Fantasy Hockey: Chicago Blackhawks’ Kane Top-Ranked For July

Dec 10, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane (88) celebrates after scoring during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 10, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right winger Patrick Kane (88) celebrates after scoring during the third period against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Chicago Blackhawks winger is dominating the fantasy hockey scene

I’m not sure how many Blackhawk Up readers are into fantasy hockey. It’s a fun thing to be part of with fellow hockey fans, trying to outwit your opponents with picking the right guys to start and making crafty trades. (True story: Two seasons ago, I got a friend to trade me Vladimir Tarasenko for Ryan Callahan and Ondrej Palat. I may have lost every other trade we made that year, but I sure as hell won that one.)

Anyway, Yahoo! Sports released its July fantasy hockey ratings this week. It’s likely these won’t change too much prior to late September and early October, when fantasy buffs actually start drafting. So it gives us a pretty good idea of how the NHL’s best are valued from a fantasy standpoint, at least by one outlet.

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You can see the top-200 list here, but the biggest thing is who’s at the top of the list: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane. The reigning Hart Trophy, Art Ross Trophy and Ted Lindsay Award winner was rated above Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Dallas’ Jamie Benn and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson.

It’s not surprising Kane is at the top of this list. While he didn’t crack first place in my recent forwards power poll (and I’m not changing it because of this new list), there’s no doubting he should be considered the best potential fantasy player of 2016-17.

In standard leagues, Yahoo! uses goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, powerplay points and shots on goal as scored stats for skaters. Kane led the league in points last season with 106, and he contributed really impressive numbers in all the other above categories.

Fantasy hockey can be extremely fickle, as you typically have to set a daily lineup and contend with the game-to-game flux in a player’s game. But Kane was very consistent last season, and it’s likely he’ll be a top overall pick in more drafts than not this upcoming season.

I’m actually surprised Ovechkin is not second on this list. The guy led the league last season in goals (50), powerplay goals (19) and shots on goal (398). He’s essentially guaranteed to have a big fantasy night every time out, unless he leaves a game early or posts a minus-5 rating. Of course, Crosby is no pushover, but Ovechkin is dominant in so many statistical categories.

Other Blackhawks on this top-200 fantasy list are Artemi Panarin (25), Corey Crawford (41), Jonathan Toews (66), Duncan Keith (72), Brent Seabrook (106), Marian Hossa (127) and Brian Campbell (196).

As I tend to believe in any list involving active NHL goaltenders, I think Crawford is ranked too low here. He’s the fifth-ranked goaltender, behind Braden Holtby, Ben Bishop, Carey Price and Martin Jones. I have no idea why Jones is ranked as highly as he is (36). He had a fine first season as a full-time start in San Jose last year, but there’s very little chance he outproduces Crow in fantasy-important stats.

Jones started 65 games last season for San Jose, which is a solid total. Crow started 58 — while missing about a month of the season. Start volume alone, which we should expect to see on a similar pace for both guys this season, aids Crow’s fantasy value and pushes it past that of Jones. Goaltender fantasy categories, in a standard Yahoo! league, are wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.

Oh, and Crow led the league last season in shutouts — again, while missing half the season. He plays for a team that has shown a propensity to win, and win a lot, in recent seasons. Being in the top-five goaltenders of this list is a deserved push up for Crow, but he still deserves better.

Panarin’s placement on this list seems fair, and he could potentially be even higher. While Toews’ spot seems low, you have to remember a lot of the great things he brings to the Blackhawks are things that won’t show up in a fantasy scoresheet. Not to mention the uncertainty surrounding Toews’ linemates, a constant issue of late.

Next: Blackhawks Future Friday: Lars Johansson

Keith could probably be ranked a little higher, but is fine considering he’s a defenseman. Seabrook is in a fair position. I think Hossa might wind up being a little too high on these rankings if Joel Quenneville opts to use him in a third-line role next season, although he could certainly turn into a bum-slayer in that spot. Campbell’s addition on the end of this list also makes sense.

If you want to get ahead of the game before the next fantasy hockey season, this list could help you a bit. Just know one thing: You don’t want to draft David Backes. He’s the worst.