NEWARK, NJ - MAY 19: Chris Kreider #20 and Ryan Callahan #24 of the New York Rangers celebrate Kreider's third period goal in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Final against the New Jersey Devils during the 2012 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Prudential Center on May 19, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
If there is indeed an NHL season, fantasy hockey will once again be a big talking point in September as fans eagerly try to strategize which of their favorite players is poised to have a breakout year. I tend to be optimistic, so here at Blueshirt Banter we're going to do this for you now!
This is a segment that will run in three parts: 10-7, 6-4, 3-1
Before we go through the list, there is a disclaimer that I would like to go into:
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.
With that being said, let's get to the rankings! Join me after the jump.
10: Ryan McDonagh - It's very hard to justify putting McDonagh so low on this list, but as I stated above, pure defense gets no points in fantasy hockey. McDonagh will give you hits, +/-, and ice time stats (if your league uses those) but his real value will come from where you take him. McDonagh had 32 points last year with relatively no real time on the power play. With Marc Staal back and healthy, McDonagh might get less five-on-five minutes and could see some more power play time.
He's a gifted offensive defenseman. He was brilliant in that regard in Wisconsin. It just hasn't translated to the NHL yet. Still, with a lower pick in a deep draft, McDonagh might be a great asset to have. Think about it, if he improves his offense by just eight point (totally reasonable) he's a 40-point defenseman. That's not bad. Tons of value here, just not in the fifth round of your draft.
9: Carl Hagelin - I debated about where to put Hagelin and Chris Kreider (spoiler alert, Kreider is 8th on the list) but in the end, I had to put Hagelin behind Kreider. I think in the beginning of the year -- with Marian Gaborik injured -- Hagelin will see an extended stay on the top line. Which increased his fantasy value significantly. But once Gaborik returns, Hagelin is going to be relied on for tough minutes, which will probably impact his fantasy output.
It's hard to read what Hagelin will do next year because we're still unsure of his role. If he plays in the same role he did last season, 40-45 points isn't out of the question. If he moves into a more defensive role, that figure is a little high. At this point, I just don't see him getting the same type of offensive opportunities Kreider will for the entire season.
8: Chris Kreider - A lot, and I mean a lot, of Rangers fans are going to end up overvaluing Kreider, and taking him in like the sixth round of their draft. I don't think it's unreasonable for Kreider to score 20 goals next year (hey, he scored at a 20-goal a year pace in the playoffs with no experience or real chemistry), I also wouldn't be surprised if he went 15-15-30.
A full season will be a tough transition for Kreider. Especially since it will probably take some time for him to gain John Tortorella's trust. But this is a special hockey player. And, in my eyes, I am expecting around 20 goals from him. That's not to say if he doesn't hit that mark his rookie year has been a failure, just an assumption from my end.
He put everything together in the playoffs, with no training camp, no NHL experience and no real understanding of the team or the players. Imagine what he can do next year with a full training camp and mentoring process from Tortorella?
7: Ryan Callahan - "Seventh!? Seventh. You, sir, are an idiot," - Every Callahan lover out there (including me a little bit).
But, it's true. Callahan is not an elite player. He's an average player who has enough heart and hustle to make him a potential 30-goal player in the NHL. This isn't a knock on Callahan either. He is what he is. A grinding, be-in-front-of-the-net player who gets a lot of goals that way. And you know what? It works. He scored a career-high 29 goals last year, posted 54 points and had a solid playoffs.
But in terms of fantasy value? Callahan should be expected to pot between 20-25 goals. Anything above that is gravy. He's not going to give you a ton of assists, and his style of play does put him in the "this guy might miss 10-15 games this year" category.
Still, Callahan is easily worth a mid-round pick. He will see power play time, could (read: COULD) top the 30-goal mark this year, and is a very, very valuable hockey player. But in terms of fantasy value, most of what makes Callahan great doesn't count.
Make sure to stick around for 6-4 coming up later this week! For now, thoughts?