The 2019 Fantasy Hockey season is rapidly approaching and you know this because everyone is doing their Fantasy Football Drafts, and hockey is not too far behind.
Over the course of the next five weeks, we will be turning out a bunch of posts to help you prepare yourself for the 2019 Fantasy season. Our projections and Cheat Sheets will be out right after Labour Day and then you will see the classic posts like: Sleepers, Breakouts, Busts and Rookies to target.
However, I want to get the Fantasy season started with a tiers post. I have broken my Top 50 Centres down into tiers and I’ll explain why each player is slotted where they are. I will start with tiers 1-5 today and post the next 25 centres tomorrow.
Connor McDavid (EDM)
I will admit, this is a bit “gimmicky” but it is the truth. McDavid should be the first player off of the board in every single draft this fall. Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon and William Karlsson all had “freakish” seasons, yet all fell way short of what McDavid produced—and did it on a bad Oilers team.
Karlsson shot a trillion percent and still had just two more goals and 32 less assists that McDavid. Hall, best season of his career, had two less goals and 13 less helpers. MacKinnon got a little closer, but still fell a whole 11 points shy of Connor. However, the craziest part is all three of those players are likely bound for regression this season and McDavid may improve on his totals. In fact, he just said that he wants to “score more” in 2019…that could put him at like 50 goals and 70 assists. No other player may even touch 100 points. He is in a league of his own and thus he is in a tier of his own.
Sidney Crosby (PIT), Stevem Stamkos (TBL), John Tavares (TOR), Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Tier 2 could be nicknamed “The Ol’Reliables.” Crosby has been able to stay healthy in recent years, Stamkos randomly became an assist machine last year, Tavares finally plays for a good team and Malkin is a point-per-game monster.
Crosby has been doing it for 13 seasons and will likely be the second or third player off the board in many leagues…unless your draft is in Toronto. The only player that should go ahead of Crosby, is Stamkos’ linemate Nikita Kucherov. Playing with Kucherov allowed Stamkos to set a new career-high in assists (59) last season. Thanks to a career-low 12.7 shooting percentage, he scored just 27 goals but that should revert back to normal in 2019. Tavares is in the best situation of his career and is set for career-highs across the board. Malkin is as good as any player in the NHL, but durability is a concern. He made it through last year, but has not played 70-plus games in back-to-back seasons since 2008-2009.
Tyler Seguin (DAL), Auston Matthews (TOR), Nathan MacKinnon (COL), Aleksander Barkov (FLA)
Only Alex Ovechkin has more goals since 2014 than Seguin, who also has 0.99 points-per-game over that stretch. The Stars have underachieved over the years, but have the offensive fire-power to do some damage.
Injuries limited Matthews last year, but his elite release makes him a candidate to lead the position in goals this year. Adding Tavares into the mix should only help the third-year forward.
As I mentioned above, regression could be coming for MacKinnon, who shot 5.6 percent above his career percentage last year. Not to mention an 11.9 on-ice shooting percentage. Regardless, he has showcased his high-end upside and even his floor keeps him among the top-10 centres.
I had been on the Barkov hype-train for a while and he finally became a household name in 2018. Like Malkin, durability is the only concern here. He plays massive minutes and his shooting percentage should improve this season and give him his first 30-plus goal season.
Nicklas Backstrom (WSH), Jack Eichel (BUF), Evgeny Kuznetsov (WSH), Mark Scheifele (WPG), Anze Kopitar (LAK)
Backstrom is one of the easiest player’s in the NHL to project. He will score 20-plus goals with 50-plus assists and a ton of those points will come on the power-play.
Eichel has missed 36 games over the last two seasons, but he had a 31-goal, 48-assist (79 points) per 82-game pace going last year. Now he has the best surrounding cast that he has ever had following the additions of Jeff Skinner, Conor Sheary and Rasmus Dahlin.
Kuznetsov is an elite playmaker who has the luxury of playing with Ovechkin most of the time. Like Backstrom, he should score 20-plus goals and 50-plus assists.
Scheifele has had nearly identical stats during the last two seasons, but missed 22 games a year ago. The big centre has the eighth-best points-per-game (1.02) in the NHL during that span and plays on one of the most lethal offences in the league. Don’t let him slip too far.
Kopitar seems like a relatively easy case this year. He won’t be as bad as he was in 2017 and won’t be as unbelievable as he was last year. He should fall somewhere between the 52 and 92 points…unless he and his new left winger (Ilya Kovalchuk) build a great rapport together.
Mathew Barzal (NYI), Patrice Bergeron (BOS), Vincent Trocheck (FLA), Brayden Point (TBL), Ryan Getzlaf (ANA), Leon Draisaitl (EDM), Sean Monahan (CGY), Jeff Carter (LAK), Jonathan Toews (CHI)
Bergeron plays almost exclusively with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak and the trio makes up one of the best lines in the NHL. He’s been a 30-30 machine and will continue to be so—with some extra upside in 2019.
Much like Barkov, it took Trocheck a few years to really get going, but tore it up in 2018. His D-zone% isn’t ideal for a fantasy star, but he’s durable with skillful two-way centre with 30-40 upside.
Undersized but overskilled, Point carries the Lightning’s second line and his production isn’t too far off his first-line teammates. Point might not have the name recognition of these other Tier 5 centres, but he will soon.
Getzlaf has not scored over 20 goals in three seasons, but he had a 73-assist per 82-game pace going last year. Getzlaf is a lesser version of Backstrom—50-plus assists, double-digit goals and a lot of power-play points.
It looks like Draisaitl may be a centre and not McDavid’s linemate after all—limiting his upside. However, he has the talent to carry his own line and still be a 70-point player.
Monahan may never be more than a 30-30 centre and that’s fine. He’ll do it year-in and year-out.
Carter is getting up there in age (33) but he still shoots the puck with aplomb. Carter will fire around 250 shots (if he’s healthy) and that will lead to 30-plus goals…again.
Toews will always get drafted earlier than he should because of his name. He hasn’t topped 60 points in three years, but he’s definitely capable of a 30-30 season if his shooting percentage returns to his 14.1 career rate.