PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 06: Derek Stepan #21 and Marian Gaborik #10 of the New York Rangers celebrate after Stepan scored a third period goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the NHL game at Consol Energy Center on January 6, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Rangers defeated the Penguins 3-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Before we begin, let me remind you all again about how these rankings work:
These rankings are based off of fantasy value. Fantasy value does not mean that the players are ranked based on real hockey value. For example, Michael Del Zotto is fantasy ranked miles ahead of Marc Staal and Dan Girardi (both of whom might not be drafted in even the deepest of leagues). Does that mean Del Zotto is the better overall player? No. It just means that his fantasy value (goals, assists, points, etc.) is higher.
OK, without any more hesitation, here's the next three.
Join me after the jump for more.
6: Derek Stepan - The Rangers' young center had somewhat of a coming out party last year. Showing the world that his 45-point rookie year wasn't a fluke and that he was ready to make an impact with the team. Despite a lackluster playoffs (in which Stepan still put up eight points), Stepan avoided the sophomore slump, and seems poised to make even more of an impact this year.
Here's the thing about fantasy sports. More often than not, a player's value is based off of where you take him, not the player himself. For example. If you splurge and take Stepan in the second round, you've made an egregious error. But if you wait and take Stepan in the fourth or fifth round (depending on how deep your fantasy league is) then you've gotten pretty good value.
There is no reason to assume Stepan won't put up 50 points again this year. And if he does get an extended stay with Marian Gaborik once the sniper returns (since it appears as though Brad Richards and Rick Nashare a lock to play together on the first line as of right now) there's no reason to assume Stepan can't do even more. Fact of the matter is, Stepan is most likely going to be paired with Ryan Callahan and Chris Kreider to start the year. And, if things don't go well with Richards and Nash, he might end up centering Nash for a prolonged period of time as well.
Thus, expecting an increase in Stepan's numbers wouldn't be crazy. In fact, it should be expected. Especially after a second year of seasoning in the NHL. Depending on where you grab him, Stepan wouldn't be a bad starting center on any fantasy hockey team (assuming your league uses two of each position).
5: Michael Del Zotto - What's the reasoning behind putting Del Zotto (41 points) in front of Stepan (51 points)? Simple. Del Zotto's numbers are more impressive among defenseman. Last year, Del Zotto was 18th in the NHL in scoring by defenseman. In most fantasy hockey leagues, you will have four starting defenseman. That means there's a chance (again, depending on how deep your league is) you're only going to get one true offensive defenseman on your team, unless your drafting for high-octane defenseman from the beginning. Would it be a bad thing for Del Zotto to be your number one fantasy defenseman? Not at all.
Despite the arguments we can - and have - made here, Del Zotto is the team's power play quarterback next year (once he's resigned, of course). With that being said, the addition of Rick Nash should help bolster that power play by giving opposing teams another dimension to worry about while the Rangers have the man advantage. That generally translates to more space for a guy like Del Zotto at the point, which hopefully translates to more points.
4. Marian Gaborik - Why isn't Gaborik in the top three? Because Marian Gaborik is going to miss some of next year while he continues to recover from his shoulder surgery. If there is a shortened season, then the time he's expected to miss dwindles.
Either way, we're assuming in this post that there is going to be a full season. With that being said, Gaborik might be available a little deeper than you're used to in your draft due to his injury. Is Gaborik worth a third round pick? I would say yes. I still think you're going to get 30 goals out of him, especially with Nash on the bench helping make space for him.
If the season is shortened, however, and Gaborik ends up missing no time, there's not much of an argument against using one of your top picks on him. He can score with the best of them, as he's shown his entire career.