ESPN has default pre-draft rankings that you can modify and we'd recommend that you do that based on what we advise below or in the heat of the moment you could end up with some pretty wacky picks or miss a real steal. This is particularly important if you plan on doing an autodraft.
ESPN is getting much better with their rankings (much better than the horrow show of 2009). But that doesn't mean they are perfect... far from it. Let's give ESPN credit for diving deep here as they ranked 2,376 players(!) but methinks they could stand to clean up their player database a tad as they have plenty of guys that have been retired for like 5+ years still on the list. It actually looks like someone tried for about the top 400 but beyond that you get into a hodge-podge of legitimate NHL players, beer-league calibre prospects and retired scrubs... so beware if you're in a deep league.
These should be pretty self-explanatory but we'll add a few comments where necessary. The number indicates the overall ESPN ranking and when we refer to our ranking, we're talking about our overall FHS rank from our SuperStats projected stats file.
Guys Who Should be Higher (higher, as in closer to Stamkos):
27 James Neal - 40 goal & 300 shot potential, we have him at #11.
34 Taylor Hall - top 10 in league scoring last season.
52 Evander Kane - ESPN projects 31+28=59 PIMs, 100 PIMs & 300+ shots... yes please!
58 Logan Couture
75 David Backes - he's a multi-cat stud, if you get him at 75, you will win your pool.
77 Brad Marchand
81 Matt Duchene - this is where I discovered that ESPN is overweighting plus/minus... Duchene should be higher but is only projected to be a plus-2, so that made him drop.
104 Antti Niemi - they have him as the #14 goalie, we have him at #4... no foolin.
118 Oliver Ekman-Larsson
121 Keith Yandle - 25th ranked dman? #10 for us, especially in points-focused leagues.
142 Kari Lehtonen - his injury concerns are a little overblown.
161 Nail Yakupov - could explode this year
168 Nathan MacKinnon - don't forget about the rookies
182 Chris Stewart
218 Jeff Skinner
268 Seth Jones - should see top 4 minutes, so don't take Ryan Whitney ahead of him.
333 Dougie Hamilton
359 Tomas Vokoun - #38 among goalies but ratios are always great and who knows with MAF.
371 Tim Thomas - expected to be signed by Florida.
406 Rich Peverley
415 Bryan Bickell - pencilled in to play on L1 with Toews & Kane.
429 Jacob Trouba - could be a beast if he sees decent TOI.
488 Radko Gudas - he's a difference-maker if your league counts PIMs, hits & blocks.
490 Sean Monahan
545 Tomas Hertl
583 Jason Zucker
684 Ryan Murphy - the real Ryan Murphy, the dman from Carolina.
941 Nick Bonino
1091 Cody Eakin - no respect for the ginger.
1161 Gabriel Bourque
1227 Jay Harrison - a legitimate fantasy option in standard leagues, should be around 700 spots higher.
1319 Paul Postma
1428 Mark Fraser - killed it in plus/minus, PIMs, hits & blocks last year.
1450 Tommy Wingels
1506 Ville Leino - some think he could bounce back, so don't leave him this late.
1783 Rich Clune - was on 82 game pace to approach 200 PIMs & 300 hits last year.
1916 Lauri Korpikoski - not our favourite but I wouldn't take every player in NHL, AHL & ECHL before him.
Guys Who Should be Lower (lower, as in closer to Eric Boulton):
11 Kris Letang - we have him as #8 Dman, docked him for a lack of durability.
16 Craig Anderson - I would not be betting on a repeat of his .941 sv%.
19 Henrik Sedin - ahead of Toews & E.Staal?
29 Tyler Seguin
30 Sergei Bobrovsky - a little high for a guy who could be the next Steve Mason.
38 Alexander Semin - had a point-per-game last year but sub-55 the two seasons prior.
44 Marc-Andre Fleury - this makes sense if wins is your game, otherwise pass.
51 Joe Thornton
57 Dustin Brown - slide him down in leagues that don't count hits.
61 Andrei Markov - huge injury risk, we wouldn't touch him.
63 Joffrey Lupul - if you live by the words, "Balls to the Wall", then go for the fragile Lupul here.
79 Kimmo Timonen - ESPN has him one spot ahead of Pietrangelo.
102 Jiri Tlusty - we'd bet on a regression after he shot 20% last year.
105 Mike Smith - has just one season in his career with better than a .916 sv%.
113 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - pass-happy and injury-prone.
149 Ryane Clowe
151 Joni Pitkanen - will contribute nothing this season, literally.
154 Paul Martin
180 Roman Cervenka - do ESPN leagues count KHL stats?
187 Sheldon Souray -
likely to get already injured.
229 Ryan Whitney - without a contract.
244 Peter Mueller - playing in Switzerland.
263 Sergei Kostitsyn - KHL.
299 Ryan Murphy - the fake Ryan Murphy, listed as a FA forward? Don't draft him, he's a figment of ESPN's imagination.
374 Miikka Kiprusoff - retired.
460 Alexander Burmistrov - KHL.
474 Dwayne Roloson - ESPN has some retired players in their rankings, fine. But how is he projected for 16 wins this season???
Our rankings (from our SuperStats spreadsheet) aren't perfect but they're a hell of a lot better than that.