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The Front Line: Jagr primed to join exclusive list

Tuesday, 01.28.2014 / 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.

Seven players in the history of the NHL have recorded 60 or more points during their age-40-or-older season, according to hockey-reference.com. Two of them have done it twice, so only nine times in total has it ever been achieved. Nine.

Gordie Howe posted 103 points in his age-40 season. He also had 71 points in his age-41 campaign. Teemu Selanne had 80 points in his age 40-season in 2010-11 and then had 66 points at age 41. The other five players to accomplish this feat were John Bucyk, Alex Delvecchio, Mark Messier, Nicklas Lidstrom and Mark Recchi. Howe and Selanne are the only two players to reach the 60-point mark in their age-41 seasons.

OLD SCHOOL

Player-Team-Age-Season-Points

Gordie Howe-Red Wings-40-1968-69-103

John Bucyk-Bruins-40-1975-76-83

Teemu Selanne-Ducks-40-2010-11-80

Alex Delvecchio-Red Wings-40-1972-73-71

Gordie Howe-Red Wings-41-1969-70-71

Mark Messier-Rangers-40-2000-01-67

Teemu Selanne-Ducks-41-2011-12-66

Nicklas Lidstrom-Red wings-40-2010-11-62

Mark Recchi-Lightning/Bruins-40-2008-09-61

By the end of this season, an eighth member could be added to this 40-plus list and a third player to the 41-plus list.

Of course I'm referring to Jaromir Jagr, who has been a revelation for the New Jersey Devils and his fantasy owners.

Last week, NHL.com's Corey Masisak talked about Jagr joining the "40/40 club" in his Super 16 [http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=701995], but this is about Jagr joining an even more exclusive list. Of course he hasn't done so yet, but it's certainly a realistic possibility.

The first-year Devil has 16 goals and 44 points in 53 games and is currently ranked 30th among all players in Yahoo leagues, thanks in part to his outstanding plus-20 rating that's tied for 11th among all forwards.

Jagr's best performances on the ice have come recently, where he's notched three goals and five assists over his past six games. He also hasn't had a minus rating in the past 12 games.

But the question remains: At 41 and soon to be 42, can he keep at this pace for the remainder of the season?

I believe Jagr can. He continues to perform at an elite level and despite criticism about his playoff performance with the Boston Bruins last spring (no goals, 10 assists in 22 games), since returning from the Kontinental Hockey League in 2011, his regular seasons have been excellent, and none more so than this one.

In his first season back in the NHL, Jagr joined the Philadelphia Flyers and had 54 points in 73 games. He then signed with the Dallas Stars where he had 26 points in 34 games before being traded to the Bruins. He finished up that regular season with nine points in 11 games for Boston before his playoff slump. But despite going without a goal in the postseason, Jagr still looked like, well, Jagr.

And this season he has shown exactly that. He's still Jagr, scoring at will and setting up beautiful goals like the one scored by Patrik Elias at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. The Kladno, Czech Republic native seems to have improved since his overseas stint and is currently on pace for 67 points.

At 41, one has to wonder if his body will break down or he'll fall victim to an injury. However, over his past six NHL seasons, Jagr has missed just 12 games, including none so far this season. He's also averaging 19:18 of playing time per game with the Devils, which is nearly a minute more than last season and the most he's averaged since returning from the KHL.

Jagr seems to be a machine that continues to move up in the all-time records despite three years away from the League. And if he can simply remain healthy for the remainder of this season, there's a very good chance Jagr joins yet another exclusive list at the young age of 42.

TRENDING UPWARD

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks -- It had to be done. It was time for Alex Ovechkin to drop from the No. 2 rank behind Sidney Crosby. Despite Ovechkin's NHL-best 36 goals and 266 shots, Corey Perry deserved the bump up to No. 2. Perry has eight fewer goals and 81 less shots, but he does have 14 more assists, has a plus-38 differential in plus/minus (Perry is a plus-25, Ovechkin is a minus-13) and 12 more penalty minutes. Not to mention Perry has been unbelievably consistent -- he hasn't gone three games without a point yet this season and not since a two-game span from Nov. 20-22 has he gone two games without a point. Coming off what some considered a down season, Perry has returned to his MVP level and fantasy owners are loving it.

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets -- Wheeler has already tied his career high in goals (21) from his rookie season in 2008-09 with the Bruins and he could be headed for a career high in points at this rate. He had 64 points in 2011-12 and right now he's on pace to tie that. However, with six goals and 12 points in his past 10 games, there's reason to believe Wheeler could reach the 70-point mark for the first time.

Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes -- It may have taken him three months, but the Semin of old is finally returning for fantasy owners. After posting 15 points in his first 28 games, Semin has 12 points in 12 January games, including six goals in the past six. Since the new year, he's also been a plus-10.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals -- Backstrom falls out of the top 20 for the first time since early December thanks to his biggest slump of the 2013-14 season. Backstrom has no goals and one assist in his past eight games, seven of which have been Capitals losses. Backstrom is a lethal power-play performer (his 27 power-play points lead the League), but his minus-9 rating and lack of goals (11) diminish his total value.

Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Lupul still carries some fantasy value -- in 45 games he has 15 goals, 35 penalty minutes and averages better than three shots on goal. The biggest concern is his minus-11 rating. Clearly the trio of Lupul, Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin isn't exactly the most responsible unit and that is hurting Lupul's fantasy value. He's currently ranked 161st among all players in Yahoo and isn't producing close to his draft-day pick (on average he was selected 66th overall).

Justin Williams, Los Angeles Kings -- The Kings are having a tough time scoring goals right now and Williams is one of the reasons. He hasn't found the back of the net in his past nine games and has just one assist. Since recording 19 points in his first 27 games, Williams has just 10 points in the past 27. It's time to bench Williams until he shows signs of life.

KEEP AN EYE ON ...

Antoine Vermette, Phoenix Coyotes -- The veteran forward has been red-hot with six goals and an assist over his past six games (including a hat track on Sunday). Vermette is available in 75 percent of Yahoo leagues and with 18 goals on the season, he's currently on pace for a career-high 28. Act now if you're looking for a well-rounded fantasy contributor (30 penalty minutes, even rating, eight power-play points, 114 shots).

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 (same)

2 Corey Perry, Ducks (+2)

3 Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (-1)

4 Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (-1)

5 John Tavares, Islanders (same)

6 Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (same)

7 Chris Kunitz, Penguins (+2)

8 Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (-1)

9 James Neal, Penguins (same)

10 Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks (same)

11 Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (same)

12 Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (+1)

13 Joe Pavelski, Sharks (+2)

14 Patrick Marleau, Sharks (same)

15 Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings (-3) DTD

16 Martin St. Louis, Lightning (+4)

17 Claude Giroux, Flyers (+2)

18 Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (same)

19 Alexander Steen, Blues (+3)

20 Rick Nash, Rangers (+6)

21 Daniel Sedin, Canucks (-4)

22 Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (-6)

23 Eric Staal, Hurricanes (+2)

24 David Backes, Blues (-3)

25 Anze Kopitar, Kings (-2)

26 Zach Parise, Wild (NR)*

27 Matt Duchene, Avalanche (-2)

28 Thomas Vanek, Islanders (+1)

29 Jamie Benn, Stars (+2)

30 Joe Thornton, Sharks (-3)

31 Taylor Hall, Oilers (-3)

32 Tyler Seguin, Stars (same)

33 James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (+2)

34 Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes (-1)

35 Wayne Simmonds, Flyers (+1)

36 Evander Kane, Jets (+3)

37 Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (-3)

38 Bobby Ryan, Senators (same)

39 Kyle Okposo, Islanders (+4)

40 Ryan Kesler, Canucks (-3)

41 Jeff Carter, Kings (-1)

42 Kyle Turris, Senators (+2)

43 Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (-1)

44 Jarome Iginla, Bruins (+2)

45 David Krejci, Bruins (+2)

46 Milan Lucic, Bruins (-1)

47 Jason Spezza, Senators (-6)

48 Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (+1)

49 Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets (-1)

50 Clarke MacArthur, Senators (+9)

51 David Perron, Oilers (same)

52 T.J. Oshie, Blues (-2)

53 Jordan Eberle, Oilers (+1)

54 Jaromir Jagr, Devils (+10)

55 Blake Wheeler, Jets (+5)

56 Derek Stepan, Rangers (+1)

57 Bryan Little, Jets (+1)

58 Jakub Voracek, Flyers (-2)

59 Radim Vrbata, Coyotes (-6)

60 Brent Burns, Sharks (-5)

61 Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs (-9)

62 Chris Kreider, Rangers (same)

63 Brad Richards, Rangers (-2)

64 Johan Franzen, Red Wings (NR)*

65 Scott Hartnell, Flyers (same) DTD

66 Andrew Ladd, Jets (+4)

67 Jason Pominville, Wild (same)

68 Martin Hanzal, Coyotes (+1)

69 Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (+4)

70 Shane Doan, Coyotes (+1)

71 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (+1)

72 Nick Bonino, Ducks (+7)

73 Alexander Semin, Hurricanes (+10)

74 Brad Marchand, Bruins (+6)

75 Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (-9)

76 Justin Williams, Kings (-13)

77 Mats Zuccarello, Rangers (-1)

78 Chris Stewart, Blues (-10)

79 Valtteri Filppula, Lightning (-2)

80 Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes (+2)

81 Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (-3)

82 Jaden Schwartz, Blues (-8)

83 Ryan Johansen, Blue Jackets (-2)

84 Matt Moulson, Sabres (-9)

85 Nathan Horton, Blue Jackets (same)

86 Paul Stastny, Avalanche (-2)

87 Cody Hodgson, Sabres (+1)

88 Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings (NR)*

89 PA Parenteau, Avalanche (+4)

90 Brandon Saad, Blackhawks (-3)

91 Tyler Johnson, Lightning (NR)

92 Tyler Bozak, Maple Leafs (-2)

93 Ryan Callahan, Rangers (-4)

94 Ryane Clowe, Devils (+1)

95 Loui Eriksson, Bruins (-9)

96 Reilly Smith, Bruins (+1)

97 Mike Richards, Kings (-5)

98 Dustin Brown, Kings (-7)

99 Frans Nielsen, Islanders (+1)

100 Ryan O'Reilly, Avalanche (NR)

* Appeared on injured list last week

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Vincent Lecavalier, Brayden Schenn, Vladimir Tarasenko, Teddy Purcell

Injured: Steven Stamkos, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Sedin, Logan Couture, Marian Gaborik, Mikko Koivu, Tomas Hertl, Pascal Dupuis, David Clarkson, Alex Galchenyuk

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