Forwards are the foundation of any Fantasy Hockey team -- from the first few picks to the late-round sleepers. Scoring was up in the NHL last year, and that means there's a lot of forwards that are going to look appealing during this year's drafts, even if regression is on the way in 2022-23. Here's a look at this season's options at forward broken into tiers based on their respective Fantasy value. This is not a precise ranking, but an estimation of the levels of production you can expect from the forwards you'll be considering on draft day.
Cream of the crop
Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, Leon Draisaitl, Nathan MacKinnon, Kirill Kaprizov
If you're picking in the top half of the first round, congratulations -- one of these forwards should end up on your roster. They're all good picks in their own right. You can expect all of them to earn you a minimum of 100 points, and they won't hurt you in the plus-minus category while also being excellent power-play contributors. Who you draft out of this tier will determine the shape of your roster in the later rounds, allowing you to focus on scorers or playmakers as necessary to give you a well-rounded squad.
Elite talent in the early rounds
Matthew Tkachuk, Jonathan Huberdeau, Nikita Kucherov, Aleksander Barkov, Steven Stamkos, Mikko Rantanen, Mitch Marner, Artemi Panarin, Sebastian Aho, Johnny Gaudreau, Alex Ovechkin, David Pastrnak, Kyle Connor, Evander Kane, J.T. Miller, Jake Guentzel
The second tier doesn't have any 40-goal or 100-point locks, but it wouldn't take much for these skaters to reach those marks this season. They're all established players, many in their primes, and most of them have favorable team situations. Gaudreau, Stamkos and Miller are likely the biggest risks since they're coming off massive career seasons, but some potential regression doesn't wipe away the overall quality here.
High quality, low risk
Elias Lindholm, Mika Zibanejad, Gabriel Landeskog, Pavel Buchnevich, Sidney Crosby, Sam Reinhart, Kevin Fiala, Andrei Svechnikov, Jason Robertson, Patrick Kane, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brady Tkachuk, Filip Forsberg, Roope Hintz, Alex DeBrincat, Timo Meier, William Nylander, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Mark Scheifele
There's a lot to like about the players in this range. A few of them are young and showed promise last year, while many are more established veterans. Don't confuse these skaters with the truly elite, but all Fantasy teams need to pick up a few very good players in the early and middle rounds to flesh out their starting lineups. That's what you'll get here, and it helps that many of them are capable of success independent of their linemates or team situations. 30-plus goals and 70-plus points are realistic expectations for these players, and they should all be major factors on the power play.
Talented, but with concerns
Brad Marchand, Chris Kreider, Patrik Laine, Nazem Kadri, Matt Duchene, Joe Pavelski, Michael Bunting, Bryan Rust, John Tavares, Mats Zuccarello, Brayden Point, Jordan Kyrou, Robert Thomas, Jack Eichel, Patrice Bergeron, Elias Pettersson, Teuvo Teravainen, Ryan Hartman, Clayton Keller, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Dylan Larkin, Mark Stone
This tier is full of big names. Heading into 2022-23, however, each of these players has at least one lingering question mark that should dissuade you from reaching on draft day to scoop them up. Some have injury concerns, most notably Marchand (hip), who won't be available at the start of the year. Zuccarello, Stone, Bergeron, Teravainen, Eichel and Keller also have enough recent injury history to cloud their outlooks, though they're all fine performers when healthy. Guys like Kreider, Kadri, Bunting, Hartman, Kyrou and Keller are significant risks for regression. Pavelski, Tavares and Bergeron are inherently risky picks due to their advanced age. Reputation alone may encourage your league mates to take these skaters off the board early, so be wary of that on draft day.
Ryan O'Reilly, Jonathan Marchessault, Nikolaj Ehlers, Vincent Trocheck, Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Anze Kopitar, David Perron, Bo Horvat, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Tomas Hertl, Alex Killorn, Ryan Strome, Zach Hyman, Conor Garland, Brayden Schenn, Jakub Voracek
For the risk-averse managers, these are players that should be considered in the middle rounds of drafts. You know what you're getting here -- 50 to 60 points, power-play production and in general, favorable team situations. Trocheck, Giroux, Perron and Strome will be adapting to new teams in 2022-23, while Marchessault, Ehlers, Hall and Hertl will be dealing with new coaches this year. These are players you can probably hold onto throughout the season, though they may go through some ups and downs.
Ryan Hartman, Andrew Mangiapane, Jesper Bratt, Matthew Boldy, Sam Bennett, Jack Hughes, Josh Norris, Trevor Zegras, Carter Verhaeghe, Anton Lundell, Chandler Stephenson, Joel Eriksson Ek, Drake Batherson, Tage Thompson, Valeri Nichushkin, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Johansen, Troy Terry, Mathew Barzal, Nick Suzuki, Tim Stutzle, Alex Tuch, Nico Hischier
In terms of expectations, these guys are right in line with the previous tier. The difference here is they come with more upside -- many of these players are on the young side and should still have their best years ahead of them. With that in mind, guys like Mangiapane, Bennett, Stephenson, Terry, Thompson and Stutzle really only have one year of true success under their belt. Others are players that played well last year but in doing so defied their career trajectory. Johansen, Verhaeghe, Schmaltz and Nichushkin fit that profile. If they keep it up, they'll be home-run picks in the middle-to-late rounds of drafts, but there's also the risk that they were simply one-hit wonders. The safest bets in this tier are probably the youngest skaters, like Zegras, Hughes and Suzuki.
Depth and upside
Tyler Bertuzzi, Tyler Toffoli, Brock Nelson, Anders Lee, Phillip Danault, Sean Couturier, Blake Wheeler, Andre Burakovsky, Connor Brown, Ondrej Palat, Andrew Copp, Dylan Strome, Jack Roslovic, Nino Niederreiter, Reilly Smith, Trevor Moore, Logan Couture, Lucas Raymond, Yanni Gourde, Travis Konecny, Jakub Vrana, Gustav Nyquist, Brandon Saad, Yegor Sharangovich, Jared McCann, Cam Atkinson, Cole Caufield, Mikael Backlund, Anthony Cirelli, Rickard Rakell, Artturi Lehkonen
Another group of steady forwards and a few young options, you can expect these guys to tally around 40 points in 2022-23. Expectations for the veteran skaters in this group shouldn't go beyond steady bench contributors that can fill a spot in your lineup when injuries strike. A few, such as Raymond, Roslovic, Vrana, Sharangovich, Caufield and Lehkonen, could be poised for breakout years or a continuation of their success from last season. These players will benefit if their teams get bit by the injury bug early on, thrusting them into larger roles.
Mikael Granlund, Tanner Jeannot, Jamie Benn, Marcus Foligno, Tyler Seguin, Jeff Skinner, Alex Kerfoot, Paul Stastny, Adrian Kempe, Mason Marchment, Viktor Arvidsson, Jordan Greenway, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Ivan Barbashev, Victor Olofsson, Phil Kessel, Kailer Yamamoto, Tom Wilson, Evgenii Dadonov, Ilya Mikheyev, David Krejci, Anthony Duclair
Players in this tier have multiple red flags, though those can be overlooked if you believe in the skater. Be it regression, injury risk or a more physical playing style, there's a lot of ways these forwards might only spend the first month or so of the season on your roster. It's also possible they'll end up as late-round values. Many of them will challenge for top-six minutes, though you'd be best leaving Wilson (knee) and Duclair (Achilles) on the draft board due to the long-term nature of their injuries. Outside of those two, you're looking at the potential for 40-plus points from the rest of this tier.
Lottery tickets and young players
Matty Beniers, Seth Jarvis, Nicolas Roy, Alexis Lafreniere, Martin Necas, Jake DeBrusk, Jesse Puljujarvi, Dawson Mercer, Denis Gurianov, Cole Sillinger, Andrei Kuzmenko, Dylan Cozens, Jack Drury, Juraj Slafkovsky, Shane Wright, Kent Johnson
If you prefer to swing big with your last couple picks, consider these players on draft day. Many are young and could be X-factors with their respective teams. The breakout potential in this tier is relatively high, but these skaters are also young, so they run the risk of ending up in their coach's doghouse for the occasional mental mistake. Some of them aren't even locks to be in the NHL on Opening Night. If they're able to carve out a regular NHL role this year, these players will likely vastly outperform their draft value, but there's also a good chance they'll end up on the waiver wire shortly after the season gets underway.