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Chris Kreider
Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
Power Rankings

Power Rankings: Biggest Fantasy Surprises 21-22

by Joey Alfieri
Updated On: February 14, 2022, 8:45 am ET

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This week's NHL Power Rankings will focus on the biggest fantasy surprises on every roster. The rankings are based on the level of surprise by player, not the overall skill of the player on the list. For example: Evgeny Kuznetsov is a better player than Cam Atkinson, but I'm more surprised that Atkinson has bounced back than I am that Kuznetsov is having a strong year. 

Here you go:

1 - Chris Kreider - W - New York Rangers:
Coming into this year, Kreider had never scored more than 28 goals in a season. Things are going shockingly well for him in 2021-22 though. He’s already up to 33 goals in 47 contests, which is a 58-goal pace over 82 contests.

2 - Troy Terry – W – Anaheim Ducks:

Terry posted a career-high 20 points in 48 games with Anaheim last year, but he’s become an impact player now. He already has 25 goals and 42 points in 44 games this season and he appears to be a big part of Anaheim’s core. The 24-year-old has scored an impressive seven game-winners.

3 - Jesper Bratt – W – New Jersey Devils:

Nobody saw this kind of production coming from Bratt in 2021-22. I don’t even think the Devils forward himself knew that he was capable of doing this so soon. The 23-year-old has scored between 30 and 35 points over his first four seasons, but he’s already up to 14 goals and 43 points in just 45 games. Can he keep this up?

4 - Drake Batherson – W – Ottawa Senators:

It’s a shame that Batherson has been forced out of the Ottawa lineup because of an ankle injury because he was having a strong year. The 23-year-old still leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and 34 points in 31 games and he’s going to be a big part of this team’s core for the next decade. 

5 - Tony DeAngelo - D - Carolina Hurricanes:
DeAngelo has been one of the biggest surprises of the year. The defender sat out most of last season after being dismissed from the Rangers organization. He was bought out and then signed by Carolina. His 36 points in 38 games put him third on the Hurricanes in scoring.

6 - Devon Toews - D - Colorado Avalanche:
Toews has been a good player for a while, but nobody expected him to be a point-per-game player at this point in the season. The 27-year-old has nine goals and 25 assists in 34 contests. He won’t finish on this pace, but he’s still going to put up strong numbers.

7 - Mats Zuccarello - W - Minnesota Wild:
Zuccarello has scored between 59 and 61 points three different times in his career, but he could surpass those numbers this year. The Wild forward already has an impressive 42 points in just 36 games this season. Injuries have been a problem for him over the last few years so hopefully he can stay healthy between now and the end of this campaign.

8 - Chandler Stephenson – C – Vegas Golden Knights:

When Stephenson moved from the Capitals to the Golden Knights two seasons ago, his production improved significantly. This year, his numbers are even better than they’ve ever been. The 27-year-old leads the team in scoring with 12 goals and 26 assists in 45 games. Things might change when Jack Eichel gets into the lineup, but Stephenson has been a great surprise. 

9 - Moritz Seider – D – Detroit Red Wings:

Dylan Larkin, Tyler Bertuzzi and Lucas Raymond have all opened eyes this year, but Seider is the biggest surprise. The 20-year-old defenseman has put up 32 points in 49 games during his first full experience in North America. The scary part is that he still has so much time to get better. 

10 - Andrew Mangiapane – W – Calgary Flames:

Mangiapane has made steady improvements year after year since entering the NHL, but he’s been so impressive in 2021-22. He’s already smashed his career-high of 18 goals (he’s scored 24 times in just 45 games) and he’s still rolling. The 25-year-old has four goals in his last three games and he’s on pace to score 44 times.

11 - Sam Reinhart - W - Florida Panthers:
Reinhart has been an awesome fit with the Panthers. It’s an example of how a change of scenery can do wonders for a player’s career. He has 44 points in 44 games in 2021-22. Reinhart has a very real chance of beating his career high of 65 points.

12 - Jordan Kyrou – W – St. Louis Blues:

Kyrou has made the leap from good player to really, really good player this season. The 23-year-old has become such an important part of the roster so quickly. He has 18 goals and 43 points in 42 games, which makes him the Blues leader in scoring so far this season.

13 - Matt Duchene - C - Nashville Predators:
Duchene’s first two years in Nashville were very underwhelming. But he’s found a way to make an impact on the scoresheet in 2021-22. He’s currently second on the team in scoring with 42 points in 43 games (he’s four points behind Roman Josi).

14 - Adrian Kempe – C – Los Angeles Kings:

Who expected Kempe to lead the Kings in goals this season? The answer is: nobody. But that’s exactly what he’s done so far. The 25-year-old has found the back of the net 19 times in 44 games, which puts him on pace to score 34 in 79 games. He had never scored more than 16 goals in a season his NHL career.

15 - Kris Letang - D - Pittsburgh Penguins:
Letang has always been a really good offensive defender, but he’s having a really good campaign. The Pens defender had a really good 45 points in 55 games last year and he’s already up to 42 points in 44 games this season. Letang will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. 

16 - Alex Killorn - W - Tampa Bay Lightning:
The 32-year-old was a vital part of Tampa’s back-to-back Stanley Cup championships, but this is going to be the best offensive season of his career. He has 42 points through 48 games, which means he needs seven more points to tie his career-high.

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17 - Timo Meier – C – San Jose Sharks:

Meier’s numbers had dropped ever since he scored 66 points in 78 games during the 2018-19 season. But things have been looking up this year. The Sharks forward has an impressive 47 points in 41 games, which puts him at the top San Jose’s scoring chart. It was evident that he possessed this kind of ability, it’s just nice to see him put it all together. 

18 - Tage Thompson – W – Buffalo Sabres:

It’s hard to find really big guys that are skilled enough to produce a lot of offense, but Thompson has been able to do that this year. The 6-foot-7, 218-pounder has 14 goals and 32 points in 42 games this season. Yes, the Sabres will never be considered winners in the Ryan O’Reilly trade, but if Thompson continues to improve, that transaction will sting a little less. 

19 - Jared McCann – C – Seattle Kraken:

Many hockey fans though McCann could improve his numbers with some more opportunity, and that’s exactly what he’s done in his first year with Seattle. McCann leads the team in goals, with 19, and he leads them in scoring, with 30 points. He’s been one of the few bright spots for this expansion team. 

20 - Evan Bouchard – D – Edmonton Oilers:

It’s hard to find a fantasy surprise on the Edmonton roster because they have two heavy-hitters and some decent secondary scoring. Bouchard has five points in 14 games during last season and he’s up to nine goals and 24 points in 45 contests this year. Those are solid numbers for an NHL rookie. 

21 - Cam Atkinson – W – Philadelphia Flyers:

It had been a while since Atkinson put up some good offensive totals, but he appears to be back on track now that he’s joined the Flyers. He has a respectable 17 goals and 36 points in 47 games. The 32-year-old has been a bright spot on a Flyers team that has been a disappointment. 

22 - Boone Jenner – W – Columbus Blue Jackets:

Jenner had a disappointing 17 points in 41 games with the Jackets last season, but he now leads their team in scoring this year. Yes, that’s only because Patrik Laine missed an extended period of time, but his 19 goals and 33 points are nothing to scoff at.

23 - Michael Bunting - W - Toronto Maple Leafs:
Bunting probably isn’t on many people’s season-long fantasy rosters, but he’s quietly putting up solid numbers. The 26-year-old has 14 goals and 30 points in 44 games this season. He’s the kind of cheap complimentary piece the Leafs need on their roster.

24 - Thatcher Demko – G – Vancouver Canucks:

I’m not going to lie, there are no surprises when it comes to skaters in Vancouver. There’s J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes and a bunch of individual disappointments. Demko has been leaned on heavily and he’s managed to post 19 victories and a shutout in 37 games this season. That’s solid fantasy value for a guy who probably wasn’t one of the first few goalies off the board in your fantasy league. 

25 - Jason Robertson – W – Dallas Stars:

Robertson’s numbers aren’t shocking, but he makes this list because of how impressive his season has been so far. The 22-year-old had 17 goals and 45 points in his first full NHL season last year and he’s followed that up by scoring 20 times and adding 44 points in 37 contests. He’s going to be good for a very long time.

26 - Evgeny Kuznetsov - C - Washington Capitals:
Kuznetsov is a little lower on the list not because he isn’t having a good season. It’s because his success isn’t as surprising as some of the other performers on this list. He has an impressive 48 points in 46 games after posting just 29 points in 41 contests last year. The veteran is having a solid bounce-back campaign.

27 - Seth Jones – D – Chicago Blackhawks:

The Hawks gave up a lot to get Jones from Columbus during the off-season and then they gave him huge money to stay in Chicago long term. From a fantasy perspective, there’s nothing wrong with anything Jones has done. He has 30 points in 44 games, which is an improvement from last season (he had 28 points in 56 contests). 

28 - Charlie McAvoy – D – Boston Bruins:

Like Kuznetsov, McAvoy is lower on the list because his jump in production is less surprising than others. The 24-year-old has 28 points in 43 games this season and he’s already tied a career-high with seven goals on the year. He needs four points to match the best total of his career. He’s become such an important part of the Boston blue line and don’t expect that to change. 

29 - Shayne Gostisbehere – D – Arizona Coyotes:

Gostisbehere has always been an offensive defenseman, but the Flyers seemed to be fed up of his issues in his own end. This year, a rebuilding Arizona team has given him a regular shift and he’s managed to produce 28 points in 48 games. That’s almost a 50-point pace over 82 games. 

30 - Pierre-Luc Dubois – C – Winnipeg Jets:

We’ve written about Dubois before in these Power Rankings, but his second season in Winnipeg is going much better than his first one did. The 23-year-old already has 20 goals and 35 points in 44 games this season and he just looks a lot better overall. He still has the potential to do a lot more damage in this league given his combination of size and skill. 

31 - Ilya Sorokin – G – New York Islanders:

The fact that Sorokin has developed into a really good NHL goalie isn’t surprising, but the fact that he’s been so much better than Semyon Varlamov might be. In fairness to Varlamov, he’s been hampered by injuries. But Sorokin has been very solid on an Islander team that has disappointed for the most part. He has a 14-10-5 record with four shutouts this year. 

32 - Jonathan Drouin – W – Montreal Canadiens:

It’s a struggle to find any fantasy surprises on the Canadiens roster this year. A few months after going to the Stanley Cup Final, the team is in the basement of the NHL standings. Drouin is third in scoring with 20 points in 32 games. He had 23 points in 44 games before he stepped away from the team for mental-health reasons. 

Joey Alfieri

Joey is a Montreal-born hockey writer that has been with NBC Sports EDGE since 2014. He's also been working in sports-talk radio for the better part of the last decade. Joey isn't a fan of the puck-over-glass penalty and he'll let you know about it on Twitter @joeyalfieri.