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Center Stage: Seguin, Tavares moving up in rankings

Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 12:35 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Center Stage: Seguin, Tavares moving up in rankings
NHL.com fantasy expert Matt Cubeta provides you with a few players to pick up while several fantasy stars are currently sidelined with injuries.
Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy centers in our weekly segment: "Center Stage." From updated center rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy center expert all season long.

You'll notice several players getting a big bump up in this week's rankings, and that's because we've seen several injuries in the last couple of weeks.

Sidney Crosby has now been joined by other elite center-eligible fantasy players, like Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, who could be nearing a return, but for now he remains listed on IR. Productive fantasy players like Patrick Sharp and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will still be sidelined for the next three or four weeks, while Jeff Carter found himself back on IR for the second time in his short Columbus career. Some under-the-radar fantasy centers are also currently on the sidelines: Mikko Koivu, Jordan Staal, Alexander Steen and Mike Ribeiro.

What should fantasy owners do about all these injuries?

First things first: You can't panic. You're likely not the only one in your league dealing with injuries and it's almost inevitable that we all have to see one of our valuable fantasy players on the sidelines at some point during the season. You have to be sure to stay on top of your team as a manager and hunt the waiver wires for a solid pick up in the meantime. Here are a few suggestions -- these players are all available in over 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues:

Jason Arnott, Blues (owned in 19 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- While Arnott's 12 goals and 12 assists in 44 games isn't mind-blowing, he does provide solid all-around value with his plus-12, 20 PIMs, 11 PPP and 98 SOG.

Saku Koivu, Ducks (owned in 16 percent) -- Koivu missed time earlier in the season but he has 25 points in 36 games and has been hot with 4 goals and 4 assists in his last six games.

Cody Hodgson, Canucks (owned in 15 percent) --
Hodgson is extremely underrated and very talented -- he has 7 points in the past eight games while playing on a line primarily with Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen (he's also averaging almost two minutes of PP time).

David Desharnais, Canadiens (owned in 10 percent) -- Desharnais won't shoot a lot (just 51 SOG in 45 games), but his playmaking skills are quite obvious with 24 helpers on the season. With 31 points and centering Montreal's top line with Max Pacioretty and Erik Cole on the wings, he might be the best pickup for the immediate future.

Kyle Turris, Senators (owned in 10 percent) --
See below.

TRENDING UPWARD

TOP 40 FANTASY CENTERS

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. (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
** was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: None

Players on IR: Sidney Crosby, Nicklas Backstrom, Jeff Carter, Patrick Sharp, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Matt Duchene, Mikko Koivu, Jordan Staal, Alexander Steen, Mike Ribeiro
Tyler Seguin -- Seguin finally gets that big bump up in the center rankings. We'll see if he can remain in the top-10, but for now, he's certainly worthy. The second-year forward leads the NHL with a plus-35 rating (eight better than anyone else in the NHL) while also posting near point-per-game numbers for the Bruins -- 40 points in 42 games. Every time we think Seguin is going to hit a cold patch, he explodes for a two or three point night -- he has 10 multi-point efforts this season. Start the kid with confidence!    

John Tavares -- Tavares could soon be joining Seguin among the top-10 ranks at this rate. No one is hotter, or more consistent, than Tavares, who has 6 goals and 11 assists during his current 10-game point-scoring streak. Not only is Tavares thriving with his point production, but he's also a plus-8 during that streak -- which is obviously unusual as a member of the Islanders (he's even on the season). Tavares will likely struggle in plus/minus and PIMs (14), but he makes up for it with his power play production (14 PPP) and 162 shots on goal (3.7 per game).

Patrik Elias -- Elias has surged up in the rankings thanks to a hot streak himself -- 4 goals and 6 assists during his current six-game point-scoring streak. While Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk have clearly picked up their game recently after struggling early on, Elias has been the most consistent forward for the Devils all season. Highly underrated and still available in 23 percent of Yahoo! Leagues somehow, Elias and his point-per-game stat line (44 in 44) could be headed for his best season since he notched 78 points in 2008-09.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Brad Richards -- The Rangers are the League's best team, but it's been more a product of their defensive play than their offense. While Marian Gaborik has accounted for nearly 20-percent of his team's goals, Richards has clearly struggled from a fantasy perspective, especially recently -- he has no points in his last five games and 31 points in 44 games overall. That's not a horrible stat line, but after posting 77 points in 72 games last season in Dallas, we were at least hoping for his point-per-game numbers to carry over to New York. It's likely Richards will go on a hot streak, but for now be cautious with the playmaking center.

Stephen Weiss -- While most players got a boost in the rankings because of the injuries, Weiss actually took a bit of a nose dive, dropping nine spots. Weiss, along with his linemates Kris Versteeg and Tomas Fleischmann, are finally cooling off -- as many of us probably expected. Weiss hasn't found the back of the net in his last 15 games and has just 5 assists during that time. We're not saying Weiss has no fantasy value going forward, but you should set your expectations closer to what you thought you would have gotten out of him at the start of the year.

Olli Jokinen -- Jokinen actually moved up one spot in the rankings, but again, that's mostly because so many players have landed on IR since our last batch of rankings. Many of us thought the addition of Michael Cammalleri could boost Jokinen's value (assuming Jokinen would get to center Cammalleri and Iginla), but unfortunately, the Finnish veteran found himself centering a different group -- Blake Comeau and Tim Jackman, with Curtis Glencross in the mix as well. Ouch. Jokinen has 35 points in 47 games, which is obviously very good, but he hasn't scored a goal in the past 11 contests and has been held pointless in his last three. Be aware.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Kyle Turris -- Since Turris' arrival in Ottawa, the Senators have gone 11-2-2 over their last 15 games. We're not saying Turris is the biggest reason for that, but he has certainly added quality playmaking ability and noticeable depth to an offense that was front heavy. Centering the team's second line with Daniel Alfredsson and Erik Condra on his wings, Turris has posted 3 goals, 8 assists and a plus-11 during his tenure -- he also has 15 penalty minutes (one fighting major) and 34 shots on goal. He's currently owned in just 10 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, but with his kind of skill finally on display, it's time for fantasy owners to take notice.
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