The 8 most ridiculous things about ESPN’s 2013 NHL rankings

People love lists, writes the guy who made a book of lists. They’re fun to argue about and obsess over and agree with, but most mostly disagree with.

So’s NHL rankings this week via a panel of “experts” (their quotes, not ours) produced some really fun grist for the mill as the season nears. Especially on their top 25 goalies, which saw ESPN rank Jimmy Howard ahead of Craig Anderson, Corey Crawford, Antti Niemi and Cory Schneider. Most of the material was really good and compelling.

But when you’re ranking the 25 best goalies right now and the 100 best forwards at the moment and the 50 best defensemen this minute and the NHL’s head coaches, there are bound to be some mistakes and some oversights that leave one smacking one’s head with ESPN: The Magazine while sitting at ESPN: The Desk.

Here are the 8 most ridiculous things about ESPN’s 2013 NHL rankings.

1. The Massive Oversights At Forward

As we covered previously, the idea that both Bobby Ryan and Shane Doan would rank outside the Top 100 forwards in the NHL is truly baffling, made even more so by virtue of the fact they ranked behind sophomores like Alex Galchenyuk and Brandon Saad as well as Sven Baertschi, who has played 25 games in the National Hockey League, or 1,221 fewer than Shane Doan. You could argue both players are top 50 forwards; but were absent from the top 100.

2. Ken Kitchcock

Well ain’t that a hick in the pants …

3. Adam Oates Can Cure Lepers

Hey, there’s no question that Adam Oates is a quality coach. And like most coaches that get overrated quickly, you can point to things that he did for the Washington Capitals – shifting Ovechkin to the right side, juicing the power-play effectiveness – and say, yes, Adam Oates is a coach that coaches.

But it’s been one 48-game season, which is hardly enough reason to rank him ahead of Michel Therrien and Lindy Ruff and Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella and Randy Carlyle. If you have one game to win, do you turn the keys over to any of those five or to Adam Oates?

4. The Head Shots

Dion Phaneuf as a Flame. Brian Campbell as a Blackhawk. Chris Kunitz as a Duck. Mike Richards as a Flyer. Randy Carlyle, many hairs ago. Our favorite has to be Andrew Ladd as a Chicago Blackhawk, because that’s actually two teams and a relocation ago.

5. Ilya Koval-what?

We’re not sure when the voting for this project happened. Maybe some ballots rolled in before Ilya Kovalchuk “retired.” But the KHL star made the NHL list, which is understandable. Not so fine: He made the list at No. 64, which is a preposterous placement for arguably a top 10 forward in the world. Then again, maybe it’s better to keep Ilya Kovalchuk off the list if the results have him ranked behind Jonathan Huberdeau and Wayne Simmonds. That way Bobby Ryan could get on.

6. Maybe We Can Wait Until They Coach a Game

While it’s understandable when ranking all 30 head coaches in the NHL, the idea that Patrick Roy and Dallas Eakins should rank ahead of anyone that’s actually coached a game in the NHL is absurd.

The task was “rank each coach on a scale of 1 to 10 based on his current ability to guide and motivate his team.” Apparently, Dallas Eakins getting the Edmonton Oilers to eat more celery trumps Mike Yeo getting the Minnesota Wild into the playoffs last season.

There’s a reason why Nathan MacKinnon didn’t make the top 100 forwards list. (Double-checks that he didn’t.)

7. Marc-Absent Fleury

Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t make the top 30 goalies in the NHL, which is weird when you consider he had better numbers than Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick last season. Oh, that’s right: He was abjectly terrible in the playoffs last season, which should rank him behind Jonathan Bernier and Viktor Fasth, right? Because the playoffs are given such weight, right? In a related story, Adam Oates was the 14th best coach in the NHL.

8. Finally, the Toronto Maple Leaves

… usually around early April, in most seasons.