In most seasons, the No. 1 overall pick is an afterthought for fantasy hockey owners. Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Washington Capitals wing Alex Ovechkin have been the players of choice for top pick over the last several seasons.
But is it concieveable to think two, three or even four other players could also go No. 1 overall in fantasy hockey for the 2015-16 season? Here is a breakdown the top six players that have an argument to go first overall in drafts this fall.
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
This is an obvious one. Many consider Crosby’s 2014-15 season an off year, but he still scored 28 goals and 84 points. He recorded 31 of those points on the man advantage.
Go ahead an call that an “off” year, but just about any player in the league would want that stat line even with just a plus-five rating, which was Crosby’s lowest since 2008-09.
With new winger Phil Kessel in the mix and the Penguins blue line healthy, Crosby is the favorite to win the scoring title once again.
Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
No one has a better shot in the game, nobody takes more shots and no one buries more of those shots than Oveckin does. The Russian winger has led the league in goals, power-play goals and shots on net in each of the last three seasons. Ovechkin has scored 50-plus goals in each of the last two seasons.
With Barry Trotz the new bench boss in Washington, Ovechkin and the Capitals played much better defense as well in 2014-15, and that resulted in Oveckin posting a plus-10 rating.
He also records a lot more penalty minutes and hits than the average superstar. Last season, Ovechkin had 58 penalty minutes and 259 hits. Receiving that from the top goal scorer in the league is a lethal fantasy combination.
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
The only player who averaged more points per game last season was Crosby. Tyler Seguin scored 37 goals and 77 points in just 71 games last season, and he is just 23-years-old.
It is scary to think about the potential of this kid when he is already in the scoring title discussion at 23. If he plays a full 82-game slate, Seguin has the potential to be the top fantasy player.
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay
In 2014-15, Steven Stamkos played his first full season since 2011-12 and again reached the 40-goal plateau. Even at just 25 years old, Stamkos has scored at least 40 goals in a season four times during his career.
But his ice time is somewhat concerning. He averaged over 22 minutes per game in 2012-13, then 20: 15 in the 2013-14 season. Last season, Stamkos averaged just 19:22 minutes of ice time per game. In order to be a legitimate threat to dethrone Ovechkin as the top goal scorer or win the scoring title, Stamkos is going to have to play more minutes.
John Tavares, New York Islanders
John Tavares stayed healthy and finally took that step towards being one of the top players in the league last season. He scored 38 goals, 86 points with a plus-five rating. His 86 points were second to only Jamie Benn’s 87.
At 24, it isn’t at all unrealistic to expect Tavares to take another step towards greatness and score 90 points this season.
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia
Most fantasy owners are probably going to be outraged that Claude Giroux made our list ahead of guys like Evgeni Malkin, Jamie Benn and Ryan Getzlaf, but all those guys are high-risk, high-reward fantasy players.
Benn won the scoring title last season but is coming off double hip surgeries this offseason and Malkin is always a health risk. As for Getzlaf, he regressed a bit last season after a career-year in 2013-14.
Meanwhile, Giroux has led the entire NHL in points the last five years combined. Last season, he scored 25 goals and 74 points with 37 of them coming on the power play. Furthermore, it doesn’t get much better than Giroux’s 56.8 faceoff percentage.
He may come with less upside, but there isn’t a safer pick in the first round than Giroux.
As one can see, choosing the top fantasy hockey players this season is a lot tougher than it sounds.
For leagues with shots as a category, Ovechkin has the slight edge over the rest of the pack. He will dominate the shots, goals and power-play points categories.
Readers should also take note that Ovechkin is the only winger that made our list. With so much depth at center, owners with the No. 1 pick can wait on that position in order to grab the top winger.
But Crosby is hardly a consolation prize. He will get a ton of assists and points playing alongside Kessel this season. If owners are thinking more outside of the box, Seguin is the way to go. He has some of the best upside of any player in the league.