Fantasy NHL: Final 2018-19 dynasty rankings

The future has now begun for Nikita Gusev, who was signed by Vegas in the hopes that he can help them return to the Stanley Cup, both this season and for years to come. Xinhua/Zuma Press/Icon Sportswire

Dynasty rankings that come at the end of a season tend to see the biggest swings in value. Why? Well, normally, in order to calculate these rankings, I combine evaluations based on the current season with those from each of the upcoming four campaigns, add the rankings together, and divide by five to get an average. However, for these April rankings, we toss out the numbers from the current season (as they're now officially in the past) and divide the remaining numbers by four. In other words, the cumulative ranking for each player will only be based on rankings for the 2019-20, 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.

By doing that, some of the younger players who have been projected to start making a fantasy impact in the future get propelled up the list. During the regular season, their value is held back because their value is basically non-existent for the current season, and potentially for a few seasons more. Many of them project to start having an impact in the 2021-22 season and beyond. So, when compiling the average, some of these younger players have non-impact rankings for three of the five included seasons. When the current year gets thrown out, however, all of a sudden they only have a "non-impact ranking" for two of four seasons.

That accounts for some of the movement here, but there are many other factors at play. Goaltenders can be especially volatile. Last time we ran these rankings, Jordan Binnington wasn't a thing. Since then, he's established himself as a solid young netminder who should be able to man the crease for the St. Louis Blues for years to come. That has an impact on the rankings of both Jake Allen and Ville Husso. Allen still looked like the Blues short-term stopper and Husso was the goaltender of the future as late as January.

We are also getting some early arrivals from some of the players on these rankings. Nikita Gusev moves up 57 spots to No. 51, while Cale Makar moves up 69 spots to No. 121 with the news that both prospects were signed to play in the NHL playoffs this week. Gusev is considered the top remaining talent outside of the NHL after capturing the KHL scoring title this season. The 26-year-old was second in scoring to Ilya Kovalchuk last season. He'll be joining the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday and could end up in the lineup on Tuesday. Makar, meantime, is joining the Colorado Avalanche after finishing his NCAA season. He's a franchise defenseman who could possibly develop into one of the best in the league at all aspects of the game. It could take a season or two, but he's someone you want in your dynasty corner by 2021-22.

Players on the rise/falling

Matthew Tkachuk, W, Calgary Flames (up 20 spots to No. 12): Why do I keep moving Tkachuk up the list every time I run these rankings? Well, there's always something new to impress me. Tkachuk's finish as the No. 26 skater on the ESPN Player Rater to finish the season is impressive. It means only 25 skaters had more fantasy value this season. What's more impressive, he's the only player among the top 50 on the Player Rater that was exclusively a second-line player this season. He spent fewer than 100 minutes playing on a line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan at even-strength, and some of that was probably just from spill-over from the end of power plays. Tkachuk's stats as a top-20 fantasy skater all came while he played on the top power-play unit and second line. The next highest skater on the Player Rater with that same profile is Phil Kessel at No. 52. But, unlike Kessel, Tkachuk's game still hasn't peaked. He doesn't turn 22 until December.

Jack Hughes, C (up 44 spots to No. 16): Hughes' bump is partly fueled by ditching the current season in the rankings, but also partly fueled by his presumed landing spot following the draft lottery. The New Jersey Devils is a much softer landing spot for Hughes to become a fantasy asset out of the gate than either the Avalanche or Los Angeles Kings. With the Devils, Nico Hischier is good, but doesn't pose a huge challenge to Hughes to lay claim to the No. 1 center role. He would have had to settle for No. 2 behind Nathan MacKinnon or Anze Kopitar in those other situations. Also, the Devils have an MVP-caliber winger ready to roll in Taylor Hall. Hughes has done nothing to reduce his draft stock or future outlook as a fantasy star. Last season, while he fell short of Auston Matthews' record for points-per-game with the U.S. National Team Development Program (1.95 vs. 1.93), he eclipsed it this season with a ridiculous 2.14 points-per-game. Nice lottery win, Devils.

Jacob Trouba, D, Winnipeg Jets (up 59 spots to No. 56): Trouba gets a sharp rise in the rankings because he showed his ability to be the "heir apparent" to Dustin Byfuglien's role in running the power play. Things weren't clear-cut prior to Trouba's late-season boost while Byfuglien was sidelined. Admittedly, it helped that Trouba's main competition, Josh Morrissey, was also hurt. The Jets' man-advantage was still better with Byfuglien, as they were second in conversion rate through December (when Byfuglien was mostly healthy), but the Jets only dropped to eighth from January through April (when Byfuglien was mostly hurt). Trouba finished 15th among defensemen in power-play points, despite playing the quarterback role less than half the season. He'll be in great position to shine once the 34-year-old Byfuglien moves on from his role as the power-play QB.

Shea Theodore, G, Vegas Golden Knights (up 85 spots to No. 81): Speaking of power-play quarterbacks, Theodore has won a reprieve with the Golden Knights thanks to the mid-season trade that sent Erik Brannstrom to the Ottawa Senators. Brannstrom would have won that throne eventually, and maybe sooner than expected. However, with Brannstrom no longer a threat, Theodore has free reign over the role for several seasons to come. I think one more big step forward is coming from the 23-year-old Theodore and that should put him in the conversation for back-end D1 status next season.

New to rankings

Jordan Binnington, Kevin Fiala, Jacob Markstrom, Brett Connolly, Vince Dunn, Jake Muzzin, Elvis Merzlikins, Carter Verhaeghe, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Backlund, Jimmy Vesey, Tony DeAngelo, Morgan Frost, Andreas Athanasiou, Boone Jenner, Ryan Strome, Shane Starrett, Travis Sanheim, Sven Baertschi, Kaapo Kahkonen, Mackenzie Blackwood, Bowen Byram, Oscar Klefbom, Colton Parayko, Zach Hyman, Philip Danault, Kevin Labanc, Darcy Kuemper, Esa Lindell, Brock Nelson, David Krejci, Nolan Foote and Jakob Silfverberg.

Notes: Fiala, Niederreiter and Strome all ended up in better places thanks to trades. All could carve out and/or lock down scoring-line roles in the seasons to come. ... Even with the Thatcher Demko/Michael DiPietro combination lurking, we saw enough to be confident that Markstrom will find work as a starter somewhere. ... Verhaeghe exploded onto the scene in the AHL this season in a kind of post-hype breakout capacity you don't often get from 23-year-olds who have been sent to the ECHL on more than one occasion. On other teams I might be less excited, but it looks like Verhaeghe could be some cheap help for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the coming seasons. ... Starrett, Kahkonen and Blackwood are the top hopes for future netminding for their respective franchises (Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild and the Devils). If Sergei Bobrovsky signs elsewhere as a free agent, you can add Merzlikins to the group, too.

Dropped out

Robby Fabbri, Nazem Kadri, Pavel Zacha, Alexander Nylander, Shea Weber, Charlie Coyle, Pekka Rinne, Paul Stastny, Gustav Nyquist, Kyle Turris, Joe Pavelski, Ryan Suter, Alexander Edler, Nick Bjugstad, Hunter Jones, Jake Allen, Jonathan Quick, Cam Fowler, Shayne Gostisbehere, Jaroslav Halak, Cody Glass, Semyon Varlamov, Brandon Pirri, Patric Hornqvist, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Saad, Anton Forsberg, Neal Pionk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Ondrej Palat, Stuart Skinner, Ville Husso and Henrik Lundqvist.

Notes: A few of these guys are dropping out due to their age, such as Rinne, Pavelski, Suter, Kovalchuk, Lundqvist and Weber. These rankings are for the next four years with all four years rated evenly. How much can you expect from some of these guys in 2020-21 and beyond? ... Allen, Quick and Varlamov have seemingly lost their status as dependable starters, so they drop out for now. ... Some players dropped out because this season was a "show me" season and they fell short of expectations: Fabbri, Kadri, Coyle, Turris, Fowler, Saad and Palat. ... Ristolainen feels like my biggest "miss" since I started doing these dynasty rankings two years ago. I wholeheartedly apologize for buying into his 2016-17 campaign. In six NHL seasons, he's never finished with a plus-rating and is a combined minus-143 for his career. He's been worse than minus-20 in four of those seasons. Sorry about that.