Matt Larkin's Mid-Season Top 250 Fantasy Hockey Players For 2020-21

It's time for the stretch run in your hockey pool. Prepare for the tough lineup decisions ahead with these rest-of-season rankings, blended to include forwards, defensemen and goalies.
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Welcome to my mid-season update of the Top 250 fantasy hockey player rankings for 2020-21. Hopefully, as you read the list, you’re still in your playoff hunt. Pools have been Russian roulette this season, especially during that first month, when you spun the wheel and hoped players’ teams didn’t get shut down due to COVID-19. If you’re a contender trying to make tough decisions for the balance of the season, this list is for you. I’ve built it from scratch to avoid being influenced by my pre-season top 250.

Some need-to-know info about the rankings:

* The rankings reflect leagues using the following stat categories: goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, shots, power play points, hits, blocks, wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.

* Obviously, the rankings here are based on my projected rest-of-season values, but recency bias matters more this season than most. A short year means the “second half” is the equivalent of about one third of a full season. We can’t guarantee every hot streak will end or every regression to the mean will happen. Patric Hornqvist, for instance, won’t rank higher than Travis Konecny on my 2021-22 pre-season list, but Hornqvist does right now. He just might be able to keep his stat-stuffing momentum going and stay healthy for two more months.

* I’ve marked injured players expected to return in time for the fantasy playoffs with asterisks and downgraded them in the rankings based on their recovery timelines.

* This year’s cap environment will cause some teams to behave sneakily and keep injured players on LTIR until the playoffs, allowing those teams to pursue roster upgrades and then bring back the injured players once the salary cap disappears. Since fantasy playoffs take place during the final month of the NHL’s regular season, poolies should not expect to get Nikita Kucherov back. He’s thus not ranked here.

* Goalies are a mess in fantasy, and it’s not going to change this season thanks to the condensed schedule that includes many back-to-backs. We have to accept this reality. For murky timeshare situations, I occasionally list two teammates side by side. I do that to say, “Their value is equal unless one guy pulls away. Having one on your team is fine – but not both.”

* To get this list out to you sooner, I’ve eschewed the format in which I give a bio for each player entry (that will return for the pre-draft rankings in summer, of course) and have opted only to single out particularly controversial or significant ranking decisions.

As always, tweet me @THNMattLarkin if you notice a big name missing from the list. Good luck in the stretch run. Don’t be afraid to take risks in this oddball season.

1. Connor McDavid, C, Oilers
2. Leon Draisaitl, C, Oilers
3. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Lightning
4. David Pastrnak, RW, Bruins
5. Auston Matthews, C, Maple Leafs
6. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Avalanche
7. Patrick Kane, RW, Blackhawks
8. Mitch Marner, RW, Maple Leafs
9. Artemi Panarin, LW, Rangers
10. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals
11. Aleksander Barkov, C, Panthers
12. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Avalanche
13. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Jets
14. Brad Marchand, LW, Bruins
15. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Panthers
16. Mark Scheifele, C, Jets
17. John Carlson, D, Capitals
18. Sidney Crosby, C, Penguins
19. Victor Hedman, D, Lightning
20. Steven Stamkos, C, Lightning
21. Sebastian Aho, C, Hurricanes
22. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, Hurricanes
23. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Senators
24. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Blackhawks
25. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Flames
26. Max Pacioretty, LW, Golden Knights
27. Kyle Connor, LW, Jets
28. Mark Stone, RW, Golden Knights
29. John Tavares, C, Maple Leafs
30. Brayden Point, C, Lightning
31. Carey Price, G, Canadiens
32. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Golden Knights
33. Mika Zibanejad, C, Rangers
34. Brock Boeser, RW, Canucks
35. Jacob Markstrom, G, Flames
36. Tyson Barrie, D, Oilers
37. Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders
38. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bruins
39. Jeff Petry, D, Canadiens
40. Shea Theodore, D, Golden Knights
41. Jake Guentzel, LW, Penguins
42. Cale Makar, D, Avalanche*
43. Tuukka Rask, G, Bruins*
44. Dougie Hamilton, D, Hurricanes
45. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Flames
46. Morgan Rielly, D, Maple Leafs
47. Anze Kopitar, C, Kings
48. Evgeni Malkin, C, Penguins*
49. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Wild
50. Elias Pettersson, C, Canucks*

Vasilevskiy is almost unfair to own in pools right now. His rate stats are amazing, yet his volume stats are just as good because he’s starting roughly eight out of every 10 games…Matthews has been held without a goal in seven of his past nine games. He’s playing hurt… Despite the turmoil in his personal life, Panarin is scoring at a 116-point pace over a full season…Barkov is having an all-world year, and no one’s talking about it. He’s top-10 in the NHL in points and shots…Hellebuyck isn’t matching his Vezina numbers, but his volume matters a ton. Never in NHL history have there been fewer workhorse No. 1 goalies to trust in fantasy…Brady Tkachuk has 14 more shots and 11 more hits than any other NHLer this season. If he can nudge the offense up to a point-per-game pace, he’s a first-round pick in pools within one to two years… Malkin had 17 points in his past 15 games. He was back to his old self before Tuesday’s lower-body injury…Price’s save percentage since Sean Burke took over as goaltending coach in Montreal: .935. Hop back on the bandwagon…”Zibanejad has arguably been the biggest bust in fantasy this season, perhaps because he battled COVID-19 before it started. But he’s scored on just 3.9 percent of his shots. He’s the most obvious buy-low candidate in the world to me” is a sentence I wrote hours before he went off for 3-3-6 in one PERIOD Wednesday night. Looks like the buying window is now closed. Sorry…Pettersson’s mysterious upper-body injury will keep him out “at least” one more week. If you’re comfortably in first place in your league, it’s a great time to make a lowball offer for 75 cents on the dollar.

51. Philipp Grubauer, G, Avalanche
52. Quinn Hughes, D, Canucks
53. Filip Forsberg, LW, Predators
54. Thatcher Demko, G, Canucks
55. Jordan Binnington, G, Blues
56. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, LW, Oilers
57. J.T. Miller, LW, Canucks
58. Nicklas Backstrom, C, Capitals
59. Evander Kane, LW, Sharks
60. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Canadiens
61. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Jets
62. Brayden Schenn, C, Blues
63. Carter Hart, G, Flyers
64. Igor Shesterkin, G, Rangers*
65. William Nylander, RW, Maple Leafs
66. Blake Wheeler, RW, Jets
67. Darnell Nurse, D, Oilers
68. Neal Pionk, D, Jets
69. Aaron Ekblad, D, Panthers
70. Domink Kubalik, LW, Blackhawks
71. Kevin Lankinen, G, Blackhawks
72. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Avalanche
73. David Perron, RW, Blues
74. Thomas Chabot, D, Senators
75. Logan Couture, C, Sharks
76. John Klingberg, D, Stars
77. Elias Lindholm, C, Flames
78. Semyon Varlamov, G, Islanders
79. Kris Letang, D, Penguins
80. Bryan Rust, RW, Penguins
81. Sean Couturier, C, Flyers
82. Joe Pavelski, RW, Stars
83. Patrik Laine, RW, Blue Jackets
84. Kaapo Kahkonen, G, Wild
85. Cam Talbot, G, Wild
86. Ryan O’Reilly, C, Blues
87. Patric Hornqvist, RW, Panthers
88. Ilya Samsonov, G, Capitals
89. Vitek Vanecek, G, Capitals
90. Rickard Rakell, LW, Ducks
91. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Panthers
92. Drew Doughty, D, Kings
93. Mikhail Sergachev, D, Lightning
94. Teuvo Teravainen, LW, Hurricanes *
95. Cam Atkinson, RW, Blue Jackets
96. Bo Horvat, C, Canucks
97. Joel Farabee, LW, Flyers
98. Jack Eichel, C, Sabres*
99. Roman Josi, D, Predators*
100. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Golden Knights*

Hughes drains plus-minus and doesn’t contribute hits, so his point production is a bit hollow by prestige-player standards…Hart isn’t inspiring much confidence right now, I know, but the Flyers remain committed to him. You can at least bank on solid volume, and he’s good enough to go off down the stretch…Stat-stuffing players deserve more love in pools. Kane, Schenn, Nurse and Pionk are great examples, merely good in real life but studs in fantasy…I had named Toffoli as a sell-high candidate earlier this season. While the shooting percentage his high, his shot metrics suggest he’s never done a better job generating high-quality chances, so the breakout could actually last all season… Landeskog isn’t hitting as much as he used to. If he’s not a high-end hits contributor, is he Just a Guy in fantasy?… Hornqvist is the quintessential short-season surprise. He’s lightning in a bottle during the sprint, so you can roll the dice on his health history…Samsonov and Vanecek both have standalone value, but Samsonov has the pedigree to be the better bet at winning the lion’s share of the starts at some point.… Since Eichel, Josi and Pietrangelo have murky injury recovery timelines, I’d only recommend pursuing them if you’re miles ahead in first place.

101. Vincent Trocheck, C, Hurricanes*
102. Tristan Jarry, G, Penguins
103. Ondrej Palat, LW, Lightning
104. Jakub Vrana, LW, Capitals
105. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Jets
106. Miro Heiskanen, D, Stars
107. Claude Giroux, C, Flyers
108. James van Riemsdyk, LW, Flyers
109. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C, Capitals
110. Sean Monahan, C, Flames
111. Jakob Chychrun, D, Coyotes
112. Nazem Kadri, C, Avalanche
113. Tim Stutzle, LW, Senators
114. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bruins
115. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Wild
116. Josh Anderson, RW, Canadiens
117. Mike Hoffman, LW, Blues
118. Alexander Radulov, RW, Stars
119. Torey Krug, D, Blues
120. Keith Yandle, D, Panthers
121. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Avalanche
122. T.J. Oshie, RW, Capitals
123. Anthony Cirelli, C, Lightning
124. Martin Necas, RW, Hurricanes
125. Brendan Gallagher, RW, Canadiens
126. Chris Kreider, LW, Rangers
127. Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Penguins
128. Zach Werenski, D, Blue Jackets
129. Timo Meier, RW, Sharks
130. Brent Burns, D, Coyotes
131. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Golden Knights
132. Mike Smith, G, Oilers
133. Darcy Kuemper, G, Coyotes*
134. Antti Raanta, G, Coyotes*
135. Zach Hyman, LW, Maple Leafs
136. Alex Tuch, RW, Golden Knights*
137. Matt Dumba, D, Wild
138. Taylor Hall, LW, Sabres
139. Cal Petersen, G, Kings
140. Adam Fox, D, Rangers
141. Frederik Andersen G, Maple Leafs
142. Anton Khudobin, G, Stars
143. Jake Oettinger, G, Stars
144. Tom Wilson, RW, Capitals
145. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, Blues
146. Nino Niederreiter, RW, Hurricanes
147. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, Rangers
148. Ryan Strome, C, Rangers
149. Elvis Merzlikins G, Blue Jackets
150. Joonas Korpisalo, G, Blue Jackets.

Palat’s monster season is super confusing. The shooting percentage is a career high, but it’s not astronomical. He’s getting lots of power-play time. I still expect some regression, but maybe it doesn’t happen until next year…We all love the idea of the beastly Dubois, but he’s overrated in fantasy so far in his career…With six points during a five-game points streak, Kuznetsov is waking up…Chipping in a buffet of goals, shots, hits and blocks, Chychrun is a secret star of the fantasy season, posting vintage-Shea-Weber-type stats…Sometimes Hyman’s real-life skill set works against him. Because his grinding game suits him to play in any situation, the Leafs are always a threat to demote him out of the top six, and we know they’re looking to add a high-end winger at the trade deadline…Throw out Taylor Hall’s disastrous season and picture him producing on a contending team’s scoring lines. That will be his fate. Think he actually wants to re-sign and keep playing for the Buffalo Tire Fires? He’ll waive his no-movement clause. He’s a lock to be traded as a pending UFA.

151. Kevin Fiala, LW, Wild
152. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Blue Jackets
153. Drake Batherson, RW, Senators
154. Ivan Provorov, D, Flyers
155. Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Oilers
156. Dylan Larkin, C, Red Wings
157. Travis Konecny, RW, Flyers
158. Nick Suzuki, C, Canadiens
159. Kevin Hayes, C, Flyers
160. Max Comtois, LW, Ducks
161. Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Oilers
162. Ryan Pulock, D, Islanders
163. Jakub Voracek, RW, Flyers
164. Shea Weber, D, Canadiens
165. Brandon Tanev, RW, Penguins
166. Samuel Girard, D, Avalanche
167. Adrian Kempe, LW, Kings
168. Carter Verhaeghe, LW, Panthers
169. Roope Hintz, C, Stars*
170. Seth Jones, D, Blue Jackets.
171. Devon Toews, D, Avalanche
172. Conor Garland, RW, Coyotes
173. Clayton Keller, RW, Coyotes
174. Jordan Eberle, RW, Islanders
175. Jordan Kyrou, RW, Blues
176. Victor Olofsson, RW, Sabres
177. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Wild
178. William Karlsson, C, Golden Knights
179. Jack Hughes, C Devils
180. Dustin Brown, RW, Kings *
181. Ilya Sorokin, G, Islanders
182. Brock Nelson, C, Islanders
183. Tomas Hertl, C, Sharks
184. Jack Roslovic, C, Blue Jackets
185. Jordan Staal, C, Hurricanes
186. Justin Faulk, D, Blues
187. Jamie Benn, LW, Stars
188. Tomas Tatar, LW, Canadiens
189. Paul Stastny, C, Jets
190. Sam Reinhart, RW, Sabres
191. Kyle Palmieri, RW, Devils
192. Alex Iafallo, LW, Kings
193. Jaroslav Halak, G, Bruins
194. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, Islanders
195. David Krejci, C, Bruins
196. Trevor Zegras, C, Ducks
197. Jason Robertson, LW, Stars
198. Erik Karlsson, D, Sharks
199. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Sabres
200. Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Predators

Puljujarvi gets a huge opportunity on the McDavid/Draisaitl line. Will it stick? If it does, Puljujarvi's ranked at least 50 slots too low…Pulock has no goals? With that howitzer of a shot? He’s due for positive regression, and he’s still helping in assists, shots, hits and blocks in the meantime. Buy…Sorokin has been plenty good in limited work and is a league-winner if Varlamov gets hurt. Same goes for Halak if Rask’s injury leads to an extended absence…No love for Brown and Staal’s resurgent seasons? Nope. All their shot metrics are stagnant. They’ve simply gotten lucky with shooting percentages. Sell ’em before it’s too late…If you’ve ridden out Palmieri’s disappointing season this long and you’re comfortably in contention, hold onto him, as he’ll likely join a contender soon in a rental trade. Watch out for the 14-day quarantine period if he gets dealt to the North Division, though!

201. Kevin Labanc, RW, Sharks
202. Jaden Schwartz, LW, Blues*
203. Jordan Greenway, LW, Wild
204. Chandler Stephenson, C, Golden Knights*
205. Denis Gurianov, RW, Stars
206. Joe Thornton, LW, Maple Leafs
207. Jonathan Drouin, LW, Canadiens
208. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, Rangers
209. Mark Giordano, D, Flames
210. Ty Smith, D, Devils
211. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Coyotes
212. Josh Norris, C, Senators
213. James Reimer, G, Hurricanes
214. Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Hurricanes
215. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Sabres
216. John Gibson, G, Ducks*
217. Filip Hronek, D, Red Wings
218. Blake Coleman, LW, Lightning
219. Adam Boqvist, D, Blackhawks
220. Nick Ritchie, LW, Bruins
221. Wayne Simmonds, RW, Maple Leafs
222. Nick Foligno, LW, Blue Jackets
223. Ryan Ellis, D, Predators*
224. Nick Leddy, D, Islanders
225. Andrew Copp, C, Jets
226. Alex Killorn, LW, Lightning
227. Brandon Saad, LW, Avalanche
228. Radko Gudas, D, Panthers
229. Pekka Rinne, G, Predators
230. Juuse Saros, G, Predators*
231. Anthony Duclair, RW, Panthers
232. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, Islanders
233. Vitali Kravtsov, RW, Rangers
234. Phil Kessel, RW, Coyotes
235. Scott Laughton, C, Flyers
236. Jamie Drysdale, D, Ducks
237. Cole Caufield, RW, Canadiens
238. Pavel Zacha, C, Devils
239. Kieffer Bellows LW, Islanders
240. Nils Hoglander, LW, Canucks
241. Cody Glass, C, Golden Knights
242. Phil Tomasino, RW, Predators
243. Tyler Seguin, C, Stars*
244. Ben Bishop, G, Stars*
245. Josh Bailey, RW, Islanders
246. Vasili Podkolzin, RW, Canucks
247. Robin Lehner, G, Golden Knights
248. Alex Turcotte, C, Kings
249. Kevin Shattenkirk D, Ducks
250. Jani Hakanpaa, D, Ducks

It doesn’t appear it’s going to happen for Lafreniere in his rookie year. That’s OK. Feel free to give him the occasional “tryout” and pick him up for a few games at a time in case he catches fire…The Canes’ goaltending situation is maddening in fantasy. Reimer, Nedeljkovic and Mrazek should all have value on such a good team, but they cannibalize each other. Just thinking about which one to own gives me a headache…Put some respect on Hronek’s name in leagues that don’t penalize you for bad plus-minus. He’s top-10 in assists among all NHL defensemen…I’ve included a bushel of high-end prospects who could get looks with their teams down the stretch and offer immediate upside in Drysdale, Caufield, Tomasino, Kravtsov, Podkolzin and Turcotte. Drysdale and Kravtsov are the most likely to see action. Caufield is the highest-priority fantasy add of that group if he gets his shot with the Habs. Podkolzin is intriguing but the least likely to arrive in time for the fantasy playoffs, as legally he can’t join the Canucks until after the World Championship…It's looking less likely by the day that Seguin and Bishop return for the start of the fantasy playoffs, FYI.

ON THE BUBBLE: Jake Muzzin, P.K. Subban, Josh Morrissey, Adin Hill, Chris Driedger, Pius Suter, Max Domi, Jonas Brodin, Nico Hischier, Cam Fowler, Nick Schmaltz, Robert Thomas, Alexandar Georgiev, Mackenzie Blackwood, Noah Dobson, Christian Dvorak, Joonas Donskoi, Vince Dunn, Matt Duchene, Kaapo Kakko, Phillip Danault, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Dylan Strome, Colton Parayko, Jaccob Slavin, Brett Pesce, Frank Vatrano, Rasmus Andersson, Brock McGinn, Zach Sanford, Jake Bean, Mason Marchment, Mattias Janmark, Evgenii Dadonov, Boone Jenner, Bobby Ryan, Tyler Bertuzzi, Ryan Johansen, Jake Allen, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Adam Lowry, Ryan McDonagh

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