Fantasy Hockey Rankings: Draft Levels for Forwards
Special for Yahoo Sports
As you can see below, there is a ton of depth when it comes to drafting forwards in your fantasy hockey leagues. Virtually all of the players listed below (and many who are not) should be registered in standard leagues.
Here’s a look at this year’s forwards, sorted by level.
LEVEL 1 – THE McDAVID
The Skinny: The best of the best.
McDavid was the unanimous Hart Trophy winner as the league’s MVP last season, marking the first time this has happened since Wayne Gretzky in 1981-82. He has 33 goals and 105 points in 56 games. He should be the top pick in all of the fantastic leagues this fall, regardless of the format.
LEVEL 2- ELITE (but not McDavid)
Nathan MacKinnon, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, Nikita Kucherov, David Pastrnak, Brad Marchand, Brayden Point, Artemi Panarin, Mitch Marner, Alex Ovechkin
The Skinny: Each of these guys is worthy of the first round picks on draft day.
-MacKinnon is probably the most talented player in the NHL other than McDavid.
-Matthews’ 41 goals in 56 games last season led the NHL.
-Draisaitl shows elite numbers year after year despite playing on the same team as McDavid.
-Kucherov missed the entire regular season with injury, but dominated the playoffs. He and Point are great together.
-Idem for Pastrnak and Marchand, who play on the same trio in Boston.
-Panarin accumulated 153 points and a plus-50 rating in 111 games in his first two years with the Rangers.
-Marner has 98 assists and 134 points in his last 114 games.
-Ovechkin will be 36 at the start of the 2021-22 campaign, but he’s a lock for over 30 goals and over 200 hits.
LEVEL 3 – GAMECHANGERS
Patrick Kane, Mikko Rantanen, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sidney Crosby, Mika Zibanejad, Steven Stamkos, Mark Scheifele, Mark Stone, Sebastian Aho, John Tavares, Kyle Connor, Jake Guentzel, Jack Eichel, Elias Pettersson
The Skinny: Every player here can help anchor your fantastic team and deserve an early pick (2-3) on draft day
-Kane continues to ride and the Blackhawks should be a better team this season.
-Rantanen plays on the same line as MacKinnon, who tells you everything you need to know.
-Barkov has been a top player for years, while Huberdeau has posted well over a point per game over the past two seasons.
-Crosby played 16 seasons in the NHL and has never averaged less than a point per game.
-Zibanejad – who is entering a contract year – has scored 65 goals in his last 113 games.
-Stamkos is an injury risk but dominates when in good health.
-Scheifele has averaged at least one point per game over the past five seasons.
-Stone and Aho are two of the most consistent players in the NHL for Vegas and Carolina, respectively.
-Tavares got injured in the playoffs but is expected to be 100 percent healthy for training camp.
-Connor is one of the most underrated players in the league.
-Guentzel flanks Crosby every year and has production to show for it.
-Eichel should be at least one level higher based on his abilities, but he needs neck surgery and the Sabers haven’t traded him yet.
-Pettersson is also expected to be ready for camp after a wrist injury that limited him to just 26 games last season.
LEVEL 4: STABLE AS EVER
Evgeni Malkin, Patrice Bergeron, Alex DeBrincat, Gabriel Landeskog, Kirill Kaprizov, Brock Boeser, Johnny Gaudreau, Claude Giroux, Blake Wheeler
The Skinny: Players who make solid picks from the start to the middle of the round this year.
-Malkin deserves to be at least a higher level, at a minimum, but he was assaulted last year and has a long history of injuries.
-Bergeron will play all year at 36, but he’s part of what is arguably the best line in the NHL alongside Pastrnak and Marchand.
-DeBrincat scored 32 times in 56 games a season ago, in addition to having 18 points on the power play.
-Landeskog has signed a new long-term deal in Colorado that should maximize its fanciful value.
-Kaprizov (27 goals, 51 points in 55 games) was NHL Rookie of the Year last season; just make sure he doesn’t follow through on his threat to return to Russia.
-Boeser led Vancouver in goals (23) and points (49) a year ago.
-Gaudreau has 107 points in his last 126 games despite the fact that he “collapses”.
-Giroux and Wheeler are both aging veterans who have remained locked up as the centerpieces of their respective clubs.
LEVEL 5 – THE NEXT BEST THING
Max Pacioretty, Sam Reinhart, Andrei Svechnikov, William Nylander, Brady Tkachuk, Matthew Tkachuk, Filip Forsberg, Teuvo Teravainen, Mathew Barzal, JT Miller, Sean Couturier, Vladimir Tarasenko, Anze Kopitar, Ryan O’Reilly, Nicklas Backstrom, Pavel Buchnevich
The Skinny: The first six forwards who are expected to produce as such this coming year.
-Pacioretty averaged more than one point per game (24 goals, 51 points in 48 games) for the first time in his career last season.
-Reinhart stock is expected to remain stable after an offseason trade to Florida.
-Svechnikov and Nylander are both excellent young players with real breakout potential.
-Both Tkachuk brothers are highly desirable products, while Brady is bordering on the top three picks in leagues that value hitting.
-Forsberg and Teravainen both missed a lot of time last season due to injuries.
-Barzal’s value is somewhat limited by the fact that he plays on a defensive-minded Islanders team.
-Couturier is incredibly consistent whenever he’s in the lineup.
-Tarasenko has only played 34 games in the past two seasons due to a shoulder injury. He also asked for a trade with the Blues which has not yet been granted.
-Kopitar is locked in an important role in a rebuilding Kings team.
-O’Reilly is a stable player whose shooting totals have declined significantly over the past two seasons.
-Backstrom remains one of the best playmakers in the league despite his advanced age.
-Buchnevich was quietly excellent last season for the Rangers and was stolen by St. Louis via a trade last summer.
LEVEL 6 – THE REBOUND CROWD
Sean Monahan, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Brendan Gallagher, Patrik Laine, David Perron, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Strome, Jason Robertson, TJ Oshie, Vincent Trocheck, Tomas Hertl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Roope Hintz, Nick Suzuki, Jonathan Toews, Taylor Hall, Brayden Schenn, Bryan Rust, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha, Conor Garland, Jakub Vrana
The Skinny: The vast majority of this tier is made up of veteran players who struggled last season for one reason or another. Others are stable players with a solid, but limited rise.
LEVEL 7 – SHOOT FOR THE MOON
Alexis Lafrenière, Jack Hughes, Tim Stutzle, Kaapo Kakko, Martin Necas, Kirby Dach, Trevor Zegras
The Skinny: Very young players with elite and high-end potential who should have the opportunity to flourish this coming season. Make sure they are not written in standard formats.