Open Ice: Top 200 Rankings

Analyzing the future fantasy value of this season's crop of NHL rookies

Updated: October 22, 2013, 3:43 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

Aleksander BarkovGlenn James/NHLI/Getty ImagesAleksander Barkov and other rookies have gotten off to good starts in the 2013-14 season.

The countdown is on to the 10-game barrier that will separate the men from the boys, so to speak. The nine-game threshold has been reached for several young rookies, and a 10th appearance will mean their entry-level NHL contract kicks in. That barrier makes an NHL club essentially choose whether a player is ready for a full-time role in the NHL or could use more seasoning somewhere else.

Some players have made the decision easy on their teams this season, and some have made it more difficult. Let's have a look at the fantasy impact of a handful of these rookies.

Sean Monahan, F, Calgary Flames: Still available in more than 30 percent of ESPN leagues, Monahan has made the decision for the Flames the easiest of all the rookies. With nine points in eight games, including six goals, the Flames' brass would be crazy to send him back to junior given that he is one of the main reasons the team has 10 points in the standings already. The sixth overall pick in this year's draft is sticking around and needs to be added to your fantasy team if he is available.

Valeri Nichushkin, F, Dallas Stars: While Monahan has made the decision easy on the Flames, Nichushkin has given the Stars a real pickle with which to deal. He has been a healthy scratch once already and has shown up on the score sheet with just a single assist in seven games played. The simple answer is that Nichushkin doesn't look ready yet, but it's never that simple with a Russian player. Sending Nichushkin back to his KHL club involves risking his return at a later date (or ever). We have already seen a recent example of a team suffering a Russian prospect who isn't quite ready in hopes of long-term gain, as the Buffalo Sabres are still deploying Mikhail Grigorenko on a nightly basis. The Stars may end up going the same route with Nichushkin. For now, the young sniper should be taken off your fantasy radar. He has been dropped in most leagues but is still owned in 10 percent.

Nathan MacKinnon, F, Colorado Avalanche: Similar to Monahan, there is no way the Avalanche would risk demoting MacKinnon, given the club's start to the season and the role he has played in it. With seven points in nine games and a key role on the team's third line, MacKinnon is here to stay. This isn't a surprise as coach Patrick Roy committed to MacKinnon as a full-time player before drafting him in the summer. MacKinnon is owned in virtually every league and should remain that way. Wait for an inevitable cold streak to make a move for him via trade. His ice time will go up as the season progresses and his value could skyrocket with an injury on the depth chart in front of him, but the buzz is too strong to make a move for him now.

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

Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs: Rielly fits in great through seven games in the NHL and has shown both the offensive and defensive acumen to belong. He has four points in seven games and is playing a role on the team's power play. The team is hinting at keeping Rielly. However, the decision may hinge more on the health of Mark Fraser. With Fraser in tow, the Leafs would be back to seven healthy defensemen. When Fraser was healthy to start the season, Rielly was in the press box. Given the pool of fantasy defensemen to choose from, Rielly should be on your radar, but ditching an asset for him before the club commits to him staying in the NHL could be risky. Available in 98 percent of ESPN leagues, Rielly should only be scooped up preemptively if you are really desperate on defense.

Mathew Dumba, D, Minnesota Wild, and Olli Maatta, D, Pittsburgh Penguins: Both players have shown their offensive upside in the NHL, with Dumba also showing off his prowess as a tough defender. Maatta is likely to stick, especially with Kris Letang still sidelined. And Maatta has some fantasy upside thanks to his strong shooting from the point. He hasn't won over key power-play ice time from Paul Martin or Matt Niskanen, but he could if Letang's injury is longer than expected. Dumba has been used more sparingly and doesn't have the same fantasy upside as Maatta. The Wild do seem to be leaning toward sending him back to junior before his 10th game.

Aleksander Barkov, F, Florida Panthers, and Elias Lindholm, F, Carolina Hurricanes: Since these two 2013 draftees didn't come from junior, it slightly complicates things for their respective teams. With no junior team to be beholden to, the options become sterner. Keeping Barkov or Lindholm in North America but not the NHL would mean sending them to the AHL, which would mean their contract kicks in anyway. Basically, if they aren't ready for the NHL and the team wants to postpone their three-year contract, they are likely headed back to Finland or Sweden where they played last season.

Barkov has probably shown enough to the rebuilding Panthers to stick around. With six points in nine games, he is playing a big role on offense on a line with Tomas Fleischmann. He should definitely be on a fantasy team in 12-team leagues or deeper. Lindholm, however, has been plagued by injuries since the offseason, and that's continued into the NHL season. However, the Hurricanes are committed to keeping him in North America and will use him on the fourth line or send him to the AHL's Charlotte Checkers when healthy. Unless his minutes dramatically increase, he doesn't need to be on the fantasy radar just yet, though.

Seth Jones, D, Nashville Predators: This isn't even up for discussion because of his poise on the ice. The only question is whether his fantasy value remains as strong when Roman Josi returns from a concussion. Josi was Shea Weber's defensive partner coming into the season, but he may have lost the job to Jones while injured. Cautious fantasy owners will want to sell high on Jones before Josi returns, but the upside to keeping him will be enough for most owners to remain keen on the rookie.

Monahan, MacKinnon and Jones will be found among our top 200 players at the moment, but they aren't the only rookies. Tomas Hertl, Alex Chiasson, Torey Krug and Ryan Murphy are in the mix, while Sven Baertschi is No. 201 and just missed the cut. Overall, fantasy owners cannot be disappointed with the rookie class so far.

Forwards Rising and Falling

Evander Kane, F, Winnipeg Jets (up 15 spots to No. 32): While it has been a slow takeover, it looks like Kane is ready to push aside all others and truly be the centerpiece of the Jets offense. He was already the most skilled forward on the team, but even last season he played second fiddle to the line of Blake Wheeler, Andrew Ladd and Bryan Little. Now, he has replaced Ladd on the line with Wheeler and Little and is looking rock solid as a top-line forward. Firing an Alex Ovechkin- or Jeff Carter-like number of shots, Kane may be ready to put up the goal total of which we all know he is capable. Keep in mind that he has started hot before and slowed down. The big difference this time will be the first-line ice time.

Claude Giroux, F, Philadelphia Flyers (down 26 spots to No. 40): These are not the Flyers of recent seasons. The offense, while suffering from some injuries, just doesn't look the same on the ice. Things will turn around and Giroux will earn his keep on your fantasy team, but not as a top-10 asset like he has been. It would be a pretty extreme case to see the Flyers suddenly show something they haven't shown in the first eight games of the season, and what we've seen so far isn't great. The team will continue to struggle defensively and lacks the type of power play needed to fuel fantasy value for the top forwards and defensemen. Fingers crossed that the eventual return of Scott Hartnell and Vincent Lecavalier can prevent any further downward spiral.

Joe Pavelski, F, San Jose Sharks (up 23 spots to No. 79): Consider this a formal apology for doubting that Pavelski could be effective for fantasy owners from the third line for the Sharks. He has proved he can handle that assignment and then some. Despite playing most of his even-strength minutes on the line with Tommy Wingels and rookie Matt Nieto, Pavelski is taking advantage of his chances. Not only is he scoring better than most third-line centers manage to do, but he is also converting on the power play when he gets to play with Joe Thornton, Logan Couture and Patrick Marleau.

Defensemen Rising and Falling

Jason Garrison, D, Vancouver Canucks (up 35 spots to No. 143): Garrison's booming shot is a weapon that coach John Tortorella is happy to use as often as he can. Garrison leads all defensemen in shots on goal with 31 through 10 games. He is using his blast on the power play and at even strength to the tune of two goals but has also chipped in seven assists. This is a storyline that we should have paid more attention to in the preseason, as soon as Tortorella took a liking to Garrison. He has already leapfrogged Alexander Edler for fantasy value and could keep climbing, if not for one glaring concern: the Canucks' power play. With Garrison as the anchor, the Canucks have converted at a better rate than only the Anaheim Ducks, Flyers and Sabres. If you look at the fantasy value of the top defensemen of those teams, you can easily see why it's troubling to see the Canucks struggle on the man advantage. Still, the power play has plenty of talent, and Garrison should continue to gain value as the puck luck improves.

Goaltenders rising and falling

Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers (down 12 spots to No. 20): We want to be somewhat cavalier with improving the rank of goaltenders who shine at the beginning of the season. The cost of missing the boat on a hot start that turns into a hot season is far too high not to jump on goaltender bandwagons early. That is why it is counterintuitive that we want to be extra cautious not to jump off the bandwagon too early for a goaltender who struggles. Embrace the new with open arms while still clinging to the past; it's an odd line we have to walk with fantasy goaltenders.

With that point made, we look at Lundqvist. Easily the most consistent goaltender for fantasy since the 2004-05 NHL lockout, Lundqvist has begun this season with subpar ratios and just two wins in six attempts. The main concern is that four of his six starts have resulted in four goals against or more, and two of them ended with a goals-against average worse than 6.00. The absence of team catalyst Rick Nash to a head injury is no doubt hurting Lundqvist's chances at wins, but Nash doesn't have an overwhelming impact on total team defense and can't be blamed for all the scoring against the Rangers.

As hinted, though, Lundqvist gets just about the longest leash of any goaltender in the league to right the ship. That applies both to the NHL and to fantasy hockey leagues. He was drafted as your No. 1 goaltender, and you need to consider him as such. Coach Alain Vigneault always maintained a defensively responsible team with the Canucks, and we can give him the benefit of the doubt that the Rangers will come around too. Just be patient with Lundqvist. After all, the early-season samples for several elite goaltenders are troubling -- Jonathan Quick, Craig Anderson and Roberto Luongo, just to name a few. While the outlooks for all these goaltenders isn't as rosy as it was three weeks ago, it's not time to pull the ripcord on any of them.

Quick Hits

• With news that Taylor Hall will be out for four weeks with a knee injury, Mark Arcobello just got a whole lot more interesting. Arcobello was slated to return to bottom-six duty with the impending return of Sam Gagner, but Hall's injury means the apparent assist machine gets a reprieve on his scoring line duty. Wherever Arcobello works in the top six, he should still have value because of the top-heavy Oilers offense. Meanwhile, Gagner is available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues and could be back before the week is out. Check to see if you are in one such league.

Ryan Johansen snuck onto the bottom of the top 200 rankings this week. His pedigree as a top prospect, combined with five points in eight games, makes him intriguing on the Blue Jackets' second line.

• While Jason Demers seems to have inherited the ice time left by an injured Dan Boyle, it's Matt Irwin who appears to be taking some of the offensive initiative. Irwin trails only Garrison among defensemen for shots on goal, with 30.

• As quickly as Jiri Tlusty was demoted, he was back on the top line with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin to score two goals Saturday. As long as Tlusty is producing, he should have a hold on his job on the top line. And as long as he is on the top line, he has fantasy relevance.

• With Max Pacioretty out for three weeks with a strained hamstring and Danny Briere out with a concussion, there are likely too many holes in the Montreal Canadiens' depth chart for their absence to benefit any forward for fantasy value. Opponents will be able to focus more on players like Alex Galchenyuk or Lars Eller while Pacioretty and Briere are out.

• Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle is getting cute lately with his second and third lines, separating Joffrey Lupul and Nazem Kadri for long stretches. With David Clarkson eligible to return after sitting one more game, it will be interesting to see how the Leafs settle on a second line. Surely Kadri and Lupul will be part of the line, but will it be with Clarkson or Mason Raymond or will Nikolai Kulemin be healed from an ankle injury? There is fantasy value for whoever lines up with Kadri and Lupul.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.

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