1. Before we get into the forwards, let's talk about the biggest story around the League: the return of Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Sidelined since Oct. 20, Doughty says he's completely recovered from the concussion that forced him to miss six games. If you own him, make sure you've got him in your starting lineup for Thursday night's game against the Lightning. Sure he was off to a slow start with a lone assist in five games, but Doughty is the future of defensemen in the NHL. He's a sure-to-be superstar that brings tons of energy to the game. He's owned in 99% of Yahoo! Leagues and should be relied on as a No. 1 d-man on any fantasy squad going forward.
2. On to the offense. Let's take a look at the right wings -- like most of the other forwards, the elite players have gotten off to slow starts this season. These re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries) -- positions predicated on NHL.com's preseason rankings.
Right wings who dropped out of the preseason top 25: Shane Doan, Mike Knuble, Patric Hornqvist
3. Trending Upward
Corey Perry -- With Kane off to a slow start and Gaborik out with an injury, Perry was able to move up three spots in our rankings to claim the new No. 1 spot at right wing. The Anaheim forward offers fantasy production in every single category (although plus/minus is usually hit or miss with the Ducks): 5 G, 8 A, even, 31 PIMs, 7 PPP and 43 SOG. There are so many things to love about Perry -- he plays on a line with Ryan Getzlaf and (often) Bobby Ryan; he averages more than 21 minutes of ice time, with an absurd 4:11 coming on the power play; he's got a great track record, having posted 72-plus points, 270-plus shots and 109-plus penalty minutes in the last two seasons. Basically, Perry deserves the top spot -- for now anyway.
Joe Pavelski -- Pavelski (eligible at C and RW in Yahoo! Leagues) is an extremely underrated real-life player and fantasy player. He's off to a solid start in 2010 with 3 G, 5 A, 4 PIMs, 6 PPP and 43 SOG in 10 games so far -- the only thing that's lacking in Pavelski's game is his minus-6 rating, but you can expect that to change as the Sharks find their rhythm. Pavelski loves to shoot the puck and he's averaging 18:21 of ice time per game while playing on the team's second line. However, one major bonus is that "Little Joe" plays the point on San Jose's top power-play unit with Dan Boyle on the other side, and Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley and Patrick Marleau up front -- he's seeing 4:16 of ice time per game while on the man advantage. People also tend to forget that Pavelski scored 25 goals and 61 points in just 67 games last season. He also had 9 goals and 8 assists in 15 playoff contests. By the time we do our next rankings, Pavelski could find himself in the top 10.
Ryan Callahan -- Arguably the hottest player in the League right now, Callahan has 4 G, 9 A, a plus-1 rating, 4 PIMs, 3 PPP and 42 SOG. The gritty forward has filled in exceptionally for the injured Marian Gaborik and is skating on New York's top line with Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov -- he has 4 goals and 7 assists during his current seven-game point-scoring streak. Callie also loves to shoot the puck -- his 42 shots are a team-high and he's receiving nearly 21 minutes of ice time per game. With Gaborik sidelined for another week or two, Callahan will continue to be relied on as a major point producer in New York.
4. Trending Downward
Patrick Kane -- While Kane dropped only two spots in the rankings, it's still worth noting because he lost the top ranking. Kane has 12 points in 14 contests this year, and it's not like he's been bad this year, but I think most of us expected more than four goals at this point from the extremely talented forward -- after all, he did have 10 goals and 28 points in 22 playoff games last year. Kane's minus-7 rating is a turn-off early on in 2010, but that's likely to change while playing with the high-powered Blackhawks. Kane has yet to find himself in the sin bin and he's also only got three power-play points, but you can expect that to change as he's receiving nearly four minutes of power play ice time per game. The thing that sets him behind Perry is the PIMs, and his plus/minus keeps him behind Semin, but it's safe to expect Kane to retake the top spot among right wings at some point.
Shane Doan -- Since posting 78 points in the 2007-08 season, Doan has seen his production drop off in the previous two seasons (73 points in 08-09 and 55 in 09-10), with another drop looking very likely this season. The Phoenix captain has yet to score a goal, has just 2 assists, a minus-5 rating, no power-play points and 17 shots on goal in eight games. The only thing that looks good for Doan is that he's recorded 25 penalty minutes, but 17 of them came in one game. At 34, Doan's physical style of play may finally be taking a toll on the rest of his game. He's a tremendous leader on the ice, but it might be time to stash the veteran on your bench or even consider dropping him in shallow leagues.
Mike Knuble -- After scoring a goal in the season opener, Knuble has gone 11 in a row without a goal. He has just 4 points on the season to go along with a minus-2 rating, 2 PIMs, no power play points and 36 shots on goal. Knuble is still seeing top-six forward minutes in Washington, but nothing seems to be clicking for the 38-year-old. Knuble scored 29 goals in just 69 games last season and has 21-plus goals in seven straight seasons, so there is some definite potential. In fact, he could be a decent buy-low option while he's in this slump, but for the time being, Knuble is on the outside looking in at our top-25.
5. Sticking with the right wing theme, let's take a look at one of the League's hottest players right now -- oh, and get this, he's also the League's youngest player at 18 years old. We're talking about Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner. Carolina's first-round pick (No. 7) in June has 4 goals and 6 assists in 12 games this season, with six points coming in the last four contests. While he's listed in Yahoo! League's as a RW, Skinner has been predominantly playing center for the Canes. Skinner has had a seamless transition into the NHL after scoring 70 goals in 84 games (including playoffs) for the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL. He's a future superstar and a name you should be familiar with from this day on. Skinner is currently owned in just 14 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, but you can expect that number to increase quickly once people realize how much talent he has.