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Way-too-early fantasy hockey top-12 rankings for 2024-25

Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers
Who else but Connor McDavid could lead fantasy hockey draft rankings? (Photo by Leila Devlin/Getty Images)

By Corey Abbott, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

With the 2023-24 regular season winding down, it's time to take an early look at potential first-round selections for the 2024-25 campaign. Free agency and trades can play a role in draft positioning, but, generally speaking, any selection you make in the opening round is about taking the best player available with the intention of building your roster around his talents.

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edmonton Oilers

Connor McDavid headshot
Connor McDavid
C - EDM - #97
2023 - 2024 season
76
GP
32
G
100
A
35
+/-
263
S

McDavid has made a habit of dominant offensive performances since joining the league in 2015-16. He reached the 100-point plateau in seven of his past eight seasons, including a 100-assist effort in 2023-24. Except for a late-season absence because of a lower-body injury, there isn't anything for fantasy managers to dislike about McDavid's performance this year. This has become the norm for the 27-year-old center, making him a more-than-worthy first-overall selection.

2. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

Nathan MacKinnon headshot
Nathan MacKinnon
C - COL - #29
2023 - 2024 season
82
GP
51
G
89
A
35
+/-
405
S

MacKinnon found another gear this season after years of teasing fantasy poolies with this level of offensive explosiveness. After topping the 100-point mark for the first time in 2022-23, he achieved his first 50-goal campaign in 2023-24. MacKinnon also has a career-high 87 assists through 81 contests. Additionally, he amassed a league-high 404 shots on target, which is also a new personal best. Staying healthy has been something that has held him back in the past, but selecting him at No. 2 will be well worth the investment if he manages to avoid injuries again in 2024-25.

3. Nikita Kucherov, RW, Tampa Bay Lightning

Nikita Kucherov headshot
Nikita Kucherov
RW - TB - #86
2023 - 2024 season
81
GP
44
G
100
A
8
+/-
306
S

Kucherov is enjoying the best season of his career, having reached new highs in goals (43), assists (99), points (142) and shots on net (302) through 80 games. He has one more contest to add to those totals. Kucherov has surpassed the 100-point plateau in four straight seasons. His impressive run of production and his right-wing position, which is one of scarcity for fantasy purposes, makes him a great choice at No. 3.

4. Leon Draisaitl, C/LW, Edmonton Oilers

Leon Draisaitl headshot
Leon Draisaitl
C - EDM - #29
2023 - 2024 season
81
GP
41
G
65
A
26
+/-
217
S

Draisaitl is oftentimes the second player taken off the board in fantasy drafts. He has fallen a bit here, which could end up being a mistake, but he is still a worthy player to build a team around. The 28-year-old forward has 100-plus points, 40 or more goals and 200-plus shots in five of the past six seasons. He checked all three of those boxes in 2023-24, with two more games remaining on the schedule. Since 2018-19, Draisaitl has the second-most power-play points in the league, behind only McDavid. He will bring plenty of value to the table at No. 4, and you can certainly justify taking him earlier.

5. Auston Matthews, C, Toronto Maple Leafs

Auston Matthews headshot
Auston Matthews
C - TOR - #34
2023 - 2024 season
81
GP
69
G
38
A
31
+/-
369
S

Matthews has reached the 60-goal mark in two of his last three seasons, including a career-high 69 tallies through 80 outings in 2023-24. He has netted at least 40 goals in five consecutive campaigns. He also comfortably topped 300 shots in three straight years, including a personal best of 357 shots this season. Matthews' goal-scoring ability is on a completely different level from his peers, making him a superb selection in the top five.

6. David Pastrnak, RW, Boston Bruins

David Pastrnak headshot
David Pastrnak
RW - BOS - #88
2023 - 2024 season
82
GP
47
G
63
A
21
+/-
382
S

Pastrnak proved his doubters wrong in 2023-24 with a second straight 100-plus point performance. There was some concern around the Bruins and Pastrnak's fantasy outlook after Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci retired at the end of the 2022-23 campaign. However, Pastrnak continues to flourish offensively. He collected a career-high 63 assists while scoring 47 goals in 82 appearances. The 27-year-old winger has surpassed 300 shots in three straight seasons. Pastrnak's goal-scoring prowess and right-wing position make him a solid choice at No. 6.

7. Artemi Panarin, LW, New York Rangers

Artemi Panarin headshot
Artemi Panarin
LW - NYR - #10
2023 - 2024 season
82
GP
49
G
71
A
18
+/-
303
S

After climbing over the 90-point mark in two straight seasons, Panarin erupted for personal bests in goals (49), points (120) and shots (303) in 82 games during the 2023-24 campaign. The 32-year-old winger was also among the top power-play producers, collecting a personal best of 44 points. A strong case can be made for him being a bit higher in the rankings, but getting him at No. 7 would be a great value if he can build on his newfound success.

8. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Colorado Avalanche

Mikko Rantanen headshot
Mikko Rantanen
RW - COL - #96
2023 - 2024 season
80
GP
42
G
62
A
19
+/-
271
S

Rantanen contributed a second consecutive season of 100-plus points in 2023-24. He has also tallied a career-high 62 helpers over 79 contests, with one game left to play. Rantanen has topped 250 shots for three straight seasons. He is also among the top power-play point generators during that span. Being a right-winger on the high-scoring Avalanche has made him a dependable fantasy option over the years. He would be an excellent selection at eighth overall.

9. J.T. Miller, C/RW, Vancouver Canucks

J.T. Miller headshot
J.T. Miller
C - VAN - #9
2023 - 2024 season
81
GP
37
G
66
A
32
+/-
194
S

Miller has been among the top 10 producers in the NHL over the past three seasons. He surpassed the 100-point mark for the first time in his career in 2023-24 while topping 350 shots for a third consecutive campaign and surpassing 200 hits in two straight years. Miller's scoring and category coverage make him an intriguing choice at No. 9.

10. Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche

Cale Makar headshot
Cale Makar
D - COL - #8
2023 - 2024 season
77
GP
21
G
69
A
15
+/-
231
S

Makar has been the highest-scoring defender in the league since 2021-22. He has a career-high 89 points through 76 outings this season to go along with a personal best 146 blocked shots. The 25-year-old registered well over 200 shots in two of the last three campaigns while scoring more than 20 goals on both of those occasions. Makar's offensive ability from the point rivals some of the more dangerous forwards in the league, making him a superb top-10 pickup.

11. Matthew Tkachuk, LW/RW, Florida Panthers

Matthew Tkachuk headshot
Matthew Tkachuk
LW - FLA - #19
2023 - 2024 season
80
GP
26
G
62
A
19
+/-
280
S

Tkachuk's fantasy value took a bit of a hit this season, but he remains a strong first-round consideration because of his category coverage. After crossing over the 100-point plateau in two straight seasons, he wrapped up 2023-24 with 88 points in 80 appearances. Tkachuk is also credited with 151 hits and 280 shots. He had some rocky stretches, especially in the goal department, but getting back on track shouldn't be much of a problem for him.

12. Jack Hughes, C, New Jersey Devils

Jack Hughes headshot
Jack Hughes
C - NJ - #86
2023 - 2024 season
62
GP
27
G
47
A
-12
+/-
274
S

Hughes amassed 43 goals and 99 points in 78 games during the 2022-23 season. He finished this campaign with 27 markers and 74 points in 62 appearances despite being sidetracked by injuries. Hughes underwent shoulder surgery earlier this month, and he's expected to be ready for training camp in the fall. His draft stock may be dampened by health concerns, but he is a legitimate 100-point threat and could be a steal come draft day.

Honorable Mentions

  • Quinn Hughes (Van-D) took his game to new offensive heights in 2023-24.

  • Kirill Kaprizov (Min-LW) has 40-goal and 100-point upside.

  • Mitchell Marner (Tor-RW) has been over a point-per-game player for six straight seasons and is entering a contract year.