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Turn Left Here: McDonald, Hagelin key for stretch run

Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 1:37 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

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Turn Left Here: McDonald, Hagelin key for stretch run
With point-scoring sensations such as Andy McDonald and Carl Hagelin still available in many leagues, there's still time to pick up a difference-maker for your stretch run or the playoffs.
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.

Time is running out. For those of you in head-to-head leagues, anything can still happen, assuming you've made the playoff bracket. But for those in rotisserie style leagues, it won't be easy to gain ground and move up in the standings now that there are only a dozen or so games remaining for each NHL team.

With that, here are five left wings that are available in the majority of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues and could turn out to help you during these last couple weeks of the regular season:

Pascal Dupuis (owned in 34 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- The energetic forward has 5 points in his last three games and at least one point in seven of his last nine. With Sidney Crosby due back tonight, there's a definite possibility that Dupuis will line up on Sid's wing at some point -- if that's the case, Dupuis should be extremely valuable down the stretch.

Andy McDonald (41 percent) -- While the Blues continue to pace the NHL with the most points, one of their leading point producers of late has been going unnoticed in most fantasy leagues. McDonald has 19 points in just 20 games this season and 6 goals and 7 helpers over his last 10. He won't help you in the PIMs category, but he will in every other one.

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. (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: Steve Downie, Steve Ott

Injured:
Pavel Datsyuk (DTD), Joffrey Lupul (DTD), Kris Versteeg (DTD), James van Riemsdyk (IR), Alexander Steen (IR), Simon Gagne (IR)
Ryan Malone (14 percent) -- Looking for some PIMs help in addition to solid point production? Then Malone's your guy. The 6-foot-4 forward is in the middle of a seven-game point-scoring streak and has recorded at least one point in 11 of his last 13 games. The key is he also has 21 PIMs over his last seven games and 62 on the season.

Curtis Glencross (35 percent) -- An extremely underrated fantasy player, Glencross has quietly posted 25 goals, 43 points and 54 PIMs in just 55 games for the Flames this season. He has been extremely hot of late, scoring a goal in seven of his last eight games while recording 10 points during that span.

Carl Hagelin (7 percent) -- The Rangers rookie has been a key forward since getting called up to the squad back in late November. On the season he has 33 points, a plus-23 rating and 105 shots on goal in 51 games. What's more important is that for the last two games Hagelin has been lining up on the Rangers' newly-formed top line with Brad Richards at center and Marian Gaborik on the right wing. On Tuesday he posted 1 goal and 2 assists and a plus-4 rating, and if he can stick with this unit, he's a must-own for the remainder of the season.

TRENDING UPWARD

Ilya Kovalchuk -- We have a new No. 1 fantasy left wing. With Daniel Sedin struggling (see below) and Kovalchuk playing dominant hockey for the last two months, it was time for the Devils forward to take the top spot. While Kovalchuk's minus-5 doesn't compete with Sedin's plus-16, he has out-performed the Canuck in nearly every other important category. Kovalchuk has 30 goals and 71 points in just 65 games and that includes 25 power-play points and 265 shots on goal. With 5 goals and 4 helpers over his previous five games, it appears nothing will slow down Kovalchuk for the stretch run.

Max Pacioretty -- There are 17 players in the NHL with 30-plus goals, and Pacioretty is one of them. In 68 games he has 30 goals and 58 points to go along with an outstanding 246 shots on goal and a solid 54 penalty minutes. Pacioretty is playing his best hockey of late with 12 points during his current seven-game point-scoring streak. He has officially emerged as a dominant fantasy left wing and will no longer be in the sleeper category going into next season.

Matt Duchene --
After a 27-goal, 67-point sophomore campaign, many pegged Duchene to top 30 goals this season and join the ranks of the elite. Unfortunately, between injuries off the ice and struggles on it, Duchene has been a major letdown to his owners. However, Duchene is still extremely talented and with his likely return to the Avs' lineup tonight, he could still be a difference-maker for your team. After all, he did have 13 points in 13 games in March last season, so there's a lot of potential here. We recommend starting him for the first two or three games and seeing how he does from there.

TRENDING DOWNWARD

Daniel Sedin -- Don't get us wrong, Sedin is still an elite player -- he's rated third among all Yahoo-eligible left wings and ninth among all players -- but he has struggled of late. Last year's 41-goal scorer has 65 points in 69 games this season and if he continues at this rate, it will be his first season averaging under a point-per-game since 2007-08 when he had 74 in 82 games. What's more alarming is that he hasn't scored a goal in his last nine games and has just 1 point over his last six. Hopefully he'll bounce back over the final few weeks, but we're a bit worried right now.

Scott Hartnell -- While his 124 penalty minutes are still a major factor for fantasy owners, Hartnell's point production has decreased recently -- he has just 1 point (a goal) in his last six games, despite the Flyers having won five of them. Hartnell still has 32 goals and 60 points to go along with some of fantasy hockey's best peripheral numbers, but it'd be nice to see him perform when his owners need him most -- right now.

Rick Nash -- It's been a rough ride if you had Nash on your team all season long. Coming into the season, NHL.com ranked him 27th among all players, and now he's currently rated 103rd in Yahoo! Leagues. His season got off to a mediocre start with 10 points in his first 12 games, but in November he struggled with just 3 goals and 7 points in 12 games -- from then on Nash continued to slump. Excluding his current plus-2 rating in the month of March, Nash has been a minus in every other month; he has yet to show any consistency with a five-game point-scoring streak (1 G, 5 A) from Feb. 3 to Feb. 12 being his longest of the season; and most disappointing of all has been the fact that of his 70 games this season, he's been held pointless in 34 of them -- nearly half. He cannot be relied on for heavy production the rest of the way, and we'll be hoping he bounces back in a big way next year.

KEEP AN EYE ON …

Sergei Kostitsyn -- While he doesn't skate on the same line as his brother Andrei, Sergei has been performing at a high level over the last few games. With 2 goals and 4 assists in his last four games, Kostitsyn is an intriguing player for fantasy owners to grab from the waiver wire (he's available in 85 percent of Yahoo! Leagues). He only has 80 shots on goal in 63 games this season, but he makes up for that category with a solid plus-12 rating and good point production -- 17 goals and 25 assists.

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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