As autumn unfolds around us, Rangers Twitterverse is aflame with arguments surrounding coaching decisions, roster cuts, and potential line ups which can only mean one thing, the hockey season is nearly upon us, and with that comes the return of fantasy hockey! With all the variety and different apps you can use with fantasy sports these days, there are a lot of categories you can concentrate on. This article is going to focus on the most common fantasy hockey categories that make sense, yes that’s right, only the categories that are logical positives for a hockey team. There will be no penalty minute category discussion, I will simply not allow it!
Now with that out of the way, let’s dive into the top fantasy players the New York Rangers have. My plan is to rank players into different tiers based on their potential impact. Full disclosure, there is no order within each tier. While the team has some first-round contenders, they also have a plethora of mid-round, or perhaps even sleeper picks so follow along to get a general idea of what to expect from the Blueshirt roster in the realm of fantasy hockey.
2021-22 Stats: 53 GP, 36 W, 2.07 GAA,.935 SV%, 6 SO
Shesterkin is the world’s best goaltender. It’s simple, he will most likely be the first New York Ranger taken off the board as well as the first goalie, if this isn’t the case it means you’re in a league with a Tampa Bay Lightning fan. A lot of folks put an immense of strategy into fantasy sports, and some of those people have strong opinions on taking a goalie too early. I’m here to tell you that Igor breaks that mold. He is one of maybe two goalies worth taking in the first round.
2021-22 Stats: 78 GP, 11 G, 63 A, 33 PPP, 158 SOG, 128 BLK, 30 HIT
The perennial Norris candidate is the Rangers’ current best defenseman. I don’t need to sing his praises since all of you know the impact he has on the ice day in and day out. While defensemen aren’t often the most highly sought after at the tippy top of most fantasy drafts, Fox is just built different. His vision allows him to rack up the assists and his role on the PP1 combined with the potent NYR power play make him a very enticing defenseman for any fantasy hockey team. In most leagues, Fox won’t be taken in the first round, but will often be gone shortly after, as the number of points he brings a team on the back end is not matched by many other defenders in the league.
2021-22 Stats: 75 GP, 22 G, 74 A, 37 PPP, 177 SOG, 14 BLK, 22 HIT
Scoring 96 points last season, it’s a bit hard to believe a lot of pundits agree that Panarin had an “off year.” Many talented players throughout the years have hit that 30-year-old plateau and begun to show signs of regression, is that what we’re seeing in Panarin? Realistically the answer is no, Panarin has had a few interviews discussing his play last season and how he can improve on it. That combined with his approach to practice and training camp this season along with his role on the PP1 and the Rangers’ potent power play, Panarin has more than enough in his favor to remain a top winger in the league.
2021-22 Stats: 81 GP, 29 G, 52 A, 28 PPP, 219 SOG, 47 BLK, 67 HIT, 700 FOW
Zibanejad is the Rangers’ top center across the board. When there was an important face-off in the game, Zibanejad was the guy the Rangers sent out. Sporting a 52.3 FO% he almost doubled the amount of faceoff wins any other prominent center on the team had. However, the Rangers signed Vincent Trocheck in the offseason who is also known to excel at the dot.
Zibanejad does a lot of things very well for the team, he can score, he can pass, and he can shut down the other team’s top line. His numbers have been steadily increasing and it’s possible he can reach a new career high this year. Playing an important role on the PP1 and the Rangers’ potent power play helps vault Zibanejad a bit higher than he would have gone naturally. While not a bona fide first-round pick in most leagues, the Rangers’ top pivot won’t be on the board for too long.
2021-22 Stats: 82 GP, 7 G, 13 A, 24 SOG, 95 BLK, 151 HIT
Okay, this may surprise some of you, but hear me out. If any player on the team is primed for a gigantic step forward, I think it’s going to be K’Andre Miller. He has continued to look more and more comfortable and has all the tools to become a dominant NHL defenseman. The career highlight reel is starting to build up and we have seen his skating stand out more than ever this preseason.
Miller is hurt a bit by his lack of power play ice time. If he ever did get a real shot at helping the second power-play unit, it’s possible he could rack up the points. But as the year progresses there’s a real possibility his role increases quickly. The best part about this is aside from hardcore New York Rangers fans, Miller is a bit of a secret. He’s likely to be available late in your draft and is worth a flier on if you’re looking for a defenseman.
2021-22 Stats: 81 GP, 52 G, 25 A, 35 PPP, 258 SOG, 39 BLK, 141 HIT
Yeah, yeah, yeah… perhaps another surprise here. I can already feel your criticism haunting my dreams, but I am firmly in the camp of “I do not think Kreider will repeat his goal-scoring performance.” Last year was special and I hope I’m wrong, I truly do, but regression is an evil monster and comes for the most talented players, and Kreider’s insanely high shooting percentage is bound to come down. That being said I do think he can clear the 30-goal threshold again and the fact half of them are bound to come from his power play time is another boon that makes Kreider an attractive pick in the early to middle rounds.
2021-22 NHL Stats: 81 GP, 21 G, 30 A, 12 PPP, 168 SOG, 46 BLK, 185 HIT, 680 FOW
While Trocheck is bound to be a productive fantasy player, the ceiling of his production as a Ranger isn’t known quite yet. Panarin can turn almost any center into an all-star, so a higher point total than what he accomplished in Carolina is reasonable to expect. He also immediately surpasses Zibanejad as the team’s number one faceoff man, having a quite good 54.6 FO% last year. But the ultimate question will be what role he settles into on the power play. He’s been getting reps with the first unit and if he can solidify his spot there, Trocheck will quickly become a steal of a pick as most leagues find him available in the mid to late rounds.
2021-22 NHL Stats: 79 GP, 19 G, 12 A, 2 PPP, 110 SOG, 26 BLK, 108 HIT
The former number one overall pick has all the skills to become a bona fide NHL scorer and with a bit more ice time and trust from his coach his production is going to explode. The young French Canadian is currently firmly on the PP2 unit and won’t get many extended looks but is still gaining the opportunity of ice time and chance with the man advantage. Another benefit of drafting Lafrenière is his physical play. He ranked ninth overall on the team in hits with several of the players ahead of him getting substantially more ice time. The Kid line blossomed before our eyes in last year’s postseason, and I think we all anticipate more of that chemistry. It’s not out of the question that Lafrenière can break 50 points this year, and unless you’re playing in a deep league or with several other Rangers fans, he will be on the board late into the draft.
2021-NHL Stats: 43 GP, 7 G, 11 A, 2 PPP, 62 SOG, 15 BLK, 8 HIT
Kakko, the forgotten son. With all the high draft picks the limelight has perhaps shifted slightly off the Rangers’ former second overall pick. He has had a bit of a rough go this past season. Plagued with injury throughout the year, the young Finn didn’t get too much of a chance to feel it out and play through the season. Just like Lafrenière, Kakko took a step forward in last year’s postseason and expectations have begun to rise once again. In the offseason there was a clip of Kakko absolutely ripping the puck, he needs to at the very least double the number of shots he is taking. If a player on your line can shoot the puck like this, you need to find ways to feed him the puck.
Kaapo Kakko just clocked a 106.9 mph (172 kph) slapshot!— NHL (@NHL) August 23, 2022
*The NHL hardest shot record is 108.8 mph.
( : IG/bestshot.fi, ahosiltam) pic.twitter.com/CMF6MzFwoK
Unless in a deep league, it’s more than likely Kakko will remain on the board for the entirety of the draft. Consider picking him up in the waiver wire if it appears the Kid Line’s chemistry is still in place.
2021-22 NHL Stats: 67 GP, 8 G, 14 A, 1 PPP, 135 SOG, 27 BLK, 24 HIT, 135 FOW
Chytil was magical in last year’s postseason. I understand a few of these descriptions talk about a small sample of ice hockey, but this was the Filip Chytil that everyone envisioned. To watch him create prime scoring opportunities at will was perhaps one of the best parts of the Rangers’ playoff run. Chytil is worth a late flier in your league, simply for the chance that the Rangers may have struck gold with the Kid Line Chemistry. If Chytil can maintain that level of play for even half the season, you can expect 50+ points out of the young center.
2021-22 NHL Stats: 12 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 0 PPP, 13 BLK, 4 HIT
Zac Jones was a power play wizard in his NCAA career. If he can play his way onto even the second power-play unit, it’s worth picking up Zac Jones. Having had a little more time to acclimate to the professional pace of the game Jones is beginning to feel out his role on the team, his puck skills and vision will in due time lead him to an impactful role. Taking Jones is risky and can be done with one of your last picks or even an addition from the waiver wire, but his season is worth monitoring because of his potential offensive prowess.
2021-22 NHL Stats: N/A
There has been so much drama and mystery surrounding Kravtsov, but unless tragedy strikes at the eleventh hour (again) it appears he’s not only here to stay this season but will also be playing on the off wing of Artemi Panarin. That last tidbit makes Kravtsov an intriguing player. Gerard Gallant could send out a traffic cone to play with Panarin and it’d find itself with a couple of points by the end of the night. To pair Kravtsov, an immensely skilled offensive player, with Panarin could be something special. His potential role on the second power-play unit is just icing on the cake. You can expect Kravtsov to be there pretty much your entire draft, he’s another player worth monitoring or picking up off the waiver wire.
2021-22 NHL Stats: 81 GP, 11 G, 28 A, 4 PPP, 204 SOG, 177 BLK, 207 HIT
Trouba is an intriguing case. He has a few things going for him: decent point production, a persistent power play role, a lot of blocked shots, and a lot of total hits. These all sum up to be an appealing player on the surface, but I’m here to remind you of CONSTANT VIGILANCE! Trouba is worth taking, but there are better players to be had throughout the first 2⁄3 of the draft. Be wary about taking him too early. A lot of these stats are buffed by the amount of ice time Trouba had gotten throughout the year.
If Trouba’s point production slips which it easily can, he quickly becomes discard-worthy in the fantasy world. To add some more context Trouba has no issue winding up to take a shot, however, the unfortunate truth is he often misses the net or doesn’t get it through. Just last year he had 388 shot attempts (five more than Zibanejad) with only 204 making it to the net. As the young players around him grow, it’d be normal for Trouba’s offensive role to decrease.
Stats via Hockey-Reference