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Turn Left Here: Who's been more valuable than Ovi?

Thursday, 12.08.2011 / 2:10 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Turn Left Here: Who's been more valuable than Ovi?
St. Louis forward Alexander Steen wasn't highly ranked in the preseason, but he is providing owners with strong production in the early part of the 2011-12 campaign.
Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy left wings in our weekly segment: "Turn Left Here." From updated left wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy left wing expert all season long.

Like we did in Wednesay's Center Stage, we're going to break down and compare a left wing that you might not realize is having such a good season with two players that are far more well-known and usually produce at a high level.  We will present you with the stat lines for the three players without telling you who they are -- and then we'll reveal the players and explain the comparison. Today we assess the left wings and tomorrow we'll finish up with a right wing comparison.

Player X: 24 games -- 10 G, 9 A, plus-6, 6 PIMs, 6 PPP, 72 SOG
Player Y: 27 games -- 9 G, 11 A, minus-7, 14 PIMs, 7 PPP, 96 SOG
Player Z: 27 games -- 9 G, 10 A, plus-12, 18 PIMs, 3 PPP, 85 SOG

Only one point separates the three players, but there are some definite differences in there surrounding stats. Player X doesn't get a ton of penalty minutes, but has decent power play totals and an average shot total. Player Y has a bad plus/minus rating, but does produce on the power play and shoots a ton. Player Z has sound numbers across the board except with the man advantage. So which player would you want without knowing who they are? Probably Player Z, right?

Player X is San Jose forward Logan Couture, who has struggled at times this season, but is still rated 83rd overall in Yahoo! Leagues. Player Y's stat line should look familiar based on how frequently he's discussed in the hockey world -- that's Alex Ovechkin's production. Drafted on average with the No. 2 overall pick, Ovechkin is currently rated 79th among all players and has clearly disappointed his owners. Player Z is the unknown -- St. Louis power forward Alexander Steen. Steen came into the season rated 154th overall and is currently the 52nd most valuable fantasy player in Yahoo! despite limited power play ice time, Steen has produced way more than what any of us expected -- he was drafted on average with the 169th pick coming into the season.

Can we expect Steen to continue to outperform Couture and Ovechkin for the remainder of the season? Absolutely not. But we should realize that Steen is an extremely valuable player for all of his owners, especially with C and LW eligibility.

TRENDING UPWARD

TOP 40 FANTASY LEFT 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: Vinny Prospal, Shane Doan, Simon Gagne

NOTE: Logan Couture recently gained LW eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

Players on IR: Taylor Hall, Brenden Morrow
Pavel Datsyuk -- Call it a hunch, a hot streak, a lucky streak or whatever you want, but we believe Datsyuk is back to his usual ways in Detroit. It was no coincidence that the Wings went on a seven-game winning streak just as Datsyuk started to heat up himself. During the seven-game streak, Datsyuk notched 6 goals and 6 assists and not once did he have a minus rating during that stretch. With 24 points in 26 games overall, it's safe to expect Datsyuk to post another 80-90 point season assuming he can stay healthy.

Scott Hartnell -- He might not be racking up the penalty minutes we've come to expect, but it doesn't matter because Hartnell is posting points at a pace that would easily surpass his career-best of 60 back in 2008-09. With 12 goals and 23 points in 26 contests, Hartnell is currently on pace for 37 goals and 71 points. He's also been extremely valuable with a plus-14 rating and 7 power play points -- plus he does have 28 penalty minutes, which isn't too bad. Hartnell has a goal in each of his last three games and he's skating on the team's top line with elite forward Claude Giroux and veteran Jaromir Jagr -- not a bad duo to line up with.

Matt Moulson -- After recording back-to-back 30-plus goal seasons for the Islanders, Moulson got off to an extremely slow start with just 2 goals in his first 11 games. However, Moulson has come on very strong of late with 8 goals and 2 assists in his last 5 games (including the season's only four-goal performance on Dec. 3 against Dallas). Not only that, but he has also posted a plus-4 and 4 power play points during the Isles' current 4-0-1 streak. Now with 14 goals and 21 points in 25 games overall, Moulson looks like he's headed for a third straight 30-goal season.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Patrick Marleau -- Despite a solid stat line (10 G, 10 A, plus-1, 10 PIMs, 9 PPP and 76 SOG in 24 games), Marleau has slumped a bit recently -- he has been held pointless in his last four games while posting a minus-3 rating. Marleau is still lining up on San Jose's top line with Joe Thornton and Joe Pavelski (all three players have center eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues), so you can expect him to heat up in the near future, but for the time being he drops below other players that are finally starting to get going.

Jordan Staal -- Like Marleau, Staal has had a very productive season so far (12 goals and 18 points in 26 games), but he hasn't recorded a point in his last four contests and has just 2 goals and no assists in his previous eight games. The biggest reason for Staal's slump can be credited to the line he's skating on -- Pittsburgh's third unit with Matt Cooke and Tyler Kennedy. However, Sidney Crosby will miss the next two contests, so you should expect Staal to be bumped up to the team's top two lines and possibly even skating alongside Evgeni Malkin -- which should result in a bump in production.

Dustin Brown -- Brown has been a source of consistency for the Kings throughout his career -- he has posted between 53 and 60 points in his previous four seasons while appearing in at least 79 games every year. Unfortunately, through his first 27 games this season, Brown has really struggled with just 5 goals and 15 points -- putting him on pace for 15 goals and 45 points over the course of the full season. Hopefully Brown will pick it up soon enough for his owners, but with just 2 points in his last eight games, you should bench Brown for the time being or even consider dealing the Kings captain if you can.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Tuomo Ruutu -- With LW and C eligibility and being owned in just 18 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, Ruutu could be a real nice pick up for anyone in need of some solid all-around fantasy production. Ruutu has 9 goals and 15 points for the Hurricanes, including goals in each of his last two contests. He also chips in solid peripheral numbers with 28 penalty minutes and if you play in a hits league he's a must own with 63 hits on the season (he had 309 last year). Despite playing for a struggling Carolina team, Ruutu only has a minus-2 rating and he could continue to improve if he sticks with his current linemate Jeff Skinner -- for a while the Canes' top line included Ruutu, Skinner and Eric Staal, but in a win Wednesday the line combo was Ruutu, Skinner and Jussi Jokinen.
NHL.COM FANTASY HOCKEY COVERAGE
Exclusive: NHL.com's top 275 rankings
Cubeta breaks down top 50 fantasy players
30 in 30 fantasy hockey preview index
Pete Jensen's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
Matt Cubeta's 10 sleepers for 2014-15
Matt Sitkoff's 10 sleepers for 2014-15

TOP 275 OVERALL FANTASY RANKS

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

COMPLETE RANKINGS BY CUBETA, JENSEN & SITKOFF