Please remember these rankings are the result of weighing all statistical categories equally, which rotisserie rankings do. Being number one in goal scoring is the same as being number one in penalty minutes. The top 100 favours skaters as they occupy 60 percent of the scoring categories, but dominant goaltenders are recognized.
Also, because the season is only six games old, these are pre-season rankings and are based on an average of the projections of all the major fantasy publications, and not my opinions. The top 100 is a representation of what the fantasy community believes is in store for the coming season.
On November 15th we will delve into the 2010 results and see if players like Ilya Bryzgalov are still dominating, or if band-aid boys like Marian Gaborik have pulled groins once again, like a late night masseuse.
1. Alexander Ovechkin
Ovechkin is to fantasy hockey what Kanye West is to douche bags - number one. No surprise to see him lead the list again as it is almost impossible for any fantasy player to overcome his SOG totals, when coupled with his LW eligibility. Ovechkin is an easy choice for the top of this list.
2. Evgeni Malkin
What can the Big Ugly do for an encore? After winning a scoring title, the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe trophy, all Malkin has left to conquer is Ovechkin’s grip as the top roto player in the NHL. He may have to settle for the starting center on the Pascal Leclaire All-Stars in 2010.
3. Sidney Crosby
Crosby has dropped to the bottom of the big three as his durability continues to be his achilles heel; he has yet to complete a full schedule. With Crosby just reaching the age of 22, the question is whether he has had his breakout season and if he can stay healthy.
4. Ryan Getzlaf
Can Getzlaf ascend to the level of the Big Three in 2010? I say he can, and the biggest fear as a Canadian is not whether he can make the Olympic team, but whether he will pull a Jose Theodore and test positive for Propecia and miss the Vancouver games.
5. Corey Perry
Perry’s monster finish (13 pts (8G, 5A) in his final nine games) and strong playoff has vaulted him to the best RW in fantasy hockey. He is on the verge of six-category production and he acts as a daily reminder that the Canadiens foolishly passed on him, Getzlaf, Parise, Richards and Carter for “Tweedle Dee” Andrei Kostitsyn.
6. Marc Savard
When healthy Savard has been a lock for 60+ assists and a yearly threat to crack 100 points. With the introduction of Julien's system, Savard's PP decline has been offset by his renewed defensive awareness. Savard has turned a -19 into a +23 over the last 2 seasons. At 32 he is beginning his descent as a fantasy performer. However, he is playing for a contract, so it is unlikely his numbers decline in 2010.
7. Tim Thomas
Can Mike Palmateer repeat his career season? After struggling to stick in the league for 15 years he finally found the perfect surroundings for success. Paired with Claude Julien, Thomas' penchant for over pursuit and kicking out monster rebounds has been nullified by a disciplined defense that rarely allows second chance opportunities. A repeat of 2009 is unlikely, but another strong fantasy season awaits in the protection of Julien’s system.
8. Alexander Semin
Same old story for Semin, his production depends on his health. Semin’s numbers from last season projected out to 82 games would have totaled 104 pts (45G/59A), 102 PIMs, 40 PPP and 300+ shots on goal. Over his four-year career he has averaged 64 GP, so he is a high risk/high reward player.
9. Roberto Luongo
With the Olympics in Vancouver and plenty to prove after a mediocre playoff, another monster season awaits Luongo. With backup Andrew Raycroft's primary focus being to model the latest Reebok hats and acting as the team strainer, Luongo will get 70+ starts.
10. Jeff Carter
Nobody represents the conservative nature of forecasting point totals better than Jeff Carter. Entering the 2008-09 season coming off a career best 53-point season, fantasy magazine’s went out on a limb and predicted Carter would finish with 52 pts- 58 pts! Better to miss low and claim ignorance, then to miss high and have you remember it. Carter is one of the elite young goal scorers in the game and another assault on 50 goals is realistic.
11. Joe Thornton
Thornton is the Simon Cowell of the NHL, he has the ability to take limited talent and create a fantasy superstar by placing them in the best position to succeed. It is a yearly fantasy game in which people burn up the waiver wire based on ice-time with the Tin Man. With Heatley now patrolling the wing, is 100 assists out of the question? We could be about to witness Hull and Oates 2.0.
12. Olli Jokinen
After a Peter North like explosion on arrival in Calgary (8G in six games), Jokinen hit the wall producing only five assists in his final 12 games. Jokinen possesses all the tools of an elite offensive center, but has suffered a career freefall over the last couple of seasons. He possesses too many red flags for me, but with Iginla and Sutter around for accountability, Jokinen owners can only hope he overcomes them.
13. Mike Green
Twenty-three year old defensemen are not supposed to produce 31 goal seasons. Green produced the highest goal total for a defenseman since Kevin Hatcher’s 34 goals in 1993 and would have been a six-category contributor if he had not missed 14 games with a shoulder injury.
14. Jarome Iginla
Jarome Iginla is one of the elite fantasy wingers in the game. Although he is consistently great, his production totals vary from year-to-year. Over the last five seasons he has produced a 60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 pt pace. Is he an 80+ PIM player or a 40 PIM player? Iginla is a rewarding but frustrating player to own.
15. Dion Phaneuf
Mr. Kim Bauer looked like he was on his way to fantasy stardom after his 60 pt, 182 PIM 2008 campaign, but he suffered a fantasy regression dropping 13 pts and 82 PIMs in 2009. I didn’t draft Happy Dion, Happy Dion sucks. The only proper course of action is to get angry and bed Sean Avery’s girlfriend and return to the real man you foreshadowed in 2008!
16. Mike Richards
Plenty of owners are wary of Richards entering 2010 because of off-season surgery to repair torn labrums in both shoulders. If anybody can battle through the pain, it is Mike Richards. Richards still managed to produce 80 pts in 2009 nursing numerous injuries. Richards’ strong two-way play and competitive nature make him one of the most productive rotisserie players in the NHL.
17. Nicklas Backstrom
Backstrom started 2009 slowly with only six points in his first 14 games, but when you are feeding bullets to an AK47, sooner or later they will hit their mark. In his 15th game Backstrom had four points, in game 17, five points, and he finished out his final 68 games at a 99 point pace. As long as Ovechkin is healthy, Backstrom will be an elite fantasy center.
18. Brendan Morrow
I was a draft day trade away from eternally hating Brendan Morrow, but I unloaded him and watched with relief as he tore his knee ligaments after 18 games. A healthy Morrow and no Dave Tippet could see increased scoring in Dallas and a return to fantasy prominence for Morrow.
19. Rick Nash
What type of production would we see from Rick Nash if he played with Marc Savard? 79 points with Manny Malholtra? That is unbelievable; it is like teaming Batman with Captain Planet. Is Derrick Brassard ready to don the yellow unitard and fill the role of Robin? If Brassard can stay healthy, Nash's numbers will finally match his potential.
20. Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Toews blossomed in the second half of 2008-09 and began to show the dominant goal scorer that begat the comparisons to Steve Yzerman. Over his final 29 games, Toews produced 29 points (17G/12A), including an 11 game stretch where he potted 11 goals.
21. Ilya Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk’s numbers over his last 42 games: 53 Pts (32G/21A), +3, 27 PIMs, 17 PPP, 149 SOG.
Projected out over a full season: 103 Pts (62G/41A)), 53 PIMs, 33 PP, 291 SOG.
Can we get this guy a real center?
22. Vincent Lecavalier
After establishing himself as a superstar, Lecavalier suffered a major regression in 2009. Was it the nagging injuries, or the rumours of a move to Montreal? After seeing his house here, my money is on him not wanting to leave Tampa.
23. Pavel Datsyuk
Looking at Pavel Datsyuk I am reminded of the George Best quote, “If I had been born ugly, you would never have heard of Pelé.” Except in Datsyuk’s case, I think of the opposite.
24. Steve Mason
As outrageous as Steve Mason's numbers were in 2009, he is still a work in progress. If he struggles, don't abandon ship like Carey Price owners last season. At this point in his young career he still needs Hitchcock, but as he develops he will enter the top tier of goaltenders on his own merit.
25. Dany Heatley
The best line I heard this summer was, “Dany Heatley asked to be traded, who did he kill this time?” It seems unfair that he quits on the Sens and is rewarded by being paired with the best passing center in the game. BIG numbers await.
26. Jason Spezza
Jason Spezza endured the worst season of his pro career staggering to a 73 pt campaign. After three consecutive seasons where he approached 100 pts, Spezza decided killing his coach was better than making the playoffs. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to life without Heatley, I expect a return to the 80-90 pt range and pray I never have to hear him laugh again.
27. Scott Hartnell
Scott Hartnell is the fantasy equivalent to the big girl at the bar that is surrounded by 5-6 supermodel friends. After all 6 of the models are off the board and you are disappointed to be left with the big girl, you realize she was only fat in relation to her model friends. Hartnell doesn't dominate any category, but his combined contribution in all six categories landed him a top 30-roto finish in 2009.
28. Shane Doan
I will not rest until Doan finishes his career as a Winnipeg Jet. Does lying on the couch watching hockey count as rest? If so, I lied.
29. Zdeno Chara
Zdeno Chara answered all the questions surrounding his 2008 shoulder injury by scoring 19 goals and winning his first Norris trophy in 2009. Although it took Big Z a while to make a fantasy impact, he has become one of the most consistent producers on the back end. Chara has enjoyed eight straight seasons of 95+ PIMs, four straight seasons of 20+ power play points and six straight seasons of 40+ points.
30. Patrick Kane
After treating the rest of the NHL like a cab driver through Christmas, an ankle injury derailed Patrick Kane's breakout campaign. Heading into the Winter Classic, Kane was in the top 10 in NHL scoring, but his desire to play in the outdoor game instead of resting his ankle cost him and the Hawks as his production dropped from 1.2 PPG to 0.35 PPG (7 points in 20 games). He is a fantasy star right now, be when he matures physically and defensively he will becomes a true NHL superstar.
31. Nathan Horton
Nathan Horton is the poster boy for fantasy frustration, but is an example of how long power forwards can take to round into dominant form. It is amazing to think that Horton is in his 6th NHL season and is still only 24 years old. One wonders if the switch will ever go on, but his tantalizing skill set should buy him another season or two from fantasy owners willing to gamble.
32. Cam Barker
Cam Barker finally began to fulfill his monster potential as he matched Brian Campbell's 2009 production at 1/7th of the cost. Add in 29 PP points in 69 games and it begs the question "What was the point of Brian Campbell again?" His final point total is even more impressive when you take into account that he went scoreless in 10 games to finish the regular season.
33. Henrik Zetterberg
In the last four seasons Zetterberg has made substantial contributions in 5 of the 6 major roto categories. The only thing keeping him from the top 20 is discipline. More PIMs Henrik, fantasy owners don’t care about your Selke.
34. David Backes
Backes is one of those players who are overlooked because he only put up 54 pts, but 30+ goals, 160+ PIMs and 200+ shots can come in handy in a rotisserie format.
35. Henrik Sedin
Henrik is one half of the greatest fantasy twins since CJ Parker jogged ever so slowly across the beaches of Malibu in the early 90s. Henrik and Daniel’s dual durability and production has always been amazing. With Daniel’s injury, it will be interesting to see how Henrik produces on his own.
36. Zach Parise
The name Jacques Lemaire is the last thing a Zach Parise owner wanted to hear.
37. Kevin Bieksa
Bieksa recovered from an injury plagued 2008 to post 40+ points as well as scratch the 100 PIM mark. He has a well-rounded game for fantasy, producing big numbers in four of the six relevant categories. Nothing fancy.
38. Alex Burrows
Alexandre Burrows was on his way to another nondescript season (38pt pace) when he was paired with the Sedin twins. He made the most of the opportunity as the move sparked him to finish the season with 26 points (15G, 11A) in his final 27 games (20 points assisted by the Sedin's). If paired with the Sedin's again, he should be able to match his breakout season, but if not he will revert to his previous form. Always be wary of somebody whose production spikes from the Rob Brown effect.
39. Milan Lucic
Milan Lucic throws every hit with bad intentions and at only 21 years old has begun to terrorize the league like nobody since Todd Bertuzzi in the early 2000s. Lucic almost doubled his 2008 production in 2009 with essentially the same ice time. When his maturity and offensive responsibility coincide, lookout. His upside is scary and leaves me wondering where his ceiling ultimately lies. Can you say Sea Bass!!
40. Chris Pronger
Chris Pronger was born to wear a Flyers jersey. He is mean, nasty and the dirtiest player in the NHL. He is no longer the offensive horse of 2007, but at 35 and PIMs a relevant category, his elbows become as potent a weapon as his slapshot. He is still capable of a five-category impact.
41. Martin Brodeur
Re-united and it feels so good. After watching Clemmensen duplicate Brodeur’s numbers in 2009, I am convinced that Marty’s decline has been masked by the Devils system. With the return of Jacques Lemaire to New Jersey, Brodeur should return to the elite fantasy goaltenders in 2010.
42. Jay Bouwmeester
Overrated. (note: overrated does not mean sucks. It means that he has not earned the reputation he has. Perception has not met reality.) It’s late, I mailed this one in.
43. Bobby Ryan
Ryan is an example how letting a player develop in the minors can be beneficial to their future (not that it was Brian Burke’s plan, but more a casualty of Burke capping himself out). When Ryan finally emerged as an NHL player he exploded for 31 goals in only 64 games and may have won the Calder trophy had he played a full schedule.
44. Scott Niedermayer
How long can Niedermayer continue to produce elite fantasy numbers? Lidstrom put up 80 pts at 36 and Zubov had 71 pts at 36. As long as he is motivated, Niedermayer will remain among the elite.
45. Ryan Malone
Has Ryan Malone ever been drafted for his production, or is it for his proximity to his teammates? With Pittsburgh it was Crosby and Malkin. In Tampa it is no different as owners hope he can draft off Lecavalier, St. Louis and Stamkos.
46. Eric Staal
Welcome back Eric Staal! For the last two seasons I contemplated whether or not 2006 was an aberration. After being reunited with Erik Cole, the resounding answer was NO. Staal dominated down the stretch registering 25 points in his last 17 games and a return to the dominant power forward everybody foresaw 3 seasons ago. It looks like the light bulb has finally gone off.
47. Sheldon Souray
A Dirk Diggler All-Star because I wouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole. He has the potential to be a top 10 defenseman, but I believe in risk aversion. Just like poker, over 10 years it might cost me 3-4 seasons, but the other 6-7 years I get to avoid his injury plague.
48. Chris Kunitz
Rob Brown 2.0? One can only hope his career can produce a random 115 pt season, a social run where he dates Alyssa Milano, a marvelous receding mullet and a one punch knockout by a goon like Sylvain Lefebvre. Fingers crossed.
49. Mike Ribeiro
You think if I offered up Janne Niinimaa for Ribeiro in a fantasy pool the deal would get done? Why doesn’t Gary Bettman have veto powers on trades? Do you think if the league had a message board that 25 owners would have called Bob Gainey an idiot and claimed collusion because of his previous relationship with Doug Armstrong? If they don’t, they should.
50. Dan Boyle
Doug Wilson is the GM in your pool who offers up his crap for your best players. Since the lockout he has acquired Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Dan Boyle for Wayne Primeau, Marco Sturm, Brad Stuart, Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo, Matt Carle, Ty Wishart and a 1st, 2nd and 4th round pick. Funny, the douche bag in my league who does this named his team the Sharks.
Here are second top 50, to complete the list of 100 (in order):
1. Sheldon Souray
2. Henrik Lundqvist
3. Chris Kunitz
4. Dan Boyle
5. Mike Ribeiro
6. Johan Franzen
7. Sean Avery
8. Derick Brassard
9. Steve Ott
10. Marian Gaborik
11. Alex Kovalev
12. Mike Knuble
13. David Perron
14. Marc Andre Fleury
15. TJ Oshie
16. John Tavares
17. Shea Weber
18. Niklas Backstrom
19. Tuomo Ruutu
20. Stephen Weiss
21. Cam Ward
22. Daniel Briere
23. Mikko Koivu
24. Pavel Kubina
25. Jason Arnott
26. Ryane Clowe
27. Jonas Hiller
28. Zach Bogosian
29. Evgeni Nabokov
30. Patrick Sharp
31. Bryan McCabe
32. Slava Kozlov
33. Mikhail Grabovski
34. Thomas Vanek
35. Matthew Lombardi
36. Niklas Lidstrom
37. Ales Hemsky
38. Brad Boyes
39. Mark Streit
40. Michael Frolik
41. Sergei Gonchar
42. Mike Cammallari
43. Ryan Miller
44. Travis Zajac
45. Joe Pavelski
46. Paul Stastny
47. Marian Hossa
48. Niklas Kronwall
49. Miikka Kiprusoff
50. Patrik Elias