It is natural to have to talk about the same guys over and over as draft season arrives. The common denominator among all fantasy hockey leagues is that the upper-tier players are involved in all of them. In order to reach the largest audience, talking about the most popular players is the place to start.
I thought it would be worth going deeper for these Ramblings, though. This won’t be a crazy deep dive but will cover players that have ADPs on either Yahoo or ESPN outside the top-200. The reason for that number is a standard 12-team Yahoo league has 16-man rosters, which would work out to be 192 players drafted.
Note that Yahoo doesn’t necessarily sort players into strict, rounded ADP lists but rather does averages, which might seem obvious considering what ADP stands for, but it does differ from ESPN in that several players can have the same ADP. I will list the players from Yahoo by average round taken, which means that I will be looking only for players drafted in the 17th round (rounded up) or later.
Brendan Gallagher (Montreal – Right Wing) – Yahoo ADP: 17th round
Every year there are a few players upon whom I place targets, ensuring that they’re on every roster I can muster. This year, Gallagher is firmly on that list. Since the start of the 2013 season, his points per 60 minutes at five-on-five (1.8) is the same as guys like Ryan Johansen, Jakub Voracek, and James van Riemsdyk. Outside of Ales Hemsky, there isn’t much competition for the top-line right wing slot on the Montreal roster, which means Gallagher should slot with Max Pacioretty and (apparently) Jonathan Drouin. He can stuff peripherals as well. With a healthy season, he should easily return a 17th-round value.
Tomas Hertl (San Jose – Left Wing) – ESPN ADP: 206
The departure of Patrick Marleau has left things wide open at the left-wing position for the Sharks. With few internal options, my money is on Hertl not only slotting on the top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski, but also taking Marleau’s position on the power play. I wrote as much recently. Going back a few years, the Sharks have been as well off, if not better, with Hertl playing with Thornton than playing away from him. It shouldn’t be a shock that he plays well on that line given Thornton’s Hall of Fame credentials, but it’s just worth noting he isn’t a drag on play-driving as some others can be.
By the way, Sharks beat writer Kevin Kurz thinks Hertl will be on the top PP unit as well.
Clayton Keller (Arizona – Centre) – ESPN ADP: 230
I get that there likely aren’t generational talents entering the NHL this year as rookies as in past seasons, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t very good players, and Keller is one of them. I understand that he may not have elite-level talent around him, but guys like Tobias Rieder and Brendan Perlini are hardly scrubs. Also, assuming Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick aren’t playing in their respective top-six mixes, they won’t be with top-end talent, either. Keller is as skilled a player entering his first full year in the league there is, and when you’re drafting a player this late in drafts, betting on talent is never a bad idea.
Evgenii Dadonov (Florida – Right Wing) – Yahoo ADP: Round 17
I think the fear of the unknown is at work here. General manager Dale Tallon already conceded that Dadonov was signed with the idea of him playing on the top line with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. Even the most skeptical of fantasy owners should be excited by this prospect. If Barkov and Huberdeau can stay healthy, Dadonov is set to be the recipient of a very productive top line, and even more so if he can slot in on the top power-play unit as well. Dobber thinks that Dadonov has 30-goal upside if he can slot with a good playmaking centre, and I concur. Considering he can probably be had as a third or fourth right wing on fantasy rosters, this is an easy draft pick to make.
Kyle Okposo (Buffalo – Right Wing) – Yahoo ADP: Round 17
The mysterious ailment that limited Okposo to three games post-trade deadline ended up being concussion-related. That is always scary for a player, and I hope that his issues are past and we get to just watch him play hockey again. Had he played a full year, he was on pace for 24 goals, 33 assists, and 197 shots on goal. Only 20 forwards in the NHL reached each of those marks last season. On top of that, despite playing just 65 games, he had as many power-play points (23) as Patrick Kane, and more than Vladimir Tarasenko (22), Blake Wheeler (21), and Corey Perry (20). He should be on the top line and top PP unit again, and if he has a healthy year, can be very productive in all formats.
Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay – Center) – Yahoo ADP: Round 18
I will admit, I’m not the most ardent Tyler Johnson fan. I think in general he’s overrated in both fantasy and real hockey. However, an ADP outside the top-200 is a bridge too far. The centre position is very deep, but how many centres outside the top-200 are guaranteed to be the centre for one of Steven Stamkos or Nikita Kucherov? Even pessimistic fantasy analysts would admit that he’s a 20-goal, 50-point player if he can stay healthy, at minimum. He won’t stuff peripherals, which is an issue, but with the talent that surrounds him and his guaranteed role, he’s worthy of consideration at this ADP.
Damon Severson (New Jersey – Defence) – ESPN ADP: 230
Having just signed a six-year deal, the Devils locked up their offensive defenceman of the future (and present, really). Last year, on the second-lowest scoring five-on-five team in the league, Severson had the same points per 60 minutes (0.8) as Ryan McDonagh, and higher than Morgan Rielly (0.77), Keith Yandle (0.73), and Cam Fowler (0.72). The year before, on the lowest scoring team in the league, Severson had a higher points per 60 minutes (0.85) than Shea Weber (0.83), Justin Faulk (0.78), and Ryan Suter (0.77). With a larger role, and consistent top power-play minutes, he has 40-point upside this season. Going as late as he is, he should find himself on a lot of fantasy benches this coming season.
Shea Theodore (Las Vegas – Defence) – ESPN ADP: 230
At the least, Vegas should have a solid power-play unit with guys like Vadim Shipachyov and James Neal slotted on the top quintet. Which defenceman (or defencemen) actually ends up manning that unit is still to be determined, but my money to get first crack is Theodore. There’s a reason he was selected from the Ducks in the expansion draft, and it’s obviously because the Vegas management team loves his offensive upside. He took a big step in the right direction in the shots department last year, and helps his team drive offence (in an admittedly small NHL sample to date). As a late lottery ticket, this is a solid one to take.
Juuse Saros (Nashville – Goalie) – ESPN ADP: 230
Even in a year with just 21 games played and 19 starts, Saros was a top-25 goalie in standard Yahoo leagues, and the same for standard ESPN leagues. He has been very solid so far in his very brief NHL career, and has similarly been very solid both in the Finnish pro league, and in the AHL. Pekka Rinne was exceptional in the playoffs last year, but he’s still a 35-year old goalie (well, in November he’ll be 35) with an injury history. Even a repeat of last year would have Saros as a more-than-sufficient third goalie in fantasy leagues, and there’s more upside should he start stealing some starts. Considering he can probably be had as a fourth goalie, he should be at the top of the backup goalie list, and even ahead of some regular starters.
Ryan Miller (Anaheim – Goalie) – Yahoo ADP: Round 19
Speaking of injured goalies, it’s been a rough start to John Gibson’s career. Yes, he’s bee as advertised when healthy, but the “when healthy” part is what’s key here. It’s too early in Gibson’s NHL journey to label him as injury prone, but he’s not far away, either. At 36 years old last year, Miller was still slightly above average by save percentage, and did so on a lottery team. Moving to a team with Stanley Cup aspirations should only help. He won’t get a hefty workload, but even if he only starts 20-25 games, he can be a solid fourth goaltender.
A few days ago, it was reported that David Pastrnak has had several KHL offers. With his contract situation in Boston uncertain, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Boston, however, needs to figure this out soon. He is a dynamic right winger and a budding superstar.
As a cautionary tale for cap league fantasy owners, this is what happens when you hand out too many bad contracts. A team can survive maybe one bad deal, but paying David Backes and Matt Beleskey nearly $10 million annually is a big reason of why they’re in the situation they are. Don’t be Boston, cap leaguers.
Ok, ok. It’s still far too early for any determinations, but this caught my eye yesterday:
Mike Cammalleri wearing No.14, in honor of Dave Keon. Not tweeting lines on the first day but yes, he's w/ Kopitar and Brown.— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) September 13, 2017
Should that line, or a minor variation of it, hold true, that would likely mean the reunion of That 70s Line with Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, and Tyler Toffoli. For what it’s worth, I think Toffoli is being undervalued a bit in drafts so far, and if he can consistently be put in offensive situations and away from tougher zone starts and competition, he can get back to that 25-goal plateau.
- Ramblings: The Injury Bug Spreads (Dec 13)
- Catching Up
- Top 200 Fantasy Prospect Forwards - December 2017
- Ramblings: Penalties Are Down Again, What's the Fallout? (Dec 14)
- Tom Wilson Capitalizing on his Top-Line Chance
- Cage Match Tournament: Most Sustainable Breakout Under Age 25
- Injury Ward: Ducks and Blues Black and Blue
- Top 50 Fantasy Prospect Defensemen - December 2017