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Right of Way: What's going on with Patrick Kane?

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Right of Way: What's going on with Patrick Kane?
What's wrong with Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane? He's in a scoring slump now, but there's little doubt he'll eventually emerge from it.
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.

Prior to this season, Patrick Kane was selected on average in the second round of fantasy drafts, with the 21st overall pick. In Yahoo! Leagues, he was rated as the 14th-best fantasy player. The super-skilled forward got off to a fast start with 6 points in his first four games and finished October with 11 points in 11 games (4 goals, 7 assists). He was playing on a line with the equally talented Jonathan Toews and featured on the top power-play unit with Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith. Everything pointed to Kane having the best season of his career -- even better than when he posted a career-high 88 points in 2009-10.

November treated Kane OK -- he had 3 goals and 13 points in 14 games. December got off to a fast start, with him carrying over a modest five-game point-scoring streak in which he notched 8 points. But since that streak ended on Dec. 11, things seemed to change for Kane.

Kane immediately followed that mini-hot streak by being held pointless in three straight games. In 18 games since Dec. 11, Kane has just 2 goals and 6 points -- not exactly what his fantasy owners have come to expect. He hasn't had a multi-point performance in 19 games; he has recorded a plus rating just four times during this extended cold streak; he has just 1 power-play point in those 18 games despite seeing his usual power-play ice time (he averages 3:36 of ice time per game on the man-advantage).

Patrick Kane
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 29 | PTS: 39
SOG: 149 | +/-: 9
So what is happening to Patrick Kane?

Maybe he's dealing with an undisclosed injury. Perhaps there's something else going on that we're unaware of. Or maybe he's just in a cold streak that inevitably will end. Maybe the drought has gotten to his head. It could be any of these things, but the bottom line is Kane remains one of the most talented players in the NHL and he is bound to snap out of this skid.

The Blackhawks forward still has 10 goals and 39 points in 47 games, with a solid plus-9, 30 penalty minutes, 9 power play points and 149 shots on goal. That's not exactly a bad stat line. In fact, he is rated 35th among all players in Yahoo! Leagues. The problem is the production has dipped so dramatically since Dec. 11.

An encouraging sign about Kane's season is that of his 29 assists, 20 of them have been primary assists -- meaning he's right in the thick of the play, either setting up goals directly or firing shots on goal that end up being buried on the rebound. With 149 shots, Kane also is on pace to record nearly the same amount of shots on goal as he did when he scored 30 goals and had 88 points two season ago -- he posted 261 that season and is on pace for 259 right now. He's actually been a solid contributor in every fantasy category except goals.

Kane currently is skating on a line with Toews (whose 26 goals are second in the NHL) and receiving plenty of playing time, so you can expect him to put up a healthy amount of points by season's end. It's only a matter of time before the goals start coming for Kane, so stay patient if you've got him on your team -- he's still an elite player.

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. (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: Chris Stewart

Players on IR: Patrick Sharp, Jeff Carter, Ryane Clowe, Martin Havlat
TRENDING UPWARD

Marian Hossa -- While Kane might be in a slump, Hossa has continued to thrive for fantasy owners. He is one of the most complete players in the game and the only category he doesn't significantly help in is penalty minutes -- he has just 16. Hossa is in the middle of a six-game point-scoring streak and has had four shots on goal in four of those six games. He's rated as Yahoo's seventh-best fantasy player and cracks our top-five rankings in what has become the most elite fantasy position this season: right wing.

Nathan Horton -- Horton, along with just about every other one of his Bruins teammates, has been heating up of late. The power forward has been on fire since the calendar turned to 2012 with 8 goals, 2 assists and 11 penalty minutes in nine games. With 32 points in 44 games and a solid 52 penalty minutes while playing on an elite team, things are starting to look a little brighter for Horton and his owners.

Justin Williams -- Over the last two weeks, only Evgeni Malkin has been more valuable than Williams among Yahoo's right wing-eligible players. After recording 57 points in 73 games last season for the Kings, Williams got off to a really slow start with just 3 goals and 13 assists in his first 24 games -- he even was bumped down to the team's third line at one point. However, in his last six games Williams has 3 goals and 5 assists to give him a total of 32 points in 48 contests. He recently was placed back on the Kings' top line, with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, and it's clearly paying dividends. Williams is available in nearly 40 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, so pick him up if you can.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Ryan Callahan -- The Rangers captain is an underrated fantasy player (he provides decent point production with plenty of penalty minutes and tons of shots on goal), but he has struggled in his last few games. Callahan has just 1 point (a goal) in his last six games and has been a minus-3 during that time. It seems like the Rangers have hit their first rough patch of the season and if they plan on getting things back on track, it will be Callahan that leads them, so look for the gritty forward to snap out of his slump in the near future.

Chris Stewart -- It's been a steady decline in our right-wing rankings all season for Stewart. He started as our seventh-ranked fantasy right wing in preseason and now finds himself outside the top-40 with the All-Star Game approaching. He's been performing better recently (3 goals, 2 assists in his last eight games), but with just 19 points in 43 games, it's been a really tough season for Stewart. He is very talented and it seems like he'll be a fantasy stud at some point in his career, so there's definitely hope he'll turns things around, but for now, you should bench him or look to trade him.

Ryane Clowe -- Not only has Clowe been struggling lately, with just 1 point in his last four games, but he was just placed on injured reserve due to facial fractures. Clowe usually is one of the best all-round fantasy players in the game, but hasn't had his typical season to this point (9 goals, 26 points in 42 games), and now will be sidelined until at least after the All-Star break. Hopefully he'll return shortly after that, but for now Clowe joins Patrick Sharp and Jeff Carter among top right wings currently on the shelf.

KEEP AN EYE ON...

Martin Erat -- The line of Erat, Mike Fisher and Sergei Kostitsyn has been Nashville's most offensive group all season long. Erat quietly is having yet another productive season for the Preds with 32 points in just 39 games. Owned in 20 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, Erat has posted 3 goals and 9 points in his last seven games, with the Predators winning six of them. If he can avoid injury the rest of the way, there's a good chance he finishes with over 60 points.
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OFFSEASON FANTASY RANKINGS

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

CUBETA & JENSEN'S COMPLETE RANKINGS