The Front Line: Preseason recap and looking ahead

Tuesday, 10.01.2013 / 12:00 PM
Matt Cubeta  - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy forwards in his weekly segment: "The Front Line." From updated rankings to players you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy forwards insider all season long.

With the 2013-14 NHL season set to begin Tuesday night, fantasy hockey owners are surely ready for their teams to embark on a championship season.

Drafts are complete; rosters should be in place, now we just have to manage our teams and hope to outsmart the opponent until April 13, when the regular season and fantasy hockey comes to an end.

With that said, let's take a look at some notable tandems during the preseason and how it affects the fantasy landscape:

Dynamic Duos:

Jordan Eberle and David Perron (Edmonton Oilers) -- Perron missed Edmonton's last preseason game due to an illness, but prior to that he and Eberle had been two of the most productive players in preseason. Eberle tied for the NHL lead with eight points in five games while Perron tied for the lead in goals with five (in just four games). With injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner, the Oilers will be leaning heavily on Eberle and Perron, and fantasy owners should too.

Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik (Columbus Blue Jackets) -- Reunited from their days with the New York Rangers, they've played on the same line throughout preseason and have each recorded seven points (Gaborik in four games, Dubinsky in five). Gaborik is more than capable of returning to his 35-plus goal-scoring ways and Dubinsky is a candidate to post at least 50 points and 100 penalty minutes – a unique feat in fantasy hockey.

Cory Conacher and Clarke MacArthur (Ottawa Senators) -- The third member of this line is Kyle Turris, but since Conacher and MacArthur are still widely available in Yahoo fantasy leagues (81 and 95 percent respectively), I'll focus on them. Conacher has notched four goals, one assist and 17 shots on goal in five games, and has even chipped in 10 penalty minutes. Meanwhile, MacArthur has posted two goals and two assists with a plus-2 in four contests. Both players should be monitored to start the year and could make for nice pick-ups in deep leagues.

Other Preseason Notes:

- Max Pacioretty, Eric Fehr and Perron all tied for the preseason lead with five goals.

- Capitals newcomer Mikhail Grabovski led all forwards with seven assists (in four games).

- Pavel Datsyuk, Joe Pavelski, Eberle, Fehr and Grabovski all tied for the preseason lead with eight points.

- Alex Ovechkin led all players with four power-play goals.

- Evander Kane had the most shots on goal with 28.

TRENDING UPWARD

Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings -- As mentioned, Datsyuk notched eight points in just four preseason games and looks primed for a huge season. He's starting the year with Henrik Zetterberg on his wing, and if Detroit keeps the two superstars together all season long Datsyuk could eclipse the 80-point mark for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars -- Seguin's first preseason in Dallas went well, as he posted a goal and six assists in five games skating on a line with Jamie Benn and Erik Cole. We're all aware of Seguin's potential, and at just 21 there's reason to believe his first season with the Stars could be his best yet.

Derek Stepan, New York Rangers -- Those of you that drafted Stepan while he was still holding out can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After signing a two-year deal with the Rangers, feel free to insert Stepan into your starting lineup and look for him to build off an impressive 2012-13 season in which he finished as the 30th best overall fantasy player. Stepan could end up centering Rick Nash for a full season and reach the 70-point mark.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes -- Semin's status for opening night is in jeopardy right now and based on his injury history, fantasy owners have to be cautious with how they use him to start the year. Skinner is dealing with a lower-body injury, but could be ready for the opener. He didn't have the most impressive preseason (one goal, minus-3 in three games) and should start the year on fantasy owners' bench.

David Krejci, Boston Bruins -- Krejci is currently listed as day-to-day and didn't skate this Sunday at practice. He also struggled in three preseason games with just one point (a goal) and a minus-3 rating. And while we all know he doesn't shoot the puck a ton, Krejci only registered four shots on goal this preseason. You might have to stash him on your bench to start.

David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Thanks to a 10-game suspension, Clarkson's fantasy owners will have to wait three-plus weeks before they can activate him. Before the suspension was handed out I ranked Clarkson 89th among all forwards; now he falls outside the top 100. However, he's still worthy of being on a roster considering he could produce solid numbers in a top-six role when he returns to the lineup.

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Matt Frattin, Kings - Frattin earned a spot on the Kings' second line with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and is worth a pick-up immediately after putting together a noticeable preseason. In five contests he tallied one goal and five assists, gaining confidence with each game. Available in 95 percent of Yahoo leagues, Frattin deserves to be rostered to start the year.

TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS

These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. 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.

1 Sidney Crosby, Penguins

2 Steven Stamkos, Lightning

3 Alex Ovechkin, Capitals

4 Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks

5 John Tavares, Islanders

6 Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

7 Corey Perry, Ducks

8 Patrick Kane, Blackhawks

9 Rick Nash, Rangers

10 James Neal, Penguins

11 Claude Giroux, Flyers

12 Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks

13 Eric Staal, Hurricanes

14 Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings

15 Zach Parise, Wild

16 Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs

17 Martin St. Louis, Lightning

18 Anze Kopitar, Kings

19 Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals

20 Daniel Sedin, Canucks

21 Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings

22 Chris Kunitz, Penguins

23 Henrik Sedin, Canucks

24 Taylor Hall, Oilers

25 Jason Spezza, Senators

26 Evander Kane, Jets

27 Marian Gaborik, Blue Jackets

28 Matt Duchene, Avalanche

29 Jamie Benn, Stars

30 Tyler Seguin, Stars

31 Max Pacioretty, Canadiens

32 Logan Couture, Sharks

33 Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks

34 Bobby Ryan, Senators

35 Jordan Eberle, Oilers

36 Marian Hossa, Blackhawks

37 Thomas Vanek, Sabres

38 Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs

39 David Backes, Blues

40 Brad Marchand, Bruins

41 Patrice Bergeron, Bruins

42 Derek Stepan, Rangers

43 Nail Yakupov, Oilers

44 Alexander Semin, Hurricanes

45 Matt Moulson, Islanders

46 Wayne Simmonds, Flyers

47 Jarome Iginla, Bruins

48 Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes

49 Ryan Kesler, Canucks

50 Joe Pavelski, Sharks

51 Milan Lucic, Bruins

52 Jakub Voracek, Flyers

53 Patrick Marleau, Sharks

54 Joe Thornton, Sharks

55 Alexandre Burrows, Canucks

56 Andrew Ladd, Jets

57 Loui Eriksson, Bruins

58 Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche

59 PA Parenteau, Avalanche

60 Mikko Koivu, Wild

61 Jason Pominville, Wild

62 Johan Franzen, Red Wings

63 Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs

64 Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers

65 James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs

66 Jeff Carter, Kings

67 Dustin Brown, Kings

68 Ryan Callahan, Rangers

69 Scott Hartnell, Flyers

70 Pascal Dupuis, Penguins

71 Cody Hodgson, Sabres

72 Chris Stewart, Blues

73 Justin Williams, Kings

74 Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens

75 David Perron, Oilers

76 Mike Richards, Kings

77 Vincent Lecavalier, Flyers

78 Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes

79 Tomas Fleischmann, Panthers

80 Ray Whitney, Stars

81 Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche

82 T.J. Oshie, Blues

83 Blake Wheeler, Jets

84 Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets

85 Radim Vrbata, Coyotes

86 Patrik Elias, Devils

87 Derick Brassard, Rangers

88 David Krejci, Bruins

89 Michael Ryder, Devils

90 Dany Heatley, Wild

91 Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings

92 Kyle Turris, Senators

93 Jaromir Jagr, Devils

94 Stephen Weiss, Red Wings

95 Alexander Steen, Blues

96 Milan Michalek, Senators

97 Brad Richards, Rangers

98 Jiri Tlusty, Hurricanes

99 Teemu Selanne, Ducks

100 Brayden Schenn, Flyers

Injured: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Nathan Horton, Carl Hagelin, Jakob Silfverberg, Marcus Foligno

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