Looking at the New York Rangers through the lens of fantasy hockey

Feb 14, 2020; Columbus, Ohio, USA; New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (10) follows the puck in play against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Whether it is the New York Rangers, Yankees, Jets, Mets, or Giants, it is sometimes interesting to take an independent look at the status of your team. One of the ways this can be done is through fantasy leagues, especially more high stake leagues eliminate the home team bias in examining how well that team will perform.

In the case of the Blueshirts, we will look at data from the highly competitive NFC leagues and Fantasy Alarm/ Friends with Fantasy Benefits hockey analyst Andrew Dewhirst to see how this year’s Rangers are looking through an independent lens.

For example, how does the fantasy industry see the Ranger’s first overall pick, Alexis Lafreniere? Currently, his Average Draft position stands at 131. That doesn’t sound great for the first overall pick but there is a reason for this according to Dewhurst. “I don’t have big expectations for Alexis in year one. Much like we saw with Kappo Kakko last year, he likely isn’t going to see time in the top six, and if he does it could be due to injury. Keep in mind, this isn’t because he isn’t a really good hockey payer, this is more because of the Rangers’ depth in their top six.”

However, if the league is what is known as a keeper or dynasty league, where players are drafted for multiple years, then Lafreniere’s value goes way up. “Lafreniere has been a top-tier player throughout his junior career, in the World Junior Championships, and he even made Team Canada at 17 which is rare,” Dewhirst explains. “Long term he will be a point per game player or better.”

Ranger fans will also not be surprised that Mika Zibanejad and Artemi Panarin are at the top of average draft positions in the highly competitive leagues. Zibanejad is being drafted on average at seventh overall while Panarin is being drafted on average at 11.

“My rankings have Panarin as a top-five fantasy player.” Dewhirst states. “He was a point per game player in Columbus(a team notorious for suppressing scoring), and in his first year with the Rangers in what would have been a 100 point season, if not for the shortened season. There is little reason to expect that the same if not more isn’t’ possible for the Breadman, as he grows more familiar with his linemates, and if anything the Rangers have only gotten deeper, which will keep teams from focusing just on his line.”

As for Zibanejad, Dewhirst feels that “we will not see anything close to 41 goals again from him this year. His near 20% shooting percentage likely sustainable, and he will likely fall back to his career norm of 12 percent, which will bring him back closer to a 30 goal pace.”

As Igor Shesterkin begins his first full year in a Rangers jersey, fantasy owners have taken notice and the young goaltender has an average ADP of 55.

“We are going to find out what Shesterkin is this year.” Dewhirst states. “The last time Shesterkin had a save percentage below 0.930 was in the 2014-15 KHL season when he was 20. He is primed to become a star this year, and if your league counts saves, he is all that much more valuable, as he will likely see plenty of them if last year was any indication.

As the leagues usually draft anywhere from 200 to 300 players per league, here is the average draft position for some other Rangers:

Jacob Trouba – 94

Chris Kreider – 95

Tony DeAngelo – 113

Adam Fox – 160

Ryan Strome – 166

Alexandar Georgiev – 179

Pavel Buchnevich – 204

Kappo Kakko – 235

Other Rangers have been selected but not in enough leagues to calculate a fair ADP.

You can follow Andrew Dewhirst at Twitter  – @andrewkdewhirst