It’s an exciting time of the year when Yahoo and ESPN and NHL.com publish their rankings – it means that the NHL season is approaching. Without further ado, let’s get into 5 players that Yahoo has overrated, and 5 players that Yahoo has underrated in advance of Draft Day 2016.
Tyler Seguin – DAL – C (Yahoo rank #12, my rank #6) UNDERRATED
“Six spots, what difference does that make?” you might be thinking… In the first round of your draft, it’s a HUGE difference. Sure, Seguin was 14th in total points last season, but he only played 72 games and therefore his points per game was 6th highest, or 4th highest if you only include players who played more than 60 games. He was also 8th in SOG despite missing more games than the top 7 players. However, games played are also very important. For example, Evgeni Malkin has amazing talent but he is NEVER healthy for the full season and often misses much of the home stretch when you are pushing into and through the playoffs. For Seguin, this is no concern. Other than the shortened 2012-2013 season (where he played all 48 games), he has played over 70 games in every campaign. For me, Seguin is definitely top 8 – I’m selecting him before Tarasenko, Stamkos, Gaudreau, Pavelski, Holtby, and Tavares. I might even grab him before McDavid because Seguin is proven while McDavid has a higher ceiling.
Martin Jones – SJ – G (Yahoo rank #23, my rank #68) OVERRATED
San Jose had a good season last year, and Martin Jones excelled with 37 wins and 6 SOs in his first year as a starting goaltender. There’s no doubt that Jones is a stud and deserving of a full-time starter’s role – but the Western conference is going to be tougher for San Jose this coming year, especially the Pacific Division. Calgary and Edmonton should be much better teams while L.A. and Anaheim aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. But Marleau, Thornton, Burns, and even Pavelski (32 years old now) are all getting older and the deep playoff run surely exhausted these veterans. I see low 30 wins and 4 shutouts IF the entire roster stays healthy. I’m looking to find more value in goalies with lower Yahoo rankings such as Cory Crawford, Corey Schneider, Pekka Rinne, John Gibson, Jake Allen, and Henrik Lundqvist, while others such as Brian Elliott and Roberto Luongo could be similar value.
Artemi Panarin – CHI – LW (Yahoo rank #27, my rank #70) OVERRATED
I might be a pessimist on this one – and don’t get me wrong, the kid is good – but I see 75% of Panarin’s value last season coming directly as a result of his line mate, Patrick Kane. Last season, Kane was unreal, posting 106 points in 82 games compared to his previous career high of 88 points in 82 games back in 2009-2010. Ranking Panarin ahead of the likes of Nick Backstrom, Blake Wheeler, Taylor Hall, Joe Thornton and Max Pacioretty assumes three things: (1) Panarin will continue to play with Kane (I believe this to be a strong probability but not a certainty), (2) Kane will be healthy all year long and will generate another 95+ point season and (3) Panarin will continue to improve in his sophomore year. I’m betting number 2 and 3 are lower probability as defensive systems around the league will adjust to this relatively new, strong line. Panarin and Kane also both achieved a 16% shooting percentage last season which would be tough to meet or beat in consecutive years.
Taylor Hall – NJ – LW (Yahoo rank #48, my rank #29) UNDERRATED
In the 2015-2016 season Taylor Hall figured out how to stay healthy and played all 82 games. That last sentence was not a typo. With New Jersey, Hall will spend less time in the defensive zone and more time up the ice on the rush with Cammalleri, Henrique, Zajac or Palmieri where Taylor is at his best. His point totals, plus/minus and powerplay point totals should all trend up this coming season. Even if his stats remain flat year over year, Taylor’s value is top 40. I’m expecting truckloads of motivation (to show Edmonton what they gave up) to power Hall towards, and perhaps beyond, his career high of 80 points (in 75 games in 2013-2014). We have seen the skill that has placed Hall amongst the top ten scorers in a season, we’re about to see it again in 2016-2017.
Keith Yandle – FLA – D (Yahoo rank #77, my rank #141) OVERRATED
Yandle is only 29 years old, but he’s starting to play like he’s in his mid-30s. After landing a 7-year deal with the Panthers for $44.45MM, I wouldn’t be surprised if Yandle goes into full-blown retirement mode while living in the Sunshine State. If Yandle was Florida’s #1 defenseman, I would change my tune. But Aaron Ekblad is the go-to guy for the Panthers as the franchise’s star young player and will therefore be the anchor on the powerplay and the TOI workhorse at even strength. I’m drafting Shattenkirk, Ekblad, Barrie, Pietrangelo, T.J. Brodie, and Sami Vatanen ahead of Yandle. There’s just not enough upside, for a team that does not run their offense through the d-men, at #77 for me.
Frederik Andersen – TOR – G (Yahoo rank #87, my rank #175) OVERRATED
The folks at Yahoo formulating the rankings must think that Auston Matthews will immediately turn the Maple Leafs into a winning machine. It’s great that Andersen no longer has John Gibson constantly challenging for the number one position, but even if Andersen makes 70 starts next season, he isn’t likely to get over 30 wins and many (if any) shutouts while playing with last year’s WORST team in the NHL. Bonafide number one starting goalies on better teams that are ranked below Andersen include Robin Lehner, Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov, Cam Talbot and Ryan Miller. Finally, I’d like to remind everyone that Andersen has had his share of struggles alongside his flashes of brilliance – the pressure of playing in Toronto and the difficulty backstopping a young and defensively weak team will be the true test to see what Freddy is made of.
Jonathan Drouin – TB – LW (Yahoo rank #117, my rank #180) OVERRATED
Drouin has a lot of potential, but other than a great run in the playoffs last season (14 points in 17 games) he hasn’t established himself as a proven, consistent talent. Just think of Jacob Silfverberg who followed up the 2014-2015 playoffs (18 points in 16 games) with only 39 points in 82 games last season. This could easily happen to Drouin. Another big risk is another falling out with the Tampa Bay organization. Every game Drouin gets scratched or relegated to the AHL, owners will be banging their heads against the wall, repeatedly, for putting themselves in this position. I know that the public perception is that Stevie-Y and Drouin have made amends, but we have no idea what has happened behind the scenes. Drouin just is not worth the risk for me at #117 when I can grab Hoffman at #130 who has similar upside, a stronger track record, and no obvious risks.
Mike Cammalleri – NJ – LW (Yahoo rank #148, my rank #104) UNDERRATED
Although Cammalleri only played in 42 games last season, the 34 year old amassed 38 points as a key member of the team’s top line and powerplay. Cammalleri’s offensive contributions could increase further with the addition of Taylor Hall. The great thing about Cammalleri is that his value is quiet and consistent, allowing you the opportunity to draft him a little later than he should be drafted and a little earlier than where Yahoo ranks him. Look for Cammalleri to continue to average >2 SOG per game with a 15% shooting percentage and 25+ goals for the season if he stays healthy.
Cam Talbot – EDM – G (Yahoo rank #154, my rank #96) UNDERRATED
Talbot could be the steal of the year. With McDavid’s two unbroken clavicles, a stronger blueline consisting of a healthy Klefbom and the newly acquired Adam Larsson, and more experience for the other youngsters in Nurse, Yakupov, Eberle, Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl, Edmonton will be stronger this season. Additionally, after finishing strong last year, Talbot is without doubt the go-to number one goalie in Edmonton. Even if the upswing isn’t as prolific as the optimist Oiler fan’s dreams are, Edmonton should manage 35 wins, 90% of which will belong to Talbot. He likely won’t run away with 40 wins, 8 shutouts and the Vezina, but he’ll see a ton of ice time with a stronger defensive system in front of him.
Erik Johnson – COL – D (Yahoo rank #271, my rank #190) UNDERRATED
Colorado had a bad season last year and Johnson still manufactured 27 points despite only getting 6 on the power play as the team’s number two offensive defenseman (behind Tyson Barrie). With a new head coach overseeing the Avalanche, the high caliber offense led by MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog and Iginla, is surely going to improve upon their 2.59 goals/game last season (20th in the NHL). In 2013-2014 the Avalanche hit 2.99/game which illustrates their offensive potential. A lot of the value I see in Johnson has to do with his shot blocking abilities (197 last season in 73 games which was 5th most in the NHL) which garners me 0.25points/block. Yahoo does not consider the 0.67 fantasy points/game that I can consistently rely on. Even if your league doesn’t count blocks, I see Johnson’s value at least being in the lower 200 range. Ultimately though, I see Johnson as “dependable” and isn’t a “sleeper” because his ceiling would only be material in the event that Barrie has an early season-ending injury.
There are a lot of other players out there that I find to be somewhat over- or underrated. Leave a comment on a player and I’ll share my views on value versus ranking. Stay tuned for a “Sleeper” special which will include only players ranked below #240 who have high upside potential and a fair chance to surprise the NHL this year.
image source: Bleacher Report