TAMPA, FL - MAY 03: Steven Stamkos #91 of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores the game tying goal in the third period against the Washington Capitals in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at St Pete Times Forum on May 3, 2011 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Yeah I know, it's early to be thinking about fantasy hockey. Especially since fantasy sports' honey just got released from a lockout. Heck, fantasy hockey hasn't even started sign-ups! (If a site has, give me a jingle). But there's nothing wrong with having alittle discourse over rankings. I've broken the rankings up by three sections: Forwards, Defensemen and Goalies. Stats used are Goals, Assists, Plus/Minus, Penalty Minutes, Power Play Points and Shots On Goal. Without further ado, here are the Forward rankings for # 1-20:
1) Steven Stamkos, Lightning - Want to know why I like him so much? Lots of shots on goal for a Center, which means more opportunities for Goals. He led all Centers with Goals last year. His complete game contribution is already making comparisons to Sid the Kid but the best part of all about Stamkos is that is ONLY 21 years old. Even with another extremely successful season with the Lightning, there's still room for growth from him.
2) Alex Ovechkin, Capitals - You know why you're drafting Ovechkin: goals, points, shots on goal and more goals. Oh and goals. The guy just sweats talent and has been one of the best player in the game. Call last season what you will but I am calling it a fluke. No injuries to report last season and his shots on goal ridiculously high, it's hard to imagine why he didn't produce up to potential. Either he was mired in a funk or was incredibly unlucky. Either way, I have no problem taking him #2 this year and if he drops to my lap at any point below #2 overall, run, don't walk, to draft him.
3) Daniel Sedin, Canucks - What's not to like about the barely younger brother of the Sedin duo? Much like Stamkos, you're drafting him for his complete contribution to your team. He led the NHL with 104 points and led all registered Left Wingers with 41 goals and 64 assists with a good amount of shots on goal as icing on the cake. If you don't manage to get Ovechkin as your #1 Winger, getting Daniel is a great consolation prize.
More after the jump...
4) Corey Perry, Ducks - He led the league with 50 goals and there's no question that the power forward will slow things down this year. Always a contributor in penalty minutes, he finally broke out and started contributing to the score sheet with plenty of goals and assists. With an excellent amount of shots on goal, there's no reason to invest in a goon when Perry can help in that department while doing his best impersonation of any of the above players. If you're playing in a league with Left Wing and Right Wing positions, he is easily the top choice among Right Wingers.
5) Henrik Sedin, Canucks - If you're drafting the barely elder Sedin twin, you're getting alot of one thing: Assists. The guy is an assist machine and will single handily vault you to the top of the Assists category. What he excells in setting up plays with his younger brother, he lacks in other key categories like goals and shots on goal. Make sure that if you're drafting him, you quickly snatch up a great goal scorer or you'll be struggling to compete in your league.
6) Martin St. Louis, Lightning - When you have Stamkos centering you, you kinda tend to be better at your overall game. St. Louis has not lost his step despite losing his partner, Brad Richards, to Dallas and I don't think that will change. The only knock is that he does not take a penalty to save his life (which is excellent in real life but not for fantasy hockey) so make sure you compensate his shortcoming with another power forward along the way.
7) Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings - Injuries hampered his chances at making an excellent rebound to 2009-10's good, but not great, contribution. With all signs pointing to him getting green light and being healthy for the season, I think it's safe to draft him and expect the same results you'd get from St. Louis above with slightly more upside.
8) Eric Staal, Hurricanes - Alright, alright. Probably my first controversial call and I understand he's not exactly top-10 caliber player but I love his 70+ point annual contribution along with a great amount of penalty minutes and excellent amount of shots on goal. His only knock is his +/- but I tend to not emphasize +/- too much since it's more telling of a state of the line he was playing rather than the individual player.
9) Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks - In the four full seasons Toews has played, he has improved himself every step of the way. He's a great C1 but you're really after him for the upside. He has potential to reach the 80 point range this season and there's no reason to believe he's slowing down anytime soon in a top heavy Hawks team.
10) Jarome Iginla, Flames - He's been a 80 point player for four of the past five years with a great amount of shots on goal. He's a great winger to have on your team but I am starting to be concerned for his mileage since he is 34 years old but with Tanguay back at center for Iginla, I fully expect the same results this year.
11) Sidney Crosby, Penguins - OK, calm down there. Put down the pick axe and torches. Repeat after me: Sidney Crosby is one, if not the, best player in the game. Ok? Ok. Repeat after me: Concussions are terrible, unpredictable and must be handled with care. Ok? Ok. Now put the two together. That's my problem of knocking Crosby this low, it's not that I have a problem of his talent. Shoot, he was tearing up the league at a break-neck pace last year before his concussions throttled his season. Plus the news of the Penguins GM being unclear whether he will be ready by the season opener and unconfirmed rumors of him having a set back make be leery of drafting him as a top round player. His ranking will fluctuate the most during the preseason with him shooting up the more I see him play and drop like it's hot the more he does not play and/or rumors of his concussions continue to brew. Keep a very close eye on him and adjust him accordingly just before your draft.
12) Brad Richards, Rangers - His monster signing with the Rangers and his all but locked-up paring with Marian Gaborik makes for a nice boost to his good season with the Stars last season. I fully expect him to go back to a 90 point season with some goals, a generous helping of assists and a great source of shots on goal and +/- with one caveat: so long as Gaborik stays healthy which is no certain thing. That in of itself is a questionable enough situation to make him a 2nd round player with 1st round upside.
13) Zach Parise, Devils - Having excellent seasons in the past, it was sad to see his season go up in flames thanks to a knee injury. With a 1 year deal signed and him being fully healthy, there's no question that he's worth your investment as a C1 with still some upside if Ilya Kovalchuk returns to form from his lackluster performance last season.
14) Bobby Ryan, Ducks - With Teemu Selanne out of the picture for the time being, Ryan stands to boost his great production with Perry potentially playing on the same line with him. Keep a close eye on the Selanne situation for now since he's still undecided on returning or retiring. Draft Ryan for his baseline production last year but look at his upside with an opportunity to boost your fantasy team's overall production.
15) Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils - Speaking of Kovy earlier, I think the loss of Parise did more harm to Kovy than anyone else. With Parise healthy this year, I think he'll rebound all around and score big like he's done in years past with lesser players around him. Also, ignore his +/- and don't let that scare you away. He's better than that.
16) Ryan Kesler, Canucks - He improved on his goal scoring by shooting more and taking less penalties to increase his playing time on the ice. He's still going to give a good dose of penalty minutes but I think his opportunities to grow in his overall production will still be there being he's only 26 years old so there's still some power forward potential here at 2nd round value.
17) Anze Kopitar, Kings - I'm starting to think I am getting a little Center heavy here. But one can't deny that Kopitar still has plenty of upside to display since he's only 23 years old and already producing at a 70-80 points per season clip with lots of shots on goal.
18) Evgeni Malkin, Penguins - He's still recovering and running at 90% from a recent report on his progress but it seems he's taken a renewed focus on keeping his knee healthy and shed his injury prone status. Keep an eye on his recovery and see how things are going before you draft. I wouldn't mind getting him as a low C1 or high C2 but I simply couldn't rank him any higher until he starts playing games and displaying his return to form.
19) Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings - Give the man some credit, he can make a great amount of points but he shoots like a madman. In the past four seasons, he has shot on the goal no less than 306 times and last season was that lowest point. He has produced from the low 90's to the low 70 's in points but considering how talented the Red Wings are, don't be surprised if he produces about in the mid range so long as he continues to do what he does best, which is pepper the goalie with everything he's got.
20) Dany Heatley, Wild - I think with the trade to the Wild and the pairing of Mikko Koivu, Heatley will return to his high scoring ways. Sure, Koivu isn't Joe Thornton but I think that he's a close enough comparison that he'll be the perfect compliment to make Heatley worth your consideration as your top winger on your team for a slight discount.
So there you go! Let me know what you think so far but there's more rankings coming soon!