Fantasy hockey: Way too early rankings for 2021-22

Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning could once again be the top goalie in fantasy next season. Andrew Bershaw/Icon Sportswire

For a refreshing change of pace, the biggest impact on fantasy hockey next season won't be a virus sweeping the globe, but rather a monster from the depths of the sea stealing a player from each team.

No, there's no reason to suspect a further spiralling of the planet into some Lovecraftian horror. It's the Seattle Kraken that will wrap their tentacles around players and pull them into the Northwest.

The Vegas Golden Knights get to skip this expansion draft, being relatively new to the league themselves. But that also offers a chance to look at the impact on fantasy points when a new team arrives.

We can reasonably conclude that an NHL team brings between 1,900 and 2,000 fantasy points to the table. Sure enough, skaters that played exclusively for Vegas in 2017-18 managed to score 1,990 fantasy points. In 2018-19, it was 1,919 fantasy points for Vegas skaters.

That checks out against the overall average, too (traded players included). In the two seasons prior to the Golden Knights arrival and the two seasons after, the average fantasy points per team for skaters was 1,953.

The total number of fantasy points increases, of course, but twofold. In 2015-16 and 2016-17, skaters accounted for a grand total of 56,838 and 57,143 fantasy points, respectively. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, with the Golden Knights added to the league, skaters tallied 62,257 and 62,052 fantasy points, respectively. The increase is more than double because the addition of a team adds to the total games played. With 30 teams there were 1,230 games, but with 31 teams for an 82-game season we get 1,271 games.

With the Kraken in the fold and the league back to normal, we should get 1,312 NHL games in the 2021-22 season.

This is all to say that the bar is rising for what we consider fantasy relevant next season.

Leaving out the COVID-shortened campaigns for consistency of approach, let's look again at the four seasons from 2015-16 to 2018-19 - two without Vegas and two with.

In the two seasons without Vegas - 2015-16 and 2016-17 - the 250th-ranked skater scored 94.1 and 98.7 fantasy points, respectively. With Vegas in the fold in 2017-18 and 2018-19, that 250th-ranked skater scored 103.5 and 100.9 fantasy points.

It's an incremental increase, but we are about to get another one. While 100 fantasy points in an 82-game season is still a reasonable cut-off for when to stop looking at players for your team, that bar will push up just a touch higher as we add another franchise to the mix.

Way-too-early rankings

With that in mind, we turn our attention to the way-too-early fantasy rankings for 2021-22.

These have been developed using a the same approach to the dynasty rankings I produce, just shortened to one season. In short, we take a player's baseline for fantasy points per game (FPPG) and apply and age- and skill-based modifier to project their FPPG going forward. For goaltenders, we use minutes instead of games. There is an element of historical missed games included, but muted for most players as injury-prone is hard to define.

Expansion draft

There is no shortage of mock expansion drafts on the internet for you, but there are so many factors to account for that it's tough to make too many player-specific fantasy calls now. We do know that the Golden Knights gave us 11 players with more than 100 fantasy points in their debut season and Marc-Andre Fleury was a top-10 fantasy goaltender.

The NHL is wiser to the strong position of the expansion franchise now, so I don't expect the Kraken to have as much luck as the Golden Knights in their first season, but defense will undoubtedly be a strong suit based on the projected protected lists for most teams.

Who are some of the players that keep popping up in mock drafts that have serious potential?

  • Matt Dumba is on a lot of these mock lists due to the Minnesota Wild's current roster. It's expose him, or expose some of their sub-25 core of forwards. Whether it's Dumba, Vince Dunn, Shayne Gostisbehere, Brady Skjei or another puck-moving defenseman, there will be a power play here to quarterback.

  • I am becoming very infatuated with the idea of Jake Allen getting another crack at being a No. 1 goaltender for an NHL franchise. Allen looked like the real deal a few seasons ago in his age 25 and 26 seasons. He has had some streaks of success since then, but not a lot of them, and was relegated t a backup by the emergence of Jordan Binnington. He looked solid at times in place of Carey Price this season and was just as good as Price in the Habs crease - if that still means anything. He'll be heading into his age 31 season and could be Fleury 2.0 if the Kraken take a chance on him.

  • As we saw with the Golden Knights in 2017-18, a new opportunity can bring forth new stars. William Karlsson was a middling bottom-six forward before the Knights thrust him into a starring role. Some of the names that catch my attention in the many Kraken mocks that could go the way of Karlsson are: Mason Appleton, Andreas Johnsson, Joonas Donskoi, Alexander Kerfoot and Luke Kunin. The bottom line is that there will be a chance for some forwards that are currently playing 13 to 16 minutes with no power-play time, to suddenly play 20 minutes and on the top power-play unit.

Free agents

There is a significant group of free agents that need to be resigned before this landscape can begin to crystallize.

Alex Ovechkin, Dougie Hamilton, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tuukka Rask, Taylor Hall, Philipp Grubauer, Tyson Barrie, Phillip Danault, Zach Hyman, Kyle Palmieri, Jaden Schwartz, David Krejci, Tomas Tatar, Nick Foligno, Brandon Saad, Blake Coleman, Adam Larsson, Mikael Granlund, Alec Martinez, Mike Hoffman and Petr Mrazek are among them, and it's far from an inclusive list of all the potential impact fantasy players.

Some we know won't likely be going anywhere, such as Ovechkin and Landeskog. But there is a lot of potential shuffling that will take place above and beyond the expansion draft.

Goaltending is perhaps the biggest domino to fall, as the Avs need to resign Grubauer, the Bruins have both Rask and Jaroslav Halak hitting the open market, the Stars getting Ben Bishop back, as well as the Hurricanes deciding what to do with two free agents and an emerging star in Alex Nedeljkovic.

The Oilers have some major decisions on the blue line with Barrie and Larsson hitting the market, while Oscar Klefbom hopes to return to the NHL next season. Hall will want a meatier contract, Hamilton and Martinez are coming off career-years, and both Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins will have to decide between staying put or potentially getting paid more on the open market.

Young guns

A handful of up-and-coming players are projected onto this way-too-early list for fantasy.

Jame Drysdale, D, Anaheim Ducks: He got a taste of action this year with 24 games, many of them as an 18-year-old. He'll still be technically eligible for the Calder (25-game limit) and could inherit the Ducks power play full-time.

Moritz Seider, D, Detroit Red Wings: Already an easy call as the Red Wings best defenseman before he's even played a game. If Seider joins the club next season, there'll be no need for training wheels given the club's current state.

Spencer Knight, G, Florida Panthers: He showed he's prepared to face NHL competition with a handful of games at the end of the season. It's a crowded situation, as the Panthers are paying Sergei Bobrovsky the big bucks and Chris Dreidger was their best goaltender overall this season. Still, talent usually finds a way.

Quinton Byfield, F, Los Angeles Kings: Not only Byfield, but Gabriel Vilardi, Alex Turcotte and Arthur Kaliyev will start to take over this offense sooner than later. Byfield got a six-game taste of the league this season.

Trevor Zegras, F, Anaheim Ducks: Also with 24 games played this season (leaving him Calder-eligible), Zegras had a decent showing on a bad offensive team. With a few upgrades here and there, Zegras could find himself in the middle of a middling offensive team, which would likely be enough for fantasy.

Marco Rossi, F, Minnesota Wild: After a bout with COVID unveiled underlying medical conditions, Rossi sat out the season. If he's back to health, he's another explosive prospect the Wild can add up front with Kirill Kaprizov.

Way too early 2021-22 rankings

1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G1)
2. Connor McDavid, C, EDM (C1)
3. Juuse Saros, G, NSH (G2)
4. Auston Matthews, C, TOR (C2)
5. Leon Draisaitl, LW, EDM (LW1)
6. Philipp Grubauer, G, COL (G3)
7. Connor Hellebuyck, G, WPG (G4)
8. Nathan MacKinnon, C, COL (C3)
9. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB (RW1)
10. Roman Josi, D, NSH (D1)
11. David Pastrnak, RW, BOS (RW2)
12. Mikko Rantanen, RW, COL (RW3)
13. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR (C4)
14. Dougie Hamilton, D, CAR (D2)
15. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS (LW2)
16. John Carlson, D, WSH (D3)
17. Tristan Jarry, G, PIT (G5)
18. Patrick Kane, RW, CHI (RW4)
19. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G6)
20. Jack Eichel, C, BUF (C5)
21. Ben Bishop, G, DAL (G7)
22. Max Pacioretty, LW, VGS (LW3)
23. Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR (LW4)
24. Mark Scheifele, C, WPG (C6)
25. Darnell Nurse, D, EDM (D4)
26. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT (C7)
27. Tyler Seguin, C, DAL (C8)
28. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, MIN (LW5)
29. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WSH (LW6)
30. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D5)
31. Sebastian Aho, C, CAR (C9)
32. Brady Tkachuk, LW, OTT (LW7)
33. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D6)
34. Patrik Laine, RW, CLS (RW5)
35. Cale Makar, D, COL (D7)
36. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA (LW8)
37. Brayden Point, C, TB (C10)
38. Alex DeBrincat, LW, CHI (LW9)
39. Mitch Marner, RW, TOR (RW6)
40. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA (C11)
41. Taylor Hall, LW, BOS (LW10)
42. Evander Kane, LW, SJ (LW11)
43. Bryan Rust, RW, PIT (RW7)
44. Jordan Binnington, G, STL (G8)
45. Tuukka Rask, G, BOS (G9)
46. Roope Hintz, C, DAL (C12)
47. Jake Guentzel, LW, PIT (LW12)
48. David Perron, RW, STL (RW8)
49. Jakob Chychrun, D, ARI (D8)
50. Anze Kopitar, C, LA (C13)
51. Jacob Markstrom, G, CGY (G10)
52. Robin Lehner, G, VGS (G11)
53. Ilya Samsonov, G, WSH (G12)
54. Kyle Connor, LW, WPG (LW13)
55. Mark Stone, RW, VGS (RW9)
56. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G13)
57. Seth Jones, D, CLS (D9)
58. Ivan Provorov, D, PHI (D10)
59. Neal Pionk, D, WPG (D11)
60. Bo Horvat, C, VAN (C14)
61. Ondrej Palat, LW, TB (LW14)
62. Alex Pietrangelo, D, VGS (D12)
63. Elias Pettersson, C, VAN (C15)
64. Thatcher Demko, G, VAN (G14)
65. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, CAR (LW15)
66. Ryan O'Reilly, C, STL (C16)
67. Anders Lee, LW, NYI (LW16)
68. Semyon Varlamov, G, NYI (G15)
69. Nico Hischier, C, NJ (C17)
70. Alex Nedeljkovic, G, CAR (G16)
71. J.T. Miller, C, VAN (C18)
72. Jack Hughes, C, NJ (C19)
73. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (C20)
74. Oscar Klefbom, D, EDM (D13)
75. John Gibson, G, ANA (G17)
76. Carter Hart, G, PHI (G18)
77. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL (RW10)
78. John Tavares, C, TOR (C21)
79. Jack Campbell, G, TOR (G19)
80. Nick Suzuki, C, MON (C22)
81. Shea Theodore, D, VGS (D14)
82. Darcy Kuemper, G, ARI (G20)
83. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, CGY (LW17)
84. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (LW18)
85. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, EDM (C23)
86. Kris Letang, D, PIT (D15)
87. Charlie McAvoy, D, BOS (D16)
88. Elias Lindholm, RW, CGY (RW11)
89. Aaron Ekblad, D, FLA (D17)
90. Adam Larsson, D, EDM (D18)
91. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D19)
92. Ryan Graves, D, COL (D20)
93. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS (C24)
94. Connor Murphy, D, CHI (D21)
95. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (D22)
96. Brayden Schenn, C, STL (C25)
97. Thomas Chabot, D, OTT (D23)
98. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH (C26)
99. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D24)
100. Tyson Barrie, D, EDM (D25)
101. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL (LW19)
102. Jeff Petry, D, MON (D26)
103. Jake Allen, G, MON (G21)
104. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, VGS (LW20)
105. Ryan Strome, C, NYR (C27)
106. Joel Farabee, LW, PHI (LW21)
107. Mathew Barzal, C, NYI (C28)
108. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, NYI (C29)
109. Steven Stamkos, C, TB (C30)
110. Martin Necas, C, CAR (C31)
111. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D27)
112. Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN (D28)
113. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, FLA (G22)
114. Colton Parayko, D, STL (D29)
115. Brock Boeser, RW, VAN (RW12)
116. Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG (RW13)
117. Alec Martinez, D, VGS (D30)
118. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, WPG (LW22)
119. Brock Nelson, C, NYI (C32)
120. Tyler Toffoli, RW, MON (RW14)
121. John Klingberg, D, DAL (D31)
122. Josh Norris, C, OTT (C33)
123. Travis Konecny, RW, PHI (RW15)
124. Maxime Comtois, LW, ANA (LW23)
125. Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, DET (LW24)
126. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, CAR (RW16)
127. Sean Couturier, C, PHI (C34)
128. Timo Meier, RW, SJ (RW17)
129. Tomas Tatar, LW, MON (LW25)
130. William Nylander, RW, TOR (RW18)
131. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY (LW26)
132. Kevin Lankinen, G, CHI (G23)
133. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, MIN (C35)
134. Zach Werenski, D, CLS (D32)
135. Sam Reinhart, RW, BUF (RW19)
136. Morgan Rielly, D, TOR (D33)
137. Anthony Mantha, RW, WSH (RW20)
138. Joe Pavelski, RW, DAL (RW21)
139. Carter Verhaeghe, C, FLA (C36)
140. Jamie Drysdale, D, ANA (D34)
141. Vitek Vanecek, G, WSH (G24)
142. Tom Wilson, RW, WSH (RW22)
143. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, VGS (G25)
144. Jonas Brodin, D, MIN (D35)
145. Vincent Trocheck, C, CAR (C37)
146. Jason Robertson, LW, DAL (LW27)
147. Tim Stutzle, LW, OTT (LW28)
148. Kevin Fiala, C, MIN (C38)
149. Brent Burns, D, SJ (D36)
150. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, NYR (RW23)
151. Mathew Dumba, D, MIN (D37)
152. Dominik Kubalik, LW, CHI (LW29)
153. Mike Hoffman, LW, STL (LW30)
154. David Savard, D, CLS (D38)
155. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D39)
156. Jake Muzzin, D, TOR (D40)
157. Moritz Seider, D, DET (D41)
158. T.J. Oshie, RW, WSH (RW24)
159. Dylan Larkin, C, DET (C39)
160. Torey Krug, D, STL (D42)
161. Esa Lindell, D, DAL (D43)
162. Drake Batherson, C, OTT (C40)
163. James van Riemsdyk, LW, PHI (LW31)
164. Alex Tuch, RW, VGS (RW25)
165. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL (LW32)
166. Brendan Gallagher, RW, MON (RW26)
167. David Krejci, C, BOS (C41)
168. Christopher Tanev, D, CGY (D44)
169. Alexander Edler, D, VAN (D45)
170. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, BUF (D46)
171. Eeli Tolvanen, LW, NSH (LW33)
172. Connor Brown, RW, OTT (RW27)
173. Anthony Beauvillier, LW, NYI (LW34)
174. MacKenzie Weegar, D, FLA (D47)
175. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, PHI (D48)
176. Miro Heiskanen, D, DAL (D49)
177. Alex Iafallo, LW, LA (LW35)
178. Boone Jenner, C, CLS (C42)
179. Sam Bennett, LW, CGY (LW36)
180. Calvin de Haan, D, CHI (D50)
181. Alex Goligoski, D, ARI (D51)
182. Tomas Hertl, C, SJ (C43)
183. Adam Henrique, C, ANA (C44)
184. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, WPG (C45)
185. William Karlsson, C, VGS (C46)
186. Andre Burakovsky, LW, COL (LW37)
187. Gabriel Vilardi, C, LA (C47)
188. Linus Ullmark, G, BUF (G26)
189. Jordan Eberle, RW, NYI (RW28)
190. Victor Olofsson, RW, BUF (RW29)
191. Justin Faulk, D, STL (D52)
192. Nick Bonino, C, MIN (C48)
193. Chris Driedger, G, FLA (G27)
194. Logan Couture, C, SJ (C49)
195. Samuel Girard, D, COL (D53)
196. Kyle Palmieri, RW, NYI (RW30)
197. Claude Giroux, LW, PHI (LW38)
198. Nikita Zaitsev, D, OTT (D54)
199. Quinn Hughes, D, VAN (D55)
200. Ben Chiarot, D, MON (D56)
201. Kailer Yamamoto, RW, EDM (RW31)
202. Filip Hronek, D, DET (D57)
203. Jordan Staal, C, CAR (C50)
204. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, CLS (RW32)
205. Christian Dvorak, LW, ARI (LW39)
206. Jakub Vrana, C, DET (C51)
207. Petr Mrazek, G, CAR (G28)
208. Jaccob Slavin, D, CAR (D58)
209. Joshua Morrissey, D, WPG (D59)
210. Shea Weber, D, MON (D60)
211. Scott Mayfield, D, NYI (D61)
212. Devon Toews, D, COL (D62)
213. Nick Ritchie, LW, BOS (LW40)
214. Jeff Carter, C, PIT (C52)
215. Mackenzie Blackwood, G, NJ (G29)
216. Tyler Myers, D, VAN (D63)
217. Matt Grzelcyk, D, BOS (D64)
218. Blake Coleman, LW, TB (LW41)
219. Filip Forsberg, LW, NSH (LW42)
220. Rasmus Dahlin, D, BUF (D65)
221. Ian Cole, D, MIN (D66)
222. Carey Price, G, MON (G30)
223. Kevin Hayes, C, PHI (C53)
224. Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL (LW43)
225. Dmitry Orlov, D, WSH (D67)
226. Tanner Pearson, LW, VAN (LW44)
227. Kirby Dach, C, CHI (C54)
228. Anthony Cirelli, C, TB (C55)
229. Nate Schmidt, D, VAN (D68)
230. Adrian Kempe, C, LA (C56)
231. Rickard Rakell, C, ANA (C57)
232. Nazem Kadri, C, COL (C58)
233. Frank Vatrano, LW, FLA (LW45)
234. Sean Monahan, C, CGY (C59)
235. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, ARI (D69)
236. Conor Garland, RW, ARI (RW33)
237. K'Andre Miller, D, NYR (D70)
238. Chandler Stephenson, C, VGS (C60)
239. Cam Talbot, G, MIN (G31)
240. Alex Killorn, LW, TB (LW46)
241. Joel Edmundson, D, MON (D71)
242. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, EDM (RW34)
243. Damon Severson, D, NJ (D72)
244. Mattias Ekholm, D, NSH (D73)
245. Anthony Duclair, LW, FLA (LW47)
246. Mikael Granlund, LW, NSH (LW48)
247. Kaapo Kahkonen, G, MIN (G32)
248. Keith Yandle, D, FLA (D74)
249. Tyler Motte, C, VAN (C61)
250. Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI (RW35)
251. Evgeni Malkin, C, PIT (C62)
252. Spencer Knight, G, FLA (G33)
253. Zach Hyman, LW, TOR (LW49)
254. Ryan Ellis, D, NSH (D75)
255. Ryan Suter, D, MIN (D76)
256. Phillip Danault, C, MON (C63)
257. P.K. Subban, D, NJ (D77)
258. Duncan Keith, D, CHI (D78)
259. Justin Holl, D, TOR (D79)
260. Quinton Byfield, C, LA (C64)
261. Rasmus Andersson, D, CGY (D80)
262. Ty Smith, D, NJ (D81)
263. Jakob Silfverberg, RW, ANA (RW36)
264. Noel Acciari, C, FLA (C65)
265. Erik Cernak, D, TB (D82)
266. Andrew Copp, C, WPG (C66)
267. Trevor Zegras, C, ANA (C67)
268. Nick Schmaltz, C, ARI (C68)
269. Brandon Tanev, LW, PIT (LW50)
270. Cam Atkinson, RW, CLS (RW37)
271. Arthur Kaliyev, RW, LA (RW38)
272. Justin Schultz, D, WSH (D83)
273. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, NYR (LW51)
274. Elvis Merzlikins, G, CLS (G34)
275. Nick Leddy, D, NYI (D84)
276. Kevin Labanc, RW, SJ (RW39)
277. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, ANA (D85)
278. Reilly Smith, RW, VGS (RW40)
279. Phil Kessel, RW, ARI (RW41)
280. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, WSH (C69)
281. Andrew Mangiapane, LW, CGY (LW52)
282. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, NSH (RW42)
283. Sean Walker, D, LA (D86)
284. Vince Dunn, D, STL (D87)
285. Calvin Petersen, G, LA (G35)
286. Jake Bean, D, CAR (D88)
287. Clayton Keller, C, ARI (C70)
288. Brady Skjei, D, CAR (D89)
289. Nick Foligno, LW, TOR (LW53)
290. Evgenii Dadonov, RW, OTT (RW43)
291. Marco Rossi, C, MIN (C71)
292. Denis Gurianov, LW, DAL (LW54)
293. Jared McCann, LW, PIT (LW55)
294. Barclay Goodrow, RW, TB (RW44)
295. Alexander Wennberg, C, FLA (C72)
296. Matt Roy, D, LA (D90)
297. Frederik Andersen, G, TOR (G36)
298. Travis Sanheim, D, PHI (D91)
299. Mark Giordano, D, CGY (D92)
300. Brett Pesce, D, CAR (D93)