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The Front Line: Oshie headlines Olympic beneficiaries

Tuesday, 02.25.2014 / 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.

NHL action officially resumes Tuesday (Carolina Hurricanes at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SPSO, MSG-B, BELL TV) and fantasy owners should be prepared for their stretch run after a two-week hiatus due to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

It was a fantastic tournament, but now it's time to get back to work. I've provided updated top-100 forward rankings for the remainder of this season. Unfortunately, we've lost another elite forward in New York Islanders captain John Tavares, but hopefully fantasy owners will see Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos returning to their rosters in the very near future. This week should also see some other top fantasy forwards back in action as Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets, Marian Gaborik of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings are all expected to play.

But before we officially hop back on the saddle, let's find out which forwards have seen their value increase thanks to their performances in Sochi.

Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings -- Available in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues

While owned in nearly all Yahoo leagues, Carter makes for a great player to try and acquire via trade. He's coming off an impressive Olympic performance with three goals, two assists, 24 shots on goal and a plus-6 rating in six games. He bounced around the lineup all tournament, but looked dominant at times. Carter struggled before the Olympic break with no goals in eight games for the Kings, but expect him to finish the season strong.

T.J. Oshie, St. Louis Blues -- Available in 22 percent

If you didn't know about Oshie before the Olympics, I'm guessing you do now. After being nicknamed T.J. Sochi thanks to his shootout heroics against Russia in the preliminary round, the American hockey hero has plenty to live up to when he takes the ice for the St. Louis Blues again. While his shootout performance doesn't count for anything statically, in six games for the United States, Oshie finished with one goal and three assists. Not too bad considering he was playing fourth-line minutes and averaging 11:12 of ice time per game. But Oshie was already a dominant fantasy forward prior to the Olympics. He has 14 goals and 46 points to go along with a plus-17 rating and 30 penalty minutes in 57 games for the Blues this season. Despite ranking 63rd among all players in Yahoo, he's still out there in 22 percent of leagues. It's time to add him in all leagues, folks.

Daniel Alfredsson, Detroit Red Wings -- Available in 50 percent

Alfredsson only averaged 14:17 of ice time per game for Sweden, but he still managed to record two goals and two assists in his six games. He quietly has had a strong season in Detroit with 14 goals and 35 points in 46 games, including 12 points on the power play where he's averaged 3:24 of ice time per game. Alfredsson might be 41, but as long as he can stay healthy, he might just have a little more to offer to fantasy owners for the stretch run.

Teemu Selanne, Anaheim Ducks -- Available in 88 percent

What can I say about Selanne? One of the most loved players in the NHL was one of the biggest storylines at the Olympics. He earned MVP honors and led his team to a bronze medal with four goals and two assists in six contests. Those point-per-game numbers are far from what he was doing with Anaheim prior to the Olympics (seven goals, 20 points in 47 games), but I believe Selanne should be added in nearly all leagues right now just in case his magnificent heroics in his final Olympics rejuvenate him for the rest of the NHL season.

Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild -- Available in 92 percent

Back on Feb. 4, I listed Granlund in the "Keep an Eye on …" section and after his Olympic performance, I think he's a player worth grabbing, especially in deep leagues. Granlund played top-line minutes for Finland and finished the tournament with three goals and four assists in six games. If you watched him at all, you could immediately notice his vision on the ice. He's got 28 points in 46 games for the Wild this season and at 21, Granlund has the potential to turn into a premier playmaker.

Michael Grabner, New York Islanders -- Available in 93 percent

Grabner led the Austrian team with five goals and six points in four games (including a hat trick in the opening game against Finland). He also amassed 17 shots on goal while averaging 19:25 of ice time. The ice time wasn't the same with the Islanders before the break (he averaged just 14:06 per game), but Grabner could be looked on for more scoring in New York with John Tavares out for the season. He's not a player I would add right away, but he's worth monitoring in case he carries over his Olympic success.

Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers -- Available in 94 percent

Hemsky was tied for the Czech Republic team lead in scoring with four points (three goals, one assist) in five games. He did all of this despite averaging 12:01 of ice time per contest. Hemsky has 24 points in 52 games with the Oilers this season and his minus-11 rating certainly doesn't help his cause. Neither does the fact that he only averages 1.67 shots on goal per game. However, there's a chance he could be moved before the NHL trade deadline and that could boost his fantasy value. Until then, it's probably best to leave Hemsky on waivers, but his Olympic play may have caught the eye of some NHL general managers, which in turn could end up being significant for fantasy owners.

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 Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (+1)

3 Corey Perry, Ducks (-1)

4 Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (same)

5 Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (+1)

6 Chris Kunitz, Penguins (+1)

7 Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks (+2)

8 Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (same)

9 James Neal, Penguins (+1)

10 Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (+1)

11 Claude Giroux, Flyers (+3)

12 Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (same)

13 Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings (NR)*

14 Joe Pavelski, Sharks (+1)

15 Martin St. Louis, Lightning (+1)

16 Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (+2)

17 Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (+3)

18 Patrick Marleau, Sharks (-1)

19 Alexander Steen, Blues (same)

20 Zach Parise, Wild (+1)

21 Jamie Benn, Stars (+2)

22 Logan Couture, Sharks (NR)*

23 Anze Kopitar, Kings (+1)

24 Rick Nash, Rangers (-2)

25 David Backes, Blues (same)

26 Tyler Seguin, Stars (+3)

27 Eric Staal, Hurricanes (-1)

28 Daniel Sedin, Canucks (-1)

29 Thomas Vanek, Islanders (+1)

30 Matt Duchene, Avalanche (-2)

31 Taylor Hall, Oilers (same)

32 James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (same)

33 David Krejci, Bruins (+8)

34 Joe Thornton, Sharks (-1)

35 Henrik Sedin, Canucks (same)

36 Wayne Simmonds, Flyers (same)

37 Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes (-3)

38 Jarome Iginla, Bruins (+5)

39 Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (+1)

40 Bobby Ryan, Senators (-2)

41 Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (+1)

42 Ryan Kesler, Canucks (-3)

43 Evander Kane, Jets (NR)*

44 Jeff Carter, Kings (same)

45 Jason Spezza, Senators (+3)

46 Milan Lucic, Bruins (same)

47 Jaromir Jagr, Devils (same)

48 Kyle Turris, Senators (-3)

49 Kyle Okposo, Islanders (-12)

50 Blake Wheeler, Jets (same)

51 Marian Gaborik, Blue Jackets (NR)*

52 Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (+4)

53 Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (same)

54 Scott Hartnell, Flyers (+3)

55 T.J. Oshie, Blues (same)

56 Clarke MacArthur, Senators (-7)

57 Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets (-5)

58 Jordan Eberle, Oilers (-7)

59 Jakub Voracek, Flyers (same)

60 Derek Stepan, Rangers (-2)

61 Bryan Little, Jets (-1)

62 David Perron, Oilers (-8)

63 Brad Richards, Rangers (same)

64 Radim Vrbata, Coyotes (-3)

65 Andrew Ladd, Jets (same)

66 Ryan Johansen, Blue Jackets (+8)

67 Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs (-5)

68 Chris Kreider, Rangers (-4)

69 Johan Franzen, Red Wings (NR)*

70 Brad Marchand, Bruins (+3)

71 Alexander Semin, Hurricanes (-2)

72 Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (-1)

73 Jason Pominville, Wild (-6)

74 Brent Burns, Sharks (-8)

75 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (-5)

76 Martin Hanzal, Coyotes (-8)

77 Jaden Schwartz, Blues (same)

78 Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (-2)

79 Brandon Saad, Blackhawks (same)

80 Shane Doan, Coyotes (-8)

81 Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes (-3)

82 Nick Bonino, Ducks (NR)*

83 Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings (+5)

84 Paul Stastny, Avalanche (+1)

85 Nathan Horton, Blue Jackets (-1)

86 Patrik Elias, Devils (-5)

87 Jussi Jokinen, Penguins (same)

88 Matt Moulson, Sabres (NR)*

89 Chris Stewart, Blues (-6)

90 Justin Williams, Kings (-8)

91 Tyler Bozak, Maple Leafs (same)

92 Ryan Callahan, Rangers (+1)

93 Ryan O'Reilly, Avalanche (-3)

94 Loui Eriksson, Bruins (+1)

95 Gustav Nyquist, Red Wings (-3)

96 Cody Hodgson, Sabres (-10)

97 Tyler Johnson, Lightning (-8)

98 Reilly Smith, Bruins (-4)

99 Mike Richards, Kings (NR)

100 Brendan Gallagher, Canadiens (NR)

* Appeared on injured list last week

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryane Clowe, Alex Killorn, Antoine Vermette

Injured: Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Henrik Zetterberg, Mikko Koivu, Mats Zuccarello, Tomas Hertl, Valtteri Filppula, Frans Nielsen, Pascal Dupuis, Alex Galchenyuk

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