Yesterday, many Americans were glued to their TV sets or streaming devices watching the first Sunday of the NFL season. For some, professional football is a religion. They wake up, turn on the pregame show, grill up some brats, and most importantly set their fantasy lineups. The NHL is not known for being a mass fantasy sport but it’s widely popular among diehard puckheads. This week the best 2023-24 fantasy player rankings came out and several Golden Knights made the experts’ draft list.
Let’s start with the most desired.
#32 – Jack Eichel
While the championship center is ranked the highest on the Golden Knights he’s far behind some of his contemporaries. Obviously, Connor McDavid is ranked first overall but fourteen other centers were ranked ahead of Eichel. It’s not a knock on the World Champion but a compliment to the structure of the Stanley Cup Golden Knights.
Eichel had his lowest average time on ice in his career last season, as Vegas likes to roll four lines in a balanced attack. Given that, and the fact Eichel has missed substantial time in all but two of his NHL seasons, it’s tough to count on him for more than 70 games and 70 points. –Michael Amato on Sportsnet.ca
#92 – Mark Stone
Let’s be fair, dozens of teams would select Stone before the 92nd pick but in fantasy sports, points are the only figure that matters. The Golden Knights captain can do a little bit of everything, and much better than anyone else. However, he isn’t a scoring winger like David Pastrnak, Matthew Tkachuk, or Mikko Rantanen. Not to mention Stone’s past injury absences will likely scare fantasy GMs from drafting him any higher. If picking pockets were a statistic in fantasy hockey then that’s a different story. In that case, Stone would be selected much higher than 92.
The only thing holding Stone back in fantasy is health. His numbers are always solid but he just misses so much time due to injuries, and the odds of that improving as he’s now 31 seem slim. Don’t reach too high for him. –Amato on Sportsnet.ca
#105 – Alex Pietrangelo
There are many defensemen ranked above Pietrangelo because his fantasy stats get watered down due to Vegas’ defensive balance. That will likely keep fantasy GMs away from spending one of their earlier-round picks on a VGK defender.
A safe and reliable pick, Pietrangelo checks a lot of boxes. He gives you 50-point potential and fills out the shots and blocks columns fairly well. Don’t expect him to wow you in any one area, but there’s nothing wrong with grabbing someone steady and consistent at this point in your draft. –Amato on Sportsnet.ca
#112 – Jonathan Marchessault
It’s surprising that a strict offensive forward like Marchessault couldn’t crack the Top 100. All he does is shoot and score. Plus, he’s a power play fixture. However, fantasy GMs can’t rely on the Conn Smythe winner to be a point-per-game player. His point total has been relatively mediocre for the past few seasons. I always assumed Marchessault was holding back some of his offense for the postseason, happy we got to truly see it.
Marchessault’s playoffs were incredible, but don’t get fooled into drafting him too high. He’s reached 60 points only once in the past five seasons and I’d bet over a long season linemate Ivan Barbashev comes back down to earth. –Amato on Sportsnet.ca
#136 – Chandler Stephenson
Stephenson has been nothing short of extraordinary since his arrival in 2019.
He’s been a consistent point getter for the Golden Knights and takes advantage of playing with Stone. The two have created a successful partnership on the ice and tend to come up with important goals at the right time. Unfortunately, that type of chemistry doesn’t get appreciated on a fantasy hockey lineup.
Stephenson’s numbers last year look good overall, but a lot of that production came while playing with Eichel and Stone. He was a lot quieter in the second half, after Stone got hurt, and he wasn’t deployed on the Golden Knights’ top line in the playoffs. I’m not as high on Stephenson if he isn’t reunited with Eichel and Stone.-Amato on Sportsnet.ca
#139 – Shea Theodore
It’s surprising that Pietrangelo is ranked 34 spots higher than Theodore. At this point in his career, the 28-year-old should be expected to be scoring at a higher pace than his elder defenseman. I believe Theodore will break his career high in goals and top 15 or more in 2023-24. In my opinion, Theodore is a value at pick #139.
It could have been a career year for Theodore in 2022-23, if not for injuries. He scored at a 61-point pace over 55 games and was only 11 blocks away from his career best. You’d like Theodore to shoot and hit more, but it definitely feels like there’s a 60-point season in him if he can stay healthy and put everything together.-Amato on Sportsnet.ca
Overall, there are six Golden Knights that represent the team in the Top 150 fantasy player rankings. It’s possible Eichel, Marchessault, Stephenson, and Theodore are all projected lower than they should be. Either way, that would make for a great season statistically for the reigning champs.