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Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Open Ice: Top 200 Rankings

By Sean Allen
Special to ESPN.com

Fleury
Despite recent playoff woes, Marc-Andre Fleury is off to a strong start this season.

Welcome to the inaugural edition of Open Ice for the 2013-14 NHL season. This fantasy column is your place to check in on your current assets and see how they stack up against recent competition. Here is where you will find the latest Top 200 ranking for the ESPN standard game, and an analysis of how certain players have been faring.

As to structure, this is a new approach to the ranking for ESPN.com's fantasy hockey coverage this season, so nothing is set in stone. We are going to let the column evolve as it needs to in order to serve the community. The mandate of Open Ice will be to rank the Top 200 fantasy players from now to the end of the 2013-14 regular season and dispatch any pertinent news and advice as it relates to those players. In other words, Open Ice will deal with the fantasy analysis of the players who are probably already owned in your league. We will deal with roster decisions of who to trade, trade for and drop, more than we will who to add.

For now, we will present you with the Top 200 and a quick look at how some of the forwards, defensemen and goaltenders have moved in the rankings. This is as good a start as any for a column with Open Ice's intended purpose, but it is not a rigid plan for the column's structure this season. We are here to serve and you can find me on Twitter with any suggestions for how Open Ice could better help you win your fantasy hockey season; after all, that is the real point of this column.

The Top 200

Note: Sean Allen's Top 200 players are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice for skaters, and wins, goals-against average and save percentage for goalies. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Steven Stamkos, F, TB (1)
2. Sidney Crosby, F, Pit (2)
3. Alex Ovechkin, F, Was (4)
4. Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR (5)
5. Evgeni Malkin, F, Pit (3)
6. John Tavares, F, NYI (6)
7. Erik Karlsson, D, Ott (7)
8. Phil Kessel, F, Tor (10)
9. Tuukka Rask, G, Bos (12)
10. Corey Perry, F, Ana (8)
11. Claude Giroux, F, Phi (9)
12. Henrik Zetterberg, F, Det (13)
13. Patrick Kane, F, Chi (14)
14. P.K. Subban, D, Mon (17)
15. Anze Kopitar, F, LA (15)
16. Craig Anderson, G, Ott (16)
17. Pavel Datsyuk, F, Det (18)
18. Henrik Sedin, F, Van (19)
19. Pekka Rinne, G, Nsh (20)
20. Jonathan Toews, F, Chi (21)
21. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Win (22)
22. Eric Staal, F, Car (23)
23. Chris Kunitz, F, Pit (24)
24. Roberto Luongo, G, Van (25)
25. Daniel Sedin, F, Van (26)
26. James Neal, F, Pit (27)
27. Ryan Suter, D, Min (28)
28. Rick Nash, F, NYR (32)
29. Tyler Seguin, F, Dal (29)
30. Nicklas Backstrom, F, Was (36)
31. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Cls (30)
32. Ryan Getzlaf, F, Ana (31)
33. Jonathan Quick, G, LA (33)
34. Taylor Hall, F, Edm (34)
35. Carey Price, G, Mon (35)
36. Shea Weber, D, Nsh (37)
37. Alexander Semin, F, Car (38)
38. Martin St. Louis, F, TB (39)
39. Marian Hossa, F, Chi (40)
40. Mike Green, D, Was (43)
41. Zach Parise, F, Min (41)
42. Patrick Sharp, F, Chi (42)
43. Corey Crawford, G, Chi (44)
44. Jamie Benn, F, Dal (46)
45. Jason Spezza, F, Ott (47)
46. Derek Stepan, F, NYR (48)
47. Andrei Markov, D, Mon (49)
48. Joe Thornton, F, SJ (50)
49. Max Pacioretty, F, Mon (45)
50. Evander Kane, F, Wpg (51)
51. Johan Franzen, F, Det (52)
52. Zdeno Chara, D, Bos (53)
53. Jimmy Howard, G, Det (54)
54. Marian Gaborik, F, Cls (62)
55. Matt Duchene, F, Col (64)
56. Jakub Voracek, F, Phi (55)
57. Patrice Bergeron, F, Bos (56)
58. Dustin Brown, F, LA (57)
59. Logan Couture, F, SJ (58)
60. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pit (66)
61. Matt Moulson, F, NYI (59)
62. Dion Phaneuf, D, Tor (60)
63. Niklas Kronwall, D, Det (61)
64. Joffrey Lupul, F, Tor (63)
65. Duncan Keith, D, Chi (65)
66. Patrick Marleau, F, SJ (67)
67. Thomas Vanek, F, Buf (68)
68. Mike Ribeiro, F, Pho (70)
69. Kimmo Timonen, D, Phi (71)
70. Jarome Iginla, F, Bos (73)
71. Jordan Eberle, F, Edm (74)
72. Cory Schneider, G, NJ (72)
73. Ryan Kesler, F, Van (69)
74. David Backes, F, StL (76)
75. Andrew Ladd, F, Wpg (77)
76. Brad Marchand, F, Bos (78)
77. Drew Doughty, D, LA (79)
78. Alex Pietrangelo, D, StL (80)
79. Nazem Kadri, F, Tor (82)
80. Jason Pominville, F, Min (83)
81. Justin Williams, F, LA (84)
82. Mikko Koivu, F, Min (85)
83. Kris Letang, D, Pit (11)
84. Brad Richards, F, NYR (90)
85. Tobias Enstrom, D, Win (86)
86. Jonas Hiller, G, Ana (87)
87. P.A. Parenteau, F, Col (81)
88. Bobby Ryan, F, Ott (89)
89. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, F, Edm (111)
90. Patrik Elias, F, NJ (93)
91. Ryan Callahan, F, NYR (88)
92. Gabriel Landeskog, F, Col (94)
93. Brian Campbell, D, Fla (95)
94. Sergei Gonchar, D, Dal (96)
95. Wayne Simmonds, F, Phi (97)
96. James van Riemsdyk, F, Tor (98)
97. Radim Vrbata, F, Pho (99)
98. Jiri Tlusty, F, Car (100)
99. Pascal Dupuis, F, Pit (113)
100. Mark Streit, D, Phi (101)
101. Michael Ryder, F, NJ (102)
102. Keith Yandle, D, Pho (103)
103. Blake Wheeler, F, Wpg (108)
104. Antti Niemi, G, SJ (104)
105. Mike Smith, G, Pho (105)
106. Loui Eriksson, F, Dal (107)
107. Joe Pavelski, F, SJ (92)
108. Scott Hartnell, F, Phi (109)
109. Milan Lucic, F, Bos (110)
110. Braden Holtby, G, Was (106)
111. Tomas Plekanec, F, Mon (91)
112. Troy Brouwer, F, Was (112)
113. Teddy Purcell, F, TB (115)
114. Tomas Fleischmann, F, Fla (116)
115. Dan Boyle, D, SJ (117)
116. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, StL (118)
117. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Pho (119)
118. James Wisniewski, D, Cls (120)
119. Justin Schultz, D, Edm (121)
120. Cam Ward, G, Car (122)
121. Brandon Dubinsky, F, Cls (123)
122. Mike Richards, F, LA (124)
123. Alex Burrows, F, Van (75)
124. Jaroslav Halak, G, StL (128)
125. David Clarkson, F, Tor (135)
126. Brandon Saad, F, Chi (138)
127. Jonathan Bernier, G, Tor (129)
128. Sam Gagner, F, Edm (134)
129. Jaromir Jagr, F, NJ (130)
130. Derick Brassard, F, NYR (114)
131. Jonathan Huberdeau, F, Fla (125)
132. Daniel Alfredsson, F, Det (132)
133. Ray Whitney, F, Dal (126)
134. Jeff Carter, F, LA (133)
135. John Carlson, D, Was (127)
136. Vincent Lecavalier, F, Phi (136)
137. T.J. Oshie, F, StL (137)
138. David Perron, F, Edm (131)
139. Alexander Edler, D, Van (139)
140. Kyle Turris, F, Ott (149)
141. Jack Johnson, D, Cls (140)
142. Steve Downie, F, Col (180)
143. Dennis Wideman, D, Cgy (141)
144. Cody Franson, D, Tor (169)
145. Kari Lehtonen, G, Dal (142)
146. Marcus Johansson, F, Was (168)
147. Alexander Steen, F, StL (143)
148. David Krejci, F, Bos (144)
149. Alex Galchenyuk, F, Mon (146)
150. Bryan Little, F, Wpg (167)
151. Milan Michalek, F, Ott (147)
152. Cody Hodgson, F, Buf (148)
153. Brendan Gallagher, F, Mon (163)
154. Ryan O'Reilly, F, Col (NR)
155. Matt Carle, D, TB (151)
156. Christian Ehrhoff, D, Buf (152)
157. Slava Voynov, D, LA (153)
158. Michael Del Zotto, D, NYR (154)
159. Jaden Schwartz, F, StL (160)
160. Mikhail Grabovski, F, Was (NR)
161. Evgeni Nabokov, G, NYI (157)
162. Shane Doan, F, Pho (158)
163. Niklas Backstrom, G, Min (176)
164. Vladimir Tarasenko, F, StL (159)
165. Alex Goligoski, D, Dal (155)
166. Steve Ott, F, Buf (162)
167. Mikkel Boedker, F, Pho (164)
168. Nail Yakupov, F, Edm (161)
169. Adam Henrique, F, NJ (181)
170. Jeff Skinner, F, Car (NR)
171. Lubomir Visnovsky, D, NYI (170)
172. Patrick Wiercioch, D, Ott (171)
173. Brent Seabrook, D, Chi (172)
174. Tomas Hertl, F, SJ (NR)
175. Damien Brunner, F, FA (193)
176. Justin Faulk, D, Car (173)
177. Paul Martin, D, Pit (174)
178. Ryan Miller, G, Buf (NR)
179. Brent Burns, F, SJ (NR)
180. Nathan MacKinnon, F, Col (178)
181. Tyler Ennis, F, Buf (179)
182. Torey Krug, D, Bos (NR)
183. Michael Grabner, F, NYI (182)
184. Jussi Jokinen, F, Pit (183)
185. Jiri Hudler, F, Cgy (NR)
186. Jason Garrison, D, Van (198)
187. Andre Benoit, D, Col (NR)
188. Marek Zidlicky, D, NJ (186)
189. Dan Hamhuis, D, Van (188)
190. Lars Eller, F, Mon (NR)
191. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (189)
192. Jakob Silfverberg, F, Ana (NR)
193. Semyon Varlamov, G, Col (NR)
194. Kris Versteeg, F, Fla (195)
195. Francois Beauchemin, D, Ana (196)
196. Jared Spurgeon, D, Min (199)
197. Lee Stempniak, F, Cgy (NR)
198. Mark Scheifele, F, Wpg (NR)
199. Jannik Hansen, F, Van (NR)
200. T.J. Brodie, D, Cgy (NR)

As we take a first look at the rankings, and you have a look at your fantasy hockey team, remember that -- at most -- a player is 3.7 percent into his season (three games played) and more likely just 2.4 percent into his season (two games played). That is not enough to panic and drop any player you've invested in as a starter for your team. But by the same token, you have seen more than enough to jettison a project on your bench for a hot starter. An NHLer's fantasy value is largely dictated by talent and opportunity. We can analyze talent all preseason long, but we don't get to see a player's true opportunity until the rubber hits the road on the regular season.

So, don't snooze and lose on a player who has been given a plum assignment by a coach. When a depth chart opportunity is good enough, it's a lot easier to lose that position than it is to gain it. With that in mind, we hit the ranks.

Forwards Rising and Falling

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edmonton Oilers (up 22 spots to No. 89): Returning a full three weeks ahead of his expected recovery date from a shoulder injury, Nugent-Hopkins not only skated, but skated a defenseman-esque 28 minutes in the Oilers' win Sunday night. He was immediately reinserted on a line with Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall, where he has been for the majority of his career when healthy. RNH is more deserving of a top-40 ranking than simply a top-100 ranking, but we will be cautious with his outlook, given the quick recovery from his injury and his checkered medical history in the NHL. The bottom line is that you need him back in your lineups ASAP.

Joe Pavelski, C, San Jose Sharks (down 15 spots to No. 107): Actually, Pavelski has had a great start to the campaign with two assists, more than 20 minutes of ice time and a plus-2 rating through two games. So why is he falling? Because Coach Todd McLellan seems intent on spreading the love around, and Pavelski will suffer the most from this plan. By assembling three lines with some offensive punch, McLellan has left Pavelski in the lurch on the third unit at even strength with Tommy Wingels and Matt Nieto. It's actually a pretty formidable line by NHL standards, and will have value in fantasy leagues that reward physical play, but it's not an ideal situation for Pavelski. He is still going to garner value thanks to the power play, and that's why he isn't plummeting farther. But by all accounts, Tomas Hertl and Tyler Kennedy look like they are here to stay in the Sharks' top six. At least for now.

Derick Brassard, C, New York Rangers (down 16 spots to No. 130): Like Pavelski with the Sharks, Brassard just missed on a plum role with the Rangers, and his value won't be what it could have been because of it. Cracking the first line with Brad Richards and Rick Nash was always a long shot for Brassard, but he seemed a natural choice as the fourth forward on the power play. Coach Alain Vigneault has opted to go with J.T. Miller for that role to open the season. That leaves Brassard with his regular linemates -- Benoit Pouliot and Mats Zuccarello -- on the second power-play unit. It's not a bad situation for potential production, by any means. But it is not what could have been for Brassard as he looks to make a statement this season outside the confines of Columbus.

Adam Henrique, C, New Jersey Devils (up 12 spots to No. 169): While the theme for this week is special teams assignments, Henrique moves the other way thanks to a good one. The Devils have a lot of different configurations to choose from with their offense thanks to a surplus of forwards with potential, but for now Coach Peter DeBoer appears committed to Henrique on the first power-play unit. The Devils are going to need an improved man advantage this season if they want to win games, and Henrique gives them that chance with his puck-possession skills. Even though, on paper, the power-play unit with Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias looks like the better one, it is Henrique, Damien Brunner, Ryane Clowe and Travis Zajac playing more minutes early in the season. In fact, Zajac, Brunner and Henrique lead the Devils' forwards in power-play minutes through three games. Their efforts resulted in a power-play goal Sunday against the Oilers, and will result in more as they continue to get chances.

Defensemen Rising and Falling

Mike Green, D, Washington Capitals (up three spots to No. 40): Already with an aggressive ranking heading into the season, Green has made good on that promise early this season. The Capitals power play appears to be as potent as ever, and Green, so long as he is healthy, will remain as the quarterback. It's great that he has four points through three games, but the best news is that he is playing close to 30 minutes a game and has nine shots on goal. The minutes mean that Green is feeling good after a couple of seasons where he has struggled with durability, and the shots mean he is being aggressive. No, he isn't going to be the defenseman who scored 31 goals in 68 games once upon a time, but he is back to being elite.

Cody Franson, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (up 25 spots to No. 144): After a couple solid outings to start the season, Mark Fraser's injury has shaken up the Leafs' defensive depth chart. But Franson is in an ideal situation to rise the ranks despite the changes. Sure, he posted an ugly minus-3 Saturday against the Ottawa Senators. But that can be chalked up to some early jitters from his new defense partner, rookie Morgan Rielly. The pair played some solid hockey later in the game, and Rielly's puck-moving ability is actually a good match for Franson's skills. Now, the added bonus is that coach Randy Carlyle prefers a two-defenseman power play and Franson is his other man for the first unit with Dion Phaneuf.

Goaltenders Rising and Falling

Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh Penguins (up six spots to No. 60): This is all about confidence. Fleury's confidence in himself and the confidence that fantasy owners can have in him. If it were just about the stats, Fleury would have been a top-10 -- or maybe even top-five -- goalie this season. His numbers were just fine last season overall. There is nothing wrong with 23 wins and a 2.39 goals-against average in a 48-game season. The trouble is that, for the second consecutive season, Fleury struggled where it counts in real life: the playoffs. Fantasy owners, in turn, have punished Fleury when it comes to the fantasy game in the regular season. Maybe if Tomas Vokoun was healthy and pushing Fleury, things would be different. But Fleury has the Pittsburgh net all to himself and, frankly, a near pristine regular season record that dates back three seasons as a great No. 1 goaltender. Right now, Fleury is the 11th goaltender in the rankings, but as we continue to be reminded that he is solid in goal, plays for a winning team and isn't challenged for starts, expect him to continue to rise.

Semyon Varlamov, G, Colorado Avalanche (up 19 spots to No. 193): The statistics look great through two games for Varlamov, but more importantly, the saves look great, too. Varlamov has been in position to make all the important stops. He looked particularly impressive in the opener against the Anaheim Ducks, stopping more than a few shots that might have been goals last season. Does having one of the greatest goaltenders of all time as a head coach make a difference? We will have to wait and see just how Patrick Roy and Colorado goaltending coach Francois Allaire have an impact with a bigger sample size, but the early returns are very positive. The biggest thing with Varlamov is that his potential has always been that of a No. 1 fantasy goaltender, but no one has been able to pry it out yet. He is just 25 years old, being coached by an all-time great and on a team that looks as though it can score goals to get him a win on off nights. Don't bet on the sparkling ratios to stay all season, but Varlamov is primed for a big improvement overall.

Quick Hits

Alex Goligoski, D, is dropping and may not stop dropping. He doesn't look very involved in the Dallas Stars' offense with Sergei Gonchar back in town.

• The crowded Montreal Canadiens' depth chart has most of the forwards dropping a bit in the ranks, but Tomas Plekanec, C, is of particular concern, considering that he's playing on what may end up being the team's third line.

Vancouver Canucks forward Alex Burrows, RW, plummets down the ranks as he will miss a couple weeks with a lower-body injury. You will notice Jannik Hansen, RW, sneaks into the rankings with a shot at earning a role next to the Sedin twins.

Jonathan Bernier, G, may not need until November to make himself the obvious No. 1 goalie choice for the Maple Leafs. Watching Bernier rein in rebounds makes you wonder why he didn't enter the season as the No. 1 goaltender, but James Reimer has earned some respect during the past couple seasons. Now is still a good time to buy low on Bernier. It may feel like you aren't buying all that low, but you are. He has boundless potential in the crease for the Leafs.

David Perron, LW, is dropping a little in the rankings, but he had a good game Sunday night. We will need to see a bit more, though, as the Oilers are still without a clear second line with value, and it may stay that way until Sam Gagner, C, returns.

• Similar to the situation with the Canadiens, the St. Louis Blues have a third line that, on paper, may end up being the second line in reality. Just as Lars Eller, C, Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, and Brendan Gallagher, RW, are becoming the more valued line for the Habs, Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Jaden Schwartz, LW, and Patrik Berglund, C, may do the same for the Blues. That is bad news for Derek Roy, C, Chris Stewart, RW, and Brenden Morrow, LW.