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. Mikko Rantanen (Colorado Avalanche)
I had a really tough time deciding between the top two guys here. They are both two of the best playmakers in the league, they're young, they're fast and they play alongside two of the World’s premier players. Rantanen got the edge here despite slightly less consistency, as he's the better goal scorer and plays for the reigning Stanley Cup champs.
2. Mitch Marner (Toronto Maple Leafs)
As mentioned above, one of if not the league's premier playmaking winger and a guy who typically plays beside one of if not the league's premier goal scorers, so if you want assists look no further. If this wasn't enticing enough let me remind you that Marner since coming to the league, is third among right-wingers in points with 455. With the recent trend of trying to generate scoring chances on the penalty kill, Marner may get even more opportunities to show us why he’s regarded so highly.
3. Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lighting)
Honestly maybe should be first on this list, but at the end of the day health does mean a lot; out of the top 25, he, unfortunately, feels like the most likely to miss significant time and that makes it just too hard to put him first in these rankings. However, given his otherworldly talent, Kucherov’s 1.47 P/GP last season and 1.38 P/GP over the past five seasons trails only Connor McDavid; hard to argue Kuchie is not an elite player, let alone right wing. He enters the 2022-23 season with a clean bill of health and remains one of the biggest challenges to McDavid for Art Ross; I couldn't rank him lower than a third.
4. David Pastrnak (Boston Bruins)
Pastrnak scored 40 goals for the second time last season, providing the last shred of proof for any remaining doubters of his elite status in the NHL. Over the last four seasons, the crafty Czech has piled up 301 points in only 256 games. “Pasta” has proven he's got the sauce, being able to score on any line and was just one of six players to register over 300 shots on goal last season. To put it in perspective over the past three seasons, only three other players have managed to score at least 40 goals twice: Ovechkin, Matthews and Draisaitl; that’s darn good company.
5. Mathew Tkachuk (Florida Panthers)
The change of scenery will seemingly benefit the young star as he now gets to play beside one of the game's best and most responsible players; Alexander Barkov. On top of this, he's joined the overall uber-talented Panthers team that was near the top of all offence metrics last year. While his production may go down slightly, he remains a top asset, especially in banger leagues.
6. Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)
Unfortunately for Kane’s fantasy value (and Blackhawk fans) he would likely be best served by a new environment. After all his team lost its best goal scorer, playmaking centre and top goalie. All this considered, RW is the thinnest position and Kane is a better bet than most to pile up points. Kane is always a guy you want to have on your team. Is it bad to say the drop-off at/after Patty Kane on this list confirms to me that the right-wing lacks the amount of top-end talent that the left-wing and center have?
7. Chris Krieder (New York Rangers)
He's a tough case after having a career last year with some pretty strong underline numbers, scoring 52 goals for the Rangers. However, this is a guy who before that had a career-high of 28 goals in the season. Overall Krieder has been on an incredible two-year run during which, he put up a highly elite shooting percentage of 20% (72 of 360). I'm definitely looking for some regression here but 35-40 goals seem well within reach.
8. Patrik Laine (Columbus Blue Jackets)
Okay, bit of a hot take here but how many guys have actually scored 40-plus goals, and add in the fact he's likely going to play alongside Johnny Gaudreau on the Blue Jackets suddenly pretty formidable top line? Last season he scored on a point-per-game pace and had 26 goals. Now that he plays alongside the guy who finished second last year with 54 assists, If he plays at least 70 games there is a damn good chance of justifying this rank and hitting 40 goals.
9. Kevin Fiala (Los Angeles Kings)
Is this another hot take? He has been a point-per-game guy over the last two seasons and has done so while playing significant minutes and not being flanked by Kirill the thrill. Fiala is coming off his best season as a pro, scoring 85 points in 82 games with strong possession numbers. Now he moves to a talented Kings team that fits his style of play and will likely slot him alongside Anze Kopitar (who had 48 assists last year).
10. Mark Stone (Vegas Golden Knights)
Bit of a toss-up here between Stone and Nylander, at the end of the day Stone brings reliability in production and that counts for something. He has scored at a 75-point pace over the last three seasons with the Knights and seems primed to do so again regardless of whom he plays alongside. The main concern here is health as he's missed significant times in two of the last three seasons, but in his career whenever he’s made it to 55 games he scores at least 20 goals (7 times).
- William Nylander (Toronto Maple Leafs) - Listen there's no penalty in fantasy hockey for bad back checking and there aren't that many players that can consistently threaten 40 goals, and there are even fewer players that get to play alongside John Tavares and on the Leafs power play.
- Vladimir Tarasenko (St Louis Blues) – While he has struggled with injuries the last few seasons when right there are a few players in the league that can match his goal-scoring prowess. The question has become how much health and ability he has left in the tank.
- Claude Giroux (Ottawa Senators) - On his third team in less than two years, Giroux seems to have entered the hired assassin phase of his career. Claude scored 23 points in 18 games after joining the Florida Panthers; he seems like a solid bet to still be near a point-per-game in Ottawa. However, the Senators are not as talented a team as the Panthers and age have to catch up with him eventually right?
- Sam Reinhart (Florida Panthers) - Highly likely to also have center eligibility raising his value, and after scoring 82 points in 78 games last year in his first season with the Florida Panthers, seems primed to score at a similar pace again; especially for a team that's not asking him to be the primary on offence.