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Right of Way: Perry, Malkin holding on at top of ranks

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Right of Way: Perry, Malkin holding on at top of ranks
Nothing has changed among NHL.com's top-six ranked fantasy right wingers, with Corey Perry and Evgeni Malkin continuing to lead the way, but things get a little more crowded after that.
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 is your fantasy right wing expert all season long.

When you're looking over our updated right wing rankings, you'll notice absolutely nothing has changed among our top six skaters.

You may question us for still having Corey Perry at the top of our list, but he's still an extremely productive player despite just 13 points in 19 games (35 penalty minutes, 9 power-play points, 67 shots on goal). Plus, at some point we tend to think that explosive top line for the Ducks will get things together.

The center and right wing eligible Evgeni Malkin showed off his talent on Tuesday, scoring arguably the goal of the year against the Avalanche. He might not be at the top of the Yahoo! ratings, but Malkin has posted 14 points and is averaging 4.3 shots per game in just 12 games. As long as he can stay healthy, he'll be one of the most productive fantasy players in the game.

Patrick Kane is currently the fifth-rated overall player in Yahoo! Leagues, and deservedly so. He has posted 6 points during a current four-game point-scoring streak and is only on pace for a career-best 90 points right now.

Phil Kessel's start to the 2011-12 season hasn't cooled off a bit. Kessel still remains the top-rated right wing in Yahoo! Leagues and has only been held off the scoresheet four times in 19 games this season.

Claude Giroux has taken his game to a new level this season and his fantasy owners have nothing to complain about. Regardless of who's scoring for the Flyers, Giroux seems to always find himself in the thick of the play. His 23 points in 18 games are second only to Kessel's 25 on the season.

Then there's Marian Gaborik, whose stats don't jump out at you like the previous five players, but he's still putting together very good overall numbers. Gaborik has 15 points in 16 games, a plus-7 rating and 74 shots on goal (3rd in the NHL). However, the Rangers -- along with the Islanders and Sharks -- have played the fewest games in the NHL with just 16, so Gaborik does lead the NHL with 4.6 shots per game (Malkin is second at 4.3).

After those six players, things get a little more crowded in determining our right wing rankings. Let's have a look.

TRENDING UPWARD

TOP 40 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 dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Michael Ryder, Patric Hornqvist, Teddy Purcell
Marian Hossa -- No right wing has been more productive than Hossa over the last week. The Hawks' winger has posted 1 goal and 7 assists while also being a plus-7 in his last four games. Hossa has been skating on a new line with Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg, and clearly taking to it. Along with Kane, Hossa has been arguably the most consistent player in Chicago and we can expect him to put up point-per-game numbers all season long.

David Backes -- After having a monster fantasy season last season (31 goals, 31 assists, plus-32, 93 PIMs), Backes got off to a really slow start. While he only has 10 points in 18 games for the Blues, Backes, like Perry, has contributed in other ways for his fantasy owners. He again has a solid plus/minus rating at plus-5, he has chipped in 16 penalty minutes and may even be on a little bit of a hot streak since Ken Hitchcock has taken over as coach -- Backes has 2 goals and 1 assist in his last three games. Hopefully his two-goal performance against the Panthers on Thursday will spark his season.

Jakub Voracek -- Voracek made our list of top-10 sleepers coming into the season, but his Philadelphia career has bounced around quite a bit so far. He scored a goal in his Flyers debut and actually had 2 goals in his first three contests, but then went on to notch no goals and just 3 assists in his next 10 games. However, since the cold streak Voracek has been on a tear with 1 goal and 7 assists during his current five-game point-scoring streak. Voracek always displayed flashes of brilliance in Columbus and now he's starting to show it in Philly. At just 22, Voracek's future seems pretty bright and he seems to have found good chemistry with his current linemates -- Matt Read and Maxime Talbot.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Martin St. Louis -- Coming into the season St. Louis was our No. 2 right wing behind Perry. At the moment, he has dropped to No. 9 at this point of the season -- and is actually rated 24th in Yahoo! Leagues. After posting back-to-back 90-plus point seasons, it seems like we've all come to expect a bit more than his current 15 points in 18 games for Tampa Bay. The more alarming issue for St. Louis is that he has just 4 goals, which puts him on pace for 18 goals. St. Louis is also in the middle of a rough patch with 1 point in his previous four games. St. Louis is extremely talented and his chemistry with Steven Stamkos should lead to more goals and points, but for now, St. Louis falls in the ranks.

Jaromir Jagr -- The biggest reason for Jagr's nine-spot drop in the rankings is because of his injury suffered Thursday night. While it's not considered to be serious, at 39 years old this might actually occur more frequently going forward. The possibility exists you'll see Jagr on the sidelines longer than just the one game he's expected to miss this Saturday. No. 68 also has just 2 points in his last four games, but playing on a line with Giroux should allow him to be more productive than that going forward. In the meantime, hopefully Jagr will be back in the lineup on Monday and return to his point-per-game caliber of play while he's on the ice.

Martin Havlat -- Havlat owners are probably panicking a bit right now. After starting the season with 1 goal and 7 assists in his first 8 games as a Shark, Havlat has gone ice cold with no points in his last four. The Sharks recently shook up their top two lines hoping to spark Havlat and perhaps Logan Couture, but so far it hasn't done any good. Havlat is still skating with Ryane Clowe and Patrick Marleau, so there's plenty of talent on his line, but we have to wonder if he is just seeing fewer chances now that he's on a team with so much fire power. Havlat should bounce back as long as he remains among San Jose's top-six forwards, but averaging 2.3 shots per game and seeing only 2:27 of power-play ice time per game doesn't exactly indicate a ton of promise. Show patience, though looking to deal him could be a good idea.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Jannik Hansen -- Who would have guessed Hansen would be given the gift of skating on a line with the Sedin brothers. Since joining Vancouver's top line, Hansen has posted 3 goals in three games while also registering 11 shots on goal. The 25-year-old won't receive any power-play ice time, but he's seeing plenty at even strength and capitalizing on his opportunities. He's owned in just 3 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, so when you're done reading this, immediately add Hansen if you have the space -- as long as he remains with the Sedins he's worthy of a roster spot.
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TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Alex Ovechkin
5. Evgeni Malkin

CUBETA'S COMPLETE TOP 100 FORWARD RANKS