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The fantasy specialists: Who helps in each category?

By Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

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The fantasy specialists: Who helps in each category?
NHL.com fantasy expert Matt Cubeta clues you in to players that will meet specific needs for fantasy owners in goals, power-play points and more.

When drafting a fantasy hockey team, it's always important to make sure you address every statistical need. The goal is to put together the best possible well-rounded roster you could have.

For skaters, you want to make sure you draft a player that's capable of burying the loose puck; a playmaker that will get you plenty of assists; a guy on a good team that's likely to have a great plus/minus; someone that receives plenty of power-play time to chip in with power-play points; a player that drops the gloves every now and then to address PIMs; and someone that has no fear of putting the puck on net from any angle to bulk up your shot totals.

These are the things you should be thinking about throughout a fantasy draft. In the later rounds, you should be asking yourself, "Have I addressed every one of these needs?" And if you haven't, scoop someone up late that fits what you're missing.

There are only a handful of players capable of providing value in all or most of these categories (Corey Perry, Milan Lucic, Evander Kane, Wayne Simmonds and Alexandre Burrows, to name a few), which is why you must draft players for specific needs. Here are some skaters to consider for each fantasy category, some at the mid-level, and some as options late in the draft:

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GOALS

Jeff Carter, Kings -- In the past five years, only four players have more than Carter's 162 goals: Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, Patrick Marleau and Ilya Kovalchuk. He might be one-dimensional, but he's elite in the goals category.

Jiri Tlusty, Hurricanes -- Scored 23 goals in 48 games last season while skating on the top line with Eric Staal and Alexander Semin. He'll be there again in 2013-14, 30-plus goals are a possibility.

Jason Garrison, Canucks -- He might not put up big point totals, but Garrison has a blast from the point that results in plenty of goals. His 29 goals over the past three seasons are eighth most among defensemen.

Curtis Glencross, Flames -- Averages 0.35 goals per game over the past three years (65 goals in 186 games), good for 40th best in the NHL during that time. Not bad for a guy you can likely draft in the last round.

Michael Grabner, Islanders -- Grabner is like Carter on a much lower level. He knows how to score, but won't help elsewhere. He has 70 goals in his last 199 games (0.35 goals per game) and if he can make it as a top-six forward on the Islanders, there's hope for a 25-goal campaign.

ASSISTS

Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes -- He's not one-dimensional and he'll cost you a pretty penny on draft day, but he'll outperform bigger names like Joe Thornton, David Krejci and Mike Richards. His 133 assists over the past three years are seventh best.

Mikko Koivu, Wild -- He'll center a line with Zach Parise and Jason Pominville, and could be in line for his best season yet. Koivu's had three seasons with at least 45 assists, but this year he could eclipse 50.

Ray Whitney, Stars -- There's a reason his nickname is the "The Wizard." It's because he has 201 assists in his last 351 games and his 0.57 assists per game are 18th best since 2008-09.

Kimmo Timonen, Flyers -- Among defensemen, only Ryan Suter, Keith Yandle, Erik Karlsson and Duncan Keith have more assists than Timonen's 94 over the past three seasons.

Matthew Carle, Lightning -- He posted just five goals and 17 assists in his first year with the Lightning, but Carle has averaged 0.42 assists per game in his last 212 games played and could rebound in a big way in his second year in Tampa Bay. With that kind of offense, would it really surprise anyone?

Chris Neil
Chris Neil
Right Wing - 2012-13
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 8 | PPP: 3
PIMS: 144 | SOG: 87 | +/-: 0
PENALTY MINUTES

Chris Neil, Senators -- Over the past five seasons, only Zenon Konopka has more penalty minutes than Neil's 853. In the past 10 seasons, Neil's 1,774 PIMs are 309 more than the next closest player (Sean Avery). The good thing about the 34-year-old Senator is that he'll also chip in with occasional point production (36 G, 52 A in last 328 games), giving him sneaky fantasy value.

Kevin Bieksa, Canucks -- Among defensemen in the past three years, Bieksa's 215 penalty minutes are seventh most -- he's also capable of posting 30-40 points.

Steve Downie, Avalanche -- Downie missed almost all of last season, but in 2013-14, he's expected to play on the third line with Nathan MacKinnon and Jamie McGinn, so he'll collect his share of points. But the one thing Downie is always good for is penalty minutes. He averages 198 PIMs per 82 games over the course of his career.

Daniel Carcillo, Kings -- Like Downie, Carcillo could end up on the Kings' second line with Mike Richards or Jeff Carter, which would be a nice fantasy bonus, but the bulk of his value comes in the PIMs department. Carcillo puts Downie's 198-PIMs-per-season number to shame. The former Flyer has 1,079 penalty minutes in 333 career games, an average of 266 per 82 games.

Brenden Dillon, Stars -- In his rookie season, Dillon recorded 65 penalty minutes while appearing in all 48 games for the Stars. In his previous three seasons in the AHL and WHL, he totaled 345 PIMs in 225 games.

POWER-PLAY POINTS

Andrei Markov, Canadiens -- Trailed only his teammate, P.K. Subban, in power-play points among defensemen and was fourth among all NHLers with 23 last season. In 803 career games, 244 of Markov's 446 points have come on the man advantage (55 percent).

Teemu Selanne, Ducks -- His overall fantasy production has declined recently and it might be his final year in the NHL, but Selanne has proven to be a vital asset on the power play. His 61 power-play goals over the past five seasons trail only Stamkos (72) and Ovechkin (68).

Dennis Wideman
Dennis Wideman
Defense - 2012-13
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 16 | PPP: 13
PIMS: 12 | SOG: 94 | +/-: -9
Dennis Wideman, Flames -- Because he's the No. 1 offensive defenseman in Calgary, Wideman will receive plenty of opportunities on the power play (averaged 3:29 of PP time per game last year). He's also fourth among defensemen with 17 power-play goals over the past three seasons (trailing Subban, Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber).

Matt Moulson, Islanders -- He's tied for fifth with 31 power-play goals over the past three seasons and receives well over three minutes of power-play time per game annually (3:19 per game last year). He also has 39 power-play points over the last two years.

Ryan Callahan, Rangers -- He doesn't tally too many power-play assists, but over the past three seasons, 43 percent of Callahan's goals have come on the power play (29 of 68).

PLUS/MINUS

Patrice Bergeron, Bruins -- Over the past three seasons, three Bruins players are tops in the plus/minus category: Bergeron and Chara at plus-80, and Brad Marchand at plus-79. The Bruins are an elite team, so that certainly helps, but Bergeron is such a good two-way player that he could finish with the best rating any given year.

Pascal Dupuis, Penguins -- Pittsburgh's top line of Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Dupuis will always shine in the plus/minus category, but Dupuis' plus-65 during the past three seasons is the best of all of them.

Dan Hamhuis, Canucks -- In three seasons with the Canucks, Hamhuis has posted a plus-29, a plus-29 and a plus-9. He's the prototypical elite plus/minus player from the blue line.

Ryan McDonagh, Rangers -- Considered one the most promising young defensive defenseman, McDonagh's plus/minus consistency in his first three NHL seasons has been extremely impressive. He had a plus-16 in just 40 games as a rookie in 2010-11, a plus-25 in 2011-12 and a plus-13 last season.

Brandon Saad, Blackhawks -- Saad is being looked at as an option to center Chicago's second line with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa as his wings, which could do wonders for his overall fantasy value. But his plus-17 last season showed he is more than capable of playing a solid two-way game.

Dustin Byfuglien
Dustin Byfuglien
Defense - 2012-13
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 20 | PPP: 10
PIMS: 34 | SOG: 142 | +/-: -1
SHOTS ON GOAL

Dustin Byfuglien, Jets -- You'll have to spend an early-round pick on him (and his fantasy production warrants it), but no defenseman puts the puck on goal as much as Byfuglien does. His 3.75 shots on goal per game trail only Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Rick Nash in the past three years. The next closest blueliner is Karlsson at 3.02 (which ranks 34th among all players).

Joe Pavelski, Sharks -- Last season's 130 shots on goal weren't what we've come to expect from Pavelski. Regardless, over the past five years he has 1,175 shots, which ranks 14th among all NHL players -- his 3.35 shots per game ranks 15th.

Christian Ehrhoff, Sabres -- Last season, Ehrhoff's 2.18 shots on goal per game ranked 13th among defensemen. Over the past three seasons his 2.33 shots on goal per game ranks 13th.

Radim Vrbata, Coyotes -- Prior to last season's shortened campaign, Vrbata notched three consecutive 232-plus shots on goal seasons in Phoenix (he had 106 in 34 games last year). He's also expected to have a playmaking machine in Ribeiro as his center, something he's never had in the past.

Patric Hornqvist, Predators -- Despite appearing in just 24 games last season, Hornqvist still managed to put 87 shots on goal, or 3.63 per game. Over the past four years Hornqvist averages 3.31 shots per game (good for 17th most), including a career-high 275 shots on goal in 2009-10.

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