As we dig deeper into the NHL rankings, there will be more debate as everyone has their own drink, so to speak. Still, this next batch of players are must owns. One would think within these tiers there would be more goalies mixed in. I will be doing a goalie piece very soon to ease your pains of when and where to select your team’s net minder. But for now, let’s get back to the skaters.
21) Brent Burns (D, San Jose Sharks): A converted winger, Burns has grown each year as a player as a forward, and the Teal Gandalf is a force on the ice contributing everywhere with goals, assists, hits, and top minute time on the Penalty Kill and Power Play. I’d have zero issues if you picked him ahead of Erik Karlsson, and why not. Burns plays on a better team and will have many opportunities. Burns also finished 2nd in the NHL in shots last year with 353, only behind Alex Ovechkin’s 398, and I don’t see him slowing down at all. Projection: 22g, 49a, 71pts.
22) Johnathan Toews (C, Chicago Blackhawks): STAT filler alert: Toews does it all for the Blackhawks, and he continues to lead one of the best teams in the NHL, scoring 28 goals last season: 18 even strength, six on the power play, and four short-handed, along with 30 assists. He will get a ton of top minutes on the power play while centering Marian Hossa on the top line, Toews is a top end option no matter what league you play in. Projection: 31g, 41a, 72pts.
23) Claude Giroux (C/RW, Philadelphia Flyers): One of the league's healthier players, Giroux doesn’t miss many games, and is one of the more consistent producers of the points we need to thrive in Fantasyland. In the heart of his prime years, Giroux would be a top ten skater if Jakub Voracek would decide if he’s a budding superstar, or the enigmatic lethargic third line producer of last season. Giroux, like Toews, plays in all situations for the Flyers, and also like Toews, Giroux fills the stat sheet nicely. Projection: 29g, 42a, 71pts.
24) Logan Couture (C, San Jose Sharks): Yes, this is the fourth Shark in my top 25, but after seeing what a healthy Couture did in the playoffs, could anyone deny this ranking? The leading scorer in the 2016 playoffs (30pts) and assist man (20) along with 10 goals, Couture is skating into his prime and is a huge factor this upcoming season. I plan on owning him every chance I get. You will not regret going Shark heavy. Projection: 30g, 41a, 71pts.
25) Patrice Bergeron (C, Boston Bruins): 12 years in the NHL and Bergeron is still one of the best all-around players on the planet. Retaining Bergeron is one thing GM Don Sweeney hasn’t mucked up since his tenure began. The three-time Selke Trophy winner and seven-time finalist as the league’s best defensive forward, the Center is also a great offensive player. Bergeron is another stat filler--like Toews and Giroux--and a 30-goal scorer, with 12 on the power play last year. You will be able to get Bergeron for a good price as a secondary scorer on your squad. Projection: 33g, 37a, 70pts.
26) Sean Monahan (C, Calgary Flames): Coming into his fourth full season in Calgary, the young center has hit the ice skating and has not skipped a beat during his development. Monahan has a 15.4% career shooting percentage over three seasons, which means he’s fairly accurate, while dishing helpers off to his dynamite linemate Johnny Gaudreau. Calgary also has one of the more offensively active defense corps, which only helps Monahan’s cause. Projection: 30g, 40a, 70pts.
27) Filip Forsberg (C, Nashville Predators): In a similar boat as Monahan, Forsberg plays with a very active defensive unit, featuring stud sniper linemate James Neal. This young Swede continues to mature and develop as one of the NHL’s future international torch bearers. Forsberg hasn’t missed a game yet in his career and continues to produce, even in the heavily stacked Western Conference. With 33 goals and 31 assists last season, I expect even more from Filip this year. Projection: 29g, 40a, 69pts.
28) Roman Josi, (D, Nashville Predators): The Predators' second leading scorer will assume even more of the offensive and power play duties following Shea Weber’s trade to Montreal for P.K. Subban. In the long line of stud defensemen drafted by Nashville, Josi is just scraping the surface of his ability. Roman is regularly lined up against the opposition’s best forwards, and Josi still shined with 14g, 47a, and six power play markers, numbers which will increase this season with even more ice time. Projection: 18g, 50a, 68pts.
29) Corey Perry (RW, Anaheim Ducks): What can I say about Perry other than I hate his guts? But why? We played the same style game, minus the non-stop whining from me, but maybe it’s because he’s just a stud. Yes, that’s it: Perry is a stud. Perry has had up and down point production from year-to-year, but playing with a younger team this season should reinvigorate him. Perry was an effective wing last year, and I’d draft him just for all the goals at even strength and the power play. Projection: 35g, 32a, 67pts.
30) Kris Letang (D, Pittsburgh Penguins): Never the healthiest of rear guards, Letang is very effective when he plays, whether rushing the pace up the ice, or anchoring the Penguins dominant power play. Finishing last season with 67pts, Letang will post similar numbers, and possibly more if he manages to play all 82 games. Projection: 15g, 52a, 67pts.