Power Rankings: '21-22 Fantasy Surprises

·11 min read

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The NHL has been forced to postpone 50 games on the calendar and most of those came in the days leading up to the Christmas break.

So, I figured there was no point in ranking the teams again because a good chunk of them didn't even play since last week's rankings came out.

Instead, I decided to rank each team's biggest fantasy surprise so far in 2021-22.

My criteria were simple: I ranked the players based on how surprised I was by their production and I also took into account what they actually accomplished so far.

For example, I know that Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy is a better player than many of the guys ahead of him on the list, but my level of surprise was minimal when it came to his offensive outbreak. So, he's a little lower on the list.

Here are the rankings:

1 - Nazem Kadri – C – Colorado Avalanche:

Here’s a trivia question for you: How many players have more points than Kadri this year and who are they? If you guessed three and Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl and Alex Ovechkin you’d be correct. Kadri’s scored 30 goals on multiple occasions, but accumulating 38 points in 24 games is incredibly impressive.

2 - Tony DeAngelo – D – Carolina Hurricanes:

DeAngelo flamed out of New York for behind-the-scenes issues. It took him time to find a new team but landing in Carolina was perfect for him. He’s up to 21 points in 22 games, which puts him third on the team in scoring. He needs to be rostered in all fantasy leagues.

3 - Drake Batherson – W – Ottawa Senators:

The 23-year-old has been an offensive monster for the Senators this year. Last season, he had a respectable 34 points in 56 games. He’s erupted for 28 points in just 23 games in 2021-22. The Senators have a lot of good youngsters on their roster, but Batherson has to be one of the top ones in the organization.

4 - Chandler Stephenson – C – Vegas Golden Knights:

The Golden Knights were able to survive a lengthy stretch without Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty because some of the role players, like Stephenson, stepped it up offensively. He has 31 points through 31 games, which still tops on the team. He’s four points away from matching his previous career-high (last season).

5 - Andrew Mangiapane – W – Calgary Flames:

Mangiapane scored 17 and 18 goals in the previous two seasons and he’s already at 17 through 28 games this year. I’ve always liked watching the 25-year-old play, because he’s relentless, but I didn’t realize that he could do this much damage in the NHL. Some people were suggesting that he was Team Canada’s long list for the upcoming Olympics.

6 - Tom Wilson – W – Washington Capitals:

Wilson annoys a lot of non-Caps fans, we all know that. But he’s a really good player when he sticks to playing his game. Watching him produce this year has been something else. He’s nearly running at a point-per-game pace at 24 points in 27 games, which puts him close to a 73-point pace over 82 games. His 31 penalty minutes are also useful in some fantasy leagues.

7 - Ryan Hartman – W – Minnesota Wild:

Hartman has 14 goals through 30 games. I’m gonna say that again. Hartman has 14 goals through 30 games. Does he stay on this pace and finish with 38 goals? Probably not. But the fact that he has that many goals and 29 penalty minutes is pretty impressive.

8 - Troy Terry – W – Anaheim Ducks:

Terry continues to impress with the surprising Ducks. The 24-year-old has put together a remarkable season, as he’s put up 30 points in 31 games, which is already a career-high. He’s five points clear of teammate Trevor Zegras for the team lead in scoring.

9 - Mikael Granlund – C – Nashville Predators:

Granlund is currently on the Covid list, but that won’t take away from the fact that he’s having a solid year. He had 27 points in 51 games last season and he’s already up to 27 points in 28 games in 2021-22. It’ll be interesting to see how he bounces back when he’s out of quarantine.

10 - Pavel Buchnevich – W – St. Louis Blues:

Acquiring Buchnevich from the Rangers for Sammy Blais ended up being a great move for the Blues. Buchnevich has a ridiculous 29 points in 29 games, which means he’s tied for the team lead in scoring with Russian Vladimir Tarasenko. General manager Doug Armstrong deserves a lot of credit for this one.

11 - Lucas Raymond – W – Detroit Red Wings:

I know that Raymond was a high draft pick (fourth overall in 2020), but I didn’t expect him to make this much of an impact in the NHL at 19 years old. The Swede has 10 goals and 18 assists through 31 games and he’s right in the conversation for the Calder Trophy this year.

12 - Chris Kreider – W – New York Rangers:

Kreider came into this season with 28 goals as his career-high, but he’s already accumulated 18 goals in his first 30 contests. He’s on pace for 49 goals, but it would be shocking to see him reach that mark. It would be solid even if he winds up in the 35-goal range.

13 - Alex Killorn – W – Tampa Bay Lightning:

Killorn is third on the team in scoring behind Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman. He’s already up to 25 points in 30 games, which means he could surpass the 50-point mark for the first time in his career. He’s tied for second on the team in goals, with nine.

14 - Jesper Bratt – W – New Jersey Devils:

Bratt posted 35, 33, 32 and 30 points in his first four NHL seasons. So far this year, he’s picked up eight goals and 24 points in 29 games. If I do some fancy math, the calculator tells me that he’s flirting with a 70-point season. It would be an incredible leap for him to reach that mark.

15 - Brock Nelson – C – New York Islanders:

Nelson has hit the 25-goal mark three times in his NHL career, but he’s never scored more than 26. That could change this year. He’s on pace for 43 goals over 82 games, but he’s already missed seven contests. He’s the only Islanders player to hit the double-digit mark in goals so far.

16 - Jared McCann – C – Seattle Kraken:

McCann is finally getting an opportunity to play heavier minutes because he’s on an expansion team and he found a way to produce an impressive 12 goals through the first 25 games. He needs to find the back of the net just three more times to reach a new career-high in that category.

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17 - Evan Rodrigues – C – Pittsburgh Penguins:

Nobody expected Rodrigues to score 10 goals and 23 points in 30 games this season (not even him). But injuries to most of Pittsburgh’s top players opened the door for the 28-year-old. He doesn’t need to be rostered in all fantasy leagues, but he could be an intriguing target in daily fantasy some nights.

18 - Adrian Kempe – C – Los Angeles Kings:

Kempe’s been a useful two-way player for the Kings for a while, but he hasn’t really taken many big steps when it comes to producing offense. This year, that’s kind of changed. He’s already up to 12 goals in 30 games and that’s impressive because his previous career high was 16. He should beat that mark easily if he stays healthy. Picking him up in season-long leagues is still a stretch though.

19 - Anthony Duclair – W – Florida Panthers:

Duclair was off to a great start, but he was forced to miss eight games with a lower-body injury starting in late-November. He failed to pick up a point in two games before the break. He still has an impressive nine goals and 17 points in 21 contests.

20 - Cam Atkinson – W - Philadelphia Flyers:

Atkinson was moved from Columbus to Philly after scoring 15 goals in 56 games last season. In his first year with the Flyers, he’s already up to 12 goals through 29 games. Philadelphia has underachieved pretty badly as a team, but the 32-year-old has done his part when it comes to filling the net.

21 - Jesse Puljujarvi – W – Edmonton Oilers:

The Oilers have been waiting for Puljujarvi to “arrive” for a while and it looks like he’s finally going to be an important piece of their puzzle. Through 28 games, he has 10 goals and 13 assists which places him four on the team in both categories. It looks like he’s going to be a nice complimentary player.

22 - Oliver Bjorkstrand – W – Columbus Blue Jackets:

Bjorkstrand leads the team in scoring with 23 points in 28 games, which puts him on pace to score 67 points over 82 games. That would easily be a career-high for the 26-year-old forward. In his defense, he started taking a step forward last year when he accumulated 44 points in 56 outings.

23 - Kyle Okposo – W – Buffalo Sabres:

Coming into this year, Okposo had accumulated 32 points in 87 games over his last two seasons. In his last full season (2018-19), he had 29 points in 78 contests. It’s nice to see him produce at a higher clip this year, as he’s already at 20 points in 30 games. This is one of the nice feel-good stories in the league this year.

24 - Charlie McAvoy – D – Boston Bruins:

McAvoy has been an important part of the Bruins roster for a while, but he’s taken a big step offensively in 2021-22. He’s up to 15 points in 25 games, which means he could hit the 50-point mark for the first time in his career, His current career-high is 32 points (twice). He’s also averaging 24:31 second of ice time this season.

25 - Ondrej Kase – W – Toronto Maple Leafs:

I could’ve easily gone with Michael Bunting here, too. Kase scored 20 goals for Anaheim in his sophomore year and he never stayed healthy enough to reach that mark again after that point. He now has eight goals in 27 games, which means he could score 23 times in 79 games if he stays healthy. A 25-goal season would be seen as a big success.

26 - Shayne Gostisbehere – D – Arizona Coyotes:

The Flyers were finally able to find a taker for the puck-moving defender during the off-season. The ‘Yotes are a disaster, but the 28-year-old has been able to produce offense at a decent clip. He’s up to 18 points in 29 games, which makes him the second-leading scorer on the team behind Clayton Keller (22 points).

27 - Pierre-Luc Dubois – C – Winnipeg Jets:

The fact that Dubois has a solid 25 points in 30 games isn’t overly surprising, but he’s on this list because he’s outscored every Jet except Kyle Connor. The 23-year-old struggled to find his footing with Winnipeg after last season’s trade but looking pretty good.

28 - Timo Meier – W – San Jose Sharks:

Meier’s last “big” season came in 2018-19 when he scored 30 goals and 66 points in 78 games. Since then, he’s posted 49 points (70 games) and 31 points (54 games). He’s rolling right now, as he’s already put up 29 points in only 25 outings. His 12 goals match his total from a season ago already. He’s having a great year, but he’s low on this list because it’s not as shocking as some of the people ahead of him.

29 - Jason Robertson – W – Dallas Stars:

Robertson finished off his rookie season vert strong in 2020-21, as he accumulated 45 points in 51 games. This year, he’s over a point-per-game pace with 25 points in 23 games. That jump is overly surprising, but the fact that he’s this productive this quickly is impressive.

30 - Conor Garland – W – Vancouver Canucks:

We knew that the Canucks got a good player when they snagged Garland from Arizona. So, it’s not surprising to see him produce 22 points in 31 games with his new team. I had to put someone down for Vancouver and I chose him, but there aren’t too many surprises (mostly disappointments).

31 - Seth Jones – D – Chicago Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks traded for Jones and then gave him a monster extension during the off-season. Whether or not he deserves to make that kind of money is still up for debate, but he’s tied for second on the team in scoring with 23 points in 30 games. Jones has had two 40-plus point seasons and one 57-point year, which means this isn’t as shocking as some of the other players on this list.

32 - Ben Chiarot – D – Montreal Canadiens:

This tells you everything you need to know about the Canadiens’ season. Almost everyone has underachieved on this team, but Chiarot has scored five goals in 31 games this season. He isn’t relevant in most season-long leagues, but your favorite team might make a trade for him before this year’s deadline.