Fantasy Hockey: Early look at top-12 rankings for 2022-23 season

By Evan Berofsky, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

The NHL regular season is coming to a close and the postseason boasts some exciting matchups. Your fantasy hockey season is either finished or you're about to reap the rewards of a successful run.

Playoff pools may fill the void in the next couple of months, but it's not too early to look ahead to 2022-23. Here are next season's top-12 fantasy players based on Yahoo standard leagues and categories — goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, hits, shots, wins, shutouts, GAA and SV%.

You may disagree where a couple players are placed, but that's the fun of compiling a list of high-level performers well before October.

(Stats as of April 28.)

1. Connor McDavid, C, EDM

Surprise! OK, maybe not.

McDavid is going to win his fourth scoring title and leads the league in power-play points while ranking fourth in shots. The two-time Hart Trophy winner benefited from Edmonton's more stable D to register a plus-27 and has even dished out a career-high 75 hits. There's no question McDavid is the NHL's best pure offensive producer, and that's probably not going to change anytime soon.

2. Auston Matthews, C, TOR

Matthews became only the third player this century — and first in 10 years — to reach the 60-goal plateau and is the betting favorite for MVP, yet still can't crack the top spot. Even though he missed a couple games, he's first in shots with 348 and has racked up 48 assists and 29 PPPs. Connor McDavid will continue to be the consensus No. 1 selection, but Matthews may be preferred based on his ridiculous goal output.

Auston Matthews #34 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is a fantasy star
Only Connor McDavid stands in Auston Matthews' way of being the No. 1 fantasy pick. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

3. Leon Draisaitl, C/LW, EDM

Three consecutive full seasons with triple-digit scoring is amazing on its own, especially in 2019-20 when Draisaitl was the only NHLer to do so. Having an other-dimensional entity like Connor McDavid as a teammate also helps, though the German star has proven he can also control a game while firing 275 pucks on net. The duo sometimes join forces at even-strength, but they're both prominent on the Oilers' third-ranked power play where Draisaitl has registered 41 points.

4. Nathan MacKinnon, C, COL

Injuries have slightly slowed MacKinnon in recent years, but that hasn't stopped him from posting excellent numbers. In 64 games this year, he recorded 32 goals, 56 assists and a plus-24. And had MacKinnon not missed any action, he'd probably sit second behind Auston Matthews in total shots considering he's at 290. He could end up missing more time next season, yet his elite skills easily get him in the top five.

5. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, FLA

Huberdeau's 115 points might come as a shock to some, though he managed 92 in 2018-19 and has exceeded a point-per-game since. The impressive thing is that he accomplished his latest stats mainly separated from Aleksander Barkov at five-on-five. Huberdeau's 222 shots, 38 PPPs and plus-35 place him in the upper tier of fantasy players, but not enough to go higher on this list if we assume everyone is healthy.

6. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA

It was tempting to put Barkov above Huberdeau with what the center could have done if he hadn't missed a month, but that probably couldn't be justified with the latter's latest performance. Barkov still produced 39 goals, 49 assists, 26 PPPs, 214 shots and a plus-36 in 67 games while continuing to feature for Florida in all situations. If he can maintain his blistering offensive run in the playoffs, expect him to post plenty of points next season.

7. Kirill Kaprizov, LW/RW, MIN

Kaprizov built upon his stellar rookie campaign by going off for 105 points, 284 shots and 30 PPPs. The sophomore jinx didn't come anywhere near him and the Wild played their part having significantly improved in both goals scored and power-play proficiency. Kaprizov excelled in the KHL before his time in Minnesota, so let's project more of the same.

8. Alex Ovechkin, LW, WAS

As long as Wayne Gretzky's all-time goal mark is in sight, Ovechkin will be motivated. And that was the case this year with another 50 tallies, leaving him only 114 short of the record. The 36-year-old also isn't holding back in other categories, accumulating 334 shots and 155 hits. Ovi's lethal as always on the man-advantage and skates more than 20 minutes a game. The same production and involvement should continue for at least the next couple of years.

9. Mikko Rantanen, C/RW, COL

There was a lot of hype after Rantanen was drafted by Colorado in 2015, so it probably wasn't a surprise it only took him a year to begin his reign as a fantasy god. Four seasons and 369 points later and nothing has changed. Getting to line up with Nathan MacKinnon doesn't hurt, as shown in both of their offensive totals. The two are in their mid-20s, so Rantanen's scoring will keep flowing.

10. Cale Makar, D, COL

I'd almost argue for Makar a spot or two higher, and I don't see a problem if you draft him at No. 5. No disrespect to either Roman Josi or Adam Fox, but Makar is definitely the blueliner you're looking for. And it's not because two of his teammates have already been mentioned. Just look at those 85 points, including 38 on the power play. Throw in 235 shots, 94 hits and a plus-49 and Makar's an almost perfect defenseman who hasn't hit his peak.

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11. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR

Andrei Vasilevskiy had been the default first-round netminder the last few years, though he's stumbled a bit lately. As such, the honor transfers to Shesterkin after he assembled 36 wins to go with a 2.07 GAA and .935 SV% — both tops in the league for qualified goalies. He's primed to take his first Vezina in only his second full NHL campaign and will be given every chance to maintain those elite numbers.

12. Mitch Marner, RW, TOR

Believe me, I debated between a few players before opting for Marner with the final pick. Others may have posted better point totals, but he hangs around this guy named Auston Matthews, whom I hear is pretty good.

Even having lost nine games due to injury, Marner managed to record 35 goals, 62 assists, 25 PPPs and 224 shots. It's kinda scary to think the dynamic duo will both be 25 next season and could keep dominating defenses for a long time.

(Honorable mention: Johnny Gaudreau, LW/RW, CGY; Sidney Crosby, C, PIT; Matthew Tkachuk, LW/RW; CGY, Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR; Roman Josi, D, NSH; Sebastian Aho, C, CAR; J.T. Miller, C/LW, VAN)