ESPN NHL fantasy hockey rankings: Early notes on Tkachuk, Crosby and more

Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins is off to another strong start this season. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It's far too early in the season to do anything drastic with established, core NHL fantasy players. The rankings you relied on a week or two weeks ago to do your draft should be largely unchanged. Early returns mean very little in the scope of an 82-game campaign -- especially compared to the seasons of knowledge someone, or you yourself, used to put the players in order for your draft.

That said, lineup roles that were not fully developed or realized in the offseason is a reason to react now that we have game data to backup or refute prior beliefs.

Marco Rossi getting looks in the Minnesota Wild top six during the preseason? Nothing but an evaluation tool as he cuts his teeth on the fourth line. But Calen Addison managing the blue line on the Wild's top power-play unit? That looks to be for real.

You could even apply the same reaction to other lineup decisions that, while you may have known about them, sounded intangible until you see it in action. Seeing Artturi Lehkonen getting time with Nathan MacKinnon and on the top power play in the preseason is very different from him erupting for two goals in the season opener.

Forward notes

Matthew Tkachuk, W, Florida Panthers (down 12 spots to No. 23): At this stage, Tkachuk is playing separate from Aleksander Barkov at even strength. While this makes sense for the Panthers, it makes him a little less attractive for fantasy. The early returns for Tkachuk are fine and he'll still get power-play time with Barkov, it just takes a tiny bit of the potential shine off for now.

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (up 14 spots to No. 29): What a hot start for the Penguins overall. They can't keep scoring at such a rate, but the fact that Crosby came out on such a tear and that the power play is connecting so well bodes extremely well for the season.

Gabriel Landeskog, W, Colorado Avalanche (down 32 spots to No. 79): Without a timetable for his return, the first concern is exactly when we'll see Landeskog debut this season. But beyond that, Lehkonen has done so well on the top line that the Avs might decide to leave Landeskog to the second unit when he's back.

Mason Marchment, W, Dallas Stars (up 79 spots to No. 134): Coming at the expense of veteran Jamie Benn, Marchment is settled on the Stars second line with Tyler Seguin. Both players have something to prove this season -- Marchment that his 2021-22 wasn't a flash in the pan, and Seguin that his game legs are back to what they were before major surgeries.

Kaapo Kakko, W, New York Rangers (new to top 250 at No. 154): While Vitali Kravtsov lost out on his top-six spot due to an early injury, Kakko has held on and made some strides as we go. Through three games, he's posted seven shots but that spikes to 13 for his individual Corsi for. He's playing with Mika Zibanejad and Chris Kreider, and Kakko skated 17 minutes in the Rangers last outing.

Kaapo Kakko lights the lamp vs. Devils

Kaapo Kakko lights the lamp vs. Devils

Jason Zucker, W, Pittsburgh Penguins (new to top 250 at No. 206): A healthy Zucker plus a healthy Evgeni Malkin has combined for extreme scoring opportunities through two games. Aside from the three points, Zucker has six shots, six hits and even a pair of blocked shots.

Gabriel Vilardi, C, Los Angeles Kings (new to top 250 at No. 229): The Kings third line has posted three goals at five-on-five and allowed none. Vilardi, Quinton Byfield and Alex Iafallo have managed 21 shot attempts at even strength through three games. You should track down the highlight of Vilardi's first-period goal against the Wild on Saturday to see some of the skill the whole line put on display.

Jonathan Toews, C, Chicago Blackhawks (new to top 250 at No. 238): The offseason narrative was that Toews was coming back with a vengeance after a weak showing in 2021-22 that followed him skipping the entire 2020-21 season. So far, so good. Skating with Taylor Raddysh and Tyler Johnson at even strength, while also getting power-play looks, Toews has 6.7 fantasy points through two games.

Eeli Tolvanen, W, Nashville Predators (new to top 250 at No. 248): While Kieffer Sherwood got the role for the two games in Europe (that the Predators won), it was Tolvanen lined up in the final top-six spot for the two games against the Stars (that the Predators lost). Given the results of the two games, it's not clear if Tolvanen will get to keep playing with Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter, but he did a lot more individually with the role than Sherwood did.

Defense notes

Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres (up 15 spots to No. 58): Twenty-five minutes per game through two contests and two goals on eight shots. Dahlin is showing early signs of the hoped-for breakout.

Ivan Provorov, D, Philadelphia Flyers (up 13 spots to No. 71): How about nine shots, nine hits and 11 blocked shots through two games? You could set aside the three assists that Provorov has notched and be OK with this kind of production.

Justin Schultz, D, Seattle Kraken (new to top 250 at No. 167): Through three games, the Kraken have five goals on 13 power-play opportunities. Schultz leads the team in power-play ice time and has posted two helpers on the advantage as the quarterback for the top unit.

Goaltender notes

Logan Thompson, G, Vegas Golden Knights (new to top 250 at No. 116): Once it was determined Robin Lehner would miss the whole season, Thompson quickly emerged as the only real choice to tend twine for the Golden Knights this season. While we may have to remember to wonder whether he'll have the stamina later in the season, he should be locked and loaded on fantasy rosters for the time being.

Ville Husso, G, Detroit Red Wings (up 51 spots to No. 142): Shutting out the Canadiens isn't exactly something to crow about, but the Red Wings defense looked solid. Husso only had to make four saves classified as high danger, so we'll want to see him in a tougher matchup.

Carter Hart, G, Philadelphia Flyers (new to top 250 at No. 189): While the wins column looks great at the moment, it's concerning that the Flyers are 31st in the league in Corsi for percentage. Two things make Hart interesting for fantasy: 1) Coach John Tortorella might have this team win more games than expected by capitalizing on key moments; 2) If Hart is going to be extra busy, that means they don't have to win quite as many for him to still find value.

ESPN top-250 rankings

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edm (F1)
2. Auston Matthews, C, Tor (F2)
3. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G1)
4. Leon Draisaitl, LW, Edm (F3)
5. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB (F4)
6. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G2)
7. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Min (F5)
8. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D1)
9. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Col (F6)
10. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (D2)
11. Cale Makar, D, Col (D3)
12. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G3)
13. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Wpg (G4)
14. Mitchell Marner, RW, Tor (F7)
15. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Col (F8)
16. Steven Stamkos, C, TB (F9)
17. Jacob Markstrom, G, Cgy (G5)
18. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR (F10)
19. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Wsh (F11)
20. Aleksander Barkov, C, Fla (F12)
21. J.T. Miller, C, Van (F13)
22. Kyle Connor, LW, Wpg (F14)
23. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Fla (F15)
24. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Cgy (F16)
25. Jack Hughes, C, NJ (F17)
26. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Ott (F18)
27. Jake Oettinger, G, Dal (G6)
28. Moritz Seider, D, Det (D4)
29. Sidney Crosby, C, Pit (F19)
30. Juuse Saros, G, Nsh (G7)
31. Timo Meier, RW, SJ (F20)
32. Jake Guentzel, LW, Pit (F21)
33. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D5)
34. John Carlson, D, Wsh (D6)
35. Sebastian Aho, C, Car (F22)
36. Aaron Ekblad, D, Fla (D7)
37. David Pastrnak, RW, Bos (F23)
38. Elias Lindholm, RW, Cgy (F24)
39. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ott (F25)
40. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (F26)
41. Seth Jones, D, Chi (D8)
42. Elias Pettersson, C, Van (F27)
43. Tristan Jarry, G, Pit (G8)
44. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nsh (F28)
45. Darcy Kuemper, G, Wsh (G9)
46. Jack Eichel, C, Vgk (F29)
47. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, StL (F30)
48. Jack Campbell, G, Edm (G10)
49. Roope Hintz, C, Dal (F31)
50. John Tavares, C, Tor (F32)
51. Brent Burns, D, Car (D9)
52. William Nylander, RW, Tor (F33)
53. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vgk (D10)
54. Patrik Laine, RW, Cls (F34)
55. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D11)
56. Evander Kane, LW, Edm (F35)
57. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D12)
58. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buf (D13)
59. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Cls (F36)
60. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D14)
61. Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR (F37)
62. Sam Reinhart, RW, Fla (F38)
63. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, Car (F39)
64. Darnell Nurse, D, Edm (D15)
65. Frederik Andersen, G, Car (G11)
66. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Wpg (F40)
67. Josh Norris, C, Ott (F41)
68. Dylan Larkin, C, Det (F42)
69. Kevin Fiala, C, LA (F43)
70. Patrick Kane, RW, Chi (F44)
71. Ivan Provorov, D, Phi (D16)
72. Anze Kopitar, C, LA (F45)
73. Tage Thompson, C, Buf (F46)
74. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Cgy (F47)
75. Mark Scheifele, C, Wpg (F48)
76. Nick Suzuki, C, Mon (F49)
77. Matt Duchene, C, Nsh (F50)
78. Jason Robertson, LW, Dal (F51)
79. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Col (F52)
80. Tomas Hertl, C, SJ (F53)
81. Adrian Kempe, C, LA (F54)
82. Zach Werenski, D, Cls (D17)
83. Michael Bunting, LW, Tor (F55)
84. Robert Thomas, C, StL (F56)
85. Mark Stone, RW, Vgk (F57)
86. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bos (F58)
87. Morgan Rielly, D, Tor (D18)
88. Matty Beniers, C, Sea (F59)
89. Kris Letang, D, Pit (D19)
90. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, StL (F60)
91. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D20)
92. Tony DeAngelo, D, Phi (D21)
93. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Car (F61)
94. Nazem Kadri, C, Cgy (F62)
95. MacKenzie Weegar, D, Cgy (D22)
96. Drake Batherson, C, Ott (F63)
97. Trevor Zegras, C, Ana (F64)
98. Boone Jenner, C, Cls (F65)
99. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Vgk (F66)
100. Rasmus Andersson, D, Cgy (D23)
101. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Min (F67)
102. Matt Boldy, LW, Min (F68)
103. Josh Morrissey, D, Wpg (D24)
104. Alec Martinez, D, Vgk (D25)
105. Logan Couture, C, SJ (F69)
106. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D26)
107. Tim Stutzle, LW, Ott (F70)
108. Cole Caufield, RW, Mon (F71)
109. Bo Horvat, C, Van (F72)
110. Shea Theodore, D, Vgk (D27)
111. Jordan Binnington, G, StL (G12)
112. Troy Terry, C, Ana (F73)
113. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Wpg (F74)
114. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Ari (D28)
115. Travis Konecny, RW, Phi (F75)
116. Logan Thompson, G, Vgk (G13)
117. Mikael Granlund, LW, Nsh (F76)
118. Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Col (F77)
119. Jordan Kyrou, C, StL (F78)
120. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Sea (F79)
121. Bryan Rust, RW, Pit (F80)
122. Joe Pavelski, RW, Dal (F81)
123. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pit (F82)
124. John Klingberg, D, Ana (D29)
125. Thatcher Demko, G, Van (G14)
126. Devon Toews, D, Col (D30)
127. Jesper Bratt, RW, NJ (F83)
128. Alex Tuch, RW, Buf (F84)
129. Blake Wheeler, RW, Wpg (F85)
130. Claude Giroux, LW, Ott (F86)
131. Justin Faulk, D, StL (D31)
132. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Fla (G15)
133. Vincent Trocheck, C, NYR (F87)
134. Mason Marchment, LW, Dal (F88)
135. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Wsh (F89)
136. Quinn Hughes, D, Van (D32)
137. Nico Hischier, C, NJ (F90)
138. Brock Nelson, C, NYI (F91)
139. Tyler Seguin, C, Dal (F92)
140. Rickard Rakell, C, Pit (F93)
141. Brayden Point, C, TB (F94)
142. Ville Husso, G, Det (G16)
143. Colton Parayko, D, StL (D33)
144. Ryan Johansen, C, Nsh (F95)
145. Tyler Bertuzzi, LW, Det (F96)
146. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Col (F97)
147. David Perron, RW, Det (F98)
148. Adam Larsson, D, Sea (D34)
149. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dal (D35)
150. Jakob Chychrun, D, Ari (D36)
151. Ryan Hartman, RW, Min (F99)
152. Taylor Hall, LW, Bos (F100)
153. David Krejci, C, Bos (F101)
154. Kaapo Kakko, RW, NYR (F102)
155. Brock Boeser, RW, Van (F103)
156. Nino Niederreiter, RW, Nsh (F104)
157. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (D37)
158. John Gibson, G, Ana (G17)
159. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Sea (F105)
160. Ryan O'Reilly, C, StL (F106)
161. Jeff Skinner, LW, Buf (F107)
162. Phil Kessel, RW, Vgk (F108)
163. Marcus Foligno, LW, Min (F109)
164. Petr Mrazek, G, Chi (G18)
165. Jeremy Swayman, G, Bos (G19)
166. Evan Bouchard, D, Edm (D38)
167. Justin Schultz, D, Sea (D39)
168. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, LA (F110)
169. Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Cgy (F111)
170. Jeff Petry, D, Pit (D40)
171. Martin Necas, C, Car (F112)
172. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Min (F113)
173. Esa Lindell, D, Dal (D41)
174. Ryan Strome, C, Ana (F114)
175. Thomas Chabot, D, Ott (D42)
176. Phillip Danault, C, LA (F115)
177. Alexander Romanov, D, NYI (D43)
178. Chandler Stephenson, C, Vgk (F116)
179. Anton Lundell, C, Fla (F117)
180. Seth Jarvis, C, Car (F118)
181. Nick Schmaltz, C, Ari (F119)
182. Mathew Barzal, C, NYI (F120)
183. Zach Hyman, LW, Edm (F121)
184. Lucas Raymond, LW, Det (F122)
185. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edm (F123)
186. Brad Marchand, LW, Bos (F124)
187. Andrew Copp, C, Det (F125)
188. Noah Hanifin, D, Cgy (D44)
189. Carter Hart, G, Phi (G20)
190. Neal Pionk, D, Wpg (D45)
191. Jaccob Slavin, D, Car (D46)
192. Jakub Vrana, C, Det (F126)
193. Vince Dunn, D, Sea (D47)
194. Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Van (F127)
195. Kevin Hayes, C, Phi (F128)
196. Ben Chiarot, D, Det (D48)
197. Anthony Mantha, RW, Wsh (F129)
198. Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Det (G21)
199. Tyson Barrie, D, Edm (D49)
200. Brayden Schenn, C, StL (F130)
201. Clayton Keller, C, Ari (F131)
202. Brandon Tanev, LW, Sea (F132)
203. Alex Killorn, LW, TB (F133)
204. Hampus Lindholm, D, Bos (D50)
205. Brayden McNabb, D, Vgk (D51)
206. Jason Zucker, LW, Pit (F134)
207. Damon Severson, D, NJ (D52)
208. Anders Lee, LW, NYI (F135)
209. Jake Allen, G, Mon (G22)
210. Victor Olofsson, RW, Buf (F136)
211. Christopher Tanev, D, Cgy (D53)
212. Cam Atkinson, RW, Phi (F137)
213. Sam Bennett, LW, Fla (F138)
214. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Car (F139)
215. Luke Kunin, C, SJ (F140)
216. Pavel Zacha, C, Bos (F141)
217. T.J. Oshie, RW, Wsh (F142)
218. Radko Gudas, D, Fla (D54)
219. Ilya Samsonov, G, Tor (G23)
220. Jared McCann, LW, Sea (F143)
221. Cam Talbot, G, Ott (G24)
222. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, NYR (F144)
223. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D55)
224. Spencer Knight, G, Fla (G25)
225. Travis Sanheim, D, Phi (D56)
226. Ryan Graves, D, NJ (D57)
227. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Phi (D58)
228. Mario Ferraro, D, SJ (D59)
229. Gabriel Vilardi, C, LA (F145)
230. Filip Chytil, RW, NYR (F146)
231. Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Edm (F147)
232. Matt Dumba, D, Min (D60)
233. David Savard, D, Mon (D61)
234. Brandon Montour, D, Fla (D62)
235. Jake Sanderson, D, Ott (D63)
236. Dmitry Orlov, D, Wsh (D64)
237. Connor Murphy, D, Chi (D65)
238. Jonathan Toews, C, Chi (F148)
239. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Min (G26)
240. Ryan McDonagh, D, Nsh (D66)
241. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D67)
242. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, NYI (F149)
243. Antti Raanta, G, Car (G27)
244. Torey Krug, D, StL (D68)
245. Tyler Motte, C, Ott (F150)
246. K'Andre Miller, D, NYR (D69)
247. Brandon Hagel, LW, TB (F151)
248. Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Nsh (F152)
249. Alexandar Georgiev, G, Col (G28)
250. Tyler Johnson, C, Chi (F153)

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