Everyone enters their Fantasy Hockey Draft hoping for the “perfect draft.” If you don’t get the No.1 overall pick and land Connor McDavid, that’s probably out of reach, but you can get close.
Using Yahoo ADP and my 2024 Fantasy Hockey Rankings, I’ve created a list of the most valuable picks in each round. After completing the list, you can almost draft this team from the No.7 spot in a 12-team league.
I drafted each player under the following league guidelines:
- Roster: 2 C, 2 LW, 2 RW, 4 D, 2 G, 4 Bench
- Scoring: G, A, PPP, SOG, +/- (skaters), W, GAA, SV%, SO (goalies)
Let’s take a look at the nearly perfect team:
Round 1: Auston Matthews (TOR – C) | ADP: 7.7
Matthews was a top-3 pick a season ago, but he is dropping behind the Oilers’ duo, David Pastrnak, Nathan Mackinnon and Matthew Tkachuk in drafts this season. Matthews’ 2023 season could be considered underwhelming for a top-3 pick despite still scoring 40 goals with 45 assists (85 points). Matthews shot 12.2 percent, the lowest of his career. He dealt with a hand injury throughout the majority of the season, so it’s reasonable to expect him to return to elite form and challenge Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Pastrnak for the NHL lead in goals again this season.
Matthews has averaged 370 shots per 82 games over the last three seasons and is a career 15.7 percent shooter. If you do the math, Matthews should score 58 goals if he’s fully healthy in 2024, and if he touches 17 or 18 SH% like he did in 2021 and 2022, he could score 65-plus. It doesn’t seem like anyone will be able to challenge McDavid, but Matthews could be fantasy’s No.2 player this season, and he may not cost you a top-5 pick.
Round 2: Alex Ovechkin (WSH – LW) | ADP: 18.0
Ovechkin will be 38 years old when the season starts, but he has shown no signs of slowing down. Over the last two seasons, Ovechkin has scored 92 goals, which is top-5 in the NHL. His assist totals have always lagged behind his goals, but he’s still 23rd in the NHL in points (165) during that stretch. The veteran still has a talented surrounding cast that could push for the playoffs this season, so there’s no reason not to expect him to continue scoring 40-plus goals with close to 40 assists. He’s falling into the middle of the second round but should be going at the Round 1-2 turn.
Round 3: Connor Hellebuyck (WPG – G) | ADP: 31.9
The Jets are going through some changes but still have a talented enough roster to challenge for a playoff spot; at least, that’s what the sportsbooks think. Winnipeg has an implied season point total of 91.5, the ninth-highest in the Western Conference. Given Hellebuyck’s consistently heavy workload, he should have no issues being a 30-plus-win goalie again in 2024. Hellebuyck has led the NHL in games played in three of the last four seasons and is one of the few goalies you can expect to start 60-plus games in this era. After the elite options are off the board, Hellebuyck is a steady and consistent No.1 fantasy option going in the middle of the third round. He allows you to add a couple of elite scorers first while still adding a stabilizing force in the crease.
Round 4: Roman Josi (NSH – D) | ADP: 50.1
Josi is one of the most consistently good fantasy defensemen and is an absolute steal at the back of the fourth/start of the fifth round. Josi should have won the Norris Trophy in 2022, leading all defensemen with 96 points (23G / 73A) and followed it up with 59 points (18G / 41A) in just 67 games last year. While 2023 was underwhelming due to injuries, it was the first time in his career Josi had missed 15 or more games in a season, and he was still ninth among defensemen in points per game. The 33-year-old is always among the defensemen leaders in TOI and SOG, making his year-to-year production remarkably consistent. If he’s healthy throughout the 2024 season, he should approach 290 shots, close to 20 goals and 40-plus assists. He’s an elite No.1 fantasy defenseman that won’t cost you a top-3 round pick.
Round 5: Aleksander Barkov (FLA – C) | ADP: 58.1
Barkov is unquestionably one of the best centres in the NHL, but injuries have been an issue for him over the last two seasons. He missed 18 percent of the games in 2022 and 2023 but is tied with David Pastrnak for 10th in the league in points per game (1.23) during those seasons. He’s averaged 38 goals and 63 assists (101 points) per 82 games during that time and just needs to stay on the ice to be a massive draft-day steal. I’m usually not a fan of picking two centres early since the wing positions are much weaker, but it’s very difficult to pass on Barkov in the fifth round. If you end up loading up on wingers, defensemen and goalies in the first four rounds, Barkov is a strong 1C fantasy option.
Round 6: Miro Heiskanen (DAL – D) | ADP: 69.8
Heiskanen is coming off a career year, having scored 11 goals with 62 assists (73 points) in 79 games. There are no concerns with selecting Heiskanen in the sixth round. He’s one of the best defensemen in the NHL and plays massive minutes on a nightly basis on a good team that improved in the offseason. The Stars will score plenty of goals at 5v5 and on the PP this season, and Heiskanen will factor in on a lot of them, considering he’s on the ice for 42.5 percent of the game. He’s currently being drafted as the No.10 defenseman, but there’s just too much value here in the sixth round and getting him as your No.2 defenseman next to Josi is elite. You could have two double-digit goal-scorers who could rack up 100-plus assists and 500-plus shots together.
Round 7: Johnny Gaudreau (CBJ – LW) | ADP: 81.0
Things went poorly in Columbus last season, and are off to a weird start this year. Just three days before training camp was set to start, their new head coach, Mike Babcock, resigned. Despite a tough season a year ago, Gaudreau still managed to put up 74 points (21G / 53A) in 80 games. Columbus beefed up their blueline in the offseason and will get Zach Werenski back, so Gaudreau’s wretched minus-33 should improve drastically this season. If this summer’s No.3 overall pick, Adam Fantilli, makes the team, that could be another boost for Gaudreau’s bounce-back hopes. Consider last year his floor and select him in the seventh round with confidence that he can be a difference-maker at a very shallow position.
Round 8: John Carlson (WSH – D) | ADP: 92.5
I already talked about John Carlson being a draft-day value, so it should be no surprise that he’s my value pick in the eighth round. He missed over half of last season after taking a slap shot to the head but was his old self once he returned to the lineup late in the season–eight points (1G / 7A) in 10 games. Carlson is seventh among blueliners in points-per-game (0.85) over the last three years and would create a nice mini-stack with Ovechkin. It may be the presence of Rasmus Sandin that has Carlson dropping in drafts, but during his late-season 10-game run, he was still running the top power-play unit in Washington. I have no concerns about selecting Carlson this season, especially if he’s my No.3 defenseman and is picked in the middle of the draft.
Round 9: Jonathan Marchessault (VGK – RW) | ADP: 104.1
Marchessault was another name I mentioned in my first draft values post, and his ADP has dropped nearly a full round since. Marchessault had a strong 2023 regular season but was unbelievable in the playoffs, winning his first Conn Smythe. He had 41 goals and 41 assists (82 points) in 98 games, which extrapolates to 34 goals and 34 assists (68 points) in 82 games. That’s really solid production from someone you only have to rely on to be your No.2 or No.3 RW.
Round 10: Sam Reinhart (FLA – C/RW) | ADP: 119.0
Reinhart has quietly been very productive during his first two seasons in Florida, tying Clayton Keller and Patrick Kane for 35th in the NHL with 149 points (64G / 85A). Keller is going four or five rounds earlier than Reinhart, making the 27-year-old a terrific value pick in the 10th round. Reinhart saw a ton of ice time last year, averaging 19:47 TOI/gm and will continue to be a key factor for the Panthers at 5v5 and on the power play and penalty kill in 2024. His increased usage a year ago saw him set a career-high in SOG, which will help him maintain the 30-plus goal pace we’ve seen from him in the last three seasons. Select Reinhart and pencil in 30-plus goals with 40-plus assists and point-per-game upside. His dual position (C/RW) eligibility is a bonus.
Round 11: Jacob Markstrom (CGY – G) | ADP: 131.3
Dustin Wolf is coming, but the Flames’ crease should still belong to Markstrom in 2023-24. During his first three seasons in Calgary, Markstrom is fourth in the NHL in starts (164), tied for sixth in wins (82), tied for ninth in GAA (2.59), and tied for 20th in SV% (.907). Last season could have been better for Markstrom, and he was the No.4 goalie off the board and being drafted in the third round. Now, falling to the 11th round is a massive overreaction. There’s still plenty of talent in Calgary. Darryl Sutter is gone, and the Vegas Sportsbooks still think this is an above-average team. They have an implied point total of 94.5, the seventh-highest in the Western Conference. Getting Markstrom as your No.2 fantasy option allows you to be more selective with his matchups (avoiding teams like Edmonton) and gives you a workhorse with plenty of bounce-back appeal.
Round 12: Shea Theodore (VGK – D) | ADP: 143.1
Theodore’s ADP has remained steady since I wrote him up as a value pick last week. Theodore had a great run during the 2023 Playoffs, posting 13 points (1G / 12A) in 21 games and will look to build off that in 2024. Injuries limited him to 55 games last regular season, but if you combine his season and playoff stats, you get nine goals and 45 assists (54 points) in 76 games. Theodore has tremendous shot volume and is a proven double-digit goal threat from the back end. Very few players you can draft this late have legitimate potential to finish in the top 12 at their position, but Theodore has that upside if he can stay healthy.
Round 13: Troy Terry (ANA – RW) | ADP: 146.5
I was not a big believer in Terry’s ability to replicate the 37 goals he scored in 2022, and I was right. Terry’s SH% expectedly dropped from 19.3 percent to 12.2 percent in 2023, and he finished the season with 23 goals and 38 assists (61 points) in 70 games. While he’ll probably never recapture the magic from the 2022 season, Terry has become a reliable end-of-the-draft winger. He brings close to point-per-game upside and 30-goal potential at a very shallow position, especially if he increases his shot volume. He won’t win you your league in the 13th round, but you won’t drop him two weeks into the season, either.
Round 14: Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG – LW) | ADP: 157.8
Ehlers is the perfect player to take a gamble on late in drafts. Fantasy players have soured on Ehlers due to his inability to stay healthy, but dropping to the 14th round is ludicrous. Ehlers was being drafted in the sixth round as recently as last season, and while he played just 45 games, his point-per-game totals replicated that of players going much earlier in the draft. Missing 35 percent of the games over the last two years is a problem, but he is as low-risk/high-reward of a pick as you will find when he’s dropping into the final couple of rounds of the draft. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 33 goals and 42 assists (75 points) per 82 games. He could be a league-winning type of pick if he stays healthy and won’t sewer your draft if he doesn’t.
Round 15: Cam Talbot (LAK – G) | ADP: 172.4
Talbot had a 2023 season to forget, posting a 2.93 GAA and .898 SV% across 36 games with the Senators. However, he lands in the perfect spot for a bounce-back campaign in 2024. Los Angeles is among the best defensive teams in the NHL, and he has minimal competition, with only Pheonix Copley battling him for starts. Copley had a nice run last season, going 24-6-3, but did so while posting a lowly .903 SV%. Copley was 14th in the NHL in GAA (2.64) despite being tied for 26th in SV%. That showcases just how good of a situation this is for Talbot. Los Angeles had the second-lowest 5v5 xGA/60 (2.38) in the NHL last season, and you can look at Joonas Korpisalo to see how impactful that was. He went from a .921 even-strength SV% with Columbus to a .932 in 11 games with the Kings. Ottawa wasn’t as bad defensively last season as the Blue Jackets were, but the road is paved for Talbot to return strong splits and solid win totals this season. As your No.3 goalie and last draft pick, he has tons of upside.