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Fantasy points-only league draft guide for 2016-17

30 players who can help in formats that count goals, assists

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

When drafting in a points-only league, there's a lot less thinking involved. Goals count the same as assists, and nothing else matters. This means a player who can score but plays on a poor defensive team is better to draft than a lower-scoring player on a better offensive team, since you don't have to worry about plus-minus or any other categories.

Most of the top 10 players in standard Yahoo drafts should still be top 10 in a points-only league. Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who finished third in NHL scoring last season (85 points) and had the most points from Jan. 1 to the end of the regular season (58 points in final 44 games), is a perennial Art Ross Trophy candidate. Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane led the League in scoring (106 points) last season, scoring 17 points more than second-place Jamie Benn, who has the most points over the past two seasons combined (176) for the Dallas Stars.

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Those three forwards, along with Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (82 points in 82 games) and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (48 points in 45 games) should be the first five taken in a points-only format. Alex Ovechkin, who covers all standard-league categories for the Washington Capitals, takes a hit in points-only leagues; he had 71 in 79 games last season, his lowest total in a full season since 2011-12 (65 in 78).

The key to success in a points-only league is knowing which players have added value compared to standard leagues. Here are 30 players (21 forwards, nine defenseman) who should be prioritized in points-only formats. They are listed in order of value in a points-only league, which may differ from their standard-league NHL.com rank.

FORWARDS

Tyler Seguin, C, DAL -- Seguin is a top 10 player in all formats, but injury concerns have him dropping to the late-first/early-second round after sustaining a hairline fracture in his heel at the World Cup of Hockey 2016. Seguin ranks sixth in points the past two seasons (150 points in 143 games) and becomes a glaring bargain the deeper he falls.

Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY -- In his second NHL season, Gaudreau tied for sixth in NHL scoring (78 points); he has 143 points in 160 career games (0.89 ppg). He's a restricted free agent, but don't let that deter you from drafting him. His linemate, Sean Monahan, is attainable in the fourth round or later in a points-only league. They each had a point on 38 team goals last season (T-6th in NHL).

Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG -- Wheeler finished tied with Gaudreau in points (78) last season, doing damage alongside center Mark Scheifele in the second half. He has more than 60 points in each of the past four full seasons and is worth taking among the top 20 in a points-only format. His ceiling is high alongside Scheifele and either Nikolaj Ehlers or Patrik Laine.

Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT -- Malkin may bring injury concerns, but no one can question his scoring track record when healthy. He had 58 points in 57 games last season, 70 in 69 in 2014-15, and 72 in 60 in 2013-14. There are lineup concerns, but Malkin is well over a point per game in his NHL career and worth grabbing late in the second round.

Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH -- Backstrom was one of 17 players to score at least 70 points last season and is close to a point per game (642 points in 652 games) in his NHL career. Evgeny Kuznetsov could cut into Backstrom's even-strength time with Ovechkin, but the experienced center is still a first power-play fixture and top 25 player in a points-only format.

Joe Thornton, C, SJS -- Thornton, 37, can still produce at an elite level; he had 82 points in 82 games (T-4th). In 18 NHL seasons, he has 1,341 points in 1,367 games, almost a point per game. He was overlooked in fantasy last season and remains undervalued after a top 10 finish. You can land Thornton in the third round or later in a points-only draft.

Video: LAK@SJS, Gm3: Thornton gives Sharks an early lead

Taylor Hall, LW, NJD -- Hall was traded to the New Jersey Devils, who had the fewest goals (182) in the League last season. He had 65 points last season and 80 in 2013-14 with the Oilers, and should be the focal point of New Jersey's offense. Target Hall in the first three rounds and his center Adam Henrique (50 points last season) well outside the top 100 overall.

Jason Spezza, C, DAL -- Often an afterthought on a team with Benn and Seguin, Spezza has more than 60 points in each of his past four full seasons. Spezza is a reliable top 50 target in a points-only league on Dallas' second line alongside likely Patrick Sharp and sneaky addition Jiri Hudler, who had 76 points two seasons ago.

Ryan O'Reilly, C/LW, BUF -- In his first season in Buffalo, O'Reilly led the Sabres in assists (39) and points (60) despite missing 11 games. He's dual eligible in Yahoo and can score in all situations (22 power-play points), boosting his value in points-only leagues. He should line up next to Kyle Okposo or Sam Reinhart, putting him in position to outperform his average draft position (91.3).

Jordan Eberle, RW, EDM -- Eberle had 47 points in 69 games last season, but should be on your radar as a bounce-back candidate in a points-only league. Eberle had 76 points in 2011-12 and could return to a similar realm if he plays alongside McDavid for a full season. He's a top 75 asset in this format.

Jaromir Jagr, RW, FLA -- It's hard to argue against drafting Jagr; the 44-year-old led the Florida Panthers with 66 points last season and ranks third on the League's all-time scoring list with 1,868 points, behind Wayne Gretzky (2,857) and Mark Messier (1,887). Continue to ride the veteran alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, especially if he's around outside the top 100.

Matt Duchene, C, COL -- Scoring 59 points in 76 games was a down season for Duchene; he had 70 points in 71 games in 2013-14. He managed to score 30 goals last season, his third straight season with at least 21 goals and 55 points, and is worth a look in points-only leagues in a fresh system under coach Jared Bednar. He has four points in five games for Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey 2016.

Mike Hoffman, LW, OTT -- The 26-year-old improved on his rookie point total of 48 points by scoring 59 last season. He's quietly tied for 20th in even-strength points in the past two seasons combined (91). He's a growing presence on Ottawa's power play and has well-documented chemistry with right wing Mark Stone (61 points last season). He becomes a top-100 asset in a points-only league.

Video: PIT@OTT: Hoffman's goal doubles the lead

Henrik Sedin, C, VAN -- Henrik Sedin is a proven points-only commodity alongside his brother Daniel Sedin, especially considering you don't have to worry about their plus/minus for the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks. Even in a down year, Henrik had 55 points in 74 games; he has 970 in 1,166 NHL games. The Sedins combined for points on 41 team goals, fourth among point pairs last season.

Tyler Johnson, C, TBL -- Johnson said he is fully healed from the wrist injury sustained in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs that caused him to underperform last season (38 points in 69 games). Johnson is not far removed from a 70-point season (72 in 2014-15) and plays on a line with restricted free agent wing Nikita Kucherov; they are the top two point producers of the past two postseasons combined. Johnson can be drafted in points-only leagues at a great value (ADP: 147.2).

Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL -- Schwartz was injured for much of last season, but remained productive when healthy with 22 points in 33 games. He had at least 56 points in each of the prior two seasons. He has been forgotten in drafts (ADP: 145.7), but shares ice time with Vladimir Tarasenko at even strength and on the power play, putting him in great position to score on every shift.

Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL -- Gallagher is the top line right wing for the Montreal Canadiens, and had strong totals of 19 goals and 40 points last season despite being limited to 53 games because of injuries. He finished tied for second on the Canadiens in points per game (0.75) last season behind frequent linemate Max Pacioretty (0.78).

James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR -- Van Riemsdyk was leading the Toronto Maple Leafs with 29 points in 40 games before missing the final three months of the season with a foot injury. He had at least one point in 23 of his games, proof he can replicate his NHL career-high 61 points of 2013-14 if healthy for a full season.

Michael Cammalleri, LW, NJD -- Injuries forced Cammalleri to miss nearly half of last season, but he still managed 38 points in 42 games. He hasn't played more than 68 games since 2008-09, but is in position to be the Devils' second- or third-leading scorer if he stays healthy for 70-75 games and plays with Hall on the first power-play unit.

PA Parenteau, RW, NYI -- The right wing is a fantasy sleeper considering he should play alongside John Tavares and Andrew Ladd on the New York Islanders' top line. Parenteau had his best years with the Islanders, scoring his two highest point totals with them (67 in 2011-12; 53 in 2010-11). He should be available outside the top 150 overall in any format.

Video: TOR@NJD: Parenteau buries rebound to provide the lead

Dylan Strome, C, ARI -- Although he's yet to play an NHL game, Strome had 240 points in 124 games over the past two seasons with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League. Selected by the Arizona Coyotes with the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, he is worth watching if he cracks the roster. He could center the top line right off the bat, and eclipse the rookie point totals of Max Domi (52) and Anthony Duclair (44).

DEFENSEMEN

Kris Letang, D, PIT -- Outside of Karlsson and Brent Burns, Letang may have the highest points-only ceiling among defensemen. He scored an NHL career-high 67 in 71 games last season and was fifth in the League in scoring (53 points in 46 games) after coach Mike Sullivan took over. Letang ranks fourth among active 'D' (minimum 100 games) in points per game (0.63) behind Karlsson, John Klingberg and P.K. Subban.

Shayne Gostisbehere, D, PHI -- Gostisbehere finished 17th in scoring (46 points) and eighth in points-per game (0.72) among defensemen in 64 games as a rookie. It helps playing with center Claude Giroux, who has the most points in the League since 2010-11 (443).

John Carlson, D, WSH -- Carlson ranked ninth among defensemen in points per game (.70) last season with exposure to Ovechkin, Backstrom and Kuznetsov at even strength and on the Capitals' power play. In 2014-15, Carlson had 55 points in 82 games. The Capitals, one of the highest-scoring teams in the League, should provide plenty of opportunities for Carlson to continue accumulating points if healthy.

John Klingberg, D, DAL -- Klingberg followed up an impressive rookie season (40 points in 65 games) with 58 points in 76 games last season. With 98 points in 141 games (0.70 ppg), the 24-year-old needs to be targeted in the 5-10 range among defensemen in a points-only league.

Justin Faulk, D, CAR -- Faulk ranked tied for second among 'D' in power-play goals (12), but was limited to 64 games (37 points). He had 49 points in 82 games in 2014-15 and it wouldn't be a surprise if he had 55-60 this season for the young, improved Carolina Hurricanes.

Tyson Barrie, D, COL -- Barrie ranks seventh among defenseman in points over the past two seasons (102), and has scored at least 12 goals in each of the past three. He was a minus-16 last season and the Colorado Avalanche have a suspect defense, but that doesn't affect his value in a points-only league. He gets to create offense with Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene.

Video: DET@COL: Barrie nets Comeau's dish after fake

TJ Brodie, D, CGY -- Brodie doesn't cover many categories in standard fantasy leagues, but has back-to-back 40-point seasons, making him a valuable points-only asset. He has scored 120 of his 145 NHL points on assists, but luckily they count the same as goals in this format. Draft Brodie outside the top 100 but much higher than his ADP (141.4).

Morgan Rielly, D, TOR -- The 22-year-old is fresh off NHL career highs in goals (nine), assists (27) and points (36) last season, and is poised to take the next step in fantasy. He plays heavy minutes on Toronto's top defensive pairing and should chip in on special teams, giving him 40-45 point potential.

Nick Leddy, D, NYI -- Among returning Islanders (excluding Okposo, Frans Nielsen), Leddy was second in scoring (NHL career-high 40 points) behind John Tavares (70). He was tied for 25th in points among defenseman and is being drafted outside the top 40 on average. He should be in good hands with Tavares, Ladd and Parenteau on the first power-play unit.

Additional points-only assets: Mark Giordano (D, CGY), Dylan Larkin (C/RW, DET), Jeff Carter (C, LAK), Teuvo Teravainen (LW/RW, CAR), Brent Seabrook (D, CHI), Ryan Suter (D, MIN), Seth Jones (D, CBJ), Sean Couturier (C, PHI)

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