Fantasy Hockey Forward Tiers: Separating the best from the rest

By Chris Morgan, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports

When it comes to fantasy hockey, forwards get most of the glory. That makes sense given that they provide the bulk of the offense. Players in each tier below are relatively similar in value, created with Yahoo standard leagues in mind.

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The True Elite

Connor McDavid, Nikita Kucherov, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin

This quintet is the true cream of the crop. McDavid just won the Art Ross with 108 points and he’s only 21. We are only beginning the era which he will rule as the NHL’s best player. Ovechkin was close to getting dropped a tier, which you may find shocking. However, he will be 33 when the season starts and he hasn’t had even 90 points since the 2009-10 campaign. Still, nobody is a better goal-scorer, and the man is dominant on the power play. He’s earned at least one more season in this tier.

The Dynamos

Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Nathan MacKinnon, Taylor Hall, Claude Giroux, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Anze Kopitar, Auston Matthews, Mark Scheifele, Brad Marchand, Blake Wheeler, Patrik Laine, Phil Kessel, Mathew Barzal, Johnny Gaudreau, Patrick Kane, David Pastrnak, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Artemi Panarin

These players are great, and you’d love to have as many of them as possible on your team, but they aren’t quite elite. Some, like Stamkos and Tavares, have arguably been Tier 1 performers before. In fact, now that Tavares (who had 84 points last season) is in Toronto, he could easily make that leap.

A couple of the younger players could be there soon. Speaking of Tavares, Barzal seems primed to step into the role of the Islanders’ top center now. He had 85 points as a rookie with a very reasonable 12.9 shooting percentage. Laine had 44 goals last year but only managed 26 assists, so he needs to become an even better playmaker.

The Upside Plays

Jack Eichel, Vladimir Tarasenko, Rickard Rakell, Jakub Voracek, Mikko Rantanen, Sean Monahan, Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Marchessault, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Jeff Skinner, Leon Draisaitl, Eric Staal, Clayton Keller, Nico Hischier, Brock Boeser, Victor Trocheck, Mitch Marner, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Patrice Bergeron, Dylan Larkin, Jason Zucker, Mark Stone, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Connor, Jeff Carter, Jaden Schwartz, Sebastian Aho, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nikolaj Ehlers, Brayden Point

Here’s a collection of young players with potential, some guys who had unusually good seasons last year that lead to some skepticism, and a handful of proven veterans. Tarasenko, who is coming off a serious shoulder injury, should be good for at least 30 goals, but there is also a good chance he won’t be ready when the year begins. If I had to bet on one guy jumping up a tier before next season, it’s Barkov. The 22-year-old broke out with 27 goals and 51 assists in 79 games last year.

On the veteran side of things, I’m most intrigued by Couturier. Yes, he’s only 25, but with seven seasons under his belt, he qualifies as a veteran. Prior to last season, his career high in was 14 goals and 39 points. Then he became Philly’s top-line center, his minutes shot up to 21:36 per game, and he notched 31 goals and 45 assists. Color me intrigued, even though he’s coming off an MCL injury.

The Mysteries

Ilya Kovalchuk, Dustin Brown, Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, William Karlsson, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Jonathan Toews, Mike Hoffman, James van Riemsdyk, Anders Lee, Alexander Radulov, Josh Bailey, Evgenii Dadonov, Reilly Smith, Nicklas Backstrom, David Perron, Gabriel Landeskog, Erik Haula, Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen

Ilya Kovalchuk used to be one of the best goal scorers in the NHL, but he’s been in the KHL for several seasons. What can he do at the age of 35? Karlsson became a cult hero in Vegas by scoring 43 goals last year. However, Wild Bill had an unsustainable 23.4 shooting percentage. How much will regression hurt him? Then there’s Hoffman — can he find his footing in his new home in South Florida?

The Youngsters

Alex Galchenyuk, Casey Mittelstadt, Jonathan Drouin, Matthew Tkachuk, Bo Horvat, Alex DeBrincat, Jake DeBrusk, Alex Tuch, Teuvo Teravainen, William Nylander, Yanni Gourde, Pierre-Luc DuBois, Kevin Fiala, Pavel Buchnevich, Nolan Patrick, Anthony Mantha, Tomas Hertl, Jake Guentzel, Travis Konecny, Andrei Svechnikov, Elias Lindholm, Jakub Vrana, Elias Pettersson

The Sabres’ top prospect is Rasmus Dahlin, but he plays defense. On offense, all the intrigue is around Mittelstadt. Speaking of Dahlin, the kid drafted right after him, Svechnikov, should get an opportunity in Carolina. If anybody from the 2018 draft class is going to score 20 goals this year, it’s probably him.


Joe Thornton, Nick Schmaltz, J.T. Miller, Cam Atkinson, Kyle Palmieri, Wayne Simmonds, Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kreider, Tyler Johnson, Nazem Kadri, Derek Stepan, Kyle Turris, Brendan Gallagher, James Neal, T.J. Oshie, Mikael Granlund, Jordan Eberle, Tyler Toffoli, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Thomas Vanek, Mika Zibanejad, David Krejci, Michael Grabner, Jakob Silfverberg, Justin Williams, Ondrej Palat

You need depth on your fantasy roster. These players won’t go in the first few rounds, but they are all intriguing in their own ways. If you grab the right few to fill out your squad, they could lead you to fantasy glory.

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