As we charge past the NHL fantasy stars and move into the realm of the solid players, subjectivity becomes a factor. But, lying beneath our personal player preferences, hard statistics must be noted when pondering who to draft.
All of the following skaters are legit top and second line players who will see quality minutes on their team’s first or second power play units. They will easily skate over 15 minutes per game and upwards of 18-20 minutes per contest while proving very valuable to you the drafters. So, just because they are second tier doesn't mean they are second best.
31) P.K. Subban (D, Nashville Predators): I’ve seen some projections suggesting Subban is going to score 80 points this season. That is optimistic, but 65-70 for sure in Nashville with Roman Josi as a running mate seems right. Subban will be thrown into the mix on a very young team with deeper playoff aspirations (like a trip to the Conference Finals and Cup Finals). Fantasy wise, Subban will again be a large offensive force for our squads this season, so reach if you want. You will not regret it. Projection: 20g, 46a, 66pts.
32) Mark Scheifele (C, Winnipeg Jets): Scheifele is now the number one center for the Jets, and he will show everyone his fantasy value, for while his contract value has grown, Scheifele’s statistics have grown. Mark’s point total jumped 13 points from 2014, even with the Center missing 11 games in 2015. This will be the last year to get Scheifele at this slot with his statistics continually rising (and with All-Star winger Blake Wheeler as a line mate to help the cause). Projection: 31g, 35a, 66pts.
33) Ryan Getzlaf (C, Anaheim Ducks): The longtime Ducks Captain took a month or so to get going last year along with the entire Ducks team. Let’s hope there isn’t a repeat performance under new (old) Head Coach Randy Carlyle, and that Getzlaf gets back in the 75-85 point range again. All of this does make it a good year to buy low on Getz. Projection: 23g, 43a, 66pts.
34) Max Pacioretty (LW, Montreal Canadians): Pacioretty is just moving into his prime years, meaning the present 30-goal scorer is poised to jump that number into the 40-goal range. Even in a wash season as he had last year, Pacioretty still lit up the score sheet on a regular basis, and I expect more from the Wolverine this season. Projection: 35g, 31a, 66pts.
35) Taylor Hall (LW, New Jersey Devils): A change of scenery will do the young Hall some good, and while still headed to a losing team, the move will help his overall game. In fantasy, expect a much better season than the last few stinkers left in Edmonton, and hopefully he can stay healthy this year, as he’s been injury prone during his early career. Projection: 31g, 33a, 64pts.
36) Aleksander Barkov (C, Florida Panthers): I honestly feel Barkov will eclipse the 70-point plateau this season, and if he finally stays healthy, possibly higher. Sasha has great line mates and plays top line minutes for the young and vastly improving Panthers. Health is the key but if Barkov plays 75 games or more, he could post superstar numbers. Projection: 29g, 35a, 64pts.
37) Tyler Toffoli (RW, Los Angeles Kings): A future NHL superstar, Toffoli continues to grow as a player each year. Going into his fourth season, I expect Tyler to produce totals similar to his 31-goal, 58-point season of 2015. Coach Sutter’s defensive system has restraints on Toffoli, but he remains an excellent second level fantasy producer. With Milan Lucic currently employed in Edmonton, Toffoli’s quality minutes are going to increase even more this season, and he could be a first tier producer at a second tier price. Projection: 33g 31a, 64pts.
38) Ryan Johansen (C, Nashville Predators): Key to the success of the young and very active Predators offense, Johansen is in a prime position to make many fantasy drafters trophy winners. With active defensemen, and a great set of young wingers, all of Nashville’s top players should be owned, including Johansen. Projection: 26g, 37a, 63pts.
39) Tyler Johnson (C, Tampa Bay Lightning): After taking a step back last year, I’m counting on Johnson to rebound. His ice time has declined each of the past three seasons, but that’s tied into the missing games. Being a smaller skater, Johnson has seemed more injury prone than a larger Milan Lucic size winger. Still, the Lightning Center is worth the play. Projection: 27g, 36a, 63pts.
40) Milan Lucic (LW, Edmonton Oilers): Speaking of the big man, Lucic went out of his way to sign with my beloved Oilers (take note Chris Pronger). The big Canadian also had 42 million reasons to assist his thought process (Conner McDavid is one, too). Lucic said he wanted to play with McDavid, and who would blame him, after years with Patrice Bergeron and Anze Kopitar? Fantasy wise, Milan contributes across the board with goals, assists, power play points, penalty minutes and a great plus/minus. Projection: 28g, 35a, 63pts.