Commentary

Playoffs boost David Krejci's stock

Updated: June 30, 2011, 4:45 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

It's about as exciting a time as exists in the NHL. The fallout from the weekend of drafting and trading is just beginning to settle, but the annual flurry of free-agent signings won't allow any calm to remain for long. But that discussion will be for another week.

So much has happened since we last checked in here that I will have trouble enough going over it all without worrying about the unrestricted free-agent class. The Stanley Cup playoffs helped identify some possible heroes for the next fantasy season; the NHL entry draft had its fair share of talent that could step into the league; and the trading that goes along with the draft was even more out of hand than usual.

The Philadelphia Flyers surprised us the most, taking two career Flyers who are consistently top-20 fantasy hockey talents and shipping them out. The Flyers actually managed quite impressively when you look at the big picture. They did get quite a bit of quality in return for Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who should help them in the short and long term. The Los Angeles Kings (Richards) and Columbus Blue Jackets (Carter) are also better off from trades, making this a rare instance in which it seems to have been a win-win-win situation.

The NHL playoffs belonged to the goaltenders, with less offense being displayed than in past years. Still, some of the key cogs for the teams that made it to the conference finals showed their quality and have upped their draft stocks for next season.

The draft was rife with talent and the top three picks should get a fair chance to begin their NHL careers as early as this fall. As we saw last season with the Carolina Hurricanes' Jeff Skinner, top rookies don't need to be top-five picks in the draft. The first round is always full of talent; it's just a matter of guessing opportunity.

The preliminary ranking provided of the top 100 will leave a lot to be desired. With months to go before the season, how are we to guess what condition Sidney Crosby might be in when training camp opens? The free-agent class may not have a lot of big names after Brad Richards, but there is a lot of top-six talent in the group that, while it may not be comprised of fantasy stars, will have an effect on others depending on where they sign. Bottom line: Expect a more finalized version of the top 100 as the offseason rolls along.

Top 100 Forwards

Note: Sean Allen's top 100 forwards are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice. April's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pit (2)
2. Daniel Sedin, Van (6)
3. Alex Ovechkin, Was (1)
4. Steven Stamkos, TB (4)
5. Henrik Sedin, Van (5)
6. Corey Perry, Ana (27)
7. Anze Kopitar, LA (24)
8. Brad Richards, FA (22)
9. Pavel Datsyuk, Det (11)
10. Jonathan Toews, Chi (23)
11. Zach Parise, NJ (9)
12. Martin St. Louis, TB (30)
13. Evgeni Malkin, Pit (10)
14. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ (12)
15. Bobby Ryan, Ana (31)
16. Jarome Iginla, Cgy (17)
17. Mike Richards, LA (20)
18. Ryan Kesler, Van (34)
19. Jeff Carter, Cls (14)
20. Nicklas Backstrom, Was (3)
21. David Backes, StL (83)
22. Eric Staal, Car (13)
23. Henrik Zetterberg, Det (29)
24. Dany Heatley, SJ (7)
25. Alexander Semin, Was (8)
26. Rick Nash, Cls (15)
27. Patrick Marleau, SJ (21)
28. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (25)
29. Claude Giroux, Phi (78)
30. Johan Franzen, Det (26)
31. Nathan Horton, Bos (28)
32. Danny Briere, Phi (55)
33. Milan Lucic, Bos (56)
34. Joe Thornton, SJ (19)
35. Patrick Kane, Chi (16)
36. Logan Couture, SJ (NR)
37. Andy McDonald, StL (NR)
38. Marian Hossa, Chi (35)
39. David Krejci, Bos (70)
40. Tomas Plekanec, Mon (36)
41. Mikko Koivu, Min (46)
42. Chris Stewart, StL (37)
43. Patrick Sharp, Chi (49)
44. Jaromir Jagr, FA (NR)
45. John Tavares, NYI (38)
46. Vincent Lecavalier, TB (61)
47. Thomas Vanek, Buf (65)
48. Phil Kessel, Tor (40)
49. Derek Roy, Buf (66)
50. Alex Burrows, Van (45)
51. Andrew Ladd, Wpg (NR)
52. Jeff Skinner, Car (NR)
53. Devin Setoguchi, Min (93)
54. Scott Hartnell, Phi (57)
55. Drew Stafford, Buf (NR)
56. Matt Duchene, Col (59)
57. Marian Gaborik, NYR (18)
58. Jason Spezza, Ott (50)
59. Dustin Penner, LA (53)
60. Martin Havlat, Min (NR)
61. Shane Doan, Pho (84)
62. James Neal, Pit (NR)
63. Gabriel Landeskog, Col (NR)
64. Mike Cammalleri, Mon (42)
65. Paul Stastny, Col (33)
66. Brad Boyes, Buf (NR)
67. Dustin Brown, LA (NR)
68. Patrik Elias, NJ (44)
69. Michael Grabner, NYI (NR)
70. Loui Eriksson, Dal (52)
71. Patric Hornqvist, Nsh (58)
72. Alex Tanguay, Cgy (47)
73. Patrice Bergeron, Bos (NR)
74. Mike Ribeiro, Dal (NR)
75. Travis Zajac, NJ (41)
76. Ryane Clowe, SJ (NR)
77. Justin Williams, LA (NR)
78. Teddy Purcell, TB (NR)
79. Mikael Samuelsson, Van (80)
80. Jordan Eberle, Edm (63)
81. R.J. Umberger, Cls (NR)
82. Brandon Dubinsky, NYR (NR)
83. Joe Pavelski, SJ (NR)
84. Taylor Hall, Edm (90)
85. Nikolai Kulemin, Tor (NR)
86. Stephen Weiss, Fla (68)
87. Teemu Selanne, FA (NR)
88. Ales Hemsky, Edm (54)
89. Brenden Morrow, Dal (74)
90. Derick Brassard, Cls (48)
91. Dave Bolland, Chi (97)
92. Ray Whitney, Pho (NR)
93. Shawn Horcoff, Edm (NR)
94. Steve Downie, TB (94)
95. Blake Wheeler, Wpg (NR)
96. Chris Kunitz, Pit (96)
97. Brian Gionta, Mon (85)
98. Antoine Vermette, Cls (NR)
99. Patrik Berglund, StL (NR)
100. Tyler Seguin, Bos (NR)

Playoff Heroes

David Krejci, Boston Bruins: Although a fantasy favorite for a while, few would have pegged Krejci to be the points leader for the Stanley Cup playoffs. But that he was, with 23 points in 23 games, including a league-leading 12 goals. Considering his regular season was less than stellar, his postseason performance should go a long way toward helping his fantasy stock. There are fewer question marks about who the top line will be for the Bruins entering this season; Marc Savard is not a factor and Patrice Bergeron has cemented a connection with Brad Marchand. The entire top line for the Bruins -- of Krejci, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic -- is slotted into the 30s for these rankings. Those players' collective chemistry only gets better with time.

Teddy Purcell, Tampa Bay Lightning: If there is one player who was a bubble fantasy asset who changed people's minds with his postseason, it has to be Purcell. Even though he had a scorching second half to the season, he still wasn't considered a must-own player. But when Steven Stamkos disappeared in the playoffs, Purcell was there with Vincent Lecavalier to take over scoring duties. With 17 points in 18 games, Purcell showed a talent level that would exceed his 51 points from the 2010-11 season. He's been bumped to No. 78 in the rankings.

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks: Couture basically extended his dominant rookie season right through the first three rounds of the playoffs, and didn't miss a beat while doing it. Even though the aforementioned Skinner walked away with the Calder Trophy, Couture's debut was just as good. The team shipped out Devin Setoguchi to permanently clear Couture's position in the top six. Since he didn't come out of the gate hot last season and still scored 30 goals, hoping for him to approach 40 goals this season is not out of the question. Couture certainly possesses the talent and will have the linemates necessary to score with aplomb.

Changing Sweaters

Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings: Richards gives the Kings a legit two-way centerman that will complement and push forward the play of star Anze Kopitar. Rather than wait for Brayden Schenn to develop into that player, the Kings essentially traded a pick and Wayne Simmonds to get that player now. If the Kings decide to push Richards or Kopitar to the wing to pair them up, so be it, but that doesn't have to happen for everyone's stats to get better in this situation. Richards offers a secondary threat the level of which has not existed behind Kopitar during his tenure in the NHL. With Dustin Penner, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams and Andrei Loktionov to throw at them, this top six fills out quite easily. This could be what finally pushes Kopitar up to the 90-point threshold (or beyond). Richards numbers will remain consistent, and maybe even get a boost, on a more defensively sound team such as the Kings.

Jeff Carter, Columbus Blue Jackets: As the Kings received from the Flyers what they needed to complement their star player, so did the Blue Jackets. Carter and Rick Nash will undoubtedly be the duo that fires the most shots in the NHL next season. Both players are still top-30 picks, though Carter slips a bit due to the overall supporting cast. What will be the most interesting thing to watch is who gets slipped into the wing spot alongside Carter and Nash. With all the shots and goals those two will get, it may be hard for whoever that player is not to get 50 assists. Kristian Huselius isn't the playmaker who should be in such a position; Antoine Vermette doesn't quite fit the profile, either. In fact, the Blue Jackets may still seek an additional playmaker to complete this top line before the season begins.

Jaromir Jagr, Free Agent: Most likely to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins at this point, Jagr is looking to return to the NHL after a three-year stint with Avangard Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League. He was no slouch in his three seasons, scoring 145 points in 155 games. The key here is where Jagr signs. The Penguins are such a perfect fit, it is hard to see that not happening. He would instantly be the most talented winger Crosby or Evgeni Malkin has ever worked with and could draft off them on his way back into fantasy stardom. A Jagr with a slower step is still a Jagr. Because I am sure he will sign with the Penguins, he is slotted in at No. 44 in the rankings as a starting point.

Devin Setoguchi, Minnesota Wild: While the Sharks were a good place for Setoguchi to start his career, the top six is starting to get a little crowded there. This move to the Wild is great for his potential. While he isn't quite on the same level as Joe Thornton, Mikko Koivu is an elite playmaker of the same ilk. Setoguchi immediately slots in on the top line with Koivu, and a return to 30 goals is basically a foregone conclusion here. Setoguchi gets a preliminary ranking of 53rd. That could improve if the Wild find a way to further improve their squad.

Nikita Filatov, Ottawa Senators: One of the more talented pure-offensive players to come along in a few years finally gets to hit the reset button after three mercurial seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Filatov is a wizard with the puck, but defensive lapses led to a lack of opportunity and ice time. The Senators are as good a place as any to try to start over. The team lacks offensive stars but has a burgeoning, young defensive core that can help make up for some of Filatov's inevitable mistakes. I know I've been guilty of thinking this kid was going to have a solid year in each of the past three seasons, but I'm saying it again regardless. He is top-line material with this team, given the current depth chart.

Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds and Brayden Schenn, Philadelphia Flyers: As talented as Richards and Carter are, the Flyers got a great return on them in trade. Voracek, Simmonds and Schenn are likely to be playing for the Flyers' top three lines this season. Simmonds offers an interesting mix of points, penalty minutes and plus/minus that has proven valuable in fantasy hockey in the past. Voracek still hasn't reached his true potential as a 60-to-70-point winger. And Schenn is easily one of the most talented prospects in the game, though his role is likely going to be limited behind Claude Giroux and Danny Briere at center. None of these players made the top 100 forwards ranks, but all would have made the top 120.

Smyth, Edmonton Oilers: Smyth is likely reserved to a "veteran presence" role on the third line for the Oilers this season. You should anticipate that his best fantasy days are well behind him now. It's hard to envision the team giving Smyth the extra ice time over developing players such as Magnus Paajarvi, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle or Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

Help Has Arrived

Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche: He is the complete package of offense, defense and grit and he is more than NHL-ready. Landeskog is basically a lock to start the season with the Avalanche, probably on the top line with either Matt Duchene or Paul Stastny. As much as the Avs stripped the team last season at the trade deadline, they are still packing a decent top six. Milan Hejduk signed up for another season, and Peter Mueller is hoping to return from a concussion that wiped out his entire 2010-11 season. Landeskog should provide his owners with stats in every category save for plus/minus (unless the Avs hurry up and sign Tomas Vokoun). Ranking him 63rd may be a bit aggressive, but Landeskog has the talent and the opportunity.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers don't need Nugent-Hopkins in the NHL, but it is probably best for his development to start getting challenged at the NHL level now. He has nothing left to prove in juniors. Still, the Oilers are bursting with young, developing talent, and this may be a case of having too many young cooks in the kitchen. If he does stick in the NHL this season, Nugent-Hopkins won't have the ice time or responsibility Landeskog will. Look for a Tyler Seguin- or Taylor Hall-type season from 2010-11 out of Nugent-Hopkins for next season.

Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers: Landeskog has the talent and opportunity. Nugent-Hopkins has the talent but not the opportunity. Huberdeau has the opportunity but not the talent. That is not strictly true, as Huberdeau boasts loads of talent and will be a star for the Panthers down the road. But for the sake of the sentence flow there, talent also means how NHL-ready that talent is. Huberdeau hasn't filled out his frame and needs to work on his strength with the puck. However, the Panthers may be tempted to rush him into the NHL given the complete lack of star quality on the team. I think he is a year or two away from fantasy stardom, whether he is playing with the Panthers or returned to juniors. He needs a bit more time.

Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators: While his talent may not be jumping off the page as that of Landeskog, Nugent-Hopkins or Huberdeau, Zibanejad has an opportunity to break camp with the Senators and be this season's Skinner-type surprise rookie. The Sens lack an established top six, and Zibanejad is likely only behind Jason Spezza on the team's entire depth chart at center.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Hockey Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him here.

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

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