Special for Yahoo Sports
As the 2020-2021 NHL Regular Season draws to a close, Yahoo Fantasy examines what the first round of the 2021-2022 Fantasy Hockey Draft could look like, courtesy of Jason Chen of RotoWire.
There isn’t a lot of debate at the top of the list. Where it gets risky is after the top four or five picks, where league settings will affect player rankings. There are categories and a dearth of positions to consider, and adding an expansion draft and a flurry of off-season moves, the roster can be very fluid.
But if there’s anything we’ve learned this season it’s that the league is brimming with scoring talent, there are potentially huge opportunity costs to draft defenders early and goalkeepers are voodoo. .
Still, it’s never a bad idea to plan ahead, so here’s a very early look at next season’s top 12:
If it hasn’t been done abundantly Clearly, McDavid is the best player in the league. McDavid’s 68 assists alone would rank third on Monday overall rating. It was like back in the days when fantasy leagues allowed managers to only write up Wayne Gretzky’s assists or goal totals. I’m at a loss for words to describe how completely insane McDavid’s offensive production has been this season, and no matter what you think of his two-way play, his score has been so otherworldly as wins. unanimous for the Hart and Lindsay trophies. would be grounds for investigation.
In short, he’s the consensus No. 1 pick, and it’s not like the Pacific Div is going to be much more difficult than the Single North Division.
Since entering the league, Matthews has scored 198 goals, the second highest total during that span. Only Alex Ovechkin has scored more with 205 goals, but Matthews’ career is only just beginning as Ovechkin turns 36 at the start of the 2021-22 season.
Matthews also did it with appallingly good efficiency; He’s just one of 20 players to register over 1,000 shots in that time frame and his 16.2%% is the best of them, a clear sign of an elite finisher.
There should be some debate on who to take third place, but you can’t go wrong with Draisaitl for two reasons: First, he’s legitimately good, placing second in the league with 1.49 P / GP and he won the Hart, Lindsay and Ross Art Trophies last season; and second, he shares the ice with McDavid and plays a lot of minutes because the Oilers’ forward depth is so shallow.
You could make a strong argument for MacKinnon at No.3. He is arguably the best player on the league’s best team, but Draisaitl should take the lead as the Avs play in a much tougher Central Division and MacKinnon can’t. not play as many minutes. The Avs offense runs through MacKinnon, but they have such a balanced makeup that they don’t need him to do it all.
5. Mitch Marner, RW, Maple Leafs
Look at the list of the league’s top 10 scorers and you will notice that there are three pairs of teammates. There are four if you combine Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov, but he ranks 16th. It’s rare to see a player carry a team alone these days, although that’s not a chance against Marner, who is an elite player in his own right. Playing with Matthews obviously helps, but over the past three seasons, Marner has only trailed McDavid in assists with 118 in 195 games, according to evolving-hockey.com.
Sixth place is where a big debate is going to start but, as you may have noticed, the top six places are taken by the top three duos in the league. It’s a product of coaches keeping pairs together and spinning a third wheel until they find the right combo. Rantanen takes the lead because his line with MacKinnon and Landeskog is tried, tested and true. According to Natural Stat Trick, Rantanen ranks third in xGF / 60 in all situations (min. 500 TOI), behind only MacKinnon and Landeskog. In good health, Rantanen has a potential of 40 goals, which already puts him in the top 2 percent of the league.
7. Artemi Panarin, LW, Rangers
It’s just hard to argue against Panarin’s track record. Few wingers can carry an attack on their own, but the past four seasons are proof enough. He’s scored 322 points in that span, and he’s barely had much help, edging out the second-leading scorer on his Blue Jackets and Rangers teams by an average of 17 points. Despite the turmoil at the front office, the Rangers are still a rising team loaded with talent, and scoring goals is likely to be easier once Kaapo Kakko and Alexis Lafreniere become stars.
8. Brad Marchand, LW, Bruins
Marchand went from a free two-way winger to an elite goalscorer, and it’s quite remarkable that he did so later in his career; his age – he turned 33 on Tuesday – is actually just a number and not a sign of potential decline. Putting aside all prejudices against his antics, since becoming a point per game player in the 2016-17 season, Marchand only trails McDavid and Draisaitl in points scored and is one step ahead of Patrick. Kane even though he played 21 fewer games. Marchand wears the line of perfection as Patrice Bergeron’s offense diminishes and David Pastrnak tries to be more consistent from game to game.
9. Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks
Kane is another player whose offensive production still places him in the top flight despite his age (32). He’s played a ton of minutes for the young Blackhawks and will likely continue to do so, and the future should look even brighter as Alex DeBrincat, Pius Suter and the new wave of talent continue to improve.
10. Aleksander Barkov, C, Panthers
Depending on your league settings, Barkov could rank much higher as he is by far the best among crosses on this list. It certainly feels like the Panthers have outperformed this season, but Barkov’s play has been excellent on almost every level, and among forwards with 500 TOI in all situations he ranks ninth in xGF / 60 and 17th. in CF / 60, according to Natural Stat Trick. , and that’s without Jonathan Huberdeau on his line for much of the season.
11. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Lightning
Vasilevskiy is the only non-attacker to make this list as he is above everyone else in a position full of risk. The Atlantic Division should be tight at the top, but the last three teams – Buffalo, Detroit and Ottawa – are expected to be bad to mediocre, giving Vasilevskiy plenty of easy games. Goalies are hard to predict from season to season, but he has been the shining example of consistency and should be the first goaltender off the board.
12. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Lightning
We really won’t know what we get from Kucherov until the playoffs start as he has been out all season due to injury. But we still have to respect the former scoring champion and MVP, and he will still be at his peak next season at 28. Kucherov may have claimed this place purely out of reputation, but it’s potentially a great value pick if managers can. write it late in the first round or at the top of the second round.
Honorable mentions: Sidney Crosby, C, penguins; Sebastian Aho, C, hurricanes; Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Panthers; David Pastrnak, RW, Bruins; Mark Stone, RW, Golden Knights; Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals