yet considering he’s one of the sport’s elite pure shooting talents. If he can play 70-plus games in what should be a full NHL calendar, that should change in 2021-22.
50. Taylor Hall, LW, Bruins: OK, so his 2017-18 Hart Trophy season will likely be remembered as a career anomaly. But he showed in his late-season Bruins run that he can still be a difference-maker. How about a 25-goal, 60-point floor with potential for quite a bit more?
51. Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders: Barzal’s skating and puck-ragging ability reflect that of a fantasy first-rounder. In Barry Trotz’s disciplined system, however, Barzal’s ceiling is capped. He’s “only” very good in a hockey-pool context.
52. Jacob Markstrom, G, Flames: He’s not a sexy pick, but volume is king in the current fantasy-goalie landscape, and he has one of the safest paths to it. He also plays on a team that at least believes it’s a contender.
53. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Blackhawks: The good news: ‘Flower’ should get 50-plus starts coming off his Vezina season. The bad: he’s joining the worst defensive team of the past several seasons. Fleury will be busy, and it could hurt his rate stats.
54. Roman Josi, D, Predators: A healthy Josi is one of the most reliable fantasy D-men of his generation, especially because, in a rover role, he controls his team’s offense. On the other hand, there’s very little offensive help around him. Will the assist total shrink if the forwards can’t finish?
55. Morgan Rielly, D, Maple Leafs: That 20-goal season in 2018-19 feels like a dream. Even if he’s not reaching double digits, he’s squarely in the D1 tier with his consistent point production. It’s also worth noting he was much more of a factor in the hits and blocks categories last season.
56. Thatcher Demko, G, Canucks: Ah, finally. The starter’s net in Vancouver is unquestionably his, even if Jaroslav Halak plays much more than a typical backup. Demko has Vezina-Trophy-caliber talent and size. Whether he breaks through as a fantasy star this season depends on whether the Canucks’ busy off-season improves the team’s defensive play.
57. Jakob Chychrun, D, Coyotes: He did a lot of the things Nurse did last season but, because Chychrun plays in obscurity and still has to prove he can do it again, he should cost significantly less. He can carry you in multiple categories. Is the awful supporting cast a concern? It didn’t stop him from leading all defensemen in goals last season.
58. J.T. Miller, LW, Canucks: He was an elite fantasy left winger in his first season with Vancouver. Even with everything going wrong last year, he was plenty valuable. I’d bet on something between Year 1 and Year 2.
59. Jeff Petry, D, Canadiens: Four straight seasons of stat-stuffing fantasy value. Petry helps in pretty much every category. At 33, he could start to decline soon, but so far so good.
60. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Flames: Interestingly, Gaudreau’s game didn’t suffer after the switch to old-school coach Darryl Sutter. ‘Johnny Hockey’ actually finished his season with 22 points in his final 16 games. He still has potential to turn a profit at his projected ADP.
61. Jordan Binnington, G, Blues: He’s only been an average netminder since his scintillating rookie year. But he’s safely entrenched as a starter on a team with playoff aspirations. That checks two crucial boxes.
62. Jason Robertson, LW, Stars: Placed top-10 in points per 60 during his tremendous rookie year. I’m keeping the ranking conservative because it was a small sample size, but I’m bullish overall. He has taken over as Dallas’ top left winger.
63 Roope Hintz, C, Stars: Robertson’s linemate is just a really tough player to match up against: big yet fast, with smooth hands. He and Robertson have usurped Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn as Dallas’ go-to duo.
64. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Golden Knights: Third in goals and sixth in shots among defensemen across the past five seasons, with prolific shot-block totals to boot.
65. William Nylander, RW, Maple Leafs: It’s music to my ears when the prehistoric thinkers slander Nylander’s game, as it helps him fall in drafts seemingly every year. Pencil him in for 25-plus goals, 60 points and 200 shots.
66. Tyler Seguin, C, Stars: It’s weird for one of the most bankable performers of the past decade to land in a boom-bust category, but that’s how I see the current version of Seguin. At 29, perhaps he returns to being a top-20 scorer in the league, or perhaps his hip problems have altered his trajectory for good. He’s a guy I’ll draft if he falls far enough, but I won’t reach expecting the Seguin of old.
67. Patrik Laine, RW, Blue Jackets: He should be churning out 50-goal seasons for us to enjoy. Instead, his promising career is a series of fits and starts, and Year 1 in Columbus was a nightmare. Freed from coach John Tortorella, Laine will get every chance to redeem himself as a alpha goal-scorer. He’s younger than two of the three 2021 Calder Trophy finalists! He’s still in an ugly team situation, but he’ll never come cheaper…
68. Zach Hyman, LW, Oilers: “His numbers just got inflated playing with superstars.” OK, sure, and that will happen again playing with McDavid or Draisaitl. Hyman is one lucky man.
69. Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals: He should remain one of the game’s best sources of assists, even at 33. With Evgeny Kuznetsov a strong trade candidate, Backstrom has his best odds in a long time of spending most of his season centering Ovechkin.
70. Jack Eichel, C, Sabres: I pity anyone who has to draft early, as Eichel is the most difficult player to appraise at the moment. Will he be traded before the season starts? Will he land in a good situation? Will he get neck surgery and be healthy enough to play a significant number of games? Expect his ranking to fluctuate wildly in my subsequent updates.
71. Sean Couturier, C, Flyers: I still think of him as a defense-first player because he’s so strong there, but he’s been one of the better offensive players at his position for the past four seasons. Very reliable.
72. Anze Kopitar, C, Kings: I predict Kopitar’s best offensive season in a while. Not only does Viktor Arvidsson provide Kopitar with a probable linemate upgrade, but Phillip Danault can take over a lot of defensive responsibility, freeing up Kopitar to concentrate on scoring.
73. Sam Reinhart, RW, Panthers: It went relatively unnoticed in the Buffalo wasteland, but Reinhart went off in the stretch run last season, burying 18 goals in 37 games from March through early May. If he can just do it for an entire season, a career year is in store. The trade to Florida and possible pairing with Barkov is exciting, but keep in mind Reinhart has enjoyed quality linemates for much of his career already.
74. Cole Caufield, RW, Canadiens: Such a fun pick to make. It was a small sample size but, between the regular season and playoffs, Caufield flashed a lightning-fast release and superstar upside. The eight goals in 30 games are respectable, but the 78 shots really stand out. The little guy was getting his chances. I don’t think 30 goals and a Calder Trophy are unrealistic to expect.
75. Semyon Varlamov, G, Islanders: Varlamov kicks off a tier of “shaky No. 1 but excellent No. 2 fantasy goalies” for me. His rate stats should be excellent as always, but mega-prospect Ilya Sorokin remains a major threat to playing time.
76. Thomas Chabot, D, Senators: He’ll break through as an elite-tier fantasy defenseman one of these years. He has the raw offensive talent, the huge share of ice time, the improving lineup around him, and he helps in pretty much every stat category.
77. Neal Pionk, D, Jets: Not a great source of goals, but Pionk piles up points, gets a lot of power-play work alongside dangerous forwards and throws a lot of hits. Go get him.
78. Kris Letang, D, Penguins: He still produces D1 numbers, flirting with point-per-game production and contributing physical play. The knock is always his durability, but he only missed one game last season. Even if he returns to missing 15 or 20 games in 2021-22, three quarters of a Letang season is better than what most blueliners can do in a full season.
79. Bryan Rust, RW, Penguins: Typically locked onto a line with Crosby and Guentzel, Rust tends to cost a lot less in drafts. That’s exciting for a guy with 49 goals and 98 points in 111 games over the past two seasons, which adjusts to 36 goals and 72 points per 82 games.
80. Filip Forsberg, LW, Predators: Underrated. Gets you 25 goals, 50 points, 200 shots and more than a hit per game. A shame he’s never gotten to play with a dominant center.
81. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Hurricanes: A concussion limited him to 21 games last season, and that will probably cause some casual drafters to overlook him. When healthy, he’s a reliable first-liner in Carolina who makes for a perfect RW2 in fantasy.
82. Philipp Grubauer, G, Kraken: Some might draft him higher after an amazing year in which he finished as a Vezina finalist. Others may avoid him since he’s moving from Colorado to expansion Seattle. I’ll split the difference. He won’t be as valuable as he was with the Avs, especially with Chris Driedger siphoning starts, but the Kraken’s strength on paper appears to be team defense, so Grubauer’s rate stats might remain strong.
83. Aaron Ekblad, D, Panthers: Argh. The predicted breakout was happening. Ekblad was producing at roughly a 25-goal pace for an 82-game season before his horrific broken leg. Here’s hoping he returns fully healed, as, like many big, high-pedigree defensemen, he’s just settling into his prime in his mid-20s.
84. Seth Jones, D, Blackhawks: Was arguably an overrated fantasy commodity in recent years, but I see legit upside now. The Blackhawks are the first offense-minded team he’s ever played for. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he delivered his most valuable fantasy campaign to date.
85. Elias Lindholm, C, Flames: Though there are exceptions like Caufield, it’s typically risky to start reaching on hipster picks in the first half dozen rounds of a draft. Instead, wise GMs grab the bankable boring vets like Lindholm. Think of it this way: any rookie that produces what Lindholm does in his sleep every year would be a Calder finalist, so why not take the safe production?
86. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Canadiens: Only six players topped Toffoli’s 28 goals last season, and he typically plays with an ascendant talent in Nick Suzuki. But Toffoli’s scoring-chance generation didn’t actually spike, and he posted a career-high shooting percentage last year. He’s still a safe bet for 25 to 30 goals, but don’t count on him sustaining his 44-goal pace of 2021-22.
87. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bruins: Real Life McAvoy has arrived, as he finished fifth in the 2021 Norris vote while logging 24 minutes a night as an all-around horse. Fantasy McAvoy isn’t quite a D1 yet, but he’s getting closer. We’re looking for that breakthrough to a 10-40-50 year with his usual bushel of hits and blocks.
88. John Klingberg, D, Stars: Miro Heiskanen gets the love as the better overall player but hasn’t usurped teammate Klingberg in fantasy. He continues to lead all Dallas D-men in power-play minutes per game. He sits ninth among defensemen in scoring since 2014-15, his rookie year.
89. Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins: Malkin (knee) won’t be ready for training camp. We always draft him expecting him to miss games during the season, but this time he’s already out to start the season. The arrow is trending down. He’s an all-time great talent, but he’s 35 and getting rickety.
90. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, LW, Oilers: Can we blame the down year on contract uncertainty? I’m willing to. Playing in Edmonton’s top six and lapping up power-play looks, he’s a strong bet to return to his usual 60-point range.
91. Brayden Schenn, C, Blues: So safe. You draft him for about 25 goals, 55 points and well north of 100 hits.
92. Joe Pavelski, RW, Stars: Pavelski struggled in his first season as a Star, managing 14 goals in 67 games. He needed just 25 games to get his 14th goal last season and ended up with 25 in 56 games. He’ll keep scoring if he remains on a line with Hintz and Robertson, but Pavelski is 37. He turned a profit in 2020-21 pools because his stock had plummeted, but now he’ll cost a pretty penny. The risk is way higher.
93. Dominik Kubalik, LW, Blackhawks: Predictably, his shooting percentage cratered in Year 2, but he still offers plenty to like. Among forwards with 500 or more minutes at 5-on-5 last season, he placed in the 94th percentile in shots per 60. His 30 goal season in 2019-20 won’t be his last.
94. Carey Price, G, Canadiens: Whaaaat? Sorry, but as dominant as Playoff Carey Price is, he’s been decidedly below average in three of his past four regular seasons and has a partner in Jake Allen specifically brought in to shoulder some of Price’s workload. I’ll let someone else pay up, probably a good 40 picks earlier than where I have him ranked.
95. Miro Heiskanen, D, Stars: He’s a wonderful talent, and he showed in the 2020 playoffs that he can carry a team offensively, but Heiskanen still lives in the “better in real life than fantasy” tier for now. Prime-year Drew Doughty lived there. Heiskanen doesn’t need to be more than a 40-point player to be a stud for Dallas. He has the upside to do more, but he’s not guaranteed to.
96. Ryan O’Reilly, C, Blues: A floor play, like so many Blues forwards. Doesn’t stand out in a particular category, but he’s a safe bet for 60-plus points as a fantasy team’s No. 2 center.
97. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Capitals: The challenge with a player as volatile as Kuznetsov is that he can go bust as often as he booms. On the other hand, a trade could spark him into God Mode and make him a home run as a mid-round pick. His skills are special.
98. Jakub Vrana, LW, Red Wings: Vrana was among the most efficient goal scorers in the league during his time with the Caps, so it made perfect sense when he busted out for eight goals and 11 points in 11 games after a trade to Detroit boosted his average TOI by close to three minutes. He’s ready to start delivering 30-goal seasons, though the weak team around him keeps the ceiling lower than it should be.
99. Vincent Trocheck, C, Hurricanes: The struggling version of Trocheck was the mirage. He had returned too early from a broken leg. He’s back to being the real Trocheck now, and he’s a nice asset for goals, points, shots and hits.
100. Blake Wheeler, RW, Jets: His best days are done, but it’s a testament to how good Wheeler has been that his “decline” still yielded 46 points in 50 games. As long as he’s getting prime scoring-line work in Winnipeg, he’s an asset for assists and points.
101. Juuse Saros, G, Predators: He was the best goalie in the league for the second half of 2021 and likely won some fantasy GMs their pools. So why the relatively low rank? The Preds’ off-season behavior signalled a shift toward getting younger and, perhaps, temporarily weaker. Wins might be hard to come by for Saros.
102. Joel Farabee, LW, Flyers: Produced at a 30-goal pace in his breakout sophomore campaign. Since it’s too early to know if he can maintain a 16.1 shooting percentage, it would be good if he keeps increasing his shot rate, but he’s surpassed Travis Konecny as Philly’s most promising winger at this point.
103. David Perron, RW, Blues: Perron is the undisputed Boring Veteran King of fantasy hockey in my opinion. He’s perpetually overlooked yet plays on a scoring line and delivers something like 20-40-60 every year, with occasional spikes to even better per-game production like he showed last season.
104. Kevin Fiala, RW, Wild: Takes a circuitous route to getting his numbers, mixing piping-hot streaks with slumps, but the star DNA is there. He’s especially enticing in shots leagues.
105. Martin Necas, RW, Hurricanes: The incremental gains continue. Necas is solidified as a long-term fixture in Carolina’s top six now. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he cracked 40 assists this season, and he’s not a zero in hits and blocks.
106. Josh Norris, C, Senators: Centers one of the league’s most exciting young lines between Tkachuk and Drake Batherson. Norris is arguably the best source of assists and points of the trio right now.
107. Anthony Mantha, LW, Capitals: Traded for Vrana. Mantha’s situation has reversed. He has far better teammates around him now but more competition for looks. Since he’s at worst entrenched in the top six, 25 goals aren’t a stretch at all.
108. Drake Batherson, RW, Senators: Is this the year where you want as many pieces of the Senators’ scoring core as possible? That year is coming. Batherson doesn’t have the highest ceiling of the Sens forwards as a pure scorer but, like linemate Tkachuk, Batherson brings the nice statistical buffet. He could improve to post Brayden Schenn-like numbers this season.
109. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Golden Knights: He’s peaked and toils on Vegas’ second line, but he’s plenty valuable as a secondary scorer who regularly delivers big shot totals.
110. Ryan Ellis, D, Flyers: Health is a bugaboo for him more seasons than not but, quarterbacking the power play on a higher-scoring team than the Predators, Ellis has a shot to give you career-best numbers at the ADP of a D2.
111. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Blues: Is he a name-brand player whose shoulder woes will stop him from being a top-flight pool pick? Or is he an exciting buy low with potential to start scoring 30 goals a year again? Think about how much has to go right for the latter to happen – his health, his trade request, a good landing spot – and I think he’s a dangerous investment.
112. Claude Giroux, LW, Flyers: A perfectly safe floor play at this stage of his career, but the ceiling is gone. He’s graduated to the Boring Veteran Brigade.
113. Nick Suzuki, C, Canadiens: Any team would love a player so intelligent at such a young age. Losing Danault takes away a lot of matchup insulation, however. With more work to do at both ends of the ice, might Suzuki’s offense plateau in the 50-point range? Here’s hoping he keeps Caufield as a linemate all season.
114. Ilya Samsonov, G, Capitals: COVID-19 derailed what was supposed to be a huge breakout year for elite prospect Samsonov. His potential remains as high as any goaltender’s in the league, but the Caps like Vitek Vanecek, too, so much that they gave up draft capital to reacquire him. Since Samsonov is not a lock to eclipse 50 games, he is a wobbly G1. I still love him as a G2 with league-winning upside, though.
115. Carter Verhaeghe, LW, Panthers: Just as they did with Marchessault, the Panthers stole Verhaeghe from a too-deep Tampa club and gave him a shot at a first-line role. He was an even-strength scoring machine as Barkov’s regular left winger and showed a fine touch in winning the AHL scoring crown a couple years back. He’s for real.
116. Ryan Strome, C Rangers: Seemingly always in the trade rumor mill, but he’s Panarin’s center for now, and he’s fared swimmingly in that role.
117. Bo Horvat, C, Canucks: With the likes of Conor Garland, Jason Dickinson and Vasili Podkolzin added to Vancouver’s forward group, Horvat gets a nice upgrade in linemates, likely starting the year between Nils Hoglander and Garland. Always a good bet for 20-plus goals, Horvat might see his assist total climb as well.
118. Tim Stutzle, LW, Senators: The dynamic Stutzle has the breathtaking skill to surpass Norris as Ottawa’s top center at some point, but Stutzle remains on the wing for now and likely in a second-line role. His range of outcomes includes taking the league by storm and becoming a star this season, but I’m projecting him for a more of a modest breakout given he’s still a teenager.
119. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, Blues: Coming off his best season but joins a more disciplined system and won’t have the caliber of linemates he did in New York. A good player, but I’d bid cautiously.
120. Linus Ullmark, G, Bruins
121. Jeremy Swayman, G, Bruins:
So far, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy is indicating a true competition between 2020-21 breakout rookie Swayman and Ullmark, whom the team paid starter’s money at a $5-million AAV. Both will be must-start options when playing. I’ve ranked them together for now as both are equally appealing picks until or unless one separates himself from the other.
122. T.J. Oshie, RW, Capitals: A safe source of tier-2 scoring as always in Washington’s top six. Oshie turns 35 this season, however, meaning some downside will soon creep into his profile.
123. Zach Werenski, D, Blue Jackets: Even in a bad year, Werenski’s totals projected to his customary double-digit goals and 40-plus points. But with his team stripped of additional talent this summer, can Werenski still get as many scoring chances or set up as many goals?
124. Devon Toews, D, Avalanche: The Avalanche snatched Toews from the cap-crunched New York Islanders for a pair of draft picks and increased his ice time by more than four minutes per game. Entrusted huge minutes alongside Makar, the relatively unheralded Toews scored at close to a 50-point pace and was elite defensively, too. Makar gets the fantasy glory, and that just makes the overshadowed Toews more of a bargain.
125. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Panthers
126. Spencer Knight, G, Panthers:
The $10-million AAV points to Bobrovsky getting another crack as Florida’s starter. The healthy scratch in the playoffs and turning to rookie prodigy Knight with the team facing elimination points to the opposite. Both netminders have viable chances to earn substantial roles on what looks like one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s a shame that they have to cannibalize each other’s fantasy value.
127. Cam Atkinson, RW, Flyers: Atkinson isn’t a “wow” pick at this stage of his career, but he’s a proven goal-scorer who may get an uptick in production after being traded to Philly. He certainly shoots enough to return to the 25-goal range if his accuracy rebounds.
128. Drew Doughty, D, Kings: He was a mainstay on my overrated list for a long time. Now he’s arguably underrated in pools. He can still get you a 10-30-40 type of stat line but also makes positive contributions in hits and blocks. Once better in real life than fantasy, he’s now much better in fantasy than in real life.
129. Trevor Zegras, C, Ducks: Zegras is one of the most exciting playmaking prospects the NHL has seen in a while, armed with dazzling puck skills and highlight-reel flash, and he’s actually underrated as a goal-scoring threat. Caufield will top most Calder Trophy prediction lists, but don’t sleep on Zegras, who should finish 2021-22 locked in as Anaheim’s No. 1 center.
130. Jack Hughes, C, Devils: If fantasy GMs are frustrated that Hughes “didn’t improve” in year 2, there’s your buying opportunity. Hughes’ underlying metrics did improve. The pucks didn’t go in, but he was generating chances. Look for a Year-3 breakout.
131. Carter Hart, G, Flyers: We’re all at a loss over 2020-21, when the confident, cerebral rising star Hart imploded and was, statistically, the NHL’s worst goaltender. He’s still just 23 and has typically been known for his mental toughness, so I think a return to glory is far more likely than not. That said, 2020-21 was so ugly that it makes sense to bid conservatively.
132. Tom Wilson, RW, Capitals: He’s a unique player, a top fantasy enforcer for hits and PIMs leagues who also happens to play on his team’s first line. It’s a lovely cocktail but it makes Wilson consistently expensive to draft. I prefer to grab less-heralded players who do similar things in later rounds.
133. Ivan Provorov, D, Flyers: The retooled Philly lineup will deliver a more proficient partner for Provorov – most likely the right-shooting Ellis. That should help Provorov back on the path to becoming one of the game’s great D-men in real life and fantasy. He’s an intriguing breakout pick.
134. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Canucks: Yes, the contract is bad, and he’ll likely become Vancouver’s new Loui Eriksson at some point. Right now, however? In his first season as a Canuck? I actually see quite a bit of fantasy upside. The Canucks will play him a ton at his AAV, and he’s never competed on a roster with this much pure scoring ability. ‘Bad’ OEL’s 2020-21 pro-rated to 43 points, 148 shots and 128 hits. If that’s his floor, he’s a steal in pools.
135. Dylan Larkin, C, Red Wings: His totals are all over the place in his past few seasons, and coach Jeff Blashill felt Larkin pressed in his first season as captain. Don’t get off the train just yet, though, as Detroit’s next wave of talent is starting to flow in. Larkin’s floor is still probably 50 points and big pile of shots. Nothing to sneeze at.
136. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Jets: A nine-goal season in 46 games? Woof. Dubois’ physical tools are tantalizing, but he hasn’t synthesized them to deliver a noteworthy fantasy season. There’s still time, however. He only just turned 23.
137. Conor Garland, RW, Canucks: The career sample size isn’t huge, but we can pretty confidently peg him for a 20-goal, 50-point campaign with a lot of scoring talent around him in Vancouver.
138. Max Comtois, LW, Ducks: In 84 games across the past two seasons, Comtois has 23 goals and 154 hits. That’s a fair projection for this season and, with the Ducks’ top prospects starting to populate the team, there’s room for more.
139. Chris Kreider, LW, Rangers: A plus contributor for goals and hits, but he can only do so much damage in a third-line role, which is the likely destination for him assuming Alexis Lafreniere keeps improving.
140. Tomas Hertl, C, Sharks: Quietly still just 27 and didn’t really miss a beat returning from a bad knee injury last season. The lack of talent around him is a concern, but you can probably still count on him for 25 goals and 50 points at worst.
141. Andre Burakovsky, RW, Avalanche: Big and talented. Any time Landeskog or Rantanen gets hurt, Burakovsky slides up and excels as the understudy. If you draft one of those two, consider grabbing Burakovsky later as insurance.
142. Nazem Kadri, C, Avalanche: Doesn’t have the upside he did a few years go, but he’s a well-rounded veteran who is average or better in pretty much every fantasy category.
143. Blake Coleman, RW, Flames: Given the Flames’ depth on the left side, Coleman will likely slide to the right and earn his most significant playing time since the Devils traded him to Tampa. If you like 20 goals, 200 shots and 200 hits, pick him.
144. Josh Anderson, RW, Canadiens: Pretty much the exact fantasy profile of Coleman, so why not rank ’em back to back? Anderson’s pro-rated line in Year 1 with the Habs included 27 goals, 197 shots and 219 hits.
145. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Blue Jackets: Averages 28 goals per 82 games across his past three seasons. It’s just really tough to feel optimistic about any Columbus player at the moment, though.
146. Alexander Radulov, RW, Stars: Looked finished during the 2019-20 regular season. Looked far from finished in limited duty last year. At 35, he probably still has enough upside to be draftable, though you should shorten that leash if he starts out slowly.
147. Logan Couture, C, Sharks: He no longer excels in any category, but you’re drafting him for his steady role as a top-six forward. Even a declining Couture on a bad San Jose team remains a near lock for 20 goals and 50 points.
148. Clayton Keller, LW, Coyotes: Still waiting for him to return to his rookie heights, let alone exceed them, and he’ll be hard pressed to do either on a barren Coyotes roster. Even the current version of Keller is rosterable, however. He can produce like a star for months at a time, and he shoots the puck a lot.
149. Nico Hischier, C, Devils: I like Hischier as a buy-low play coming off an injury-shortened season and playing on a 2021-22 Devils team that has significantly improved on paper. He has to be better if he’s out there on the power play with Hamilton and Tomas Tatar joining the fray, right?
150. Sean Monahan, C, Flames: He was a slam-dunk 30-goal guy just a couple seasons ago. Now? He has 32 goals in 120 games over his past two seasons. He has a lot of mileage for a 26-year-old. We’re talking many surgeries to many body parts. He has a surprising amount of downside at a relatively young age.
151. Brendan Gallagher, RW, Canadiens: Year in and year out, he shoots the puck more than anyone in hockey on a per-60 basis. But he only plays about 15 minutes a game, capping his upside, his rugged style has battered his body in consecutive seasons, and the Habs have far more competition for playing time and power-play work on the wings than they did a couple years ago. That makes Gallagher more of a useful depth piece than a real roster building block in pools now.
152. Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks: If Toews’ chronic immune response syndrome is under control and allows him to play, he’s the cheapest source of 60 points in fantasy drafts. But it’s equally possible he starts the season late or misses significant time again. I’ve priced him with those potential pitfalls in mind.
153. Cam Talbot, G, Wild: I almost gave him and Kaapo Kahkonen the tandem treatment, but Talbot started 10 games more than Kakhonen last season, outplayed him in the second half and was Minnesota’s unquestioned starter come playoff time. That said, Talbot is a “starter” who may only log 45 games.
154. Petr Mrazek, G, Maple Leafs
155. Jack Campbell, G, Maple Leafs:
The Leafs paid UFA Mrazek a starter-like AAV, but Campbell was so good last season that he’s earned just as big of an opportunity at a bellcow role. I’ve thus projected for the pair to share the net equally on a Toronto team that improved dramatically in its own end last season and can yield two fantasy-relevant tenders.
156. Brent Burns, D, Sharks: His dominant days are done, and I’m wary of pretty much all Sharks for 2021-22. Even at 35, Burns can still probably compile respectable counting stats as your second or third fantasy D-man.
157. MacKenzie Weegar, D, Panthers: Weegar has emerged as one of the best shutdown defensemen in hockey. But is the offense here to stay as well? His production doubled after Ekblad’s season-ending injury, but (a) Weegar plays the opposite side and thus didn’t assume Ekblad’s role and (b) Weegar’s ice time actually declined after Ekblad’s injury. Weegar thus showed signs of real growth as a two-way force.
158. Torey Krug, D, Blues: His numbers predictably nosedived after leaving his cushy role piling up points with the Bruins. He’s still an excellent puck-mover, however. At worst, he’ll be an assists asset. At best, he returns to being a high-end point producer at his position.
159. Jamie Drysdale, D, Ducks: The Ducks have finished second last followed by last in power-play efficiency across their past two seasons. They sure do need the dynamic young puck-rusher Drysdale. He should get every opportunity to become a focal point and challenge for the Calder Trophy.
160. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sabres: Three years in, the body of work doesn’t yet match the hype that made him 2018’s No. 1 overall draft pick. People said the same things about stars like Hedman and Chris Pronger early in their careers, too. Dahlin is just 21. He can still become all-world.
161. Sam Bennett, C, Panthers: Do you believe in ‘Florida Sam Bennett’? That Sam Bennett was absolute supernova: 15 points in 10 games, averaging almost four shots and three hits per contest. That’s, like, first-rounder fantasy production. The sample size was miniscule, however, and he was a perennial underachiever in Calgary, so he’s very much a dice roll in fantasy.
162. Timo Meier, LW, Sharks: He’s better than this. I swear! His shooting percentage plummeted last season. That was the reason for the piddly 12 goals. He’s still one of the elite 5-on-5 shot generators. Even if he’s not scoring, he’s at worst dominant in one category. If the pucks start going in again, you have a draft-day steal.
163. Tony DeAngelo, D, Hurricanes: Hey, I’m not ranking players on their character here. We don’t have to like Mr. DeAngelo to acknowledge he’s quite a talented offensive defenseman. He has the upside to be a top-10 value at his position if Carolina throws him into Hamilton’s old role. On the other hand, he’s equally likely to get into some kind of practice skirmish and be off the team before October is up.
164. Anders Lee, LW, Islanders: Sounds like he’ll be back from his torn ACL by training camp and return to being an annual 20-goal man. Some rink rust should be expected, however. Rather than draft him, consider targeting him for a trade after the first month or so.
165. Mikhail Sergachev, D, Lightning: He may seem like a seasoned vet since he already has two Cup rings, but he’s just 23. He’s already a dependable fantasy blueliner, but he still has potential to become a lot more. A breakout looms.
166. Tristan Jarry, Penguins: Am I punishing him too much for his nightmarish playoffs? He’s still worth something as the presumed starter on a team with playoff aspirations, but you need another strong goalie if you draft Jarry.
167. Travis Konecny, RW, Flyers: We obviously don’t want to weigh the one bad year too heavily, but the apparent disconnect from coach Alain Vigneault is concerning. I’d feel more confident in a return to 25-goal production if Konecny got traded. That said, his upside remains considerable.
168. Ondrej Palat, LW, Lightning: I probably have him lower than most considering he enjoys life on Tampa’s top line with Point and Kucherov. Palat is a 200-foot player who is more valuable for his real-life contributions and doesn’t score many goals, though. He’s good enough be owned in most leagues but isn’t a needle mover.
169. Kyle Palmieri, RW, UFA: It seems a foregone conclusion that he’ll re-sign with the Isles before the season starts. Had a bad year in New Jersey but scored at his usual 30-goal pace in the playoffs with the Isles. He should be fine.
170. James van Riemsdyk, LW, Flyers: Not an exciting pick these days, but he’s still a pretty consistent 20-goal threat. I just don’t see a ton of upside here anymore.
171. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rangers: He’s hardly the first No. 1 overall pick to fall short in Year 1. It’s too early to worry, and, keep in mind, he went almost a year without playing competitive hockey before debuting last winter. What we need to see more of in 2021-22 is chance generation. Among 389 forwards who played at least 300 minutes at 5-on-5, he sat 316th in individual scoring chances per 60. I’m wary of projecting him too highly until he shows he can get to the net more.
172. Kirby Dach, C, Blackhawks: Whether Toews plays or not, Dach is ticketed for an important scoring-line role. His pedigree and opportunity trump the fact he hasn’t accomplished much yet in the NHL.
173. Cal Petersen, G, Kings: He was really good for much of last season and has seemingly solidified the 1A role with Jonathan Quick transitioning to a 1B. On what should be an improved Kings team on both sides of the puck, Petersen is one of my favorite value picks in net.
174. Samuel Girard, D, Avalanche: I really like the real Samuel Girard, and his fantasy numbers weren’t half bad in 2021-22. On a team with Makar and Toews, however, Girard is at best the No. 3 scoring option on Colorado’s blueline.
175. Mike Hoffman, LW, Canadiens: Even during a season dotted with healthy scratches, Hoffman scored at a 27-goal pace. You could do worse for a depth winger in leagues that count power-play points. That’s where Hoffman makes his hay.
176. Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Penguins: Lacks the finishing ability to ever be an above-average goal-scorer and will start the season without Malkin, so I’m not enthusiastically drafting Kapanen this season despite him producing 30 points in 40 games last year.
177. Jordan Kyrou, RW, Blues: I want to rank Kyrou higher. He projects to become a legit top-six NHL forward and produced like one last year. But St. Louis’ depth chart is so crowded on the right wing that nights of playing 12 or so minutes were commonplace for Kyrou last season. A Tarasenko trade could help.
178. Quinton Byfield, C, Kings: Sneaky potential in his first full NHL season. With two great defensive centers ahead of him on the depth chart, the hulking Byfield should enjoy some cupcake matchups playing in the bottom six.
179. Ty Smith, D, Devils: I think Smith can be Quinn Hughes Lite this season: nice point total and power-play numbers while not delivering a ton in the other fantasy categories.
180. Phil Kessel, RW, Coyotes: Quietly delivered 20 goals in 56 games last season, though he was buoyed by a career-best shooting percentage. He’s the type of player you add and drop throughout a season and stream while he’s hot.
181. Casey Mittelstadt, C, Sabres: Post-hype breakout alert. Mittelstadt, only a couple years removed from elite-tier prospect status, found himself under coach Don Granato. Mittelstadt finished with eight goals and 16 points in his last 21 games and has a chunky scoring-line role sewn up for 2021-22.
182. Kaapo Kakko, RW, Rangers: Perhaps Lafreniere has the more exciting ceiling, but don’t forget about fellow lottery pick Kakko. He has far less depth-chart competition on the right wing, and his underlying play-driving metrics improved a ton from year 1 to year 2.
183. Matt Dumba, D, Wild: Had 12 goals in 32 games two seasons ago. Since: 12 goals in 120 games. Darn. Dumba still warrants rostering because he chips in a variety of stats, but maybe he won’t become a fantasy star after all.
184. Mike Smith, G, Oilers: He was quietly one of the most valuable fantasy netminders last season. He’s also 39 and struggled badly in the two seasons prior. He could excel again, or the bottom could fall out and Edmonton might make a mid-season trade for a goaltender. Don’t pick Smith as your No. 1. He at least has the potential to be a good No. 2 if he keeps the starting gig again.
185. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, Kings: He’s barely been rosterable for the past two seasons, but I like him as a later-round flier joining a new team that will deploy him in a plum scoring role. He shoots the puck as much as ever.
186. Denis Gurianov, RW, Stars: I whiffed a bit on a Gurianov breakout prediction last season. I’ll double down and say he returns to 20-goal land because his shooting percentage will positively regress.
187. John Gibson, G, Ducks: Gibson deserves to be a top-10 fantasy goalie. He just couldn’t hold it together in the past few years as the team around him crumbled. If you believe the Ducks can rocket up the standings this season, go ahead and reach for Gibson.
188. Jordan Eberle, RW, Kraken: Someone has to do the scoring for Seattle. Why not Eberle? He should see enough playing time in scoring situations to get 20 goals and 45 points.
189. Tomas Tatar, LW, Devils: He’s better than what he showed in his disastrous contract year that ended with the Habs scratching him during the post-season. Tatar is a proven play driver, and the Devils are paying him scoring-line money, so he’s a nice buy-low pick.
190. Vasili Podkolzin, RW, Canucks: KHL imports can be tough to project because they play limited minutes there during their teenage years. Podkolzin’s fantasy upside is undeniable, however. He’s a Grade-A prospect with an aggressive style that could make him a multi-category stat suffer. Watch him carefully in camp to see which line he lands on.
191. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Wild: You’re paying for assists and not much else for ‘The Norwegian Hobbit,’ but he’ll get plenty of those as long as he keeps playing with Kaprizov.
192. Victor Olofsson, RW, Sabres: Buffalo players are tough sells in plus-minus leagues, but power-play specialist Olofsson is one of the cheapest picks among players with plausible 30-goal ability.
193. Rickard Rakell, LW, Ducks: Can his shooting percentage really be unlucky three years in a row? Is this just who he is now? Rakell has lost his scoring touch. I’d love to see him traded to a contender that could pair him with an elite playmaker.
194. Nino Niederreiter, LW, Hurricanes: Playing on a good team’s second line seems appealing, and he was plenty good last year, but he’s so inconsistent from season to season that you never know what you’re getting.
195. Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Red Wings: Noooo. After a stellar rookie season in which he posted a .932 SP, he was ready for top-10 goalie status. Now he’s inexplicably been traded to lowly Detroit. If the Wings surprise, it’ll largely be because of ‘Ned,’ but joining a rebuilding squad will damage his win potential and rate stats.
196. Ilya Sorokin, G, Islanders: Sorokin kicks off the “definitely a backup but better than some starters” tier. He has as much potential as any puck-stopper but is still a luxury 1B for the Isles. Maybe he starts 35 games. Should be a rate-stats juggernaut but won’t help the way a starter can in the volume categories.
197. Jakub Voracek, RW, Blue Jackets: A “bad team discount” pick. He lands on a weaker team but shouldn’t have any trouble earning significant minutes and power play time. His customary 55 points still feel within reach.
198. Anton Khudobin, G, Stars
199. Braden Holtby, G, Stars
200. Jake Oettinger, G, Stars:
Ugh. What a mess. All three should warrant your interest in drafts, but all three suck the value out of each other. Wasn’t this supposed to be Oettinger’s big year? Instead, he’s likely AHL bound while Khudobin and Holtby fight for starts. Monitor how this frustrating configuration shakes out in camp.
201. Patric Hornqvist, RW, Panthers: He’s a handy player to ride when he’s in the lineup. The shots and hits keep coming. But the Panthers’ depth chart is deeper now, and Hornqvist, 34, pretty much never plays a full season because of his grinding, taxing style. Draft him knowing 60 games is a win.
202. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Oilers: The dream of Puljujarvi posting huge numbers on a scoring-line role in Edmonton isn’t dead. His return to the NHL was mostly successful and made him fringe fantasy factor at times with 15 goals and 100-plus hits in 55 games. The Oilers still aren’t too strong on the right wing, so he can’t be ruled out as a potential top-liner with McDavid.
203. Anthony Duclair, LW, Panthers: Deserves more respect in fantasy circles. Shoots the puck a ton, plays in the top six on a pretty loaded team and was actually unlucky with his shooting percentage last season.
204. Brock Nelson, C, Islanders: A consistent source of 20 to 25 goals. You can add him in the later rounds if you’re low in that category and need a safe selection.
205. Filip Hronek, D, Red Wings: Still their primary source of offense on the point. He’s draftable if you’re willing to pay the plus-minus tax.
206. Vince Dunn, D, Kraken: Finally gets a chance to spread his wings and play bigger minutes while quarterbacking the power play…we think. The Kraken D-corps is actually pretty deep and crowded. I thus don’t necessarily expect a spike in 5-on-5 ice time for Dunn, but he should see lots of opportunities with the man advantage.
207. Jaden Schwartz, LW, Kraken: Seattle is paying him to be a front-line scorer. He’s a proven top-six talent, but he’s inconsistent year to year and injury-prone, so I’m not tripping over myself to draft him despite his exciting opportunity.
208. Nils Hoglander, LW, Canucks: His 13 goals and 27 points in 56 games were a nice start as a rookie. He’s an upside pick considering he’s a talented scorer who should continue playing with good linemates in Vancouver’s top six.
209. Erik Karlsson, D, Sharks: It’s staggering that he’s only 31. His multitude of injuries and declining play make him seem like he’s nearing the end of his career. He’s one of the best players of his generation, so there are worse ideas than betting on a Karlsson redemption arc, but San Jose just isn’t a fertile fantasy ecosystem right now.
210. Jared McCann, LW, Kraken: If you’re looking for that medium-potential, buy-low pick that becomes William Karlsson 2.0 on an expansion team, it’s McCann. He scored 14 goals in 43 games logging just 14 minutes and change per night last season.
211. Jack Roslovic, C, Blue Jackets: Slated to open the season as Columbus’ de facto No. 1 center. Draftable for his role alone, and he does have great speed and a first-round pedigree.
212. Joel Eriksson Ek: Maybe that shooting percentage regresses, but Eriksson Ek still showed a lot last year. He can score goals, he’s physical, and he’s starting to deliver on that first-round promise – albeit more so in in real life than fantasy because of his defensive prowess.
213. Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Oilers: The scariest thing about his massively disappointing season? It was almost double the sample size of his thrilling breakout the season before. My confidence is shaken after I pumped him up as a home-run pick last season. Still, as is the case with Puljujarvi, there just isn’t stiff competition to be a top-six right winger in Edmonton, so Yamamoto will get another shot at glory.
214. Anthony Cirelli, C, Lightning: Seemed to be trending toward solid fantasy value, but his offense took a backseat to his crucial real-life defensive work last season. I’m no longer certain he’s a must-roster player in pools.
215. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Flyers: Won’t be asked to score a ton on his new team, but he can supplement your hits and shots categories, and it’s at least not inconceivable he gets some secondary power-play looks thanks to his shot.
216. Frederik Andersen, G, Hurricanes
217. Antti Raanta, G, Hurricanes:
Will the Canes’ risky new goaltending plan pay off? Andersen hasn’t been himself for a couple seasons, Raanta is among the most injury-prone goalies in the league, and Carolina’s team defense, so good in the Rod Brind’Amour era, is in flux with Hamilton gone and revolving-door defender DeAngelo in. When goalies give me a headache, it’s my body telling me to let someone else draft them.
218. Justin Faulk, D, Blues: Chips in enough in the basic scoring categories that he doesn’t hurt you, and he’s become quite an asset in the secondary stats like shots, hits and blocks.
219. Jared Spurgeon, D, Wild: Reliable for double digit goals and power-play points with 100 blocks as well.
220. Josh Bailey, RW, Islanders: Unsung in real life. In fantasy, he’s empty calories. Augments your assist category but doesn’t do a whole lot else.
221. Matt Boldy, LW, Wild: Here’s hoping he makes the team. He’s a scoring machine who made the AHL look pretty easy after turning pro last season. Major sleeper.
222. Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Predators: Remember how excited we were about him a couple years go when was smashing KHL records? He finally looked like he belonged in the NHL last season, and the Preds sure do need him. Why not grab him instead of a boring vet at this stage of your draft? Tolvanen at least has significant potential even if he’s no sure thing.
223. Jamie Benn, LW, Stars: Now that expectations have been recalibrated for the one-time Art Ross winner, he’s a decent roster filler who can chip in OK point production and helps in the big-man categories.
224. Yegor Sharangovich, RW, Devils: Had 13 goals and 26 points in 39 games over the final three months of his intriguing rookie year. The surge was quiet enough that he probably won’t cost much in drafts. Could be an uber-cheap source of 20-plus goals.
225. William Karlsson, C, Golden Knights: His 43-goal season has disappeared in the rearview mirror, but he’s a high-floor pick, good for 20 goals and a high plus-minus if your league uses it as a category.
226. Michael Bunting, LW, Maple Leafs: It’s possible his mini-breakout was a fluke and that, after drafting him, you’re dropping him a few weeks later. It’s also possible that he’s a legit late bloomer and that he winds up playing as high as line 1 with Matthews and Marner. These are the types of picks to make at the end of your draft. Upside, upside, upside.
227. Shane Gostisbehere, D, Coyotes: He’s only a few years removed from being an elite fantasy blueliner. Goes to a weaker team but will also be entrusted with a bigger role. Wouldn’t be surprising to see him deliver 40 points from the point.
228. Matt Grzelcyk, D, Bruins: Boston didn’t end up making a significant defensive upgrade this off-season, meaning Grzelcyk holds down top-pair duty and power-play work. If he can deliver a full healthy season, this ranking will prove far too low.
229. Kaapo Kahkonen, G, Wild: As far as 1Bs go, Kahkonen is among the best, and he looked like a legit starter for an extended stretch last season before hitting the skids. Starting 30 to 35 games, he could be an adequate No. 2 or excellent No. 3 on your squad.
230. Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, Red Wings: A back injury cost him pretty much all of 2021-22. Does he still return to a first-line spot? It depends on whether Vrana shifts to the right wing.
231. Shane Pinto, C, Senators: Turned pro after a great college career and jumped into the NHL seamlessly late last season. Likely slated for second-line duty along Stutzle, Pinto is a fun flier.
232. Luke Kunin, RW, Predators: Playing 13:59 a night, he produced a pro-rated pace of 23 goals, 41 points and 181 hits. Still just 23.
233. Marco Rossi, C, Wild: Life-threatening health complications stemming from COVID-19 erased his rookie year. If his body co-operates and he makes the team, he could become a special player. He’s still the projected long-term No. 1 center in Minnesota.
234. Lucas Raymond, LW, Red Wings: With his mature all-round game and exceptional intelligence, he just feels like a throwback Red Wings player, doesn’t he? He’s thus one to watch if he makes Detroit out of camp. As their best forward prospect, he could have a noteworthy impact immediately.
235. Alex Iafallo, LW, Kings: He’s probably a placeholder until L.A.’s higher-end prospects rise up but, for now, he’s a first-liner who plays almost 20 minutes a game and can offer a 15-25-40 stat line or better.
236. Pius Suter, C, Red Wings: Had 27 points in 55 games as a rookie and appeared on four writers’ Calder ballots…yet Chicago didn’t qualify him as an RFA, he walked, and Detroit scooped him up. He should cruise up the depth chart into the No. 2 center job. He offers medium-reward potential for minimal risk.
237. Jeff Carter, C, Penguins: Does Carter actually have a bit of juice at 36? He buried nine goals in 14 games following his trade to Pittsburgh, he still shoots a lot, and he’s likely starting the season in a No. 2 center job while Malkin is out. Carter could be a nice temporary early-season pickup.
238. Moritz Seider, D, Red Wings: He’s going to be a S.T.U.D., a workhorse who plays high-leverage minutes and in all situations. I think Seider makes Detroit this year. What we don’t know yet is what his fantasy profile will be. Best case: he’s a two-way beast who stuffs the scoresheet across multiple categories. As we saw with Alexander Romanov in Montreal last season, though, not every top-prospect defenseman brings his offense with him as a rookie.
239. Alexander Holtz, LW, Devils: New Jersey’s 2020 first-rounder is easily its best goal-scoring prospect. Maybe he makes the team and is one of the NHL’s top rookies. Maybe he’s not ready. I want at least a few of these lottery-ticket picks at the end of every draft. If he gets cut, no biggie. He’s your last pick, right?
240. Cody Glass, C, Predators: Was Vegas’ top prospect and inaugural draft pick, but the light hasn’t switched on four years after they selected him, and he gets a fresh start with Nashville. The playmaking potential is there, but it’s time to worry if he doesn’t make big strides in 2021-22.
241. Chris Driedger, G, Kraken: He’s been one of the best backups in hockey for the past two seasons. Sharing Seattle’s net with Grubauer, Driedger is a 1B but should have a sizeable role.
242. Radko Gudas, D, Panthers: Along with Jani Hakanpaa, Gudas is the rare bottom-pair banger who offers real fantasy value. In hits leagues, Gudas can singlehandedly turn the tide for you. His NHL-best 250 in 54 games put him on pace for 380 in an 82-game schedule, flirting with Matt Martin’s single-season record of 382.
243. Alec Martinez, D, Golden Knights: I should probably rank him higher for his shot-blocking prowess alone. The offensive breakout in his age-33 season made no sense to me, however. I don’t see it happening again.
244. Nick Ritchie, LW, Maple Leafs: Between Bunting, Ritchie, Ilya Mikheyev, Wayne Simmonds and Nick Robertson, the Leafs’ left wing tree is a mystery. Whoever emerges with work on the top two lines will be worthwhile pool picks. Ritchie could fit as a mini Tom Wilson type if he earns one of the scoring-line assignments.
245. Elvis Merzlikins, G, Blue Jackets
246. Joonas Korpisalo, G, Blue Jackets:
These are two good goaltenders. Yet not only do they damage each other’s value, but their team might be significantly worse defensively this season. Both are intriguing in-season trade candidates for real-life contenders, however, so they make for interesting fantasy bench stashes. Imagine one of them in Edmonton or Pittsburgh, for instance.
247. Jordan Greenway, LW, Wild: The big fella is finding his groove as a playmaking winger. If he can use that frame and up his hit total just a bit more, he can really warrant some attention in fantasy.
248. Tuukka Rask, G, UFA: Draft him. Stash him. When he returns from hip surgery in the winter, whether it’s with the Bruins or a new team, he’ll do so as a starter and potential league-winning acquisition in fantasy. His range of outcomes could still include not playing at all in 2021-22, however, so don’t pick him too early.
249. Alex Killorn, LW, Lightning: The definition of Just A Guy in fantasy. You can trust him for 20 goals and 40 points, give or take. But I prefer boom-bust picks in the late rounds. The Killorn types will always be waiting for you on the waiver wire.
250. Jonathan Drouin, Canadiens: He’s reportedly ready to go. He joins a crowded forward group but is one of the better pure playmakers among them, so there’s still a useful role for him to play in Montreal.
ON THE BUBBLE: Kevin Hayes, Christian Dvorak, Nick Schmaltz, Andrew Copp, Joonas Donskoi, Nick Foligno, Connor Brown, Mattias Ekholm, Brandon Saad, Dmitrij Jaskin, Mark Giordano, Charlie Coyle, Dylan Strome, Dylan Cozens, Matt Murray, Mackenzie Blackwood, Jonathan Bernier, Robert Thomas, Craig Smith, Keith Yandle, Phillip Danault, Tage Thompson, Dustin Brown, Anthony Beauvillier, Reilly Smith, Jesper Bratt, Colin Blackwell, Arthur Kaliyev, Jan Jenik, Jake DeBrusk, Mike Reilly, Owen Tippett, Andrew Mangiapane, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Mikael Granlund, Jordan Staal, Adam Boqvist, Jake Bean, Alexander Wennberg, Oliver Wahlstrom, Troy Terry, Duncan Keith, Yanni Gourde, Nick Robertson, Jacob Trouba, Justin Schultz, Cam Fowler, Mikael Backlund, Gabe Vilardi, Kevin Labanc, Nick Bonino, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Pavel Zacha, Phil Tomasino, K’Andre Miller, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Adam Henrique, Sam Steel, Victor Soderstrom, Jack Studnicka, Erik Haula, Jeff Skinner, Seth Jarvis, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Jack Quinn, Jakob Pelletier, Jani Hakanpaa, Jake Muzzin, Adrian Kempe, Alex Newhook, Alex Tuch, Nick Leddy, Frank Vatrano, Bowen Byram, Max Domi, Filip Chytil, Adam Lowry, Yegor Chinakhov, Esa Lindell, Ryan Suter, Adam Larsson, Evan Bouchard, Marcus Foligno, Ryan Johansen, Filip Zadina, Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne, Janne Kuokkanen, Vitali Kravtsov, Grigori Denisenko, Erik Brannstrom, Alex Turcotte, Josh Morrissey, Calle Jarnkrok, Scott Laughton, Nolan Patrick, Evgenii Dadonov, Ryan Pulock, Zach Parise, Zac Jones, Alex Formenton, James Reimer, Adin Hill, Cam York, Brandon Tanev, Samuel Poulin, Jason Zucker, Evander Kane, Colton Parayko, Ilya Mikheyev, Ondrej Kase, Vitek Vanecek, Daniel Sprong, Paul Stastny, Noah Dobson, Alexander Barabanov