If you are in a weekly lineup league, you’re hands are already off the wheel and the fantasy fates are the only thing that will affect the end of your season at this stage. With the final scoring period now underway, it’s time to turn the focus to 2023-24.

Is it way too early to consider such things? Yes, but that’s why these are called the “way too early” rankings. So here is our first foray into the season to come by ranking the top 300 fantasy assets for the 2023-24 season.

This is a deep dive. The engine for the projections uses the past eight years of NHL data to apply age-related modifiers to each player in the league when it comes to prognosticating their fantasy points per game (FPPG) output for the coming season. It also uses age-estimated crease share and missed-games calculations.

That said, I didn’t leave things only to the maths. Little adjustments were made throughout. For example, the projections wanted to suggest Kirill Kaprizov would only play 92 percent of games, but this season’s injury was a one-off incident so I bumped him to 96 percent. As minute a detail as that may seem, it bumps Kaprizov from No. 14 to his final rank as No. 9 in the rankings.

The elephant in the room, obviously, is where to slot Connor Bedard.

In the preseason of the 2015-16 season, we ranked Connor McDavid at No. 49. He finished the season ranked 294th, but mostly because he only played 45 games in his rookie campaign. His pace would have ranked him 33rd if he had played all 82 games.

In the preseason of the 2016-17, we ranked Auston Matthews at No. 96. He finished the season ranked 11th overall for fantasy scoring.

For Bedard, I’m splitting the difference between McDavid’s pace and Matthews finish as a starting point. Without the knowledge of which team jersey he’ll pull on in 2023-24, there are different trajectories. Game-breaking talent can’t break games as well in a vacuum. If Bedard ends up with the Columbus Blue Jackets or Anaheim Ducks, for example, I’d be tempted to be more bullish on the outcome given the established talent on both teams. But if Bedard ends up with the Chicago Blackhawks or San Jose Sharks, I don’t think there is as much immediate help on the rosters.

His ranking could still change dramatically after the draft. If you picture Bedard flanked by Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine, with Kirill Marchenko and Zach Werenski on the power play, for example, it’s easy to wonder about the possibilities.

Forward notes

van - Replay Madness

Elias Pettersson, C/W, Vancouver Canucks (No. 3): Currently sitting fifth this season in fantasy scoring and he’s not turning 25 until November, the sky remains the limit for a player still theoretically not in his prime. We’ll have to see what else the Canucks can do this offseason when it comes to building up the club as a whole, but Pettersson has no question marks left.

buf - Replay Madnessdal - Replay Madnessott - Replay Madness

Tage Thompson, Jason Robertson and Tim Stutzle, F, Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars and Ottawa Senators (No. 10, No. 11 and No 12): This is a new trio for consideration in the first round of a 12-team league. All three built off of breakout campaigns in 2021-22 to solidify their status as elite fantasy assets.

pit - Replay Madness

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins (No. 60): Based on the age-related performance calculations, we should be seeing steep declines from not only Crosby, but the likes of Patrick Kane, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin, among other standby superstars. I have, admittedly, propped up some of their rankings against the projection engine because I feel like the expected outcomes can’t be bent for such venerable fantasy mainstays. That said, it’s not unreasonable to give each of them a good, long look in the offseason when it comes to setting your expectations. Crosby, Ovechkin and Malkin pulled another proverbial rabbit out of their hat this season, but can they do it again? Especially given the bearish outlook for the Penguins and Capitals rosters?

Defense notes

nsh - Replay Madness

Roman Josi, D, Nashville Predators (No. 14): The top defenseman again? Really? Still over Cale Makar? This could be a mistake, but even taking a healthy shave off Josi’s per-game stats still gives him a slight edge. He just dominates the puck so much when on the ice and having less talent up front seems to be an advantage he has when generating fantasy points.

fla - Replay Madness

Brandon Montour, D, Florida Panthers (No. 45): Chalk this one up to backing the wrong horse. Of course, the Florida Panthers are going to generate an elite offensive defenseman for fantasy with all their weapons up front. Based on this season, I’d rather take a chance on that being Montour rather than go back to the Aaron Ekblad well again.

Goaltender notes

nyi - Replay Madness

Ilya Sorokin, G, New York Islanders (No. 13): For a number of reasons, consistency not the least of them, Sorokin checks in as the projected No. 1 goaltender next season. Now, more than ever, stability in the crease comes at a premium in fantasy hockey (see the column coming out this week for more on that).

bos - Replay Madness

Linus Ullmark, G, Boston Bruins (No. 49): The arguments for ranking Ullmark this low are going to sound like a broken record from last offseason. Compete window is closing, roster is aging, splitting time in the crease, blah, blah, blah. Ullmark destroyed and defied all those argument this season on the way to a league-winning campaign for many fantasy managers. But here’s the rub: He will split time, the roster will be getting older and, while I don’t think the compete window is closed, I don’t think the Bruins will meet the incredible mark they’ve set this campaign. Ullmark is still a top fantasy netminder for next season, but he doesn’t have as much upside as some others.

min - Replay Madness

Filip Gustavsson, G, Minnesota Wild (No. 63): A restricted free agent, it will be interesting to see which direction the Wild take with Gustavsson and, ultimately, their crease. Marc-Andre Fleury is signed for another season, during which he’ll turn 39. Jesper Wallstedt is probably ready for some looks in the NHL. And Gustavsson was an absolute revelation this season with the second-best ratios in the league behind Linus Ullmark.

car - Replay Madness

Pyotr Kochetkov, G, Carolina Hurricanes (No. 128): Frederik Andersen and Antti Raanta are both unrestricted free agents this offseason with the rookie Kochetkov locked in on a bridge deal. The Hurricanes could very well opt to let both veterans walk next season depending on what happens in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Kochetkov is ranked here with an aggressive 62 percent crease share, so his ultimate fortune could rise or fall depending on what kind of share he’ll look to get when the Hurricanes are done re-signing goalies.

ESPN NHL way-too-early rankings for 2023-24

1. Connor McDavid, C, Edm (C1)
2. Leon Draisaitl, LW, Edm (LW1)
3. Elias Pettersson, C, Van (C2)
4. David Pastrnak, RW, Bos (RW1)
5. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Col (C3)
6. Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Fla (LW2)
7. Auston Matthews, C, Tor (C4)
8. Mikko Rantanen, RW, Col (RW2)
9. Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Min (LW3)
10. Tage Thompson, C, Buf (C5)
11. Jason Robertson, LW, Dal (LW4)
12. Tim Stutzle, LW, Ott (LW5)
13. Ilya Sorokin, G, NYI (G1)
14. Roman Josi, D, Nsh (D1)
15. Alexandar Georgiev, G, Col (G2)
16. Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ott (LW6)
17. Jack Hughes, C, NJ (C6)
18. Cale Makar, D, Col (D2)
19. Mitchell Marner, RW, Tor (RW3)
20. Jake Oettinger, G, Dal (G3)
21. Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buf (D3)
22. Josh Morrissey, D, Wpg (D4)
23. Connor Bedard, C, undrafted (C7)
24. William Nylander, RW, Tor (RW4)
25. Erik Karlsson, D, SJ (D5)
26. Brayden Point, C, TB (C8)
27. Mikhail Sergachev, D, TB (D6)
28. Timo Meier, RW, NJ (RW5)
29. Mika Zibanejad, C, NYR (C9)
30. Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (G4)
31. Jack Eichel, C, Vgk (C10)
32. Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, TB (G5)
33. Jakob Chychrun, D, Ott (D7)
34. Juuse Saros, G, Nsh (G6)
35. Alex Pietrangelo, D, Vgk (D8)
36. J.T. Miller, C, Van (C11)
37. Adam Fox, D, NYR (D9)
38. Roope Hintz, C, Dal (C12)
39. Moritz Seider, D, Det (D10)
40. Travis Konecny, RW, Phi (RW6)
41. Nico Hischier, C, NJ (C13)
42. Jacob Trouba, D, NYR (D11)
43. Charlie McAvoy, D, Bos (D12)
44. Connor Hellebuyck, G, Wpg (G7)
45. Brandon Montour, D, Fla (D13)
46. Jordan Kyrou, C, StL (C14)
47. Kyle Connor, LW, Wpg (LW7)
48. Alex DeBrincat, LW, Ott (LW8)
49. Linus Ullmark, G, Bos (G8)
50. Clayton Keller, C, Ari (C15)
51. Bo Horvat, C, NYI (C16)
52. Elias Lindholm, RW, Cgy (RW7)
53. Sebastian Aho, C, Car (C17)
54. Pierre-Luc Dubois, C, Wpg (C18)
55. Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Min (C19)
56. Rasmus Andersson, D, Cgy (D14)
57. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Edm (C20)
58. Dougie Hamilton, D, NJ (D15)
59. Carter Verhaeghe, C, Fla (C21)
60. Sidney Crosby, C, Pit (C22)
61. Jake Guentzel, LW, Pit (LW9)
62. Ilya Samsonov, G, Tor (G9)
63. Filip Gustavsson, G, Min (G10)
64. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB (RW8)
65. Kevin Fiala, C, LA (C23)
66. Cole Caufield, RW, Mon (RW9)
67. Adam Larsson, D, Sea (D16)
68. Darnell Nurse, D, Edm (D17)
69. Martin Necas, C, Car (C24)
70. Dylan Larkin, C, Det (C25)
71. Owen Tippett, RW, Phi (RW10)
72. Adrian Kempe, C, LA (C26)
73. Rafael Harvey-Pinard, LW, Mon (LW10)
74. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dal (D18)
75. Victor Hedman, D, TB (D19)
76. Aleksander Barkov, C, Fla (C27)
77. Alex Ovechkin, LW, Wsh (LW11)
78. Sam Reinhart, RW, Fla (RW11)
79. Brandon Hagel, LW, TB (LW12)
80. Nick Suzuki, C, Mon (C28)
81. Andrei Svechnikov, LW, Car (LW13)
82. John Carlson, D, Wsh (D20)
83. Quinn Hughes, D, Van (D21)
84. Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Van (LW14)
85. Bowen Byram, D, Col (D22)
86. Dylan Cozens, C, Buf (C29)
87. Kris Letang, D, Pit (D23)
88. Jesper Bratt, RW, NJ (RW12)
89. Justin Faulk, D, StL (D24)
90. Zach Werenski, D, Cls (D25)
91. Steven Stamkos, C, TB (C30)
92. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Cls (LW15)
93. Zach Hyman, LW, Edm (LW16)
94. Alex Tuch, RW, Buf (RW13)
95. Matt Boldy, LW, Min (LW17)
96. Jakub Vrana, C, StL (C31)
97. Jared McCann, LW, Sea (LW18)
98. John Tavares, C, Tor (C32)
99. Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Sea (LW19)
100. Pavel Buchnevich, RW, StL (RW14)
101. Vitek Vanecek, G, NJ (G11)
102. Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, Mon (LW20)
103. Luke Hughes, D, NJ (D26)
104. Seth Jones, D, Chi (D27)
105. Vince Dunn, D, Sea (D28)
106. Thatcher Demko, G, Van (G12)
107. Jeremy Swayman, G, Bos (G13)
108. Noah Dobson, D, NYI (D29)
109. Tomas Hertl, C, SJ (C33)
110. Dawson Mercer, C, NJ (C34)
111. Vincent Trocheck, C, NYR (C35)
112. Tommy Novak, C, Nsh (C36)
113. Thomas Chabot, D, Ott (D30)
114. Evgeni Malkin, C, Pit (C37)
115. Jared Spurgeon, D, Min (D31)
116. Jake Walman, D, Det (D32)
117. Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Col (LW21)
118. Matty Beniers, C, Sea (C38)
119. Noah Hanifin, D, Cgy (D33)
120. Jake DeBrusk, LW, Bos (LW22)
121. Shea Theodore, D, Vgk (D34)
122. Anze Kopitar, C, LA (C39)
123. Mathew Barzal, C, NYI (C40)
124. Sean Couturier, C, Phi (C41)
125. Juuso Valimaki, D, Ari (D35)
126. Jeff Skinner, LW, Buf (LW23)
127. Andrew Peeke, D, Cls (D36)
128. Pyotr Kochetkov, G, Car (G14)
129. Ivan Barbashev, C, Vgk (C42)
130. Mark Scheifele, C, Wpg (C43)
131. Hampus Lindholm, D, Bos (D37)
132. Neal Pionk, D, Wpg (D38)
133. Philip Tomasino, C, Nsh (C44)
134. Rickard Rakell, C, Pit (C45)
135. Kaiden Guhle, D, Mon (D39)
136. Ivan Provorov, D, Phi (D40)
137. Sean Durzi, D, LA (D41)
138. Devon Toews, D, Col (D42)
139. Phillip Danault, C, LA (C46)
140. Josh Norris, C, Ott (C47)
141. Jonathan Huberdeau, LW, Cgy (LW24)
142. Trevor Zegras, C, Ana (C48)
143. Tyson Barrie, D, Nsh (D43)
144. Kirill Marchenko, LW, Cls (LW25)
145. Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Car (D44)
146. Carter Hart, G, Phi (G15)
147. Robert Thomas, C, StL (C49)
148. Tyler Toffoli, RW, Cgy (RW15)
149. K’Andre Miller, D, NYR (D45)
150. Colton Parayko, D, StL (D46)
151. Ben Chiarot, D, Det (D47)
152. Morgan Rielly, D, Tor (D48)
153. Jamie Benn, LW, Dal (LW26)
154. Brent Burns, D, Car (D49)
155. Logan Cooley, C, Ari (C50)
156. Lawson Crouse, LW, Ari (LW27)
157. Brayden McNabb, D, Vgk (D50)
158. Luke Evangelista, RW, Nsh (RW16)
159. Troy Terry, C, Ana (C51)
160. J.T. Compher, RW, Col (RW17)
161. Artemi Panarin, LW, NYR (LW28)
162. Patrik Laine, RW, Cls (RW18)
163. Boone Jenner, C, Cls (C52)
164. Brock Nelson, C, NYI (C53)
165. Logan Couture, C, SJ (C54)
166. Gustav Forsling, D, Fla (D51)
167. MacKenzie Weegar, D, Cgy (D52)
168. Ryan Graves, D, NJ (D53)
169. Joonas Korpisalo, G, LA (G16)
170. Drake Batherson, C, Ott (C55)
171. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (LW29)
172. Matt Roy, D, LA (D54)
173. Spencer Knight, G, Fla (G17)
174. Dylan Strome, C, Wsh (C56)
175. Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Col (RW19)
176. Sam Bennett, LW, Fla (LW30)
177. Tony DeAngelo, D, Phi (D55)
178. Chandler Stephenson, C, Vgk (C57)
179. Brock Boeser, RW, Van (RW20)
180. Jake McCabe, D, Tor (D56)
181. Mike Matheson, D, Mon (D57)
182. Esa Lindell, D, Dal (D58)
183. Filip Forsberg, LW, Nsh (LW31)
184. Adam Boqvist, D, Cls (D59)
185. David Savard, D, Mon (D60)
186. Filip Hronek, D, Van (D61)
187. Stuart Skinner, G, Edm (G18)
188. Lukas Reichel, LW, Chi (LW32)
189. Evan Bouchard, D, Edm (D62)
190. Alexander Romanov, D, NYI (D63)
191. Viktor Arvidsson, RW, LA (RW21)
192. Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, Wsh (D64)
193. Jeff Petry, D, Pit (D65)
194. Marcus Pettersson, D, Pit (D66)
195. Rasmus Sandin, D, Wsh (D67)
196. Pavel Dorofeyev, RW, Vgk (RW22)
197. Dmitry Orlov, D, Bos (D68)
198. Cam Fowler, D, Ana (D69)
199. Scott Laughton, C, Phi (C58)
200. David Jiricek, D, Cls (D70)
201. Nick Schmaltz, C, Ari (C59)
202. Mason McTavish, C, Ana (C60)
203. Radko Gudas, D, Fla (D71)
204. Patrick Kane, RW, NYR (RW23)
205. Devon Levi, G, Buf (G19)
206. Martin Fehervary, D, Wsh (D72)
207. Aaron Ekblad, D, Fla (D73)
208. Frank Vatrano, LW, Ana (LW33)
209. Samuel Girard, D, Col (D74)
210. Adam Fantilli, C, undrafted (C61)
211. Jani Hakanpaa, D, Dal (D75)
212. Travis Sanheim, D, Phi (D76)
213. Dominik Kubalik, LW, Det (LW34)
214. Brady Skjei, D, Car (D77)
215. Filip Chytil, RW, NYR (RW24)
216. Ville Husso, G, Det (G20)
217. Kirby Dach, C, Mon (C62)
218. Nick Jensen, D, Wsh (D78)
219. Rasmus Ristolainen, D, Phi (D79)
220. Max Domi, C, Dal (C63)
221. Mark Giordano, D, Tor (D80)
222. Eetu Luostarinen, C, Fla (C64)
223. Michael Rasmussen, C, Det (C65)
224. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Col (LW35)
225. Barrett Hayton, C, Ari (C66)
226. Anders Lee, LW, NYI (LW36)
227. Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, Sea (RW25)
228. Mattias Ekholm, D, Edm (D81)
229. Scott Mayfield, D, NYI (D82)
230. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Wpg (LW37)
231. Erik Gudbranson, D, Cls (D83)
232. Taylor Raddysh, RW, Chi (RW26)
233. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, Ana (D84)
234. Jonas Siegenthaler, D, NJ (D85)
235. Jack Roslovic, C, Cls (C67)
236. Michael Bunting, LW, Tor (LW38)
237. Dillon Dube, C, Cgy (C68)
238. Brian Dumoulin, D, Pit (D86)
239. J.J. Moser, D, Ari (D87)
240. Adam Pelech, D, NYI (D88)
241. Ryan Hartman, RW, Min (RW27)
242. Claude Giroux, LW, Ott (LW39)
243. Ryan McDonagh, D, Nsh (D89)
244. Damon Severson, D, NJ (D90)
245. Anthony Duclair, LW, Fla (LW40)
246. Jack McBain, C, Ari (C69)
247. Alexis Lafreniere, LW, NYR (LW41)
248. Lucas Raymond, LW, Det (LW42)
249. Cole Perfetti, C, Wpg (C70)
250. Pavel Zacha, C, Bos (C71)
251. Tyler Myers, D, Van (D91)
252. Nazem Kadri, C, Cgy (C72)
253. Pheonix Copley, G, LA (G21)
254. Tristan Jarry, G, Pit (G22)
255. William Eklund, LW, SJ (LW43)
256. Daniel Sprong, RW, Sea (RW28)
257. Gabriel Vilardi, C, LA (C73)
258. Drew Doughty, D, LA (D92)
259. Jonas Brodin, D, Min (D93)
260. Tanner Jeannot, LW, TB (LW44)
261. Jamie Oleksiak, D, Sea (D94)
262. Fabian Lysell, RW, Bos (RW29)
263. Jaccob Slavin, D, Car (D95)
264. Josh Anderson, RW, Mon (RW30)
265. Andre Burakovsky, LW, Sea (LW45)
266. Arthur Kaliyev, RW, LA (RW31)
267. Joe Pavelski, RW, Dal (RW32)
268. Morgan Frost, C, Phi (C74)
269. Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, NYI (C75)
270. Connor Clifton, D, Bos (D96)
271. Jake Middleton, D, Min (D97)
272. Dylan DeMelo, D, Wpg (D98)
273. Luke Schenn, D, Tor (D99)
274. Kent Johnson, C, Cls (C76)
275. John Klingberg, D, Min (D100)
276. Ty Smith, D, Pit (D101)
277. Arber Xhekaj, D, Mon (D102)
278. Brayden Schenn, C, StL (C77)
279. Jonathan Marchessault, LW, Vgk (LW46)
280. Mats Zuccarello, RW, Min (RW33)
281. Jake Sanderson, D, Ott (D103)
282. Nicolas Roy, C, Vgk (C78)
283. Jacob Markstrom, G, Cgy (G23)
284. Brandon Carlo, D, Bos (D104)
285. Darcy Kuemper, G, Wsh (G24)
286. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Min (G25)
287. Brett Pesce, D, Car (D105)
288. Connor Murphy, D, Chi (D106)
289. Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (D107)
290. Mikey Anderson, D, LA (D108)
291. Matt Duchene, C, Nsh (C79)
292. Jason Zucker, LW, Pit (LW47)
293. Mario Ferraro, D, SJ (D109)
294. Torey Krug, D, StL (D110)
295. Brandt Clarke, D, LA (D111)
296. Noah Cates, LW, Phi (LW48)
297. Tyson Foerster, RW, Phi (RW34)
298. Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Cgy (LW49)
299. Justin Holl, D, Tor (D112)
300. Chris Tanev, D, Cgy (D113)

Just missed

Here are a few names that fell just outside the top 300 for projected fantasy points. As you can see, I’m not sure what to project for the Golden Knights crease. Logan Thompson and Robin Lehner are both on the books for next season, assuming Lehner returns from his missed campaign. Adin Hill, Jonathan Quick and Laurent Brossoit are all free agents, so the team might let them all walk. They are all capable backups. Max Pacioretty is someone I could change my mind on if he gets a clean bill of health going well before the regular season. The other big question I have is whether Joe Pavelski keeps his spot on the Stars top line at the age of 39. You see Wyatt Johnston and Ty Dellandrea among the just missed players, but Logan Stankoven or Mavrik Bourque are also high upside prospects the Stars boast.

Dropped out

Here are a few highlights, or low-lights as it were, among the players that were in the top 250 back in September of 2022, but didn’t quite make the cut for our first pass at what we hope the rankings to be for September 2023. I’m letting statistical likelihood still guide me when it comes to the Bruins, as Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand are going to be a year older for the 2023-24 campaign. Marchand will finish outside the top 100 this season as it is. We’ll have to see where Vladimir Tarasenko signs before passing full judgement, but he’s struggled to his the roster-lock threshold with two different franchises this season. As for Shane Wright, he could be relevant next season, but the Kraken’s spread the wealth approach worked so well this season that they don’t need to rush him into prominence.

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Way too early fantasy hockey rankings