The Front Line: Stewart rises in ranks, Hartnell falls

Tuesday, 03.19.2013 / 12:00 PM
Matt Cubeta  - NHL.com Staff Writer

For the past couple of weeks NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen has taken over The Front Line graciously, but after a two-week absence, I am here for you again and ready to jump back into the fantasy hockey pool.

So what did I miss? Sidney Crosby is still the best. Chris Kunitz is quite valuable himself, ranking second among all players in Yahoo! fantasy leagues. No one is even close to as good as a duo as Crosby and Kunitz, who have recorded a point on the same goal 28 times (seven more than the next best NHL duo, Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis).

Fellow Pittsburgher James Neal has climbed the ranks quickly -- he's seventh in Yahoo! leagues. Stamkos has 21 goals in 29 games, which is a 59-goal pace over the course of an 82-game season. Jeff Carter has 18 goals, but miraculously only three assists (he notched one last night). How is that possible? How does he not accidentally get an assist more than three times in 28 games?

What else? Mike Ribeiro is tied for the NHL-lead with 16 power-play points (Andrei Markov). Evander Kane leads the NHL in shots on goal with 126 -- 10 more than Alex Ovechkin, who's second on the list. Jiri Tlusty is the only NHLer with five multi-goal games (Kunitz, Marian Hossa and Patrick Marleau all have four). Other than Crosby, St. Louis is the only other player to have at least 30 assists (he has 31; Crosby has 35).

How about this for a surprise: Alexander Semin is slowly putting himself back on the map as an elite fantasy player (he's ranked eighth among all players). David Clarkson is finally starting to slide after his torrid start. Alex Ovechkin is quietly the 21st-ranked fantasy player in Yahoo! Fresh off their big pay days, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are playing up to the level many of us expected -- Getzlaf is ranked 16th, Perry is 20th. Wayne Simmonds is the only player with at least 10 goals, 10 assists and 50 penalty minutes (59 to be exact).

Of all the things that have occurred in the two weeks I've been gone, the thing I've liked seeing the most is Patrick Kane's name among the top-10 forwards. His season has been remarkable (16 G, 21 A, plus-15, 2 PIMs, 12 PPP, 80 SOG) and he officially cracks my top-five forward rankings this week.

TRENDING UPWARD

Chris Stewart, Blues -- Fresh off being named the No. 1 star of the week, Stewart finds himself rising 12 spots in our updated rankings. Over the past two weeks, no forward has been more valuable to his fantasy owners. Stewart is in the middle of a three-game point-scoring streak and has seven goals and seven assists over his last seven games. On the season, the gritty forward now has 14 goals, 14 assists, a plus-five, 31 PIMs, eight power-play points and 56 shots on goal, making his fantasy owners quickly forget about his rough season from a year ago. Stewart's Yahoo! ownership has increased to 70 percent, but if he's available in your league, be sure to scoop him up immediately as he's turned into one of the more valuable six-tool players.

Pascal Dupuis, Penguins -- Last week, NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen discussed Kuntiz's rise in the rankings, and this week we find Dupuis in here. One thing has become quite obvious: if you play on a line with Crosby, you're going to carry plenty of fantasy value. While he isn't at quite the same level of Kunitz as Crosby's wingman (a main reason for that is that Dupuis is averaging just 33 seconds of power-play time this year), Dupuis has been red-hot in the month of March with seven goals and two assists in nine games -- of those seven goals, Crosby has assisted on five them. Dupuis might be 33 years old, but with a plus-17 and 85 shots on goal to go along with his 21 points in 30 games, he's proving he can still be an extremely useful fantasy player.

Devin Setoguchi, Wild -- It's been four years since Setoguchi broke out with 31 goals and 65 points for the Sharks. And sadly, it's been nothing but disappointment since then. Many of us were hoping he'd rediscover his game when he was traded to Minnesota, but last year he recorded 19 goals, 36 points and a minus-17 rating in his first season with the Wild. However, things have started to look up for Setoguchi (who's still just 26 years old). In 28 games he has nine goals (three on the power play), nine assists, a plus-eight, 18 penalty minutes and 58 shots on goal. What's more is that he's caught fire in his past four contests with four goals and two helpers. Playing on a line with Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Matt Cullen seems to be working well of late and grabbing Setoguchi (owned in just 17 percent of Yahoo! leagues) might be a wise move for those of you in deep leagues.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Scott Hartnell, Flyers -- We thought things were looking up for Hartnell after he returned from his injury -- he had three points in his first three games back -- but since then, he has just one goal in the past eight contests. While his penalty minutes have still been very useful (45 on the season, including 28 in his eight slumping games), Hartnell just hasn't produced like we hoped. He still has the potential to catch fire at any time when he's on a line with Claude Giroux, but until you see a glimpse of success, you're probably best off benching him for the time being.

Jeff Carter, Kings -- As fast as they can rise, a player can also fall, and that's exactly what's happened with Carter. Two weeks ago, Carter's fantasy stock rose 18 spots in our forward rankings to the No. 65 spot. Last week he moved up from there to the No. 43 slot. Unfortunately, prior to Monday's goal and an assist performance, Carter had no points in the past four games and just eight shots on goal during that time, resulting in his falling back down in the ranks to the No. 53 mark. What should you make of all this movement if you own Carter? You simply have to realize that he is one of streakiest players in the entire League. You also should know that he's become pretty much just a two-category fantasy asset -- goals (18) and shots on goal (80).

David Krejci, Bruins -- Krejci was really starting to play some good hockey of late (he had two goals and seven assists in the previous eight games), but after taking a shot to his right leg on Sunday against the Penguins, he could be sidelined for a bit. While we don't yet know exactly how long he'll be out, it's best if you reserve him until more details are revealed. Krejci drops 10 spots in our rankings, but it's only due to this injury, not his play.

KEEP AN EYE ON …

Jakob Silfverberg, Senators -- When Kyle Turris was moved from the first to the second line, the Senators may have found something they can build around for a while. Turris is now centering an extremely young and talented line with Silfverberg and speedster Colin Greening on his wings, and the trio is clicking already -- with Silfverberg's fantasy value getting a nice boost. The 22-year-old Swedish forward has two goals and an assist in his past three games and has compiled 12 shots on goal during that time. He's available in 93 percent of Yahoo! leagues and is a nice sleeper for the rest of this season.

TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARD RANKINGS

These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings -- NR means not ranked in previous rankings. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.

Sidney Crosby, Penguins (same)

Steven Stamkos, Lightning (same)

Eric Staal, Hurricanes (+1)

James Neal, Penguins (+2)

Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (+2)

Rick Nash, Rangers (-3)

John Tavares, Islanders (-2)

Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils (same)

Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (same)

Chris Kunitz, Penguins (+5)

Claude Giroux, Flyers (-1)

Corey Perry, Ducks (same)

Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (+3)

Anze Kopitar, Kings (same)

Martin St. Louis, Lightning (-2)

Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings (+2)

Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings (same)

Zach Parise, Wild (+1)

Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (+7)

Alexander Semin, Hurricanes (+8)

Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (+1)

Thomas Vanek, Sabres (-11)

Tyler Seguin, Bruins (+1)

Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (-3)

Daniel Sedin, Canucks (-2)

Henrik Sedin, Canucks (-6)

Matt Duchene, Avalanche (-2)

Taylor Hall, Oilers (+3)

Joe Thornton, Sharks (-2)

Patrick Marleau, Sharks (-1)

Mike Ribeiro, Capitals (+10)

Matt Moulson, Islanders (+7)

Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (+3)

Patrik Elias, Devils (-4)

PA Parenteau, Avalanche (+5)

Logan Couture, Sharks (+1)

Jakub Voracek, Flyers (+11)

Joe Pavelski, Sharks (-5)

Nicklas Backstrom Capitals (-7)

Evander Kane, Jets (+10)

Alexandre Burrows, Canucks (+6)

Jamie Benn, Stars (+3)

Bobby Ryan, Ducks (-8)

Scott Hartnell, Flyers (-10)

David Backes, Blues (-3)

Wayne Simmonds, Flyers (+8)

Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (+10)

Jarome Iginla, Flames (-10)

Brad Marchand, Bruins (+3)

Jordan Eberle, Oilers (-4)

Mikko Koivu, Wild (+2)

Jason Pominville, Sabres (-3)

Jeff Carter, Kings (-10)

Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (+13)

Marian Gaborik, Rangers (+1)

Sam Gagner, Oilers (+6)

Andrew Ladd, Jets (+11)

Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (+2)

Chris Stewart, Blues (+12)

David Clarkson, Devils (-1)

James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (-6)

Milan Lucic, Bruins (-4)

Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs (NR)*

Cody Hodgson, Sabres (same)

Dustin Brown, Kings (+12)

Johan Franzen, Red Wings (+1)

Brad Richards, Rangers (-6)

Ray Whitney, Stars (NR)*

Jiri Tlusty, Hurricanes (-4)

Pascal Dupuis, Penguins (+27)

Damien Brunner, Red Wings (-1)

Jordan Staal, Hurricanes (same)

Jaromir Jagr, Stars (-10)

Alexander Steen, Blues (NR)*

Teemu Selanne, Ducks (-2)

Michael Ryder, Canadiens (-7)

David Perron, Blues (-3)

Brayden Schenn, Flyers (-2)

Ryan Callahan, Rangers (+2)

Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (+7)

Mike Richards, Kings (+9)

Justin Williams, Kings (NR)

Brad Boyes, Islanders (+2)

Loui Eriksson, Stars (-9)

Dany Heatley, Wild (-6)

Troy Brouwer, Capitals (same)

Teddy Purcell, Lightning (-6)

David Krejci, Bruins (-10)

T.J. Oshie, Blues (-5)

Derek Stepan, Rangers (+1)

Kyle Turris, Senators (NR)

Carl Hagelin, Rangers (+4)

Ryan O'Reilly, Avalanche (+7)

Cory Conacher, Lightning (-11)

Derek Roy, Stars (-13)

Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues (NR)*

Blake Wheeler, Jets (NR)

Devin Setoguchi, Wild (NR)

Tyler Ennis, Sabres (-6)

Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers (-12)

* Was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Clarke MacArthur, Patrik Berglund, Danny Briere, Brian Gionta, Andrew Cogliano, Brendan Gallagher

Injured: Evgeni Malkin, Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Kesler, Radim Vrbata, Andy McDonald, Milan Michalek, Michael Grabner, Martin Havlat, Stephen Weiss, Kris Versteeg, Steve Downie, Brandon Prust

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