Fantasy hockey rankings: How the schedule benefits Hurricanes, Flyers

Rafael Harvey-Pinard completes 2nd-period hat trick for Canadiens (0:51)

Rafael Harvey-Pinard completes 2nd-period hat trick for Canadiens (0:51)

My apologies to Mr. McDavid.

You may have briefly noticed a rest-of-season rankings on Monday that triumphantly stated Nathan MacKinnon finally wrestled the No. 1 spot away from Connor McDavid for the first time in these fantasy rankings. My bad. That's what I get for putting a blemish on another perfect feat in this season for the ages from the Oilers superstar, who last night became the first player to score 140 points in a season since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr both did it in 1995-96, and the first time an Oiler has crossed that threshold since Wayne Gretzky in 1987-88.

My logic was sound, don't get me wrong. On Monday, based on the rest of the season (the entire premise for these rankings, I remind you), MacKinnon had more remaining value than McDavid. More games made up for the gap in their per-game projected value.

But I forgot one of the fantasy lessons we learned from the cascade of COVID-19 cancellations of the past couple seasons: You can't tack on cancelled and rescheduled games to the fantasy championship. This season, a water-main burst in Nashville and a devastating snow storm in Buffalo that trapped the Sabres left us with two such games on April 14 that take place after your fantasy hockey league will be decided. The Avalanche are in that game in Nashville and I included those post-schedule contests in the calculations that pushed MacKinnon past McDavid.

I should have known nothing can stop Connor this season. When removing even just the one game from the Avs, McDavid projects to the top again. So he never should have fallen from his lofty post to begin with.

So, in the interest of getting this right, I've redone the final rest-of-season rankings, this time as of Tuesday, March 28, which meant also removing the six Monday, March 28 games from the projections. That means quite a few changes up and down the rankings.

I will also offer a re-do of the remaining schedule chart that accounts for only the games from Tuesday, March 28, to Wednesday, April 14, which will encompass the remainder of the fantasy hockey championship here at ESPN.com.

This is a look at the goals against per 60 of the opponents of each team for the rest of the schedule again. I've posted this chart a few times over the past couple of weeks, but it changes and updates as the goals against per 60 of teams change (or as I, ahem, correct the schedule).

With only seven to 10 games remaining, the strength of schedule is having a larger impact on the rankings, as there is no time left for ebbs and flows. You'll see Flyers and Hurricanes players rising, while Islanders and Canadiens players are falling in the rankings.

Of course, in a game as chaotic as hockey, we can and will see defiance of these expected outcomes. But even still: pay attention to this schedule as you set your lineup for the final two scoring periods. Anders Lee has been reliable in Long Island this season, but does Owen Tippett (23.5% rostered) or Teuvo Teravainen (59.8%) offer your team a better chance to put up points in the final weeks?

The opposite concern of this, which is a bigger consideration in season-long formats, is how close you are getting to your games-played maximums. You will see "View Game Maximums" in the bottom left corner of your "My Team" page. This will show you if any of your roster positions will become dead space as the end of the season approaches. If you go over the maximum at any point, the rest of the starts from that position will not count.

But this will also tell you if you are lagging behind the potential maximum in any position. In that case, you can make the decision to attempt to squeeze out some additional starts.

Forward notes

Martin Necas, C/W, Carolina Hurricanes (up 68 spots to No. 28): The injuries to the top six have left the Canes leaning on Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen and Necas as a top line of late. Whether Teravainen stays there or not, the absence of Andrei Svechnikov secures Necas as Aho's winger for the stretch run. Necas has seven points in seven games since Svechnikov bowed out on the season.

Nikita Kucherov, W, Tampa Bay Lightning (down 16 spots to No. 35): With the fewest remaining games and worst schedule when it comes to opponent goals against per 60, the Lightning probably won't be difference-makers in the final two weeks.

Rafael Harvey-Pinard, W, Montreal Canadiens (up 63 spots to No. 75): The Habs, relative to the Habs, are getting a touch healthier with the return of Kirby Dach and Brendan Gallagher. Harvey-Pinard had a hot start to his run with the Canadiens, but has been in the doldrums for a while. That said, the Canadiens have stuck with him as a spark plug next to Nick Suzuki and the returning bodies are boosting the top six. The hat trick on Saturday shows just how solid he can be.

Tyson Foerster, W, Philadelphia Flyers (enters top 250 at No. 113): The Flyers are pushing to the finish line to set up their 2023-24 season and have the best schedule for offense remaining in the fantasy game. Part of that is getting Foerster some serious reps with the big club. Since being called up, he has seven points in eight games. He's also getting top power-play time with Owen Tippett.

Brad Marchand, W, Boston Bruins (down 66 spots to No. 142): With their position in the standings all locked up, we will start to see more games like the one on Sunday in which Patrice Bergeron, Hampus Lindholm and Marchand sat out. The Stanley Cup playoffs matter more than regular-season records, so don't be surprised to see some "maintenance" days ahead for some Bruins.

Eeli Tolvanen, W, Seattle Kraken (up 75 spots to No. 125): They are the only team with seven games in the last scoring period of the season. When you set your final lineup of the season in weekly leagues, don't just look at Tolvanen, but consider Yanni Gourde, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Daniel Sprong or even Brandon Tanev, depending on your league's depth.

Defense notes

John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals (up 152 spots to No. 26): Back to his old tricks as one of the premier offensive defensemen in the league, Carlson returned to the Caps on Thursday, picked up three points (all on the power play) in three games and fired 10 shots on goal. Sorry, Rasmus Sandin, but your run on the blue line is over for now.

Mattias Ekholm, D, Edmonton Oilers (up 59 spots to No. 179): A spirited new member of the Oilers, Ekholm ranks 27th among defensemen in fantasy points in the past month, which is a fair improvement since he wasn't fantasy relevant prior to the trade. He's not getting power-play time or anything special; this is just what happens when an above-average defender settles in on an offense-first team.

Filip Hronek, D, Vancouver Canucks (up 35 spots to No. 209): Finally making his Canucks debut, Hronek was spotted patrolling the blue line on the advantage along with Quinn Hughes. The Red Wings rarely deployed a two-defenseman advantage, so this is a good spot if Hronek can hold it down for the last two weeks. The Canucks offense, especially at the top of the lineup, is not among their problems.

Goaltender notes

Jake Oettinger, G, Dallas Stars (up three spots No. 14): Despite some of Oettinger's weaker performances of the season all coming lately (fatigue in his first run as starter?), the Stars remain a good place to bank on goaltending for the remainder thanks to the schedule. They have the second-lowest average opponents' goals for per 60 in their remaining nine games. The Stars are also in a spot in the standings so that most of those remaining nine games will really matter for their playoff position.

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning (down 20 spots to No. 38): As alluded to already, the Bolts have a rough schedule, but it's not just about their opponent goals against per 60, but also their opponent goals for per 60. Vasilevskiy should still be in lineups, of course, but success is not going to be easy. There is also a chance the Lightning get into a spot in the standings within the next 10 days that they can't catch the Maple Leafs, but also can't be caught by the Panthers -- in which case we could get a dose of Brian Elliott to run out the season.

ESPN fantasy NHL top-250 rankings

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edm (F1)
2. Auston Matthews, C, Tor (F2)
3. Leon Draisaitl, LW, Edm (F3)
4. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Col (F4)
5. David Pastrnak, RW, Bos (F5)
6. Elias Pettersson, C, Van (F6)
7. Cale Makar, D, Col (D1)
8. Alexandar Georgiev, G, Col (G1)
9. Mitchell Marner, RW, Tor (F7)
10. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Fla (F8)
11. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR (F9)
12. Jason Robertson, LW, Dal (F10)
13. J.T. Miller, C, Van (F11)
14. Jake Oettinger, G, Dal (G2)
15. Moritz Seider, D, Det (D2)
16. Tim Stutzle, LW, Ott (F12)
17. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Wsh (F13)
18. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Col (F14)
19. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G3)
20. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (D3)
21. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Wpg (G4)
22. Sidney Crosby, C, Pit (F15)
23. Linus Ullmark, G, Bos (G5)
24. Roope Hintz, C, Dal (F16)
25. Jack Eichel, C, Vgk (F17)
26. John Carlson, D, Wsh (D4)
27. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G6)
28. Martin Necas, C, Car (F18)
29. John Tavares, C, Tor (F19)
30. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vgk (D5)
31. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D6)
32. Aleksander Barkov, C, Fla (F20)
33. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D7)
34. Kris Letang, D, Pit (D8)
35. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB (F21)
36. Tage Thompson, C, Buf (F22)
37. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, StL (F23)
38. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G7)
39. Jake Guentzel, LW, Pit (F24)
40. Anze Kopitar, C, LA (F25)
41. Sebastian Aho, C, Car (F26)
42. Boone Jenner, C, Cls (F27)
43. Filip Gustavsson, G, Min (G8)
44. Jared McCann, LW, Sea (F28)
45. Jack Hughes, C, NJ (F29)
46. Timo Meier, RW, NJ (F30)
47. Dylan Larkin, C, Det (F31)
48. Brayden Point, C, TB (F32)
49. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ott (F33)
50. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edm (F34)
51. Juuse Saros, G, Nsh (G9)
52. William Nylander, RW, Tor (F35)
53. Thatcher Demko, G, Van (G10)
54. Josh Morrissey, D, Wpg (D9)
55. Jordan Kyrou, C, StL (F36)
56. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dal (D10)
57. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pit (F37)
58. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Min (G11)
59. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bos (D11)
60. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D12)
61. Jeremy Swayman, G, Bos (G12)
62. Alex Tuch, RW, Buf (F38)
63. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D13)
64. Brent Burns, D, Car (D14)
65. Shea Theodore, D, Vgk (D15)
66. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buf (D16)
67. Nico Hischier, C, NJ (F39)
68. Mike Matheson, D, Mon (D17)
69. Vince Dunn, D, Sea (D18)
70. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D19)
71. Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR (F40)
72. Adrian Kempe, C, LA (F41)
73. Owen Tippett, RW, Phi (F42)
74. Quinn Hughes, D, Van (D20)
75. Rafael Harvey-Pinard, LW, Mon (F43)
76. Joe Pavelski, RW, Dal (F44)
77. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, LA (F45)
78. Tomas Hertl, C, SJ (F46)
79. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Fla (G13)
80. Steven Stamkos, C, TB (F47)
81. Joonas Korpisalo, G, LA (G14)
82. Brandon Montour, D, Fla (D21)
83. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Col (F48)
84. Vitek Vanecek, G, NJ (G15)
85. Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bos (F49)
86. Darcy Kuemper, G, Wsh (G16)
87. Thomas Chabot, D, Ott (D22)
88. Clayton Keller, C, Ari (F50)
89. Evan Bouchard, D, Edm (D23)
90. Stuart Skinner, G, Edm (G17)
91. Rickard Rakell, C, Pit (F51)
92. Vincent Trocheck, C, NYR (F52)
93. Ilya Samsonov, G, Tor (G18)
94. Darnell Nurse, D, Edm (D24)
95. Jamie Benn, LW, Dal (F53)
96. Rasmus Andersson, D, Cgy (D25)
97. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Car (D26)
98. Carter Verhaeghe, C, Fla (F54)
99. Brayden Schenn, C, StL (F55)
100. Patrice Bergeron, C, Bos (F56)
101. Seth Jones, D, Chi (D27)
102. Morgan Rielly, D, Tor (D28)
103. Logan Couture, C, SJ (F57)
104. Kyle Connor, LW, Wpg (F58)
105. Tristan Jarry, G, Pit (G19)
106. Jason Zucker, LW, Pit (F59)
107. Adam Larsson, D, Sea (D29)
108. Dmitry Orlov, D, Bos (D30)
109. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (F60)
110. Kevin Fiala, C, LA (F61)
111. Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Van (F62)
112. Frederik Andersen, G, Car (G20)
113. Tyson Foerster, RW, Phi (F63)
114. Jake Walman, D, Det (D31)
115. Justin Faulk, D, StL (D32)
116. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Vgk (F64)
117. Mark Scheifele, C, Wpg (F65)
118. Juuso Valimaki, D, Ari (D33)
119. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D34)
120. Jared Spurgeon, D, Min (D35)
121. Claude Giroux, LW, Ott (F66)
122. Hampus Lindholm, D, Bos (D36)
123. Jacob Markstrom, G, Cgy (G21)
124. Tom Wilson, RW, Wsh (F67)
125. Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Sea (F68)
126. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Cgy (F69)
127. Philipp Grubauer, G, Sea (G22)
128. Zach Hyman, LW, Edm (F70)
129. Pavel Dorofeyev, RW, Vgk (F71)
130. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Ott (F72)
131. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Cls (F73)
132. Pheonix Copley, G, LA (0)
133. Jakub Vrana, C, StL (F74)
134. Matt Boldy, LW, Min (F75)
135. David Savard, D, Mon (D37)
136. Andrew Peeke, D, Cls (D38)
137. Jeff Petry, D, Pit (D39)
138. K'Andre Miller, D, NYR (D40)
139. Jesper Bratt, RW, NJ (F76)
140. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Wpg (F77)
141. Dylan Cozens, C, Buf (F78)
142. Brad Marchand, LW, Bos (F79)
143. Sam Reinhart, RW, Fla (F80)
144. Elias Lindholm, RW, Cgy (F81)
145. Kirby Dach, C, Mon (F82)
146. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Min (F83)
147. Dylan Strome, C, Wsh (F84)
148. Devon Toews, D, Col (D41)
149. Tommy Novak, C, Nsh (F85)
150. Patrick Kane, RW, NYR (F86)
151. Colton Parayko, D, StL (D42)
152. Jeff Skinner, LW, Buf (F87)
153. Carter Hart, G, Phi (G23)
154. Dawson Mercer, C, NJ (F88)
155. Evander Kane, LW, Edm (F89)
156. Alec Martinez, D, Vgk (D43)
157. Nick Suzuki, C, Mon (F90)
158. Torey Krug, D, StL (D44)
159. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D45)
160. Jonathan Quick, G, Vgk (G24)
161. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, NYR (F91)
162. Alex Chiasson, RW, Det (F92)
163. Scott Laughton, C, Phi (F93)
164. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D46)
165. Tyson Barrie, D, Nsh (D47)
166. Brayden McNabb, D, Vgk (D48)
167. Drake Batherson, C, Ott (F94)
168. Ryan McDonagh, D, Nsh (D49)
169. Phillip Danault, C, LA (F95)
170. Jake Sanderson, D, Ott (D50)
171. Gabriel Vilardi, C, LA (F96)
172. Pyotr Kochetkov, G, Car (G25)
173. T.J. Oshie, RW, Wsh (F97)
174. Brandon Hagel, LW, TB (F98)
175. Robert Thomas, C, StL (F99)
176. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Min (F100)
177. Philip Tomasino, C, Nsh (F101)
178. Travis Konecny, RW, Phi (F102)
179. Mattias Ekholm, D, Edm (D51)
180. Ivan Barbashev, C, Vgk (F103)
181. Tony DeAngelo, D, Phi (D52)
182. Ryan Hartman, RW, Min (F104)
183. Bo Horvat, C, NYI (F105)
184. Brock Boeser, RW, Van (F106)
185. Alexander Barabanov, LW, SJ (F107)
186. Sam Bennett, LW, Fla (F108)
187. Adam Boqvist, D, Cls (D53)
188. Nick Schmaltz, C, Ari (F109)
189. Morgan Frost, C, Phi (F110)
190. Mikael Backlund, C, Cgy (F111)
191. Joel Farabee, LW, Phi (F112)
192. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Sea (F113)
193. Frank Vatrano, LW, Ana (F114)
194. Sammy Blais, LW, StL (F115)
195. Barrett Hayton, C, Ari (F116)
196. MacKenzie Weegar, D, Cgy (D54)
197. Jake McCabe, D, Tor (D55)
198. David Perron, RW, Det (F117)
199. Ville Husso, G, Det (G26)
200. Mikey Anderson, D, LA (D56)
201. Jamie Oleksiak, D, Sea (D57)
202. Matt Roy, D, LA (D58)
203. Noah Cates, LW, Phi (F118)
204. Travis Sanheim, D, Phi (D59)
205. Neal Pionk, D, Wpg (D60)
206. Brandon Tanev, LW, Sea (F119)
207. Esa Lindell, D, Dal (D61)
208. Matty Beniers, C, Sea (F120)
209. Filip Hronek, D, Van (D62)
210. Brock Nelson, C, NYI (F121)
211. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D63)
212. Tyler Seguin, C, Dal (F122)
213. David Krejci, C, Bos (F123)
214. Noah Hanifin, D, Cgy (D64)
215. Teuvo Teravainen, RW, Car (F124)
216. Martin Fehervary, D, Wsh (D65)
217. Jaccob Slavin, D, Car (D66)
218. Bowen Byram, D, Col (D67)
219. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, NYI (F125)
220. J.T. Compher, RW, Col (F126)
221. Matt Murray, G, Tor (G27)
222. William Karlsson, C, Vgk (F127)
223. Alex Killorn, LW, TB (F128)
224. Anders Lee, LW, NYI (F129)
225. Connor Clifton, D, Bos (D68)
226. Wyatt Johnston, C, Dal (0)
227. Luke Evangelista, RW, Nsh (F130)
228. Samuel Girard, D, Col (D69)
229. Rasmus Sandin, D, Wsh (D70)
230. Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, Wsh (D71)
231. Kirill Marchenko, LW, Cls (F131)
232. Bryan Rust, RW, Pit (F132)
233. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Car (F133)
234. Kasperi Kapanen, RW, StL (F134)
235. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Min (F135)
236. Devon Levi, G, Buf (G28)
237. Ivan Provorov, D, Phi (D72)
238. Nicolas Roy, C, Vgk (F136)
239. Yanni Gourde, LW, Sea (F137)
240. Daniel Sprong, RW, Sea (F138)
241. Sean Couturier, C, Phi (F139)
242. Chandler Stephenson, C, Vgk (F140)
243. Brady Skjei, D, Car (D73)
244. Radko Gudas, D, Fla (D74)
245. Aaron Ekblad, D, Fla (D75)
246. Taylor Raddysh, RW, Chi (0)
247. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Sea (F141)
248. Travis Hamonic, D, Ott (D76)
249. Joel Edmundson, D, Mon (D77)
250. Nazem Kadri, C, Cgy (F142)

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