ESPN – the world’s sports leader – came out with its annual Fantasy Hockey Rankings today to prepare its registrants for the upcoming fantasy season.
After five seconds of browsing through the page, the only thing that came to mind was “what the…?”
It is pretty clear who the top three fantasy hockey players are: Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. Yet, ESPN bravely goes against everything and everyone in claiming that Pavel Datsyuk is the third best skater, in front of Crosby.
Not taking anything away from Datsyuk, but a healthy Crosby is a much better fantasy option.
Best goalie, you ask? Martin Brodeur, of course? ESPN says no. Then it must be Roberto Luongo, right? Not even in the same time zone, pal. Henrik Lundqvist? Niklas Backstrom? No and no. What the…??
Who am I missing? ESPN confidently replies: Tim Thomas, of course!
Again, nothing to take away from Tim Thomas. He is a great goaltender and should have great numbers again this season. But better than Brodeur and Luongo?
In support of ESPN, at least they have Brodeur as the second best goalie and Backstrom as third. But ESPN again confuses by putting Pekka Rinne as the fourth best option between the pipes.
Rinne had a great second half last season for the Predators, but that doesn’t justify being ranked higher than Luongo, Lundqvist, Cam Ward and Marc Andre Fleury.
Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the rankings – still working on the first page, mind you – is Olli Jokinen. ESPN put Jokinen as the ninth best player (seventh forward) and projected him for 40 goals and 46 assists. He barely got 46 points all of last season (finished with 57), let alone points!
Kokinen is ranked 18 spots higher than his teammate and fantasy top 10 regular Jarome Iginla. They have Iginla projected for more points (89) than Jokinen, but have him ranked lower. Hmmmm…
Runner up to Jokinen is the omission of Mike Green in the top 15 players in the league. Green’s 31 goals last season is good for a forward, let alone a defenseman. Green is ESPN’s second best defenseman, but he is clearly the best in the league.
Here are some other notable ESPN misses in their rankings, just to name a few:
- Ryan Getzlaf ranked as 17th best player. He should be in the top six.
- Reaching on Bobby Ryan at #20, projected to have 37 goals and 36 assists.
- Rinne, Tomas Vokoun, Cristobal Huet, Nikolai Khabibulin, Jonas Hiller, and Carey Price ranked ahead of Lundqvist, Fleury and Evgeni Nabokov.
Andrei Markov at 25th best defenseman, Cam Barker as eighth
- Nicklas Backstrom at #33, Dany Heatley #44, Ilya Kovalchuk #45. I guess goals don’t count for much at ESPN.
- where the heck is Vincent Lecavalier? Of course, ranked 88th.
This comes not even 24 hours after the botched John Buccicross “Heatley to the Sharks” report.
It seems that as hard as ESPN tries, they cannot get anything right when it comes to hockey. How can the world’s most reputable sports company have such terrible coverage of hockey – a North American sport?
Be the judge yourself and take a look at ESPN’s fantasy rankings. You can use it for a laugh or for kindling. Whatever you do, don’t bring it to your draft night.