With the start of the NHL preseason, it's time to start preparing for our fantasy hockey drafts. In an effort to help you (and me) win some fantasy hockey chips, I've inhaled the tape, poured over the stats and even ritually sacrificed a Sean Avery card to appease the hockey gods. In doing so five lists were created of the top ten fantasy hockey players at their position, players were only assessed at their primary position; without further ado let's go into it.
1. Kirill Kaprizov (Minnesota Wild)
The dude is a one-man wrecking crew, who has shown he doesn't need a playmaking center or a specific spot on the ice to be a threat. Kirill is dangerous from all over and a rare franchise player on the wing. After putting up 108 points and 47 goals last year expect Kirill to thrill fantasy owners once more this season.
2. Jonathan Huberdeau (Calgary Flames)
Despite changing teams Huberdeau still feels like one of the safest picks at the top of a draft. He’s missed three games in his past five seasons combined, during which only McDavid and Artemi Panarin have more assists. If Huberdeau gets 95 points next season, that would be a down year at this point. So, yes, you want him. That said, we have no idea how the shift from Florida obscurity to a big Canadian market will affect him mentally but expect the PP to be fairly formidable in Calgary.
3. Alexander Ovechkin (Washington Capitals)
We are talking about a living legend here so I'll try to keep it brief. Despite now being 37 years old Alexander Ovechkin still remains one of the most feared shooters in the league, and rightly so. Yet in terms of fantasy purposes, it's worth acknowledging he's not quite as consistent as he once was. Ovie scored 19 goals in the first 23 games of the season but only 13 over the next 30 before finishing the season with 18 in 14. Tough to still call him a bona fide first-rounder, but not someone to sleep on either.
4. Artermi Panarin (New York Rangers)
I think it is aptly said that the bread man gets that bread. Since joining the Rangers Panarin has the highest point-per-game mark among any left-winger in the league at 1.34. His fantasy value is slightly below where it could be as he just doesn't shoot very often and in his seven seasons, he's eclipsed 30 goals only three times. However, in the same span, he ranks third in assists with 382 behind only premier playmakers Patrick Kane and Connor McDavid.
5. Johnny Gaudreau (Columbus Blue Jackets)
While he might be in a different uniform this season it's still the same Johnny hockey and the odds he brings you 40 goals and 100 points are pretty darn good, even if he's wearing blue instead of red. The main thing to consider here is how he meshes with his linemates as he plays for a new team that may not have the high-calibre guys he is used to playing alongside.
6. Kyle Conner (Winnipeg Jets)
This dude is honestly pretty underrated and is one of the better goal scorers on the left wing, let alone the league. Would you have guessed since he entered the league Connor is sixth in goals (176), 10th in shots, and has a top 20 shooting percentage? On top of this despite the Jets struggling for most of last year, Connor is coming off a career-best season in which he piled up 47 goals and 93 points.
7. JT Miller (Vancouver Canuks)
Miller deserves a spot, after a career-best 99-point season powered by high usage and incredible efficiency on the power play, but it’s a precarious hold. Miller may have piled up 32 goals and 99 points in 80 games last year; these easily career highs, which previously were 27 goals and 72 points (69 games). There is reason to assume last season wasn’t a fluke though as since joining Vancouver three years ago Miller has 217 points in 202 games. Miller will turn 30 in March with an uncertain future on his current club, but even with a drop in production, his centre eligibility (hardest player to place at a specific position) and faceoff prowess still render him a valuable fantasy asset.
8. Brady Tkachuk (Ottawa Senators)
A darling of banger leagues, Tkachuk may score at a lower clip than every other player on this list but he's an absolute beast, being a first-round pick in leagues with expanded categories. Last season He piled up 288 shots, 117 PIM and 270 hits while adding 30 goals and 67 points in 79 games. In short, he is a true rarity, in fact, in the cap-era, only two players have managed to rack up 20 goals to add the shots 200 hits and 100 penalty minutes in a single season, Tkachuk and David Backes (fun fact both have done it at least twice).
9. Alex DeBrincat (Ottawa Senators)
After scoring 40 goals last season for the second time in his career, the debate about whether or not DeBrincat is truly a high-level scorer seems to have finally ended (he is). DeBrincat seems a good bet for another 40-goal season and maybe more is his first season with an improved Ottawa team.
10. Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators)
I feel like this guy just doesn't get enough love, and as I said previously, I'm all about upside with this 10 spot. This means if there's a handful of guys who I think are about the same value I'm going to go with the one I think has the highest ceiling and in this case, that's Filip Forsberg. He seemed to find his top gear last season going for 84 points in only 69 games playing for a somewhat offensively challenged Nashville team.
- Brad Marchand (Boston Bruins) - If not for injuries he would have made this list, but he is currently projected to miss at least the first quarter of the season which obviously put a major blemish on his potential. However, if your league has multiple IR spots this could be a really good value pick in the middle of the draft. Stash where possible
- Jake Guentzel (Pittsburgh Penguins) – is a hard guy to keep out of my top 10 here, as many people are quick to say playing with Sidney Crosby helps, yet he scored 40 even with him missing a chunk of time and doesn't get enough credit for his consistency. Overall the two-time All-Star is fifth in goals among left-wingers since his breakout 40-goal season (18-19).
- Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche)- The long-time Avalanche captain has been a tenured steady contributor. Landeskog's struggles with health were the main factor keeping him off this list; he’s missed 61 games in the last three seasons and is likely to miss the start of this year's season with a lower-body injury. It is also worth noting that in the past the Avs have been more than willing to use Landeskog at the center position. With Kadri’s lineup spot seemingly yet to be replaced his value could go up if he plays significant time at center and your league counts face-offs.
- Jason Robertson (Dallas Stars) – Yes he's young and plays for a middling team but how many guys really scored 40 last year? Last season of the 17 players who scored 40 goals, Robertson ranked 10th in points, 14th in points per game and 17th in shots placing him at the low end of an admittedly talented group. If he can take another step forward this year he is likely to find himself on the higher next time.