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Fantasy top 100 forward rankings for 2018-19

Tavares' decision could shake up landscape; Kovalchuk will be valuable upon NHL return; trade would boost Pacioretty, Skinner

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

NHL.com updates the top 100 fantasy forward landscape based on past production and expectations for next season in standard Yahoo leagues. Fantasy owners should use these updated rankings as a basis for team evaluation, keeper decisions and offseason draft research. These rankings will be updated throughout the offseason after the 2018 NHL Draft, free agency, trades, injury updates, prospect news, fantasy mock drafts and other developments.

 

FANTASY RANKINGS: Top 250 | 50 'D' | 25 'G' | Keeper | Cheat sheet

 

With the offseason underway, here are five forwards that can alter the fantasy landscape:

 

John Tavares, C, NYI -- The New York Islanders center quietly eclipsed 80 points (84) for the third time of his NHL career this season and leads the 2018 class of unrestricted free agents. If Tavares signs with the right team, he could easily catapult back into first-round consideration, and his potential departure from the Islanders could lead to at least a short-term dip for Calder Trophy finalist Mathew Barzal and fellow first power-play forwards Anders Lee (potential 2019 UFA), Josh Bailey and defenseman Nick Leddy. The Islanders have hired Hockey Hall of Fame executive Lou Lamoriello, who has since fired coach Doug Weight and general manager Garth Snow. These changes mean Tavares' numbers could still improve if he stays, but New York would still need to address its defense and goaltending for their elite center to rejoin the top 15 forwards. Left wing Anthony Beauvillier (potential 2019 RFA), defenseman Ryan Pulock (2018 RFA) and forward prospect Kieffer Bellows give the Islanders hope for the future, regardless of Tavares' decision.

Ilya Kovalchuk, LW/RW, UFA -- After playing the past five seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, Kovalchuk is eligible to return to the NHL as an unrestricted free agent July 1. It appears logical for the 35-year-old to join a Cup contender, but Kovalchuk would be a staple on the top line and first power-play unit of any team he joins. In his most recent NHL season with the New Jersey Devils in 2012-13, Kovalchuk averaged 24:44 per game and 5:28 on the power play; no NHL forward has reached those averages in any of the past five seasons. Kovalchuk, who has 816 points (417 goals, 399 assists) in 816 career NHL games, will instantly join the top 50 forward rankings once he signs and can safely be projected for 55-60 points with around 20 on the power play next season.

Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL -- The Montreal Canadiens left wing is entering a contract year and can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2019. Montreal has the No. 3 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft and could select left wing Brady Tkachuk, so trading Pacioretty could be an option given his contract status after the Canadiens missed the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Montreal has top defenseman Shea Weber and goaltender Carey Price under long-term contracts, so it could feasibly choose to move on from its captain. Pacioretty was limited to 64 games this season because of a knee injury but has scored at least 30 goals in each of his past five full seasons. Whether he's with the Canadiens or another team, he's a glaring bounce-back candidate in 2018-19.

James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR -- The Toronto Maple Leafs left wing scored an NHL career-high 36 goals this season even though he averaged 14:54 per game in mostly a third-line role. He scored 11 power-play goals (T-21st in NHL) and ranked third in goals per 60 minutes (1.79) behind Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine (1.95) and Toronto center Auston Matthews (1.81). Van Riemsdyk can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, and may not be back with the Maple Leafs considering Matthews and right wing Mitchell Marner can become 2019 RFAs on July 1, 2019 and forward William Nylander is a potential RFA this July 1. Van Riemsdyk would add goal-scoring pop to a top-six forward group elsewhere, so he has a chance to gain fantasy value depending on whether he lands on a line with an elite center.

Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR -- The Carolina Hurricanes left wing played on the second and third lines last season under coach Bill Peters and regressed from 37 goals in 2016-17 to 24 as a result. With the Hurricanes coming off recent changes in ownership, general manager and coach (to Rod Brind'Amour), Skinner could be traded this offseason with his contract set to expire July 1, 2019. Carolina is likely to draft wing Andrei Svechnikov with the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, and young forwards Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen (potential 2019 RFAs) and Valentin Zykov (2018 RFA) comprise the Hurricanes' first line these days. A trade would almost certainly boost Skinner's fantasy value for next season and help him rejoin the top 100 forward rankings below.

 

TOP 100 FORWARD RANKINGS

Standard Yahoo skater categories include goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal. Positions indicate eligibility in Yahoo leagues during 2017-18 season (subject to change at Yahoo's discretion in offseason). ... Value has been quantified based on factors including but not limited to past production, projected line combinations, power-play usage, injury history, sleeper upside, anticipated regression or bounce-back candidacy, age and contract status (pending unrestricted or restricted free agent). ... In addition to players who could become unrestricted or restricted free agents July 1, any potential 2019 UFAs (*) and RFAs (**) are also noted below. ... INJ. indicates players who dealt with injuries at the end of the regular season and/or in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

 

1. Connor McDavid, C, EDM
2. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH
3. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL**
4. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT
5. Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT
6. Patrik Laine, RW, WPG**
7. Steven Stamkos, C, TBL
8. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS
9. Nathan MacKinnon, C, COL
10. David Pastrnak, RW, BOS
11. Auston Matthews, C, TOR**
12. Blake Wheeler, C/RW, WPG*
13. Claude Giroux, C/LW, PHI
14. Tyler Seguin, C/RW, DAL*
15. Jamie Benn, C/LW, DAL
16. Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
17. Taylor Hall, LW, NJD (INJ.)
18. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH
19. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS
20. Phil Kessel, RW, PIT
21. Mark Scheifele, C, WPG
22. John Tavares, C, NYI (UFA)
23. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL (INJ.)
24. Artemi Panarin, C/LW, CBJ*
25. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA
26. Jack Eichel, C, BUF
27. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY
28. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH
29. Anze Kopitar, C, LAK
30. Joe Pavelski, C/RW, SJS*
31. Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA
32. Mitchell Marner, C/RW, TOR**
33. Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI
34. William Karlsson, C/LW, VGK (RFA)
35. Mathew Barzal, C, NYI
36. Evander Kane, LW, SJS
37. Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM
38. Alexander Radulov, RW, DAL
39. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH
40. Sean Monahan, C, CGY (INJ.)
41. Jonathan Marchessault, C/LW, VGK
42. Mikko Rantanen, LW/RW, COL**
43. Brock Boeser, RW, VAN (INJ.)**
44. Rickard Rakell, C/LW/RW, ANA
45. Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT
46. Sean Couturier, C, PHI (INJ.)
47. Sebastian Aho, LW/RW, CAR**
48. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW/RW, WPG
49. Viktor Arvidsson, LW/RW, NSH
50. Mikael Granlund, C/RW, MIN
51. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, CGY (INJ.)**
52. William Nylander, C/RW, TOR (RFA)
53. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL (INJ.)*
54. Logan Couture, C/LW, SJS*
55. Cam Atkinson, RW, CBJ
56. Brayden Point, C/RW, TBL**
57. Vincent Trocheck, C, FLA
58. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA
59. Brayden Schenn, C/LW, STL
60. Eric Staal, C, MIN*
61. Wayne Simmonds, RW, PHI (INJ.)*
62. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL
63. Clayton Keller, C/LW/RW, ARI
64. Anders Lee, LW, NYI*
65. Ryan Johansen, C, NSH
66. Nazem Kadri, C, TOR
67. Teuvo Teravainen, C/LW/RW, CAR**
68. Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, FLA
69. Mark Stone, RW, OTT (RFA - INJ.)
70. Evgenii Dadonov, LW/RW, FLA
71. Matt Duchene, C/RW, OTT*
72. Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL (INJ.)
73. Jeff Carter, C, LAK
74. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (INJ.)
75. James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR (UFA)
76. Reilly Smith, LW/RW, VGK
77. T.J. Oshie, RW, WSH
78. Kyle Connor, LW, WPG**
79. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR
80. Jake Guentzel, C/LW, PIT**
81. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C/LW, CBJ
82. Dylan Larkin, C/RW, DET (RFA)
83. J.T. Miller, C/LW/RW, TBL (RFA)
84. Dustin Brown, LW/RW, LAK
85. Jason Zucker, LW/RW, MIN (RFA)
86. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR
87. Tom Wilson, LW/RW, WSH (RFA)
88. Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL
89. Tomas Hertl, C/LW/RW, SJS (RFA)
90. Yanni Gourde, C/RW, TBL*
91. Alex DeBrincat, LW/RW, CHI
92. Pavel Buchnevich, LW/RW, NYR**
93. Corey Perry, RW, ANA
94. Jordan Eberle, C/RW, NYI*
95. Sam Reinhart, C/LW/RW, BUF (RFA)
96. Travis Konecny, C/LW/RW, PHI**
97. Tyler Toffoli, C/RW, LAK
98. Nico Hischier, C, NJD
99. Nino Niederreiter, LW/RW, MIN
100. Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, ARI

 

Just missed: Jeff Skinner, LW, CAR*; Kevin Fiala, LW/RW, NSH**; Josh Bailey, LW/RW, NYI; Tyler Johnson, C/RW, TBL; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, EDM; Bo Horvat, C, VAN; Kyle Palmieri, RW, NJD; Mats Zuccarello, RW, NYR*; Nolan Patrick, C, PHI; Craig Smith, RW, NSH; Zach Hyman, C/LW, TOR; Ryan O'Reilly, C, BUF; Alex Tuch, RW, VGK**; Nick Bjugstad, C/RW, FLA; Max Domi, C/LW, MTL; Derek Stepan, C, ARI (INJ.); Nick Schmaltz, C/LW, CHI**; Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET; Patrick Marleau, C/LW, TOR; Kyle Turris, C, NSH; Derick Brassard, C, PIT*

Other notable potential 2018 UFAs: James Neal, LW/RW, VGK; David Perron, LW/RW, VGK; Paul Stastny, C, WPG; Joe Thornton, C, SJS (INJ.); Rick Nash, LW/RW, BOS

Other notable potential 2018 RFAs: Anthony Mantha, LW/RW, DET; Valentin Zykov, LW/RW, CAR; Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, CBJ; Sven Baertschi, LW, VAN (INJ.)

 

READTop 100 forward rankings for May 2018

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