Top 10 Fantasy Hockey Players of the Decade

Dobber

2020-01-01

 

In putting together this series of Top 10 lists to close off the decade of the 2010s (beginning January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2019), I asked the gang to go ahead and choose their preferred list. We’d go first come, first served style and I would take whatever is leftover. I told them I wouldn’t interfere, other than one rule – whoever had the Top 10 Fantasy Hockey Players of the Decade, Alex Ovechkin had to be first. Just one rule, because it’s pretty unanimous when asking fantasy owners for their opinions. Ovechkin has been a healthy, consistent player with high upside, elite shot and goal totals, impressive Hits and at times PIM as well. He’s also a a left winger which at times has been the toughest position to fill on fantasy rosters. And in fact, for two years he was given RW eligibility in a lot of leagues as he was often tried on the other wing early in the decade.

 

(Coming out on January 10 – the 12th annual DobberHockey Midseason Guide. Pre-order it here!)

 

As an aside, I actually did interfere one time. Rick Roos had Kris Letang and Shea Weber second and third on his Top Defensemen list, followed by Brent Burns and Dustin Byfuglien. But this was due to a misunderstanding in that he had only been including their data from when they were actual defensemen. Since it was a fantasy hockey list, they were actually ‘D’ eligible in all formats even when they were spending time at forward. Which, of course, not only increased their overall totals as defenseman from a fantasy standpoint, but in fact significantly increased their value due to the dual eligibility.

As I dove into the decade-long analysis, the Ovechkin win turned out to not be as clear-cut as you would think. Especially when you look at it from a keeper league and points-only standpoint. Cliffy already did the Top 10 Multi-Cat players of the Decade. When I looked at the Top 50 players that I projected in my Fantasy Guide from 2010 through 2019, and I assigned one point for 50th, 50 points for first, and then tallied the players, I got the following totals:

Sidney Crosby

464

Alex Ovechkin

436

Patrick Kane

408

John Tavares

403

Steven Stamkos

401

Evgeni Malkin

362

Claude Giroux

355

Nicklas Backstrom

351

Anze Kopitar

325

Ryan Getzlaf

271

Phil Kessel

269

Blake Wheeler

265

Tyler Seguin

258

Jamie Benn

248

Taylor Hall

248

Connor McDavid

244

Johnny Gaudreau

216

Nathan MacKinnon

213

Nikita Kucherov

209

Corey Perry

203

 

Sidney Crosby wins this particular format. But these are from projections – and as we know, early on in the decade he had concussion issues that cut his season short. Ovechkin would then be the obvious choice, especially when factoring not only the injuries, but also the positional scarcity. That is to say – a winger is harder to grab off the wire as a replacement versus a centerman.

 

Now let’s perform the same exercise, but with actual end-of-season scoring ranks instead of projections:

Patrick Kane

363

Alex Ovechkin

360

Sidney Crosby

348

Claude Giroux

328

Steven Stamkos

301

John Tavares

298

Phil Kessel

263

Anze Kopitar

251

Nicklas Backstrom

249

Tyler Seguin

241

Nikita Kucherov

232

Blake Wheeler

227

Ryan Getzlaf

223

Evgeni Malkin

210

Jamie Benn

205

Brad Marchand

201

Connor McDavid

199

Joe Thornton

195

Artemi Panarin

188

Erik Karlsson

179

 

Patrick Kane actually wins. Ovechkin finishes second, with Crosby third. Kane was consistent with his production – and he’s a winger too. Sure, he didn’t put up anything close (not remotely!) to the peripherals that Ovie enjoyed, but in points-only leagues he’s been money.

With these general, high-level numbers to consider, I also wanted to dig into a rolling keeper-league value before finalizing things with positions (yes, the plan was to include goaltenders and defensemen). So I took a look at the ranking for the key players in my Top 300, for September of every year in the decade.

Since there wasn’t a good way to put this in an order, I grabbed the top averaged players and added in several interesting names to consider, sorting by their 2015 rank. Here were the rankings of 26 key players for each year of the decade (in September of that year):

 

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

Sidney Crosby

2

1

3

1

1

1

2

2

3

6

John Tavares

14

12

6

5

3

2

6

16

5

11

Connor McDavid

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

3

1

1

1

2

Alex Ovechkin

1

2

2

3

4

4

5

13

9

23

Evgeni Malkin

3

3

1

2

2

5

17

20

13

43

Tyler Seguin

47

63

25

18

12

6

7

10

21

27

Steven Stamkos

9

4

4

4

5

7

19

18

12

14

Jamie Benn

133

45

28

29

19

8

4

15

31

83

Phil Kessel

39

42

14

8

10

9

27

27

16

36

Claude Giroux

52

14

5

6

6

10

15

52

10

16

Taylor Hall

34

23

30

11

11

11

26

44

15

22

Nicklas Backstrom

4

7

7

7

7

12

8

7

22

38

Ryan Getzlaf

8

8

16

17

9

13

18

30

43

141

Patrick Kane

15

15

23

9

8

14

3

3

17

7

Jakub Voracek

57

71

64

35

30

15

29

50

30

39

Nikita Kucherov

N/A

247

N/A

N/A

167

16

16

4

2

1

Vladimir Tarasenko

N/A

233

151

124

52

17

12

8

35

41

Corey Perry

32

10

18

27

14

19

30

84

229

N/A

Erik Karlsson

125

85

26

20

20

20

10

9

36

52

Jonathan Toews

35

21

31

16

21

21

48

54

105

61

Nathan MacKinnon

N/A

N/A

N/A

33

13

22

24

38

4

3

Anze Kopitar

20

16

13

13

15

23

21

37

19

42

Joe Thornton

7

20

24

36

25

42

35

125

173

N/A

Eric Staal

10

17

22

12

18

43

173

88

64

132

Pavel Datsyuk

18

11

21

24

61

79

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

 

 

Looking at these charts, and using all the hard work already put in by my colleagues in the other rankings to get the right defensemen and goaltenders – I’m ready to proceed.

First, some honorable mentions. Obviously Connor McDavid and Nikita Kucherov deserve props. With the two of them bouncing between first and second on my keeper league rankings for the better part of two years now. McDavid hasn’t left the Top 3 in five summers, while Kucherov has been Top 16 for the same length of time. Also a shout out to the Old Guard. The players who ranked highly in the first half of the decade, but have since retired, or slowed down, or went to play hockey in Russia: Joe Thornton, Eric Staal and Pavel Datsyuk.

Just off the list: Jamie Benn, Evgeni Malkin, Nathan MacKinnon, Dustin Byfuglien, Taylor Hall, Kris Letang, Carey Price and Henrik Lundqvist. Each presented strong cases, but you can only go with 10.

I present to you my Top 10 Fantasy Hockey Players of the Decade.

 

 

10. Phil Kessel

I love the 82-game players. The guys who never get hurt. You can draft them and count on them to come through for you. It’s nice to have at least one roster spot that you don’t have to worry about. Blake Wheeler, Brad Marchand (although, ahem, suspensions do happen with this guy), and Keith Yandle are great examples. But so is Phil Kessel. And he also had the third most points of the entire decade. Staying healthy will do that for you.

 

9. Pekka Rinne

Only one goalie made this list, for obvious reasons. You can’t count on them. Look no further than this year’s Andrei Vasilevskiy, who was absolutely money in the bank, right? Uh, no. Sergei Bobrovsky won two Vezinas, but killed his owners three or four times last decade thanks to his horrible starts. Carey Price…well, let’s not go there. But Pekka Rinne was one you could count on. He finished second in wins for the decade behind Marc-Andre Fleury, and was Top 5 in all the key categories. Rinne had at least 30 wins in seven of the eight full non-lockout years (current pace for this year will fall short), topping 40 wins on three different occasions.

 

8. Claude Giroux

Another of those 82-game guys, Giroux missed nine contests the entire decade. He hit 82 points five times (lockout pro-rated), and 100 points once. To me he drops below the next two guys because of his 58-point season that had me trading him away. After posting 73, 67 and then 58 points, he had “declining” written all over him. I paid dearly for that move as he exploded for a career best 102 points after that. So perhaps it’s sour grapes that knocks him below Tavares when my colleague Prata had him just ahead. Then again, maybe not. Other fantasy owners felt the same way and were burned, and shouldn’t that be a point against him when arguing his case?

 

6. and 7. John Tavares and Steven Stamkos

I struggled with these two for a long time. And then realized I was spending far too long wrestling with it, so I left them tied. This is a win for Stamkos if he didn’t get hurt so often. Yes, he only missed significant time twice (Tavares did once). But on another occasion he had a concerning blood clot issue that had keeper league owners very concerned (with no shortage of them bailing and making panic-trades).

 

5. Brent Burns

Burns is a fantasy decade darling twice over. Early in the decade he was great because he was a forward who was D-eligible in fantasy leagues. Later in the decade he was great because…he was great. A defenseman getting 75 and then 76 points was almost unheard of in this day and age. But hitting 83 points last year was another level of awesome.

 

4. Erik Karlsson

The consistent elite production was unmatched by other defensemen. Karlsson posted 78 points in 2011-12 and followed that up with 74, 66, 82, 71 and 62 after the lockout (when he was injured). Prior to his decline of the past two seasons (due to injury, no doubt), he was considered the “Crosby of defensemen” in fantasy.

 

3. Patrick Kane

I went into this exercise figuring Kane would be seventh or eighth. But looking at his consistency – and his health – I’ve been surprised. He has been a point-per-game player nine out of 10 years, with the lone exception being 2011-12 when he had 66 points. He hit the 100-point mark twice and is on pace to do that again. He’s a winger who has been money in the bank. We already know Kane is great, but I’m saying he’s been better than even the biggest Kane fans thought. He made this list a tough three-man race.

 

2. Alex Ovechkin

I had one rule. One rule. And here I am breaking it. Your multi-category Player of the Decade is also a winger – a tough position to replace on the wire. And earlier in the decade, it was the left wing position that to me was the hardest (other than goalies). Ovechkin hit 100 points three times, but all three occasions were prior to this past decade. Within the decade itself, his best was 89 points (last year) and he hit 79 points on six occasions (with the lockout year pacing for a seventh). He also had seasons of 69, 65 and 71 as he focused on being a complete, team player and win a Cup as opposed to lighting up the score sheet. In the end, it was the emphasis on consistent keeper league value in points-only leagues that cost Ovechkin the win. There were seasons, when Crosby had injury struggles, where Ovechkin was Ovech-King. But there were more seasons in which Crosby held more value.

 

1. Sidney Crosby

Sid the Kid has been owned by one team in each of my three keeper leagues. The entire decade. Never traded. This, despite two of his seasons nearly getting wiped out and even his career in doubt at one point. But holding onto him was well worth it because he has never been below 1.06 points-per-game in any year of his entire career (although at 1.00 currently). The reward for keeping him? A combined seven regular season titles in those keeper leagues for his owners (out of 30), plus an additional combined four out of 20 possible playoff titles (one of the keeper leagues does not have a playoff component). That’s 11 out of 50 titles, or 22% of available titles for 7% of the owners. Isn’t that what it’s all about? The two years of concussion issues and the career in doubt at one point made this an extremely close race, but three 100-point seasons and seven 84-point seasons give Crosby the edge. Sidney Crosby is your Fantasy Hockey Player of the Decade.

 

 

The rest of the Decade series…

Top 10 Multi-Cat Players of the Decade

Mike Clifford

Top 10 Underrated Players of the Decade in Fantasy Hockey

Tom Collins

Top 10 Fantasy Hockey Goalies of the Decade

Ian Gooding

Top 10 Fantasy Hockey Defensemen of the Decade

Rick Roos

Top 10 Fantasy Centers of the Past Decade

Mario Prata

Top 10 Fantasy Wingers of the Past Decade

Cam Robinson

Top 10 Overrated Players of the Decade in Fantasy Hockey

Tom Collins

 

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
PAUL STASTNY VGK 6 2 4 6
ALEXANDER RADULOV DAL 4 1 3 4
JAMIE BENN DAL 19 8 10 18
BLAKE COLEMAN T.B 4 1 2 3
SHEA THEODORE VGK 4 1 2 3

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency MTL Players
32.5% JOEL ARMIA JONATHAN DROUIN NICK SUZUKI
20.9% PAUL BYRON MAX DOMI JESPERI KOTKANIEMI
17.5% PHILLIP DANAULT ARTTURI LEHKONEN TOMAS TATAR

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