On Friday afternoon Yahoo Fantasy Hockey released their list of the top 100 fantasy hockey players for this coming season. These lists are always subjective and there is always debate on who should be listed above or below other players. However, there are some noticeably odd sections on this year’s draft. These are players who should be rated higher in most standard scoring leagues.
Nicklas Backstrom – #70 Overall
We all know Washington has a new defensive coach in Barry Trotz, and that may bring down the overall offensive numbers for Backstrom. However, Trotz has already said he’s not going to change the league’s #1 ranked power play. Backstrom lead the league with 44 PP points last season and is still centering the league’s best goal scorer, Alex Ovechkin. If Yahoo really feels that the Washington offense will suffer from a coaching change, then why rank Ovechkin 5th overall? Someone is going to be dishing Ovi the puck and it’s still going to be Backstrom.
David Krejci – #79 Overall
A lot of people seem to feel with Jerome Iginla leaving for Colorado that Krejci’s production will take a serious hit. While his assist numbers might drop off slightly, last year wasn’t even Krecji’s best season offensively. Krejci has consistently averaged between 60-70 points over the course of an 82 game season. Krecji also lead the league in +/- last year. There’s not indication that Boston is going to change their game style, so while he might not lead the league in that stat again, it’s doubtful his numbers will fall off drastically. Lastly, even though Iginla is gone, Krecji will have a healthy Loui Eriksson on the right wing this year. That’s not much of a step down from Iginla. Somehow Krecji’s teammate Patrice Bergeron is ranked 54th by Yahoo even though Krecji had better numbers last season and appears to be centering the better offensive players coming into this season.
Blake Wheeler – #82 Overall
Perhaps this is being optimistic, but Wheeler should be ranked higher on this list if he can do what he did last year. And what’s to think he can’t? The Jets are expected to be horrible this year, but they were horrible last year as well. Wheeler still put up 28 goals even after his center, Mark Scheifele, was hurt and missed the last quarter of the season. If both players continue to improve there is no reason Wheeler shouldn’t be expected to put up another 25-30 goals this season.
Kyle Okposo – #94 Overall
Before getting hurt for the last month of last season, Okposo was in the top five in NHL scoring. This was even after linemate John Tavares was lost for the year with a knee injury. Okposo has come into his own after struggling for a couple of years to find his game. He’s always had the skill to score goals, but he’s now setting up plays as well as waiting for someone to set him up. He doubled his number of assists from the last full NHL season. With a healthy Tavares, and an improved team over last year, we should see not only better offensive numbers, but also better +/- numbers for Okposo.
Ryan Suter – #100 Overall
While it can be difficult to gauge the value of some defensive players, it’s hard to understand how an annual Norris Trophy contender can be ranked so low. Not only have Suter’s number not taken a hit in any capacity, but the Minnesota Wild will be a better team this season. With the addition of Thomas Vanek, the Wild should be more dynamic not only 5-on-5, but should also improve a power play unit that was average last year. Suter will be quarterbacking that power play all year and should reap the benefit of the better offense. Lastly, Suter’s linemate, Jonas Brodin, is entering his third NHL season and is now a more responsible defensive player. This should allow Suter more time and space to make offensive plays this season.