Fantasy Hockey: Ranking the NHL forwards for 2015-16

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Fantasy Hockey: Ranking the NHL forwards for 2015-16
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  • Sidney Crosby
    Sidney Crosby
    Canadian ice hockey player
  • Phil Kessel
    Phil Kessel
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Dobber Hockey launched in 2005 and Dobber and his staff have hitched their wagons to Puck Daddy to preach fantasy hockey to the Yahoo! masses since 2009.

By Demetri Fragopoulos

Are you going to be that guy?

‎You know, the one who talks hockey all the time whether it is in the lunch room, standing in line for coffee, or while working out in the gym. Regurgitating what you heard on the sport talk radio station while driving into work or to school earlier that day. Acting like there is nothing you do not know about the game and its players.

‎What comes out of your mouth sounds reasonable. Yet when it came time make your fantasy draft picks last year you looked worse than Patrick Roy did against Brendan Shanahan (see #3 in that link).

When the owner in front of you had his named called for his first pick, your brain froze up much like Tommy Salo’s did against Belarus (see #4) at the Salt Lake Olympics.

Even with the fourth pick in the first round you hummed and hawed for more than five minutes to only flub your selection similar to Patrick Stefan’s empty netter (see #1) against the Edmonton Oilers.

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Like Stefan, your gaffe immediately came back to haunt you because your opponents wasted no time to capitalize on your horrible first round draft pick of Rick Nash.

The continuous begging for assistance from the other fantasy owners as your draft proceeded became irritating to everyone especially those that you were sitting closest to. Did you honestly think they would give you advice to help you, the guy who knows everything? ‎

If you did any preparation at all, it was to print out the roster of your favorite team which happens to be the Rangers.

The reality is that the other owners tolerate your behavior and you are invited to the draft every year because you are an easy out.

Smarten up and don't be that guy this year. Make a list based on the scoring system of your fantasy league. It does not matter if you are in a keeper or drafting in a single year league. No list equals no chance at victory.

Top 10 in Points

Do you know that Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are the only players to have been in the top 10 scoring leaders in more than five of the previous 10 seasons? They’ll be there again but not where you would expect them.

Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins

It has been four years since he was last seen in the top 10 NHL scorers but with the addition of Phil Kessel over the summer he will return to the list and be the top guy. He will still get his share of points with Crosby and on the power play.

John Tavares, New York Islanders

I would not say that he broke out but he did assert himself as a contender for future scoring titles. With the roster naturally improving there is more in him to give. His age and numbers are much like Seguin’s, including power play goals and game winners.

Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

He hits, he shoots, he scores and he does all three a lot. Out of the last ten seasons he has made the top ten point producers eight times. No one comes close to his three year goal totals and only Crosby surpassed his point totals for the same period. The only thing missing is a Stanley Cup.

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

If it were not for the Toronto-Pittsburgh deal and the two surgeries on Jamie Benn’s hips this summer I would have ranked Seguin first. His shot totals are in the elite-sphere. Goal scoring and playmaking are about even over the last three years so he is not stuck to one method to get his points, note that 29 were generated from the power play last year. Best part is that he will be turning 24 in January.

Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers

You might have forgotten that he has been near the top twice before. It would be easy to forget because the Oilers have been terrible. That all changes this year! No lower body injury to slow him down. He will crack the 30 goal mark for the first time and get more than six points with the man advantage.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning

His recovery from that horrible leg injury seemed to be behind him even though his point production was admittedly lower than expectations. Then the playoffs came with that evil dry spell in the Finals. Doubts emerged but do not let them frighten you away. He is second to only Ovechkin in total goals over the last three years.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Ranked second is not bad. The deal for Kessel will help the Penguins by unburdening Crosby. He is a competitor and he will not give up easily. However, individual accomplishments are not his primary focus. Winning the Cup for the second time in his career is.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

A return to the top 10 is in the cards for Giroux (ranked eighth) this year. Led the league with 37 power play points last year and had combined another 58 points in the two years before that. Even though he earns more assists than goals shooting the puck is not an issue.

Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh Penguins

Oh how he is going to love playing for the Penguins this year. Look for goals and more goals to come from him. He might even turn out to be a hotdog but I am sure that Crosby and Malkin will keep his new found enthusiasm in check. Just out of Yahoo's top 10 overall at number 11, but the 10th ranked forward.

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

Can you call the reigning scoring champion a sidekick? The Seguin-Benn duo will prove once again that they are a formidable force. I look at their power play point totals and anticipate that an increase will be forthcoming. With Benn you also get some ancillary shorthanded goals/points as well as blocked shots and hits.

MONTREAL, QC - MAY 09:  Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens gets tangled up with Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on May 9, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
MONTREAL, QC - MAY 09: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens gets tangled up with Braydon Coburn #55 of the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on May 9, 2015 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Goal Scorers

One thing is for certain, the only way to get power-play or game-winning goals is to get goals in the first place. These guys will shoot and score for you.

Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens

He had over 300 shots last year and has been consistent in scoring over the last three years. Did you know that he earned two more goals than your beloved Rick Nash in that span? He injured his knee in July so he will slip down many people's lists.

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks

It is time for the new blood to take control and lead this team. Nothing against Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau, they are excellent in a supporting role. Couture has hit the 30 goal mark twice before and he will have to do so again to show everyone what the future will be like in San Jose.

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings

In less than two weeks he will turn 26 years old. Whether you technically feel that this is his third or fourth season, I believe his production will mirror what we experienced in 2013-14 when he got 28 goals in 57 games.

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04:   Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center on April 4, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 04: Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings skates with the puck against the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center on April 4, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Setup Men

You may feel that playmakers are short changed as compared to goal scorers when it comes to having added value in other categories but in general they do earn more power play points.

Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

Age does not diminish the skill they can display with their hands. They needed another guy to feed pucks and Radim Vrbata did well in that respect. They are no longer a sexy pick but they are the go-to guys in Vancouver.

Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets

The steady and incremental progress that he is displaying is amazing. I personally thought his contract holdout last year was going to hinder him but it did not. With a better cast around him, which now includes Brandon Saad, he will continue to impress us and make locals forget about that other guy that they once had.

Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

Many negative things surrounded the Kings last season. It had an obvious effect on their players. With a clean start to this season Kopitar will solidify his assist and point totals. In the last three years he earned 121 helpers which ranks him eighth amongst his peers.

PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 24:  David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on March 24, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - MARCH 24: David Backes #42 of the St. Louis Blues looks on during the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center on March 24, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Other Category Considerations

There is going to be some noise coming out of the Western Conference teams this season. It is going to be fun watching those late night games.

Troy Brouwer and David Backes, St. Louis Blues (Hits)

The trade that shipped out T.J. Oshie for Troy Brouwer adds another six-foot-three player to the Blues lineup that throws over 200 hits a season, much like what Backes does already. Those hits keep opponents on their toes and opens up ice for their forwards. Both are in the final year of their contracts.

Milan Lucic and Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings (Hits)

In another deal, Milan Lucic became a King. He will join big boy Dustin Brown in throwing their weight around. While Brown has lost his scoring touch many people expect Lucic to find it. I expect any point increase to be moderate for both. In Lucic's case, I would expect his penalty minutes to rise as he will want to show his teammates that he will stick up for them.

Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks (Blocked Shots)

It is not all that too often that you find point producers who also stand in front of shots. The risk of injury is heightened however, that is what you get from Getzlaf and Kesler. As forwards go, their blocked values have been good and steady over the last three years. You can expect a decent number of hits from them as well.

Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks (Blocked Shots)

Little Joe has been anything but little. Not only does he block shots but he generates shots, earns goals and points. Last year he was credited with 19 goals and 12 assists on the power play. Couture can also be counted on to stand in the way of the opposition too.

CHICAGO, IL - MAY 23: Ryan Kesler #17 and Andrew Cogliano #7 of the Anaheim Ducks react after Kesler scored against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - MAY 23: Ryan Kesler #17 and Andrew Cogliano #7 of the Anaheim Ducks react after Kesler scored against the Chicago Blackhawks in the third period in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2015 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center on May 23, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Don’t Overrate

While the sleeper picks have their own Puck Daddy column, we need a spot to stick in some of the guys who will be overrated at your draft. Either their too injury prone to take a chance on, or they just simply played over their head last year…slide these guys down your draft list.

Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks - Is this a playoff pool? No? Okay then, get a hold of yourself.

Any Arizona Coyotes player - Sure, some experts think that rookie Max Domi will get 60 points or more. But that's not worth the risk. Let someone else take it.

David Krejci, Boston Bruins - We don't trust his chronic, nagging injuries one bit.

Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes - His concussion history scares us. But we also think he's playing a safer brand of hockey so as to avoid getting another one. This is great for his help, but not so great for his fantasy owners.

Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets - We're not boldly predicting a decline back to his 45-point ways. We're far too chicken for that. But come on, the guy is not a 70-point player.

Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars - There are many who think that the change of scenery will help him find his mojo. I'm not one of them. But he'll probably rebound a little.

Mikko Koivu, Minnesota wild - His numbers tumbled last season and his ice time has been slipping for two years now. Coach Mike Yeo seems to be focusing more on pushing Granlund into that top-line role.

Any New Jersey Devils player - Just don't. Seriously. Don't.

Mike Hoffman, Ottawa Senators - An improvement on last year's impressive rookie campaign is unlikely. He does have a history of high shot percentages, so that part isn't out of whack. But in general, Hoffman is closer to a future 50-point player than he is a future 65-point player.

Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins - Besides newcomers Phil Kessel and Sergei Plotnikov muddying the top-six waters, Kunitz was completely snakebitten last year despite playing with the best player in hockey. Ranked 115, and frankly I think that's mighty generous.

Tyler Bozak, Toronto Maple Leafs - The sky is blue. Water is wet. Mike Babcock has an intimidating stare. And Bozak won't do as well with Phil Kessel gone.

Justin Williams, Washington Capitals - Is this a playoff pool? No? Okay then, get a hold of yourself.

Demetri Fragopoulos pens The Contrarian every Sunday at DobberHockey.com

Dobber launched DobberHockey back in 2005 and his 10th annual Fantasy Guide can be found here. That's right - 10th annual. He's been around the block. Follow Dobber on Twitter @DobberHockey.

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