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Right of Way: Perry awakening for fantasy owners

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Right of Way: Perry awakening for fantasy owners
In this week's edition of "Right of Way," NHL.com fantasy expert Matt Cubeta looks at how last season's MVP has moved past his typical slow start to put up the kind of stats his owners come to expect.
Every Friday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy right wings in our weekly segment: "Right of Way." From updated right wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy right wing expert all season long.

Watch out folks, last season's fantasy hockey MVP is making his move.

Ducks forward Corey Perry is slowly coming alive. After struggling out of the gate with no points in his first three games, Perry has started to deliver for his fantasy owners with points in each of his last six games, including his first multi-point performance of the season on Thursday against the Wild.

If you were fortunate enough to have Perry on your fantasy team a season ago you would know he's typically a slow starter. To start 2010-11, the versatile forward also was held pointless in his first three contests and then went on to record 8 points in his next six games -- this season he has 7 points in the six games following the pointless streak to start out.

Of course point production isn't the only thing Perry owners have come to expect over the years. What makes the 26-year-old right wing so valuable is his ability to deliver in all fantasy categories -- and so far this season hasn't been any different. In his nine games, Perry has posted a solid stat line: 4 G, 3 A, plus-2, 14 PIMs, 5 PPP and 29 SOG. His 14 penalty minutes put him on pace for 128 on the season, and while he may not hit that number, he's usually a lock for over 100 -- he's reached the century mark in each of the previous four campaigns.

Another trend that may continue for Perry is his increased production on the power play, which is largely because he's receiving more opportunities this season. Last season, Perry was only averaging 3:30 of power-play ice time; this season, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle seems to be riding his top unit even harder, as Perry is seeing over five minutes of man-advantage ice time per game -- and so far the results have been positive as 5 of Perry's 7 points have come on the power play.

Perry may never surpass his phenomenal MVP season in which he scored a career high 50 goals and 98 points, but he's still arguably the most valuable player in all of fantasy hockey and he continues to be our No. 1 right wing in our updated rankings.

TRENDING UPWARD

TOP 30 FANTASY RIGHT WINGS

These modified re-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 from last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). Note: positions are now dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

Players that dropped out of our previous rankings: Jeff Carter (IR), Justin Williams, Nathan Horton
Joe Pavelski -- Through the Sharks' first seven games, no player has opened more eyes than Pavelski, who has totaled 6 goals and 8 points. But what's even more impressive is the multi-point efforts in each of his last three contests. Pavelski won the line lottery this past summer and finds himself on the wing to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau on San Jose's No. 1 unit, and so far fantasy owners are loving it. "Little Joe" is averaging 21:49 of ice time, with 3:35 of that coming on the man advantage. He has also chipped in a solid plus-4 rating and continues to be a major contributor to the shots on goal category -- his 30 SOG lead the Sharks and his 4.3 shots per game are tied for second in the NHL. The sky is the limit for Pavelski this season, and as long as he remains healthy a 30-plus goal, 80-plus point season seems more than attainable.

Teemu Selanne -- Forty-one years of age or not, Selanne is a constant fantasy producer. The Finnish native has 3 goals and 9 points through his first nine games, with 5 of those points coming on the power play. He skates on Anaheim's top power-play unit with Ryan Getzlaf and Perry, but at even strength he has seen a variety of linemates (including Bobby Ryan recently). Selanne won't do you much good in the penalty minute department (2 PIMs this season), but you should expect his plus/minus (minus-3) to improve as the season develops. Assuming Selanne can stay healthy, fantasy owners should be expecting another point-per-game caliber season.

Jason Pominville -- No NHL combination has been more of a dynamic duo than Buffalo's Pominville and Thomas Vanek -- the two players have both recorded a point on the same goal 12 times this season, which is three more than any other combination. While Vanek has been scoring the goals, Pominville has been loading up on his assists -- his 9 on the season are second only to Marc-Andre Bergeron's 10. While we can't expect the Sabres captain to continue at his current 118-point pace, fantasy owners should look for him to continue to rack up assists and maybe achieve his first 70-plus point season since his 80-point outburst back in 2007-08.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Jarome Iginla -- Coming into the season we ranked Jarome Iginla fourth among right wings, and rightfully so considering he was coming off an outstanding 43-goal, 86-point season. But three weeks into the season and we see the Flames captain all the way down at No. 10. While we hope and should expect to see him regain his usual dominant play, for now Iginla takes a major dip. With just 2 goals, 2 assists, a minus-3, 8 penalty minutes, 2 power-play points and 21 shots on goal, Iginla has been a definite disappointment up to this point. One encouraging sign is that the 34-year-old struggled at the beginning of last season as well, with just 2 points in his first six games. Have patience with Iginla and look for him and linemate Alex Tanguay to heat up sometime in November.

Dany Heatley -- After a disappointing season in his final year with the Sharks (26 goals and 64 points), Heatley was given a fresh opportunity to ignite the Wild offense. To this point, he has not lived up to expectations. Skating on a line with playmaker Mikko Koivu and ex-Sharks teammate Devin Setoguchi, Heatley has posted just 2 goals and 6 points in his first nine games in Minnesota. He is receiving plenty of ice time (22:04 per game) and significant power play chances (4:17 of PP time per game), so Heatley may just be adjusting to his new surroundings. However, fantasy owners might be worried that the 30-year-old has already begun his career downslide -- his goal output has decreased in each of the last five seasons (except in 2008-09 and 2009-10 -- he had 39 both seasons).

Chris Stewart -- The Blues power forward was a player we had pegged to have a major breakout season, especially considering he thrived for St. Louis after being dealt from Colorado at last season's trade deadline. However, after netting 2 goals in his first three games, Stewart has been held pointless in the following six contests. Sure his 25 penalty minutes are a nice bonus, but 17 of them came in one game against the Stars, so that number seems overrated. The 23-year-old right wing is extremely talented and would have easily topped 30 goals last season had he not gotten hurt, but for now fantasy owners would be smart to reserve Stewart until he shows signs of snapping out of this drought.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Jordan Eberle
Right Wing - EDM
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 9
SOG: 25 | +/-: 3
Jordan Eberle -- Eberle was a popular sleeper pick for most fantasy owners on draft day this year, and so far he has lived up to the hype in the first month of the 2011-12 NHL season. Through nine games of action, the 2008 first-round draft choice has posted 2 goals, 7 assists, a plus-3, no penalty minutes, 4 power-play points and 25 shots on goal. At 21 years old, Eberle is considered the veteran to his fellow linemates, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and has thrived at turning them into one of the League's most vibrant trios.

Eberle had a nice breakout season as a rookie with 18 goals and 43 points in just 69 games, so fantasy owners shouldn't be too surprised by the early production. The Oilers wing is also seeing just over 17 minutes of ice time per game, with 4 minutes of that coming on the power play. If his playing time continues at that rate, Eberle should easily surpass last season's numbers. He's currently owned in just 55 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, but with Nugent-Hopkins staying up with the club and this line likely sticking together all season long, Eberle should definitely see a boost in ownership in the very near future.
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