1. Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers – 102 points
This isn’t tricky. This is one of the best two players in the world and he is getting better. He led the league in points-per-game last season. The only fear is he is so much better than the defencemen he faces that they sometimes do stupid and desperate things trying to contain him. When they’re desperate, they may test his health. Also, he skates with such speed and abandon, he is vulnerable. That’s the only warning. There are no player warnings. He’s going to be the best. He plays 82 and this is your number-one pick.
2. Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins – 93 points
This IS tricky. Not because Crosby isn’t right there in the same stratosphere as McDavid, but because he suffers so many concussions. They’ve ruined a season for him but he’s also recovered shockingly quickly. Winning a pool, most think, is about taking that gamble, and that’s true for the later rounds. However, losing a pool also is about taking a gamble in the early rounds. You need to accumulate points early. Let the other poolie take the player who may have an issue. If you pick second, is the extra five points worth the possible worst case scenario that the third-pick overall doesn’t have in his health portfolio? With that said, a healthy Crosby is your second pick.
3. Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning – 88 points
Now it gets much harder as there is very little between the third pick until about the tenth pick. Kucherov is your third choice overall because he is 24 years of age heading into the best years of his career. He will also have a better team to play with this season with the return of Steven Stamkos. His points-per-game was top five in the league, and it will get better than the 1.15 ppg that he produced last season as he enters the prime of his career.
4. Patrick Kane – Chicago Blackhawks – 85 points
It’s a rested and hungry Patrick Kane heading into this season with the surprising exit of the Hawks in four quick games against the Predators. Kane finished tied for second in league scoring last season and at 28, there is no reason to believe age will impact that point total from last year. The Hawks have lost Panarin but gained Saad. That won’t change his totals.
5. Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins – 84 points
An excellent 1.16 points-per game last season, but Evgeni Malkin also missed 20 games due to injury. At 31, the likelihood that he plays injury-free seasons decreases. If you cannot decide between a 31-year-old who could have injury issues versus a younger player with the same point potential without injuries, then take the younger player. These pools are won even more on games played than on points made. There are no guarantees but you can make the healthy choice.
6. John Tavares – New York Islanders – 82 points
Tavares is 27 years of age and heading into a contract year. Tavares is criminally underpaid and that’s about to end. He has nothing to prove, but will feel like proving it anyway. The hunger is there, the contract is there, the best years ahead is there; it is all there for Tavares to shine this season. This is Recrutes top gamble pick after he scored only 66 points last season. Ordinarily, you don’t win pools predicting bounce-back seasons, but there is no way that Tavares is done at 27. The trading deadline will be interesting as well. He could see a change of scenery if he still hasn’t come to terms with GM Garth Snow. The Habs would be the top choice for his services with the money to spend, the need for a number-one center, and even friends on the Habs team that he would like to play with. We’re slotting him high and calling for a huge comeback season.
7. Mark Scheifele – Winnipeg Jets – 82 points
This is an elite hockey player getting better every season. He is about to enter the best years of his career and he’s already outstanding. Scheifele is only 24. Jets fans should be excited about what their center position is going to look like with him in the one slot. Scheifele also was one of only nine players in the league to average more than a point-per-game. He’s one of those tremendous ‘no fear’ picks. Things that can go wrong are: being injury prone, diminishing skills, loss of best linemates, playing on a terrible team that can’t score and big-fat-lazy-attitude-inducing contract. When there’s ‘no fear’ there’s excitement in the pick. You know you’re in a pool you can win if this player is still around at 15 to 20.
8. Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning – 79 points
Stamkos played 17 games last season and had 20 points for one of the top points-per-game totals of 1.18, behind only McDavid and Crosby. However, he is quite a wildcard, If he stays healthy, you could steal him because he may drop down into the teens depending on how serious your poolmates are about injuries. At a certain point, this injury-ridden player becomes worth the gamble…and that’s at the nine spot. He’s only 27 and doesn’t have a lot of miles on him if he stays healthy. The Lightning are going to be far better than last season. Recrutes is expecting them to take the division after missing the playoffs last season – a healthy Stamkos will lead them there.
9. Tyler Seguin – Dallas Stars – 78 points
Tyler Seguin only had 72 points last season for the Stars, but should push that number back up. Here’s why and it has nothing to do with his play. It has to do with the overall compete level of the Stars this year after acquiring a quality goaltender in Ben Bishop. The Stars will be competitive again with Bishop, Seguin and Benn leading them. Seguin is 25 years of age and last season will be an outlier in his career. No one performs all that well when your goalies can’t even reach a .900 save percentage. It affects everything, including point totals.
10. Leon Draisaitl – Edmonton Oilers – 76 points
It’s easy to get excited about this player. He had an amazing playoff run and with that size and age of 21, no one will argue that this wouldn’t be a great pick. However, one thought of caution here…. Draisaitl and McDavid go together, with McDavid still producing without Draisaitl but Leon not producing at the same pace without Connor. Draisaitl in the second-center position is a different points profile than Draisaitl on the wing of McDavid. Out of the five fear categories listed before, the linemates changing is the only one to worry about with Draisaitl.
11. Jamie Benn – Dallas Stars – 75 points
The second engine that drives the Stars offence, the surprise winner of the scoring title in 2014-15 and the runner-up the following season, Benn gets his groove back as Dallas gets its groove back too. We’re forecasting that Benn ups his point totals with the added competition back in the Stars game overall. He’s 28 years of age and it’s not likely that any skills are diminishing.
12. Vladimir Tarasenko – St. Louis Blues – 75 points
The cornerstone of the Blues offence, Tarasenko is in the prime of his career at 25. If there’s a powerplay, Tarasenko will be out there. Any moment that the Blues need a goal, Tarasenko will be given the chance. He’s the lifeline of the club offensively so he’s in one of those scenarios that poolies love in a pick: right age and right opportunities. One of those “feel good” picks as there’s little fear factor.
13. David Pastrnak – Boston Bruins – 73 points
A high;y-skilled player and at 21 the future is in front of him. Make sure, though, that you check his contract situation when you do your pool because in mid-August he was still contesting his contract. It shouldn’t be a problem though as he has zero leverage on that contract at his age.
14. Jack Eichel – Buffalo Sabres – 73 points
It’s the same situation for Pastrnak and Jack Eichel with contract issues for a young player who should have little leverage here. Eichel is only 20 but he isn’t afraid of staking his claim in a lot of ways, including his mouth. Eichel averaged just shy of a point-per-game last season in a year that he missed 20 games. A healthy and happy Eichel gets almost a point-per game again and lets his play do the talking, but make sure that he’s happy before you take him 14th overall.
15. Patrick Laine – Winnipeg Jets – 72 points
We’re averse to taking teenagers in the top 25 but we’re at that spot where a little fear of a sophomore jinx or a too-much-too-soon scenario has to be ignored. Laine is the first teenager on the list at 19 years of age. He’s got the best release in hockey and it isn’t going to suddenly disappear on him. He will have powerplay time and great linemates on a high-scoring team.
16. Auston Matthews – Toronto Maple Leafs – 71 points
Considering we have opened the door to teenagers, Auston Matthews must come charging through for the Leafs. Toronto was a big surprise last season making the playoffs, and these high-scoring young players will continue where they left off. The Leafs may well compete with the Lightning for top spot in the Atlantic with the Canadiens close behind them depending when and what the Habs do with $8.5 million, and Matthews along with Nylander and Marner will lead them. Matthews, the number-one pick in 2016, gets the nod as the best of the Leafs.
17. Aleksander Barkov – Florida Panthers – 72 points
Staying with the ‘younger-is-better’ theme for forwards in this new era, we find Aleksander Barkov who was gone for 20 games last season. so he could be a sleeper that you can nab here. He’s 22-years-old and will be the go-to center for a Panthers team that should be better this season over last. The Panthers were ravaged by injuries last year to key guys and they messed up their organization with questionable decisions in the front office including leaving their just fired head coach Gerard Gallant on the curb waiting for a cab. Stability and health are back and Barkov and Huberdeau will be the big beneficiaries.
18. Phil Kessel – Pittsburgh Penguins – 72 points
The bigger the game, the more you’re likely to find Phil Kessel playing well in it. Kessel needs to care and when he does, he is elite. It’s another good scenario for Kessel as he gets to play for a great team and have great opportunity. Kessel can go to sleep at times though and so questions surrounding his ability to remain consistently motivated drops him down to 18th overall; it’s certainly not for a skill set issue. He had 70 points last year. He should turn in a slightly better number this season thanks to the prediction that Malkin and Crosby will both be healthy and feeding him for powerplay markers. If you worry that Malkin and Crosby could have health issues, then naturally you drop Kessel down a notch from here.
19. Niklas Backstrom – Washington Capitals – 71 points
At 29 years of age, Niklas Backstrom has just entered the cusp of the diminished return. Backstrom’s total could drop off because of the entire Capitals situation. There’s a problem there and I think there may be some changes. It could be lineup issues or the way they approach the game, but this is a team that is, believe it or not, tired of having amazing regular seasons. Backstrom’s point total drops because of this… as does the guy who is next on this list.
20. Alex Ovechkin – Washington Capitals – 70 points
We’re not predicting a massive recovery for Ovechkin. He is 32 years of age and the dynamic skill set is diminishing. His best days are indeed behind him. He can’t hit the lofty plateaus of his youth. Add to that an interesting set of factors playing out in underachieving Caps Nation and you may see Ovechkin outside of the top 20 in league scoring this season.
21. Brad Marchand – Boston Bruins – 70 points
One of the few players to have a point-per-game last season, during a west coast road swing late in the season Marchand was actually vying for the NHL scoring lead, but then he fell off in the final stretch. Still an outstanding season for Marchand. He really has reached a higher level starting with being one of the key players for Canada when they won World Cup Gold. Marchand had a career year last season with 85 points We expect a drop. That was likely his career pinnacle at the age of 29.
22. Erik Karlsson – Ottawa Senators – 69 points
The first defenceman ranked, and it really could not be anyone else. No offence to Brent Burns, but Karlsson is hockey’s best rearguard. He had 71 points last year missing five games, so expect a similar total for him with just 27 years of mileage and an improving Senators squad. Last year, there was a worry that coach Guy Boucher would shackle him. It didn’t happen. He could have even freer rein this season as the trust builds.
23. Ryan Getzlaf – Anaheim Ducks – 69 points
There was an instinct to put Ryan Getzlaf lower because of his age at 32, but who can say they have seen any diminishing skills? Getzlaf was a beast in the playoffs last season taking the best on and winning most of the battles. A rare moment that we ignore the age of 32 because Getzlaf isn’t slowing from what everyone saw in the playoffs. He had 73 points last year missing a half dozen games, so expect almost the same production this year for Getzlaf.
24. Nikolaj Ehlers – Winnipeg Jets – 69 points
The 21-year-old has mad skills and there is plenty of upside. He had 64 points last season and he could produce even more than the 69 predicted. He will get an opportunity to play with a talented center like Scheifele or Bryan Little depending on how they line up. Either way, this player may be a surprise.
25. Johnny Gaudreau – Calgary Flames – 68 points
Recrutes likes players in the wheelhouse. That is to say, the players who are in the best scenarios at the best moments of their careers. That’s Johnny Gaudreau. At 24 years of age, and already proving he can do great things, add to it that the Flames are going to be improved, and you have the wheelhouse of a player to perform at his best. In pools it’s preferable to draft 23-27 year old forwards first, and 20 to 23-year-old forwards second best. Gaudreau falls into the first category.
26. Jonathan Huberdeau – Florida Panthers – 68 points
Huberdeau played only 31 games and amassed 26 points in an injury-plagued season last year. That’s a solid .84 ppg entering the prime of his career at age 24. The settled situation in Florida will also help this to be a productive season for Huberdeau. Barkov and Huberdeau drive the offense in Florida.
27. Jonathan Drouin – Montreal Canadiens – 68 points
Three seasons in the NHL for Jonathan Drouin and his points progression is easy math. Drouin has improved by about 10 points per season. In 2016-2017, he had 53 points in 73 games. This season, it is easy to see that total go up by 10-15. In fact, that might be conservative considering that Drouin is in the “sweet spot” in Montreal. The Habs GM Marc Bergevin wants to see his trade look good, so expect plenty of opportunity. He could be the quarterback on the powerplay on the left side to feed Shea Weber with the loss for the club of Andrei Markov. This third pick overall in 2013 is coming into his own at 22 where everything starts to fall into place confidence-wise and those things that felt like they were happening slowly in junior when he was a scoring sensation in the QMJHL, now start to slow down at the NHL level as well.
28. Mikael Granlund – Minnesota Wild – 67 points
The same type of footprint as Huberdeau holds true with Mikael Granlund. He is 25 and entering his prime. He also had a points-per-game of .85 last season in playing all but one game. Granlund will get an opportunity to shine in Minnesota.
29. Brent Burns – San Jose Sharks – 66 points
Freewheeling and free-spirited Brent Burns becomes the second defenceman taken. He fell off in the second half of the season. He’s practically a forward considering how much he is allowed the freedom to roam. He had 76 points last season in what may well have been his career year at 31. Defenceman are aging gracefully in today’s NHL. Don’t tell that to the haters who can’t stand the four years between Weber and Subban, but the rearguard is definitely getting older and the forward is definitely getting younger. It’s the maturity and experience of decision-making over the foot speed of wild and electric abandon. The rearguard is using his brain more and the forward is using his legs more.
30. Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay Lightning – 66 points
At 25 last season, Victor Hedman broke out offensively and put together a remarkable campaign on a team that didn’t make the playoffs. Hedman is, arguably, the second or third best defenceman in the NHL. At his age, and with the Lightning expecting to improve after an injury-filled campaign, there is no reason to be afraid of this pick in the 30 spot. He had 72 points last season and it’s safe to say he can be expected to come close to duplicating that this season.
31. Ryan Johansen – Nashville Predators – 65 points
The number-one center for an exciting hockey club, the only concern is the recovery from injury which is going well. Johansen is 25 years of age, approaching his prime. He had 61 points last season, and will jump on the strength of the Predators putting together a full season, instead of just a full playoff.
32. Mitch Marner – Toronto Maple Leafs – 65 points
You have to admire the skill set of the young Leafs forwards: Matthews, Marner, Nylander and the Leafs players from the dark days too, like JVR and Kadri. Marner is second-best among them. The worry last season was his size and he showed that it isn’t going to be an issue. The sweet hands are about to finish plays even more. He’s young at 20, but goals are going to be poring in at the ACC with Marner in on a bunch of them. Marner had 61 points last season, so 65 is a natural progression for a player in an ideal scenario.
33. William Nylander – Toronto Maple Leafs – 65 points
Nylander got better and better as the season went on. He’s 21 years of age and is another player in a great spot to improve on his 61 points of last season. Predicting point jumps for a player is where opportunity for the team is matched by the improving of that player’s skill set and comfort at the NHL level. This is why these Leafs are ranked so high: the player hitting the sweet spot at the same time as the team hitting its sweet spot. These Leafs won’t defend well many nights, but they’re going to score in droves.
34. Evgeny Kuznetsov – Washington Capitals – 64 points
At 25, he’s not yet earned the title of top center on the Caps, but he’s on his way. You don’t often see a second-line forward this high in the forecasting list, but Kuznetsov is so talented. He got 59 points last season, and we are going to bump him five points on the back of the ”changing of the guard” that is underway in Washington between him and Backstrom. Kuznetsov is going to get more opportunity and at his age. He’s ready to take it.
35. Sean Monahan – Calgary Flames – 64 points
Another example of the team’s sweet spot meeting the player’s sweet spot is Sean Monahan. The Flames are improved, led by their top four rearguards and Monahan is entering his best years at 22. He’s the number-one center for the Flames and he gets to feed Gaudreau and other up-and-coming young forwards for the finish. A good scenario… so we up his total.
36. Filip Forsberg – Nashville Predators – 64 points
Exactly the same scenario for Filip Forsberg as Monahan. Forsberg is 23 years of age and has the number-one spot on the left side sewn up to play with Johansen – this on a team moving into the next echelon. He had a full season and 58 points last season, so a bump of six is appropriate considering all of the positive factors in his favour.
37. Artemi Panarin – Columbus Blue Jackets – 63 points
Panarin comes over from Chicago and that is worth a deduction considering who he lined up with on the Hawks. That’s not to say the Blue Jackets can’t score because they can, but there is no Patrick Kane in Ohio. This year will be a big test for the Calder Trophy winner without the security of the Hawks experience.
38. Blake Wheeler – Winnipeg Jets – 63 points
Blake Wheeler had 74 points last season, but now he is 31 and the roles are changing in Winnipeg. Wheeler is still strong, but on the wing he moves down the depth chart behind Ehlers and Laine onto the second line. This and his age explain the big loss in points for the captain of the Jets.
39. Max Pacioretty – Montreal Canadiens – 63 points
The Habs captain puts up similar numbers like clockwork. The same should be expected this season as the Canadiens have changed their look up front in Drouin replacing Radulov, but they still haven’t acquired a bonafide center for Pacioretty. He has never played with a true number-one center, yet Pacioretty is one of the top goal scorers consistently over his career. Imagine what he could do if he played with a gifted creative passer and puck winner. The combination of Tavares and Pacioretty would up the captain’s total by 10 to 15 points but since he’s not on the team he’s at 63 – four fewer points than last season.
40. Jakub Voracek – Philadelphia Flyers – 63 points
The first Flyers player on the board is 28 years of old and simply a consistent scorer. He had a dip in production in the second half of the season when the Flyers collapsed but he is their top man on the wing and will see the power play almost all the time.
41. Joe Pavelski – San Jose Sharks – 62 points
People have written off Joe Pavelski his entire career, but he keeps on being a committed player who at 33 years of age is still producing. We will factor in some regression because of age, predicting a slight drop. If you’re nervous about his age, perhaps there’s another guy in this area for you, but you have to put him 41st because he just keeps on chugging along.
42. Jeff Carter – Los Angeles Kings – 61 points
Another player with a similar profile to Pavelski is Jeff Carter as he is also aging at 32 but should be fine with 66 points last season and a prediction of 61 points this season. Carter was one of the few players performing consistently for the Kings in 2016-17. They will recover this season and be allowed to play a little more offensively and so Carter should be fine even though his age is on that cusp where you get nervous.
43. Mike Hoffman – Ottawa Senators – 61 points
He’s 27 and playing excellent hockey. Hoffman had 61 points last season and he should have about the same number this season. Hoffman and the Senators had an amazing playoff run, so these players will begin the season on a high. Hoffman has one of the best shots in the league, and that usually results in consistent goal totals while a player is in his prime.
44. Mats Zuccarello – New York Rangers – 61 points
Not a player who you feel has something special to give, but Zuccarello at the end of the night often seems to be on the score sheet. He will likely be on the Rangers first line.
45. Brayden Schenn – St. Louis Blues – 61 points
The Blues made a big trade in the offseason as they felt they needed a first-line center to complement their superstar winger Tarasenko. It was a bold move, but the Blues had a big hole in their lineup. Schenn had 55 points last season, and that total should go up considering that the Blues management wants to see their trade look good and the fact that he will pass often to a pure finisher. Another example where a good player meets a great opportunity.
46. Nathan MacKinnon – Colorado Avalanche – 60 points
What an absolute mess it was in Denver last season; horrendous for everyone involved. It doesn’t promise to be that much better with GM Joe Sakic seemingly paralyzed to make a move to improve his roster where it needs it most on defence. Many are anticipating a breakout season for Nathan MacKinnon, but let’s be honest here – he’s 22 and this his fifth season in the NHL. After his outstanding 63-point rookie season he’s amassed 38, 52 and 53 and he’s mostly been healthy. So before you predict 70 or 80 for this former number one, he has to show you that he is on the verge of reaching his high potential. Sixty points is a reasonable expectation.
47. T.J. Oshie – Washington Capitals – 60 points
A solid player playing with a huge contract at the age of 30, many were hoping that Oshie would hit the free-agent market, but the Caps knew a good thing when they saw it. This is a slight lift in his point total over last season as Oshie gets the slight upgrade for wanting to prove that he deserved that deal.
48. Elias Lindholm – Carolina Hurricanes – 60 points
A highly-regarded young player that went top five in the much-ballyhooed 2013 draft ahead of Sean Monahan, Lindholm struggled out of the gate last season, but once he turned 22 turned the corner as he gained his scoring confidence, accumulating 36 points in his final 45 games. Part of a promising young forward group in Carolina, expect Lindholm to start reaching the offensive potential that had scouts so impressed in his draft year when he became one of the few Swedish prospects to score more than ten goals in the SHL in his first draft-eligible season.
49. Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks – 60 points
The first Canucks player ranked….he will continue his impressive progression as a pro. His first three seasons saw his point totals climb progressively from 25 to 40 to 52 points. Keep doing the math sequentially and you get to a total of 60 in his fourth season as a pro. He also starts to take over the first-line role as the Sedins age. You get Horvat in this area of the draft, and you get a really nice pick.
50. Nazem Kadri – Toronto Maple Leafs – 60 points
More of the ‘Leafs are going to score a lot of goals’ theory here as Kadri puts in about the same season as last when he had 61 points. Kadri is 26 and seems to still be improving his game. His 32 goals last year was a career-high. We’re not sure he can duplicate that, but the assists will come in a second-line role with the team’s forward depth.
51. Jonathan Toews – Chicago Blackhawks – 60 points
He’s the first-line center of a high-scoring hockey club, so perhaps he shouldn’t be this low. There is something happening to Jonathan Toews as it just doesn’t seem like the opportunities are coming as easily for him. He’s still one of the best two-way centers in the game, but he’s fallen from 78 points to 58 in the last three seasons. We’ll project 60 points with a small recovery due to a freshness from the Hawks’ early elimination and a desire to prove that the Hawks just had four bad games against the Predators.
52. Jeff Skinner – Carolina Hurricanes – 59 points
A steady scorer for the Hurricanes throughout his career when healthy, Skinner, unfortunately, has had some concussion issues, and they are the only real predictive injury. Other injuries get taken care of and don’t often happen again, but the concussion doesn’t just occur, it has a likelihood to occur at a greater rate and leave the player out for a longer time. With that said, Skinner put in a full season last year with 79 games and 63 points. We’ll project similar totals this season.
53. James Van Riemsdyk – Toronto Maple Leafs – 59 points
Sticking with the theory that there are going to be a lot of goals in Leafs land, JVR has had no trouble counting a good portion of his team’s points for his entire career. Though he slips down the depth chart a little with the arrival of the young guns, his totals should remain steady. He had 62 points last season, so just a slight drop-off because of the depth chart but not much because he’s still only 28 and he’s got a talented team up front.
54. Alexander Wennberg – Columbus Blue Jackets – 59 points
One of the quietest 59 point seasons in the last five years in the NHL for Wennberg, perhaps because he only totaled 14 goals. That’s his game though. He is one of the league’s more accomplished playmakers as he sees the ice at an elite level. Considering that he is only now reaching his prime, even though his 59 points may have surprised some pundits, expect him to at least repeat that total in a top-two role this season.
55. Jake Guentzel – Pittsburgh Penguins – 59 points
This is a good gamble pick here at 55th overall. Guentzel had 33 points in half a season for the Pens last season. Project that over a full season and he gets 66 points. Perhaps he doesn’t hit that number in 2017-18, but he also had a terrific playoff for the Pens with 21 points in 25 games, so it would be a surprise if he suddenly turned into a dud in his first full season in the league. We’d have him higher, but he does have to prove himself over an entire year. That’s the only fear factor in evaluating a player who seems to have figured out competitive hockey rather quickly for a third-round draft choice.
56. Ryan O’Reilly – Buffalo Sabres – 59 points
He keeps improving and that has been surprising to some as he was on the trade market and it didn’t seem as if the excitement was high to acquire him. O’Reilly had a terrific world tournament and his stock continues to rise. The Sabres are also getting better and have a nice one-two punch down the middle with Eichel. O’Reilly had 55 points last season. He should be able to add to that in a better environment and still finding a higher comfort zone at 26 years of age.
57. Viktor Arvidsson – Nashville Predators – 57 points
Arvidsson just signed a seven-year contract and coming off a career year praise is through the roof, but he has had only one high-scoring season in the league. He had 61 points last season, but the year before that he had only 16 in 56 games. Great little player, but we are going to predict a decline instead of an ascension here. Someone in your pool will pick him before this spot, so let him/her take on the mystery of whether Arvidsson is now a 60-point guy or closer to the 30-point guy he was the year before, especially after a playoff in which, when the checking got tighter, he managed just three goals in 22 games.
58. Cam Atkinson – Columbus Blue Jackets – 57 points
Cam Atkinson was one of the big scoring surprises of the season last year. The Jackets caught lightning in a bottle riding the best goalie in the league, but that is not likely to continue. The Jackets will slide down the standings this season and so will the numbers of their stars. Atkinson has a terrific release on that shot, but 35 goals again….we don’t think so.
59. Logan Couture – San Jose Sharks – 57 points
The Sharks could be a tough team to figure out next season. They lost Patrick Marleau. Joe Thornton is aging. Joe Pavelski is older. Logan Couture is 28 though and seems like one of the surest things on the team still. He had 52 points last season and should take some more ice time because of a changing of the guard in the bay area.
60. Charlie Coyle – Minnesota Wild – 56 points
The Wild aren’t getting any younger and that’s why they went for it at the trading deadline and failed in a big way. Staal is 32 and Koivu is 34. They’re passing on the torch to the younger Charlie Coyle for powerplay time and better opportunities. Coyle won’t drop from his surprisingly high total of 56 last season.
61. Jordan Eberle – New York Islanders – 56 points
This is a tough pick. Eberle had 51 points last season and just an abysmal playoffs with only two assists in 13 games. However, the Islanders will want him to look good to help the optics on the trade, so he will be the Isles number-one right wing and lineup beside Tavares. That’s obviously worth some points at least if he plays well and has chemistry with Tavares. This is a pick with upside, but that upside may not come through that easily. Eberle’s output is dropping at 27 already. If he doesn’t play with Tavares as planned, then what? You might have an early dog.
62. Eric Staal – Minnesota Wild – 55 points
It was a comeback year for Eric Staal. After a disastrous playoff for the Rangers, a lot of people felt he was done. He recovered with a 65-point season after 39 the year before. He won’t duplicate 65. The drop resumes this year at the age of 32. It won’t be a cliff, but we don’t think he can get more than 55 points.
63. Henrik Zetterberg – Detroit Red Wings – 55 points
Another player who will be feeling the effects of age is Henrik Zetterberg who heads into the season 36 years of age with a lot of playoff miles on him. Zetterberg had 68 points last season as that engine has kept on chugging, but Recrutes see this as the year that he becomes a danger pick if you’re expecting the 70 range out of him again.
64. Mark Stone – Ottawa Senators – 55 points
All Mark Stone does is give you consistent 55 to 60 point seasons. He’s a sure thing at this spot with seasons of 64, 61 and 54 in his last three years. One should expect the same number this season for this sixth-round steal by the Senators scouting staff in 2010.
65. Taylor Hall – New Jersey Devils – 55 points we
Taylor Hall should get more points than this, but he had only 53 last season on a Devils’ club that couldn’t score goals. Unlike last year when the top picks thrilled the NHL, we’re not projecting this season’s draft class to make a significant impact with their teams, so he may have to wait a season or two for the club’s promising young center Nico Hischier to stake his claim on a line with the other former first-overall pick on the team. Given that Travis Zajac is out 4-6 months with a recently pectoral injury, it’s anybody’s guess who will be centering Hall in 2017-18.
66. Bryan Little – Winnipeg Jets – 55 points
The point total of Bryan Little last season of only 47 is deceiving as he missed a quarter of the year. He’s on a squad whose top two lines will score a lot of goals, so 55 points is an improvement of eight that is plausible considering he’s 29 and will still be given good opportunity to excel in the Manitoba capital.
67. Nino Niederreiter – Minnesota Wild – 55 points
It will be interesting to see how the Wild disperse the ice time and the opportunity this season. The club has some aging vets that may start to be sent to pasture for some improving young guns. We wonder what the dynamic is like in the locker room. How much respect is paid for the Staals and Koivus? At 25, Nino Niederreiter seems ready to jump a level higher, but will he get the powerplay time and the offensive zone starts? Tough answer to know, but the player’s talent isn’t in question.
68. Brandon Saad – Chicago Blackhawks – 55 points
Brandon Saad is back in Chicago and should be given opportunity to shine and play with some talented players. Saad had 53 points last season, and though he sits here at 55 points, the chance for a 7 -10 point-jump is there to be sure. However, his last three seasons his totals were 52, 53 and 53 so this seems to be the area of his ceiling.
69. Vincent Trocheck – Florida Panthers – 55 points
The second-line center of the Florida Panthers, expect the same number for Vincent Trocheck this season. His age is in his favour as his game continues to grow, but he has reduced opportunity as Barkov is back healthy instead of missing 20 games. We’ll call that a wash and predict the same point totals for Trocheck.
70. Alex Galchenyuk – Montreal Canadiens – 55 points
It was a definite step back for Alex Galchenyuk who surged to a 30-goal season the year before. Knee injuries slowed him down after a terrific start to the season when he was top ten in the league early. After that, confidence was lost as was his ability to win puck battles. He then fell into the doldrums when two coaches didn’t believe in his ability to defend as a center, so it was back to the wing again in his see-saw world. This season expect a recovery for Galchenyuk but don’t bank on it either. He will improve for sure. He may even grab that first-line center role, but writing this in mid-August… nothing is certain. Perhaps you get more clarity on draft day of your pool where Galchenyuk sits with head coach Claude Julien.
71. Derek Stepan – Arizona Coyotes – 55 points
The new number-one center of the Arizona Coyotes is Derek Stepan. This should give him more opportunity to improve on his 55-point season of 2016-2017, but then again, he’s in Arizona where he will have fewer opportunities to score than he would on a better team in New York City. Let’s call those two factors a wash and predict the same total as last year.
72. Jaden Schwartz – St. Louis Blues – 55 points
The same total as last season for the 25-year-old who should have the same type of season as well for the Blues.
73. Ondrej Palat – Tampa Bay Lightning – 54 points
Fresh off signing a huge contract, it’s time for Ondrej Palat to prove that he is worth it. A big contract can be a great motivator or a horrible one depending on the individual. One thing that is constant is the desire for management to show the player was worth what they doled out, so Palat will have opportunity here to shine. We’ll call for a slight increase in his total based on those factors.
74. Marcus Johansson – New Jersey Devils – 54 points
In Marcus Johansson’s favour is the increased opportunity to shine in New Jersey instead of being one of many stars in Washington. However, not in his favour is the inability of the Devils to put goals on the board. Given those two contrasting factors, expect a similar point total for a player in the middle of his prime at 26.
75. Kyle Turris – Ottawa Senators – 54 points
Same point total as last year. Same scenarios for this player as last year. Same skill set as last year at age 28.
76. Chris Kreider – New York Rangers – 54 points
At 26, Chris Kreider’s profile doesn’t change as he settles into this point range. His team remains the same and so do his opportunities. This is a safe pick in the 50-55 point range.
77. Jakob Silfverberg – Anaheim Ducks – 54 points
Jakob Silfverberg made the leap from a 40 to 50-point player last season. He should continue to progress at the age of 26, but not at the same rate as he finds his ceiling at this point in his career. He gets a five-point boost over last season.
78. Rickard Rakell – Anaheim Ducks – 54 points
The same profile for another Ducks player is Rickard Rakell who also lifted from a 40 point player to a 50 pointer. He too continues the progression as he approaches his ceiling.
79. Mika Zibanejad – New York Rangers – 54 points
One club with question marks down the middle after the trade of Derek Stepan is the New York Rangers. They will decide between Hayes and Zibanejad for the top-line pivot role, and, frankly, neither excites. With the added ice time, however, Zibanejad gets a slight boost from his 37 points over 56 games to a 54-point total after his solid showing in the playoffs. Given that they traded Brassard for the former sixth-overall pick and that he’s just entering his prime, expect him to get plenty of ice time this season with Stepan gone to Arizona.
80. Josh Bailey – New York Islanders – 54 points
Josh Bailey had a career year for the Islanders last season, going from 32 to 56 points. Blooming offensively at age 27 is not, as a rule, the recipe for a further breakout. Even though Bailey was a high first-round pick, it’s unlikely that the upward spike continues.
81. Ryan Strome – Edmonton Oilers – 53 points
Strome takes a huge leap here by 20 points based on him being a likely candidate to be on Connor McDavid’s right side. Strome averaged less than a half-point-per-game last season, so you better be able to live with the downside if the upside doesn’t come in. If he can’t play well with McDavid, those dreams of 65 points turn into the same old 35 total. We’ll put him on the better half of that dream, but with that caution.
82. Sebastian Aho – Carolina Hurricanes – 52 points
One of the better up-and-comers is Sebastian Aho. He’s only 20 years of age and has some excellent pedigree out of Finland. He will get a lot of opportunities to shine in Carolina, so Recrutes is not predicting a sophomore slump for Aho.
83. Matthew Tkachuk – Calgary Flames – 52 points
Also out of last year’s excellent crop of rookies was Matthew Tkachuk who simply knows how to be around the puck when it goes in the net – much like his father. In London, he put up big numbers and didn’t miss a beat in Calgary playing with an edge and getting 48 points. Building on his fine rookie season, we jump the American’s total by a conservative four points and predict no sophomore slump.
84. Kyle Palmieri – New Jersey Devils – 52 points
It took a while for the former first rounder to find his footing at the NHL level, but with two straight seasons of the 55 point range, we can get comfortable at the age of 26 with this point total being in the 50-55 range.
85. Mikael Backlund – Calgary Flames – 52 points
Another former first rounder, Mikael Backlund put in the best season of his career last year at age 28 with 53 points. That may have been his pinnacle, but with the improving Flames he should stay at this same point level at least.
86. Wayne Simmonds – Philadelphia Flyers – 52 points
A fan favourite for his robust style, Wayne Simmonds has never really lit it up point-wise with 60 points as his best career number. He dropped to 54 last season, and one should expect similar numbers this season for a player in the mid-prime of his career.
87. Claude Giroux – Philadelphia Flyers – 50 points
There are many theories to win a pool. Two popular ones are to not draft players who are regressing and to pass on defencemen. When a player regresses points-wise for several seasons in a row… no matter what age they are, the vast majority of the time it’s a telltale sign, and the player does not find his old self again. You have the 24-year-old starting to figure things out who lifts his total by ten versus the player who gets ten less points… and then ten fewer.. and then ten fewer again. Let the other person in your pool have Claude Giroux. Can he come back? Sure. Is he likely to? No. Here are his point totals in the past four season: 86, then 73, then 67, then 58. That’s some serious regression at only 29 years of age. It’s hard to project a turnaround even if he battled some injuries over that span, so expect the regression to continue.
88. Robby Fabbri – St. Louis Blues – 50 points
Another player getting a big boost in points is the Blues’ dynamic young center. One scout told Recrutes that he would easily improve on his 29-points and break out at the age of 21 into a standout player. He was on pace for 45+ points last season and is very highly considered in the organization, so we expect him to hit the 50-point mark this season, if he can avoid the injury bug.
89. Corey Perry – Anaheim Ducks – 50 points
Recrutes has grouped together several players who are showing regression that we recommend that you avoid taking high with the hope that they rediscover their old scoring touch. If one of your pool opponents thinks that Perry can be a 80-point player again…let them be the one to take that gamble. Perry’s worst point-per-game total since his rookie year was last season and it’s exactly when you would expect that regression to happen…at 32-years-old.
90. Anze Kopitar – Los Angeles Kings – 50 points
Another player in this category is Anze Kopitar. He still has to be in the top 100 because the dropoff will be gradual at age 30, but let someone else have these players on the wane. Kopitar’s point total dropped by 22 last season, and he has a lot of miles on his 6-4 frame after LA’s lengthy cup playoff runs in the past few years. The wear-and-tear is starting to show. It may be tough to do given how highly-regarded his all-around game is in NHL circles, but pools are about point totals, not reputation or defensive play.
91. Henrik Sedin – Vancouver Canucks – 50 points
At 36 years of age, Henrik starts losing the battle against Father Time this season as Bo Horvat looks poised to take over the first-line center role.
92. Daniel Sedin – Vancouver Canucks – 50 points
His brother also has Father Time on the other wing. Twin brothers..twin point totals.
93. Jason Spezza – Dallas Stars – 50 points
These regressing athletes are in the top 100 because they used to be the elite and some may have a different philosophy than others when doing a pool. It is a sage strategy to take players on the rise, not the players who have already reached the peak, and get taken because of an emotional response instead of a logical one. That’s Jason Spezza who used to score at will but who had 50 points last year dropping 13 points. Expect similar totals this season.
94. Mikko Koivu – Minnesota Wild – 50 points
Mikko Koivu is 34 years of age now. Nice player. Had a nice career. Upside surprise? Not likely.
95. Patrice Bergeron – Boston Bruins – 50 points
At 32, his best days are behind him but still a solid player who had 53 points last season. We’ll predict that he slows down just a little.
96. Milan Lucic – Edmonton Oilers – 50 points
Another player approaching his 30s who looks to have seen better days with the speed of the game making it harder for him to excel. He had 50 points last season when they really tried hard to make that signing look good. He may drop some from here, but the situation is just so positive in Edmonton that McDavid could bank about ten goals in off his butt.
97. James Neal – Las Vegas Golden Knights – 50 points
Another player slowing down quickly is James Neal who amassed only 41 points last season, but someone has to score the points in Vegas so we will pick the lead man to get only 50 points.
98. Max Domi – Arizona Coyotes – 50 points
That concludes the portion of the draft of players who are gambles because of their regressing skills but who can still amass 50 points. Pools are often won by the participant who can find the darkhorse players with upside. These players carry some question marks, but not a ton of risk. They have the pedigree and they could be ready to put it all together to show why they were drafted high. They are given offensive opportunities and there is excitement around them. They may not prosper, but if they do…. look out! One of those young players with plenty of upside is Max Domi, who was a world junior star and London Knights standout who had 38 points last season. It’s easy to see him boosting that number by at least 10 at the age of 22, especially with the additions of Keller and Stepan as potential linemates.
99. Jason Zucker – Minnesota Wild – 50 points
Jason Zucker at 25 had some upside too for the Wild as he projected as their second-line winger. Zach Parise is aging quickly and Zucker might just supplant him. If he does, that 49 points becomes 55 points or more. A good upside pick, and 50 seems like a plausible number.
100. Sam Reinhart – Buffalo Sabres – 50 points
The Sabres will be improved this season and Sam Reinhart will be one of the main reasons. He is 21 and a former high draft choice at second overall. This is his third NHL season and it could be the breakout one. In the battle between the aging veteran who is slated for 50 points and everyone loves because of that emotional connection, versus the player who has never hit these higher totals before, it is recommended that you take the ‘hope’ rather than the ‘fade’.
101. Doug Hamilton – Calgary Flames – 50 points
Calgary fans were glad the numerous trade rumours last season weren’t true as Hamilton had a solid year with 50 points and a 26-point improvement in his plus-minus. He’s another safe bet to get at least 45-50 points if you are looking to take a defenceman since he’s just now entering his prime at 24.
102. Matt Duchene – Colorado Avalanche – 49 points
Duchene burst onto the NHL scene and played solid hockey. Everyone expected so much after his 67-point sophomore season, but what a drop-off, as last year he bottomed out at 41 points. We expect him to rediscover his scoring touch to a certain degree on a Colorado team which has surely bottomed out. There is simply too much young forward talent on this team, and if Duchene struggles once again offensively, expect Sakic to finally pull the trigger and deal the talented center/winger, as has been widely rumoured for the past six months.
103. Kevin Shattenkirk – New York Rangers – 49 points
The new QB on the power play in New York City, Kevin Shattenkirk’s arrival will likely lead to a slight point regression from Ryan McDonagh. The offensive blueliner had one of the higher totals for a defenceman last season with 56 points. The shared duty with McDonagh could result in a slight regression though, and he was quite disappointing in the playoffs for Washington after he was dealt by the Blues at the trade deadline.
104. Gabriel Landeskog – Colorado Avalanche – 48 points
Expect a similar bounce-back for another high draft pick taken second overall by Colorado. He got only 33 points for the Avs last season. Surely, that was the low point. They can’t all suffer that badly this season once again. At 24 years of age, there is every reason to hope for a recovery here.
105. Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Arizona Coyotes – 48 points
One defenceman who is sure to get a lion’s share of powerplay time is Oliver Ekman-Larsson in Arizona. He only had 39 points last season in large part because he was on a struggling team with a young forward group that wasn’t yet ready to compete with the better teams. Expect the Coyotes offensive totals to improve with an emerging young corps that includes Domi, Dvorak and Clayton Keller, who may be in the Calder Trophy discussion given his terrific vision and playmaking skills. Look for Keller and the recently-acquired Stepan to boost Ekman-Larsson’s powerplay point totals by a half-dozen or more alone.
106. Teuvo Taravainen – Carolina Hurricanes – 48 points
From the same draft class as Alex Galchenyuk, most scouts loved this player’s skill set, but it has been a slow progression for the slender winger as he has gained the requisite strength to be able to excel offensively at the highest level. He should improve on his 42 points from last year as he continues to adjust to NHL size.
107. Kevin Hayes – New York Rangers – 48 points
With the departure of Stepan, Kevin Hayes may move up the depth chart at the center spot for the Rangers. There is serious concern with how he ended his season however going without a goal in his last 24 games of the season, including a 12-game playoff drought. Expect similar point totals for the lumbering giant.
108. Vadim Shipachyov – Las Vegas Golden Knights – 48 points
This player falls under the ‘sure he could be amazing but let someone else take the chance on him’ category. He’s the biggest signing out of the KHL this season, but who knows really….at 30, he could be a bust. You just never know with players who haven’t played the North American game. He could get 70 points, or he could have serious issues adjusting to the smaller rinks for the first time in his career.
109. Nick Foligno – Columbus Blue Jackets – 48 points
He had 73 points in 2014-15, then 37 points and then 51 points, so it’s anybody’s guess what Foligno will total this campaign. At 29, let’s put him slightly lower than last season. Not the consistency you’re looking for in a pick, but a safe player to choose nonetheless after the top 100.
110. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Edmonton Oilers – 48 points
The upside in selecting Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is perhaps he gets out of Edmonton. As an Oilers player, he’s going to have trouble getting points considering his third-line role if Draisaitl becomes the permanent second-line center, but imagine a trade to the Canadiens. Suddenly, he’s the first-line center playing with Max Pacioretty and/or Jonathan Drouin. Trades are hard to predict, so we will keep our projection down to reflect that.
111. David Krejci – Boston Bruins – 48 points
At 31, David Krejci regressed from 63 points to 54. That’s the theme in today’s NHL. If your GM doesn’t see how forwards are losing value as soon as they hit 30, then you shouldn’t be happy with your GM. Look for the Bruins center to keep falling.
112. Alex Radulov – Dallas Stars – 48 points
Speaking of players who are 31, we have Alex Radulov who was a whisker away from signing with the Canadiens but opted for a better tax situation, and nicer winter in Dallas. The Stars may regret giving a player with one productive NHL season in the past seven seasons such a lengthy contract but in year one, he may just play on the first line with Seguin and Benn. If he does, 48 points will be too low, so pay attention to what the depth chart looks like as October 5 rolls around. If you have a keeper pool, keep away. He is a tough player to slot for this season, but Recrutes expects him to be “comfortable” with his new contract and not play with the same intensity that he did in Montreal.
113. Nick Leddy – New York Islanders – 48 points
One of the rare Garth Snow deals that has worked out in the Islanders’ favour, Leddy has emerged as the offensive catalyst on the team’s blueline, especially with Travis Hamonic being dealt to the Flames. As he enters his prime as a defenceman at age 25, expect a similar point total this season.
114. Alex Pietrangelo – St. Louis Blues – 48 points
The new number-one offensive option on the point with Shattenkirk gone, the Canadian Olympic team veteran had 48 points last season. It’s what you’re looking for at this stage in the pool that counts: Get a PP QB – a player who logs minutes and stays healthy. Pietrangelo fits those categories.
115. Tyler Johnson – Tampa Bay Lightning – 47 points
It was a tough year for Tyler Johnson last season with only 45 points, down from 72 two seasons ago. He sandwiched a 38-point campaign in between that, so don’t get sentimental about that playoff he had where he was a big reason the Lightning beat the Habs and advanced to the finals. That might have been the peak moment of his entire career, and concerns about his ability to remain healthy for 70-plus games per season given his size make it risky to expect him to once again crack the 50-point mark
116. Anders Lee – New York Islanders – 47 points
From 36 points to 52 points at the age of 27, it might be that Anders Lee is still getting better. Recrutes has reservations though, and are expecting a point total somewhere in between. He isn’t likely to score 34 goals again like last season as he never managed that in three seasons in college at Notre Dame.
117. Tanner Pearson – Los Angeles Kings – 47 points
The former first-round pick had his best season in 2016-17 at the age of 24. He may improve on those 44 points minimally, but he’s hasn’t been prolific at any level since the Barrie Colts in junior due in large part to his lack of skating speed, so don’t expect a big jump in production.
118. Gustav Nyquist – Detroit Red Wings – 47 points
Someone has to score the goals but it is going to be a lean year in Detroit overall. Nyquist will have the same type of season he did last year so expect the same point total.
119. Ryan Kesler – Anaheim Ducks – 47 points
Ryan Kesler looked exhausted by the end of the playoffs. He competed so hard and wanted it so much but there’s just not a lot left there anymore. Kesler had only one goal in 17 playoff games on the Ducks run to the conference final. Kesler had 58 points last year, but we are predicting a big drop here.
120. Tomas Tatar – Detroit Red Wings – 47 points
Another player on this Wings team that will get every opportunity to shine on a team that simply won’t score much. This is essentially the same total as last season for the 26-year-old.
121. Brock Nelson – New York Islanders – 46 points
It’s easy to slot him in the mid-40-point-range since he has produced 42, 40 and 45 his last three seasons even if he’s not a sexy pick. He’s not going to break out and give you that excitement. He probably won’t sound enticing to most poolies who will say “oh okay, who else?” but if you want 45 points and you don’t want to be nervous, Nelson is a safe pick.
122. Alexander Steen – St. Louis Blues – 46 points
At 33 years of age, Alexander Steen hits the danger zone for drop off of productivity. If you’re unsure, take another player in this area. Someone who is less likely to surprise to the downside. He fell from the 60s to the 50’s the last 3 years. Next stop: the 40s.
123. Victor Rask – Carolina Hurricanes – 46 points
Another one of Carolina’s promising young forwards – at 24 he is entering the prime of his career and brings size, speed and skill in a top-six role.
124. Conor Sheary – Pittsburgh Penguins – 46 points
It’s tough to know what Conor Sheary can do this season. He had ten points in the first half, but after finding himself back on Crosby’s line he finished strongly with 53 points in 61 games. That sounds promising and this ranking may be too low, but in the playoffs he only got two goals and five assists during the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run, and if he doesn’t play with Crosby, his point total will suffer.
125. J.T. Miller – New York Rangers – 46 points
Members of the Montreal media were sitting around watching Rangers’ practice halfway through last season and someone asked who is leading the Rangers in scoring. It seemed as if the entire lineup was named before anyone thought of J.T. Miller. He was actually leading the Rangers in points but he then fell off the production wagon hard and finished with 56 points. Before that, his career-high was 43 points, so don’t expect him to replicate his fast start.
126. Tyler Bozak – Toronto Maple Leafs – 46 points
Tyler Bozak had 55 points last season but that won’t happen again as his role continues to lessen. In fact, he’s great trade bait for the Leafs if they can find a suitor as they will soon be facing salary cap issues when the young stars’ entry level contracts expire. Matthews and Kadri down the middle leaves Bozak expendable . Bozak managed a career-high 55 points, but don’t expect him to ever hit that total again as he reaches 32 and beyond.
127. P. K. Subban – Nashville Predators – 46 points
You may have noticed that there have been almost no defenceman listed in the top 120 of this draft list. Here’s why: They get injured at a rate that is much higher than forwards do. This means that any time you take a defenceman you risk losing a lot of points to injury. It isn’t that defencemen can’t get more than 45 points, but you simply can not know which ones are going to get injured going first into the corner or taking a slap shot off the ankle. Subban could get 55 to 60 points if he plays every game, but last year he played 66 and had 40 points, and given his rambunctious style as he hits his late 20’s, the odds of him being banged up each season and missing some action are relatively high.
128. Seth Jones – Columbus Blue Jackets – 45 points
Another talented rearguard who has every chance to increase his 42 points from last season as he hits his early prime. The fourth overall pick in 2013, Jones is a key piece in the Blue Jackets’ solid young core who will be given every opportunity to blossom.
129. Roman Josi – Nashville Predators – 45 points
For a defenceman to accumulate more than 45 points they have to get plenty of powerplay time. Usually, this is established and known, but if it is in question, then you bring on even more danger. Roman Josi is an excellent player of course, and I presume that he, Subban and Ellis will get the bulk of the powerplay minutes.
130. Jordan Staal – Carolina Hurricanes – 45 points
With the emergence of Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho as Staal is hitting his late 20’s, Staal can no longer be counted on to center Carolina’s top line in a role he was ill suited to fill in the first-place given his solid all-around game and lack of high-end skill. Expect Staal to play a checking role while still chipping in his usual 40-50 points.
131. Drew Doughty – Los Angeles Kings – 45 points
The winner of the Norris the year before, Drew Doughty dropped off with the downfall of the Kings in general. Doughty had 44 points and he should stabilize here seeing tht he is only 27. Plenty of game left in Doughty quarterbacking the Kings power play.
132. Torey Krug – Boston Bruins – 45 points
Torey Krug had a stellar year with 51 points last season as he became a mainstay on the Bruins powerplay. He won’t likely equal that, but a safe pick if you’re looking to add a defenceman in a position pool.
133. Brayden Point – Tampa Bay Lightning – 45 points
Everything he did last season was a pleasant surprise it seemed. He wasn’t slated to make the Lightning and when they suffered injuries, he came through with a 40-point season and 18 goals as one of the game’s emerging young talents. He’s 21 now and ready for the next step as he may officially surpass Tyler Johnson on the Tampa depth chart.
134. John Klingberg – Dallas Stars – 45 points
The Stars go-to guy on the point for the power play, and he’s only 25. Just about every powerplay quarterback is in the 40 -50 point range, except for the exceptional ones like Karlsson and Burns. The truth is there is not much between them. What you’re shooting for in your pool is to get a team’s powerplay QB if possible. Don’t get the number-two guy until later if at all because his total is usually quite a bit lower and he can be replaced on the first unit if the power play is struggling. Klingberg is a safe pick.
135. Artturi Lehkonen – Montreal Canadiens – 45 points
Was Artturi Lehkonen the second-best forward for the Habs in the playoffs last season behind only the departed Alexander Radulov? Yes. Lehkonen’s play is so mature for his experience it’s a remarkable thing to watch. Always on the right side of the puck, he reads the play like a seasoned veteran. He had 28 points in his rookie season so this jump to 45 is sizable, but the fact remains that in the second-half of last season Lehkonen’s play, and production, grew by leaps and bounds as he adjusted to the North American game and gained confidence. If Gallagher doesn’t return to form, it wouldn’t be shocking to see him as the first-line right winger this season, and if that happens, he may hit the 50-point mark or better as he possesses an elite shot and release.
136. Kris Letang – Pittsburgh Penguins – 44 points
Speaking of gambling on a player’s health, we have Kris Letang. He may be in the same stratosphere as Karlsson and Burns if he stays healthy. That’s a big if, as he played a half season last year, so it’s a decided gamble. Depends how much he drops down in your pool, but if he’s in this range, then you take a chance. Odds are someone gambles that he is healthy and gets 60 points so you aren’t likely getting him at this point in our philosophy anyway.
137. Duncan Keith – Chicago Blackhawks – 44 points
The sure thing in Chicago on the point is Duncan Keith. He had 53 points last season. We are predicting a drop to this grouping considering he is now 34 years of age with some really hard miles on him through the years for the Hawks and for Canada whenever called upon.
138. Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets – 44 points
The QB in Winnipeg at 32 years of age is Dustin Byfuglien. Notice how these QB’s and stalwarts on the blue line are in their 30’s and still going strong. It’s remarkable what happened in the NHL in the last five years. The forward can be done at the moment that the defenceman is peaking.
139. Joe Thornton – San Joes Sharks – 43 points
At 38 the regression has begun as he went from 82 points to 50. However, he’s still Joe Thornton, who by reaching 1000 career assists last season moved to 13th on the all-time NHL list. He’s now missing his longtime sidekick Patrick Marleau, but Jumbo Joe has adjusted to playing and prodigiously setting up dozens of wingers throughout his career. Expect the point totals to continue to dip as he winds down his illustrious career.
140. Andre Burakovsky – Washington Capitals – 43 points
The former first-rounder who lit it up with the Erie Otters in his one OHL season, this will be his third full NHL season, and that is often the breakout year for budding young talents. He’s 22 and getting comfortable in the NHL. He looked much more comfortable in the 2017 playoffs than he did in 2016. After point totals in the mid and upper 30-range, expect him to crack the 40-point barrier this season.
141. Keith Yandle – Florida Panthers – 43 points
The go-to-guy blueliner offensively in Florida is Keith Yandle. It’s all you need to know really about any of these 40-45 -point defenceman picks. Get the go-to guy.
142. Shea Weber – Montreal Canadiens – 43 points
Montreal’s defence corps welcomed the burly defenceman and his cannon shot on the powerplay, and he didn’t disappoint, scoring 12 goals with the man advantage. Weber is one of the many defenceman in this range who may now be in his 30’s, but is still highly effective on the powerplay, and a good bet to get you at least 40 points in a pool.
143. Cam Fowler – Anaheim Ducks – 43 points
The top point-getter on a defence featuring several talented young rearguards, we expect the 25-year-old to crack the 40-point mark for the first time since his sensational rookie season. It’s not unrealistic to expect a five-point bump in his production.
144. Justin Faulk – Carolina Hurricanes – 42 points
There are some good young defencemen on the rise in Carolina, but Justin Faulk is still expected to quarterback their power play on an un up-and-coming team. Look for a five-point bump in his point total.
145. Brent Seabrook – Chicago Blackhawks – 42 points
Seabrook has been a steady point producer for Chicago for the past decade, and at 32, he isn’t going to noticeably regress production-wise.
145. Tyson Barrie – Colorado Avalanche – 41 points
Barrie is the offensive catalyst in Denver who had 38 points last season and should be able to improve on that this season because Colorado can’t be as bad. Can they?
147. Justin Schultz – Pittsburgh Penguins – 41 points
Justin Schultz was a boon last season with 51 points after he was basically run out of town in Edmonton. Talk about a player taking advantage of an opportunity. The issue here, of course, is that Schultz was filling the void of Kris Letang, and if Letang returns to form, then Schultz sees his production drop off considerably, so a note of caution on this pick.
148. Colton Parayko – St. Louis Blues – 41 points
Parayko’s game is elevating rapidly, he might just be a star in the league one day with that size and mobility.
149. John Carlson – Washington Capitals – 41 points
With the departure of Shattenkirk, Carlson returns to his role as the top offensive defenceman on the Washington blueline. At 27, he’s a safe bet to deliver 35-45 points.
150. Mikko Rantanen – Colorado Avalanche – 40 points
We’re getting to the portion of your pool where you’re in the late rounds and you’re just trying to catch lightning in a bottle. At this point, you’re looking for somewhere between 30 and 40 points pretty much guaranteed with wind gusts up to 60 points if the raw talent the player has is now maturing in time for you to win your pool. This section from 150 to 200, does not include players who are regressing. As much as Joe Thornton has some game left, we’re looking to win big with the 150th pick, but not lose either. Mikko Rantanen fits nicely in this category. He is perhaps the only player in Denver last season that didn’t underachieve. Rantanen at only 20 years of age managed 20 goals on a bad team. As a recent top-ten pick he has the pedigree to progress offensively despite his tender age.
151. Anthony Mantha – Detroit Red Wings – 40 points
The Longueuil, Qc. native was taken in the first round in 2013. He’s been on the verge it seems every year after lighting it up in the Q, and last year he began to flash his offensive potential with 36 points in just 60 games. He’ll be 23 when the season starts, so his time could be right now. He will get you 40. If you’re willing to take the gamble, he could get you far more.
152. Sam Bennett – Calgary Flames – 40 points
He took a step back last year dropping from 36 to 26 points but he’s still only 21 years of age and with that pedigree, this could be the year he figures it out. He’s a good bet to score at least 35 points as it’s expected that he’ll get a full opportunity offensively this season. He had a short stint in Kingston before joining the NHL where he was chewing up the OHL with 24 points in 11 games. It’s only a matter of time and the time may be now.
153. Kyle Connor – Winnipeg Jets – 40 points
After a terrific freshman NCAA season in which many think he was robbed of the Hobey Baker Award, Connor made the Jets out of training camp but was eventually sent down to the AHL where he scored a very impressive 25 goals in 52 games as a 20-year-old. The Jets plan on keeping him with the big team all season, and with his talent and upside he may well vie for the Calder Trophy.
154. Ivan Provorov – Philadelphia Flyers – 40 points
The seventh overall pick in 2015, Provorov already plays a solid, mature game which is remarkable considering he is just 20. Already a 30-point scorer in a regular role last season, Provorov is Philly’s future franchise defenceman, and he may be handed the number-one role as soon as this season. Look for a ten-point jump or more after producing 30 points last season.
155. Tomas Hertl – San Jose Sharks – 40 points
Looking for upside we find Tomas Hertl who has an excellent skill set but hasn’t put it together at the NHL level yet. Hertl had 22 points in 49 games last season which gives him 36 points over 82. He also has the potential to do much more if he’s ready to keep up with the NHL pace.
156. Nick Schmaltz – Chicago Blackhawks – 40 points
A skilled first rounder in 2014, look for Schmaltz to build on his 28-point rookie season considering he played in just 61 games. With Hossa missing the season and Panarin’s departure, Schmaltz should be given lots of opportunity on the top two lines.
157. Boone Jenner – Columbus Blue Jackets – 40 points
Boone Jenner fell back from 49 points to 33 points last season but Recrutes expects him to bounce back offensively He picked up his game in the second half and at 24 his best seasons should still be in front of him.
158. Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators – 40 points
It was surprising to see Bobby Ryan fall into such difficulty last year, dropping to just 25 points even if he missed 21 with injuries as he hit the 50-point mark the previous season. What was encouraging, however, was his performance in Ottawa’s surprising playoff run, as he collected 15 points in 19 games and got back in the good graces of his coach.
159. Patric Hornqvist – Pittsburgh Penguins – 40 points
Patric Hornqvist had 44 points last season. He should be a safe bet in Pittsburgh with all of that scoring support to come close to that number this season.
160. Tyler Toffoli – Los Angeles Kings – 40 points
Tyler Toffoli fell from 58 points over a full season to 34 points in 63 games. He has never had an issue scoring at any level and at 25 years of age Toffoli should be able to bounce back to hit the 40 point plateau – perhaps even more.
161. Evander Kane – Buffalo Sabres – 40 points
Everyone is still waiting for Evander Kane to become a reliable power forward. Kane had 43 points last season. He has never lived up to his status as the fourth overall pick. Kane is now 26 and it better be now or forget it. Kane may be a gamble but he still make our list because everyone has question marks at this point in a pool.
162. David Perron – Las Vegas Golden Knights – 40 points
In the ‘someone has to get the points because Vegas isn’t going to lose 5-nothing every night’ category is David Perron who we project for a slightly lower total than last year because it is Vegas after all. Perron has been one of the top ten scorers from his draft class, so while some may not like his style of play, he’s always found a way to produce in the NHL.
163. Phillip Danault – Montreal Canadiens – 40 points
Montreal’s first-line center for much of last season alongside Pacioretty and Radulov, Danault had a solid first-full NHL season notching 40 points while playing an effective two-way role. The question going into this season is whether he will be on the first line again. Some are insisting that he has more upside than his 40 points, but it’s not likely that he’ll improve on that total if he’s not on the top line, and early indications are that other players will be given that opportunity. Ideally, Danault is a third-line center on a strong team.
164. Sam Gagner – Vancouver Canucks – 39 points
Sam Gagner finished with 50 points last year on a Blue Jackets team that scores more goals than the lowly Canucks. With that in mind, Gagner should get a top-six role and is a decent bet to approach if not surpass 40 points as he’s still in his prime at 28.
165. Alex Killorn – Tampa Bay Lightning – 39 points
Here are the point totals for the last four seasons for Alex Killorn: 41, 38, 40, 36. Seems like he’s good for this amount. He’s also only missed 12 games in four years, and coach Jon Cooper gives him plenty of ice time.
166. Brendan Gallagher – Montreal Canadiens – 39 points
With another injury to his hand, it was a tough season for Brendan Gallagher as his point total fell from 40 in 53 games to 29 in 64 games. That’s definitely regression but at 25, the prediction is it won’t continue. He’s slated to be a top-two right winger for the Habs and that is worth 39 points at least as long as he remains healthy.
167. Ryan Ellis – CNashville PredatorsBlue Jackets – 39 points
Ellis has seen a steady progression in his point totals the past three seasons as he has seen his role grow on the Predators. We would predict an even higher point total if there weren’t so many blue liners vying for offensive opportunity on the team. Expect him to at least match last season’s total after a standout playoff performance paired with Josi.
168. Brandon Dubinsky – Columbus Blue Jackets – 39 points
From 48 points to 41 points last season and that is with the Blue Jackets scoring a lot more. The probable ceiling these days for the 31-year-old Dubinsky is 40 points.
169. Kyle Okposo – Buffalo Sabres – 39 points
Kyle Okposo would be considerably higher than this 39 points if not for a big question mark. Okposo late last season was rushed to hospital with a mystery illness. We later learned that it was a combination of a medication that didn’t agree with him or a concussion. Either way, that makes it hard to go all in. If he’s healthy he certainly recovers from the 45 he had had last season, dropping from 64. If he’s not healthy, this could be a bad pick. Some poolies have a throw out the bottom 2 players out of the 12 or 14 rounds. If that’s how you do a pool, then this is a good player to take a chance on.
170. Martin Hanzal – Dallas Stars – 39 points
Martin Hanzal lands in Dallas after that disastrous trade that saw the Wild not helped at all in the playoffs by his arrival. He had one point in the Wild’s 5 game-exit from the post season. Hanzal had 39 points last season. Broadcasters are always drooling over this guy. Meh. He’s never had more than 41 points in 10 seasons.
171. Adam Henrique – New Jersey Devils – 39 points
Many thought that Adam Henrique was going to break out last season after hitting the 50-point plateau for the first time, but he went the other direction. That often happens. It is amazing how many people fall prey to group think. Henrique got 40 last year and he’ll get around the same this year.
172. Michael Frolik – Calgary Flames – 39 points
Michael Frolik might be a good gamble here for the Flames. He could find himself on the first line in Calgary which would be a big plus, but even if he drops down in the lineup, he can still take the 39 point number without difficulty. This pick has some upside hope.
173. Artem Anisimov – Chicago Blackhawks – 39 points
How did Artem Anisimov get to be 29 years of age already? Strange how it doesn’t feel like it. The Russian had 45 points last season. That was in 64 games, so there is some hope that he could be higher than this, but the second line isn’t as good with Panarin’s departure. Anisimov could like up beside Patrick Sharp who is no Panarin.
174. Justin Williams – Carolina Hurricanes – 39 points
Justin Williams had 48 points last season on the high-scoring Capitals that once again couldn’t get over the playoff hump even with “Mr. Game 7” in the lineup. Look for a drop in points given that he is now 35 and playing with the less-accomplished Hurricanes.
175. Dylan Larkin – Detroit Red Wings – 38 points
Recrutes expects Larkin will have a rebound season after struggling in his sophomore campaign. Larkin dropped from 45 points to 32. At the age of 21, he should stabilize back up and the slump should be over in year three – a skater this good should have game without a doubt.
176. Travis Konecny – Philadelphia Flyers – 38 points
The Flyers may have Travis Konecny penciled in as their first line left winger next season. He’s only 20 years old and is coming off of a 28-point season. Is he ready to handle the responsibility? This might be too much too soon for him but the Flyers have to put someone on the left side top line, and after his terrific showing at the World Championship he certainly is in the running.
177. Clayton Keller – Arizona Coyotes – 38 points
The first player Recrutes ranks who hasn’t produced in the NHL or the KHL is Clayton Keller. Three games with two assists last season just to get a taste, look for 2016-top pick Keller to beat out Arizona’s top-three pick from 2015 Dylan Strome for a top-two center role behind Stepan, and with his superb vision, puck skills and playmaking talent, he may end up in serious contention for the Calder Trophy by year’s end.
178. Christian Dvorak – Arizona Coyotes – 38 points
They are doing some things right in Arizona, building a talent base of young players, but they need some veterans in there too because they don’t know how to win at the NHL level which is simply learning how to grind it out night after night. Christian Dvorak is another one of those young players. He had 33 points as a 20-year-old rookie, and look for him to improve on that total.
179. Nick Bonino – Nashville Predators – 38 points
Nick Bonino earned a big contract last season but the at the end of the day he only got 37 points on a high-scoring team last year. Admittedly he was a third-line center in Pittsburgh and that meant limited opportunity, but he’s going to be 29 this season and 38 points is basically his plateau mark.
180. Radek Faksa – Dallas Stars – 37 points
Moving into his best years is Radek Faksa in Dallas who should be able to improve on the 33 points he had last season at the age of 22 even though the Stars picked up Hanzal. If Spezza remains in the second-center spot, look for Faksa to move over to right wing on the second line.
181. Michael Grabner – New York Rangers – 37 points
Alain Vigneault doesn’t really love Grabner, who has bounced around the league in recent years. He was one of the best players in the league in even strength goals. He has a terrific amount of speed for a coach who likes to press the play, but Michel Grabner averaged only 14 minutes of ice last season while getting 40 points. He won’t find the ice more this year either with a third line role again, but with his speed and scoring efficiency he should put up similar numbers.
182. Patrick Marleau – Toronto Maple Leafs – 37 points
Much like Giroux, Marleau has seen a decline in his point totals each of the past four seasons, going from 70 point to 48 in that period. Unlike Giroux, he is now 38 years old, and after signing with Toronto will not be set up by one of the best playmakers in NHL history in Joe Thornton. The Maple Leafs will score a lot but what kind of opportunity will he get behind players who are already better than him at this point in their careers? Expect the points decline to continue.
183. Paul Byron – Montreal Canadiens – 37 points
The breakout player on the Habs last season with 22 goals was Paul Byron. He also finished with an impressive 43 points. He’s not expected to repeat those career-high numbers even if he is in the middle of his prime. He’s not exactly high on the depth chart either on the third line. Byron comes back a bit here, mostly due to fewer opportunities than last season with the arrival of Drouin and emergence of Lehkonen.
184. Mikkel Boedker – San Jose Sharks – 37 points
Mikkel Boedker signed a sweet contract with the Sharks last season and then wet the bed. He had only 26 points when so much was expected. You have to think he took things a little more seriously in the offseason. The Sharks glory days are over if recent signings like this don’t start to pan out. He will get another shot on a scoring line and the club will hope the speedster can finish his many opportunities more frequently.
185. Vladislav Nemestnikov – Tampa Bay Lightning – 37 points
All about the depth chart here for the 24 year old. If he gets a chance, he could really jump from the 28 that he had last season, but if he is third on the left side behind Palat and Killorn, then it’s hard to see that big leap that some are predicting and many have been expecting since he was a first-round pick.
186. Aaron Ekblad – Florida Panthers – 36 points
Ekblad had a sharp drop in points last season to only 21, but he’s too good for that number, even if he is behind Keith Yandle on the powerplay depth chart. It’s usually only one defender who is a sure thing but given that Ekblad was a first-overall pick who was exceptional in his rookie season, we are making an exception for Ekblad.
187. Oscar Klefbom – Edmonton Oilers – 36 points
The Oilers were one of the league’s most prolific offences, but it wasn’t because of the defence as the forwards drove the machine. Klefbom led all defencemen with 38 points last season. Look for a similar total this year.
188. Derick Brassard – Ottawa Senators – 36 points
A marked dropoff from 58 to 39 points for Derick Brassard last season. He should stabilize for a season or two before we see a points regression as he turns 30. It’s not pretty when the wheels come off. This season is the “prove it” season for Brassard.
189. Rick Nash – New York Rangers – 36 points
Another player losing the battle with Father Time is Rick Nash. He had only 38 points last season, and he’s now 33. The reason he is in the top 200 is because he’s Rick Nash, and in 14 NHL seasons has never scored less than 36 points.
190. Zach Parise – Minnesota Wild – 36 points
Another player who is basically in the top 200 as a respect pick is Parise. His totals in the last three seasons dropped from 62 to 53 to 42. He’s 33 years of age, once again proving that life does not begin at 30 at the forward position in the NHL.
191. Sven Andrighetto – Colorado Avalanche – 36 points
Instead of continuing to pay respects to aging veterans, let’s close the last ten picks with players that you can get excited about that have their best days in front of them. Sven Andrighetto was traded by the Habs GM Marc Bergevin who just didn’t see how he fit in the lineup. The Avs did for sure and he went on quite a roll. In only 19 games with the Avs last season, Andrighetto managed 15 points. Nothing much went right for the Colorado last season, but dealing Andreas Martinsen for the talented Swiss winger was a win.
192. Brock Boeser – Vancouver Canucks – 36 points
Not much went right in Vancouver either, but are they ever excited about Brock Boeser. He only played nine games coming out of the University of North Dakota yet he scored four goals. They think he could be their first-line right winger perhaps as soon as this season. He better be because Loui Eriksson is not the answer.
193. Anton Slepyshev – Edmonton Oilers – 36 points
How could a player who had ten points last season boost his total to 36 points? Here’s how it shakes down in Edmonton. The Oilers are weak on the right side. It’s one of the reasons that Leon Draisaitl plays with Connor McDavid. However, we all know that eventually these shenanigans have to end and the Oilers will learn that to win the game you win the middle. Draisaitl then moves to the center position and who is playing first line right wing with McDavid? Yes., it could well be Slepyshev.
194. Evgeny Dadonov – Florida Panthers – 36 points
This type of signing always looks so exciting on paper and YouTube. We’ll see. The Panthers are excited at least. Evgeny Dadonov had 66 points in 53 games last season in the KHL. A 28-year-old Russian who had only had one partiicularly strong season in the KHL? We will see.
195. Nico Hischier – New Jersey Devils – 36 points
This is a tough pick in August, but thankfully in October you’ll have better idea on whether Nico Hischier can cut it at the NHL level already. Last season, there were locks like Matthews and Laine. This season isn’t as clear as all that. Listed here at 195 is more as a reminder to check when your pool is picking how ready this player looks.
196. Nolan Patrick – Philadelphia Flyers – 36 points
The same script for the second pick overall in last year’s draft Nolan Patrick. Pay attention to how it is shaking out in Philadelphia during camp. Based on what he did as a 16-year-old though in leading the WHL in playoff scoring as Brandon advanced to the Memorial Cup, if he’s fully recovered from hernia surgery he may produce in the NHL as a rookie.
197. Matt Barzal – New York Islanders – 36 points
Another one to keep an eye out for at camp. He’s actually from the 2015 draft year, so he may have a better shot than Hischier or Patrick of playing a regular role. Barzal had a tremendous season in Seattle leading the T-Birds to the Memorial Cup tourney before falling short. Barzal started the year in Brooklyn last season before being sent back to junior. He was one of Canada’s best at the WJC in Montreal and Toronto last year. The skills are there to help the Islanders offensively sooner rather than later.
198. Tyson Jost – Colorado Avalanche – 36 points
The tenth pick in the 2016 draft also got a taste of the pros last season, playing six games and scoring his first NHL goal. He is a player that racked up points point at every lower level. He had big numbers in Penticton in tier two, then went to UND and managed a point per game there too. He’s 19 now and could be ready to break into the league. Check his camp in October to see how he is faring.
199. Pavel Buchnevich – New York Rangers – 36 points
Pavel Buchnevich is the skilled forward that the Rangers put in halfway through their series against the Habs last year when Alain Vigneault wanted to change the profile of his team and put in some more talent because the Habs were winning the skill game. Buchnevich made a difference. He had 20 points in 41 games last season and one could project that to a 40-point total and feel pretty safe about their pool pick at 199th overall.
200. Josh Ho-Sang – New York Islanders – 36 points
Constantly cited for a bad attitude, Ho-Sang dropped to a late first round pick in 2014 despite his puck skills and talent. His first chance at the NHL last season, he made the most of it. Ho-Sang played in 21 games and had 10 points, so he has already shown that he can produce at the NHL level. Check to see whether he is playing in the Islanders’ top six in training camp.
From 150 to 250 in the NHL there are so few points difference. It’s really about not making a mistake of taking an aging veteran who is done, or getting too excited about a break out hope that isn’t ready to play every night. Make sure you get your 40 points from a pick taken 150 to 250. It’s best if that player has upside, but that’s not always easy. Just make sure that he doesn’t have down side… as in not see the ice much because off too soon for a young gun, or too late for an over the hill. Good luck because you don’t win these without some of that either.