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Fantasy top 100 forward rankings for 2017-18 lists most valuable standard-league assets for next season

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Senior Fantasy Editor

The early fantasy forward rankings for next season provide further evidence that the youth movement in the NHL is in full effect.

Leading the list is 20-year-old Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, who leads the League with 94 points (29 goals, 65 assists) in 78 games in his second NHL season. Among the top five in points per game is the Tampa Bay Lightning 23-year-old forward Nikita Kucherov (1.16), who has 81 points (38 goals, 43 assists) despite injuries to teammates Steven Stamkos and Tyler Johnson and eight games missed himself. Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel, 20, missed 21 games because of an ankle injury but leads the NHL in shots on goal per game (4.1) and has been nearly a point-per-game player (56 in 58 games) with a stellar power-play point total (24).

FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 50 'D' | TOP 25 'G' | AWARDS | TOP 250 FOR 2017-18

Then there's this season's rookie class, highlighted by elite goal-scorers Auston Matthews (39, tied for second in the NHL) of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Patrik Laine (34, tied for seventh) of the Winnipeg Jets. Their per-game goal-scoring rates (Matthews: 0.50; Laine: 0.49) are the highest among rookies since Alex Ovechkin (0.64) and Marek Svatos (0.52) in 2005-06. Matthews has set a Maple Leafs rookie record with 67 points, and the Maple Leafs have two other 60-point rookies in Mitchell Marner (60) and William Nylander (60), who should be available in the middle rounds of non-keeper drafts. Matthew Tkachuk (45th in Yahoo) of the Calgary Flames and Sebastian Aho (94th) also were huge rookie steals based on Yahoo average draft position.

Fantasy owners need to prioritize the names above in drafts next season, but should not forget to have the usual staples near the top of their draft board. Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins has a League-leading 43 goals, the second-highest single-season goal total of his NHL career. Keep an eye on his frequent linemates Conor Sheary and Jake Guentzel, who have been productive when healthy and carry sleeper potential for next season. Ovechkin has had another season of elite totals in goals (33), power-play points (24) and shots on goal (300) alongside fellow top-15 forward Nicklas Backstrom. Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks has 193 points the past two seasons, 24 points more than Crosby in second, while playing alongside top-20 forward Artemi Panarin.

Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins proved he belongs among the top 10 fantasy forwards with 39 goals this season, two more than he had last season. He also set single-season NHL career-highs this season with 85 points and 24 power-play points playing alongside Patrice Bergeron. The Penguins' Evgeni Malkin, the No. 1 player in fantasy prior to his injuries, and Stamkos, second in the League in points per game behind McDavid (1.18), are as valuable as any players League-wide when healthy but are safer picks in the second round rather than the first.

Video: Pete Jensen on the last week of fantasy hockey



David Pastrnak, RW, BOS (Yahoo rank: 12; ADP: 166.1) -- Pastrnak played the first half of the season on a line with Marchand and Bergeron, but has finished it mostly alongside David Krejci after the Boston Bruins replaced coach Claude Julien with Bruce Cassidy on Feb. 7. Pastrnak, who has climbed the fantasy rankings with 68 points (32 goals, 36 assists), a plus-10 rating, 24 power-play points and 252 shots on goal in 72 games, belongs among the top 20 forwards entering next season.

Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, OTT (Yahoo rank: 14; ADP: 141.6) -- The Ottawa Senators are closing in on a Stanley Cup Playoff berth largely because of Hoffman's offensive consistency. In addition to his 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) in 71 games, he is one of two players in the NHL with at least 25 power-play points (26), 200 shots on goal (218) and a plus-10 rating (plus-13); the other is Kucherov. Hoffman had 59 points last season but has doubled his 13 power-play points from last season and has more penalty minutes (51) and a better plus/minus rating this season. He could sustain his production in 2017-18 if right wing Mark Stone is healthy for a full season.

Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM (Yahoo rank: 32; ADP: 159.3) -- Draisaitl, 21, has taken a big step forward this season with exposure to McDavid helping him to 74 points (28 goals, 46 assists), 26 power-play points and 166 shots on goal in 78 games, all improvements on last season when he had 51 points (19 goals, 32 assists), nine power-play points and 133 shots on goal in 72 games. The Oilers appear poised to be Stanley Cup Playoff contenders for many seasons, so Draisaitl should be treated as a prime keeper asset and a top-20 fantasy forward. McDavid and Draisaitl didn't play the entire season together but are the third-ranked point pair (38 team goals with each recording a point) behind Kane-Panarin (44) and Ovechkin-Backstrom (39).

Video: ANA@EDM: Draisaitl buries McDavid's feed for OT win

Other big forward steals based on ADP: Nazem Kadri, C, TOR (Yahoo rank: 21; ADP: 160); Cam Atkinson, RW, CBJ (Yahoo rank: 30; ADP: 157.8); Ryan Kesler C, ANA (Yahoo rank: 38; ADP: 128.1); Eric Staal C, MIN (Yahoo rank: 41; ADP: 161.2); Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET (Yahoo rank: 58; ADP: 145.9); Evander Kane, LW, BUF (Yahoo rank: 71; ADP: 163.5)

Valuable forwards who went undrafted on average in Yahoo: Mikael Granlund, C/LW/RW, MIN (Yahoo rank: 37); Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, NSH (50); Patrick Maroon, LW, EDM (63); Anders Lee, LW, NYI (75); Conor Sheary, LW/RW, PIT (116)



Tyler Toffoli, C/RW, LAK (Yahoo rank: 254; ADP: 87.3) -- Toffoli's shooting percentage dipped to 9.6 from 14.6 last season, and the Los Angeles Kings' collective offensive woes hurt his fantasy value. Toffoli missed time because of a lower-body injury and has seen his points-per-game average drop to 0.54 this season from 0.71 last season with a lesser power-play impact (six power-play points this season, 11 last season). Some offseason roster adjustments and a bounce-back season for Anze Kopitar could go a long way in helping Toffoli reach the 30-goal mark again; he had 31 in 2015-16.

Alex Galchenyuk, C, MTL (Yahoo rank: 227; ADP: 133.2) -- Galchenyuk had 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists) and a plus-9 rating in his first 25 games, but then sustained a knee injury Dec. 4. He hasn't been the same since returning Jan. 14, with 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists) and a minus-11 rating in 33 games, including 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 21 games since Claude Julien replaced Michel Therrien as coach. An offseason to fully heal after the Stanley Cup Playoffs and a full training camp under Julien could help Galchenyuk, 23, reach 60 points and 20 power-play points for the first time in the NHL.

Matt Duchene, C/RW, COL (Yahoo rank: 420; ADP: 95.8) -- The only way to go for Duchene and the Colorado Avalanche in 2017-18 is up. He finished outside the top 400 overall, with sizable dips in goals (30 to 17), points (59 to 37), rating (minus-8 to minus-36), power-play points (15 to nine) and shots on goal (200 to 149) compared to last season in three fewer games. If the Avalanche address their defense and pair Duchene with top prospect center Tyson Jost, he has a chance to rejoin the top 100 fantasy assets next season. 

Video: STL@COL: Duchene goes five-hole on shootout tally


Top 100 Fantasy Forwards for 2017-18

Value is quantified by line combinations, power-play usage, past performance and overall upside for next season in standard leagues (goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points, shots on goal). Players who can become unrestricted or restricted free agents this summer have been identified.

1. Connor McDavid, C, EDM
2. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
3. Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
4. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL
5. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH
6. Auston Matthews, C, TOR
7. Patrik Laine, LW/RW, WPG
8. Jack Eichel, C, BUF
9. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS
10. Tyler Seguin, C/RW, DAL
11. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL
12. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH
13. Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT (INJ.)
14. Mark Scheifele, C, WPG
15. John Tavares, C, NYI (INJ.)
16. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL
17. Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI
18. Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM (RFA)
19. Steven Stamkos, C, TBL (INJ.)
20. David Pastrnak, RW, BOS (RFA)
21. Joe Pavelski, C/RW, SJS
22. Phil Kessel, RW, PIT
23. Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG
24. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL
25. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS
26. Wayne Simmonds, RW, PHI
27. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY
28. Mitchell Marner, C/RW, TOR
29. Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA
30. Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, OTT
31. Corey Perry, RW, ANA
32. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA (INJ.)
33. Sean Monahan, C, CGY
34. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH
35. William Nylander, C/RW, TOR
36. Mikael Granlund, C/LW/RW, MIN (RFA)
37. Cam Atkinson, RW, CBJ
38. Ryan Johansen, C, NSH (RFA)
39. Claude Giroux, C, PHI
40. Jeff Carter, C, LAK
41. Jakub Voracek, LW/RW, PHI
42. Eric Staal, C, MIN
43. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH (RFA)
44. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI
45. Ryan Kesler, C, ANA
46. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA
47. Jonathan Drouin, LW/RW, TBL (RFA)
48. Sebastian Aho, LW/RW, CAR
49. Conor Sheary, LW/RW, PIT (RFA)
50. Anze Kopitar, C, LAK
51. Nazem Kadri, C, TOR
52. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, CGY
53. Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR
54. Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET
55. James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR
56. Alexander Radulov, LW/RW, MTL (UFA)
57. Brayden Schenn, C/LW, PHI
58. Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, NSH (RFA)
59. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, WPG
60. Mikko Koivu, C, MIN
61. Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, COL
62. Logan Couture, C, SJS (INJ.)
63. Tyler Toffoli, C/RW, LAK (RFA)
64. Ryan O'Reilly, C/LW, BUF
65. T.J. Oshie, RW, WSH (UFA)
66. Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT
67. Nick Foligno, LW/RW, CBJ
68. Taylor Hall, LW, NJD
69. James Neal, RW, NSH (INJ.)
70. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR
71. Evander Kane, LW, BUF
72. Alex Galchenyuk, C, MTL
73. Joe Thornton, C, SJS (UFA)
74. Derek Stepan, C, NYR
75. Mats Zuccarello, RW, NYR
76. Anders Lee, LW, NYI
77. Rickard Rakell, C/LW, ANA
78. Mark Stone, RW, OTT
79. Kyle Palmieri, RW, NJD
80. Kyle Okposo, RW, BUF
81. Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, MIN (RFA)
82. Marcus Johansson, LW/RW, WSH
83. Kyle Turris, C, OTT
84. Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL (RFA)
85. Patrick Maroon, LW, EDM
86. Bryan Little, C, WPG
87. Nick Schmaltz, C/LW, CHI
88. Tyler Johnson, C, TBL (RFA)
89. J.T. Miller, C/LW/RW, NYR
90. Jaromir Jagr, LW/RW, FLA (UFA)
91. Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CBJ
92. Jake Guentzel, C/LW, PIT
93. Zach Parise, LW, MIN
94. Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA
95. Jason Spezza, C/RW, DAL
96. Marian Hossa, RW, CHI
97. Elias Lindholm, C/RW, CAR
98. Sam Reinhart, C/RW, BUF
99. Bo Horvat, C, VAN (RFA)
100. Anthony Mantha, LW/RW, DET (INJ.)

Just missed: Alexander Wennberg (C, CBJ - RFA), Charlie Coyle (C/RW, MIN), Jaden Schwartz (C/LW, STL), Teuvo Teravainen (C/LW/RW, CAR - RFA), Mika Zibanejad (C/RW, NYR - RFA), David Krejci (C, BOS), Matt Duchene (C/RW, COL), Max Domi (LW, ARI), Robby Fabbri (C/LW, STL - INJ.), Brendan Gallagher (RW, MTL), Andre Burakovsky (LW/RW, WSH - RFA), Joshua Ho-Sang (C/RW, NYI)


READ: Last week's Top 100 forward rankings

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