Ramblings: Checking In On Yahoo’s Centre Rankings – August 24

Michael Clifford


There are certain events that start to signal the beginning of the fantasy hockey season. The actual first day of the season is an obvious one, the start of training camp, the release of Dobber’s fantasy guide at the start of the month as well. When some of the bigger sites like ESPN and Yahoo! start opening their hockey lobbies, though, is a huge sign that the draft season is dawning on us.

Yahoo! opened their fantasy hockey section a few days ago and with it a release of their rankings. I thought it would be worthwhile to go through these rankings and discuss where some issues arise, either by players being ranked too high or too low. It’ll take me a few Ramblings to get through all of them, so I will just start with the centres for now. Keep in mind that these are done using Yahoo! positions, as well as their standard roto setup: goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots on goal, and penalty minutes. When I talk rounds/leagues, I am also assuming 12 teams.


Leon Draisaitl – 16th overall

A couple of months ago I wrote about why I’m concerned with the upside of Draisaitl’s production this year. We definitely have to wait and see how he will be used because there is a potential chasm in difference between riding shotgun on Connor McDavid’s line and centring Milan Lucic and Jesse Puljujarvi (or whatever the line ends up being).

Let’s assume best-case scenario here and Draisaitl spends the similar amount of time on the top line at five-on-five as he did last year (he was always going to be on the top power-play unit regardless). He’s not a shooter. He hasn’t been in any of his three seasons to date. He’s only going into his age-22 season, but not generating a lot of shots when skating alongside McDavid for over half the season last year, while playing nearly 19 minutes a game, is a worry.

There’s also the concern that he’s not a penalty-taker. I wish we’d get rid of that category and change it to penalties drawn, or penalty differential, but it doesn’t change that he won’t rack the PIMs, either.

What we’re left with, then, is a player we’re hoping can stuff four of the six roto categories. He could be a 30-goal, 80-point guy next year and not live up to that ADP because of a lack of peripheral stats. He wasn’t a top-30 roto player last year, just to reiterate the fact that he could be a point-per-game player this year and not be worth this ranking. And all this is assuming he is used as McDavid’s winger, and not a centre on his own line. There is a lot of risk at taking him in the middle of the second round of a 12-team league with seemingly little upside.



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Steven Stamkos – 30th overall

This is a fascinating ranking because Stamkos’ 2015-16 season saw him as the 40th overall player, and it was a season that saw him post just 28 assists and 64 points. By Stamkos standards, that wasn’t a great season, but both 2014-15 and 2015-16 saw him post under 0.9 points per game.

He is now 27 years old, which isn’t ancient, but by aging curves is definitely starting the decline phase. Was that decline already starting before his abbreviated 2016-17, or was it a brief aberration and he still has a few elite-tier production seasons left? And are all his injury issues – namely the blood clots – truly behind him? That’s what makes this ranking fascinating.

This is just my personal opinion on the matter, but it’s at about Stamkos’ ranking when you start running out of potentially elite centres to draft. A couple of the centres drafted ahead of him are Tyler Seguin and John Tavares, but then after you start getting into players like Joe Pavelski (will he and Joe Thornton be the same as they’ve always been?), Ryan Getzlaf (not a true roto stud), and players of that ilk. If you wanted to wait on taking your first centre and still hope for an elite season, Stamkos would probably be the last chance for that to happen.


Aleksander Barkov – 66th overall

Why draft Draisaitl in the second round when you can draft Barkov in the sixth round? I’m being kind of facetious here, but not entirely. Let’s review the last three years of each player:


Shots/60 at 5v5


Shots/60 at 5v5


Shots/60 at 5v5


Points/60 at 5v5


Points/60 at 5v5


Points/60 at 5v5

















Notice that in each of the three seasons, Barkov had the superior shot and points rates at five-on-five, even in Draisaitl’s 77-point season last year.

Of course, there is some inherent risk in drafting Barkov. There are the injury issues that have followed him in each season he’s played. There’s also the question of how well Barkov will mesh with Evgeny Dadonov should he indeed be the replacement for Jaromir Jagr on the top line.

It is important, though, to acknowledge that if there are injury/chemistry risks with Barkov, there is also the risk of Draisaitl not being a staple of the top line in Edmonton. The difference is fantasy owners are paying a significantly higher draft price for one than the other. Barkov, even through his injury-riddle seasons, has shown the potential to reach 70 points if he can put a full year together. Aside from the power-play points, I don’t think there’s a significant enough of a difference to warrant more than four rounds between the two.


Rickard Rakell – 97th overall

I was kind of stunned to see Rakell this low. Yes, he definitely won’t shoot 18.6 percent again this year, which was a big reason why he got to 33 goals in just 71 games. Lest we forget, however, that he scored 20 goals in 72 games the year before shooting a much more manageable 11.8 percent. He’s played three full seasons now, averaging a 13.7 percent shooting rate. If he can play 75 games next year at the same shot/game rate as 2016-17 and that average shooting rate, he can still be a 25-goal guy.

Maybe there is some reticence as to where he slots in the lineup, but he won’t play on the checking line with Ryan Kesler, and I cannot fathom the coaching staff sticking him in the bottom-six. That would seemingly leave him on Getzlaf’s line for the majority of the season, a good spot to be if you want to score goals.

One issue I can see is the power-play production, as he is likely stuck behind Getzlaf, Kesler, and Corey Perry in the PP pecking order. Should they decide to run a traditional three-forward, two-defencemen power-play setup as they did last year, that would leave him on the outside looking in on the top PP unit. He could replace Perry at times like he did in 2016-17, but it likely is not enough for him to reach his fantasy potential, and could get worse if Perry finds his scoring touch again.

With all that out of the way, if Rakell is indeed routinely drafted around the top-100, it’s a spot where all players have issues in their player profile. If your fantasy roster needs goals, though, he’s a good bet to take.



As a small aside, it appears someone at Yahoo is a gigantic Sabres fan:



Some quick hits on other centre rankings:


Tyler Seguin (24)

Four straight seasons with at least 25 goals (three of them with at least 30), four straight seasons with at last 70 points, four straight seasons with at least 3.5 shots per game, and four straight seasons with at least 20 power-play points. With a healthy Jamie Benn and the addition of Alexander Radulov, getting him outside of the first round is a gift.


Nathan MacKinnon (111)

I do wonder where his ADP actually ends up. Sure, Colorado will be bad again, but that will also mean a plethora of ice time like he saw last year. That much ice time with a player who shoots as often as he does is a very rare combination you can find anywhere near this late in the draft, regardless of the team he plays for. You’ll need to patch up some of his warts (plus/minus and penalty minutes are concerns) but there is a solid floor here through talent and ice time alone.


Jake Guentzel (123)

How far Guentzel’s ADP rises is anyone guess, but I can’t imagine he stays this low. If he gets one exhibition game on Crosby’s top line, it’s going to shoot up that draft price. Just be aware that there will be Guentzel fans at the draft table, and if you want him on your roster, I'm guessing owners will have to grab him near the 100th overall pick.


Matt Duchene (199)

There are so many stories around the Avalanche like players checking out last year once the team really played itself out of the playoffs or Duchene being traded, this could be a very fluid ranking and/or ADP. If he stays in Colorado, maybe it doesn’t move much. If he’s traded to Nashville or Los Angeles or wherever, how much does this change? His production can’t get worse than last year, so I think there’s some profit to be had here, even if he is in a Colorado uniform on opening night. 


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