Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy forwards in his weekly segment: "The Front Line." From updated rankings to players you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy forwards insider all season long.UPDATED TOP 100 FORWARD RANKINGS
With the 2013-14 NHL season set to begin Tuesday night, fantasy hockey owners are surely ready for their teams to embark on a championship season.
Drafts are complete; rosters should be in place, now we just have to manage our teams and hope to outsmart the opponent until April 13, when the regular season and fantasy hockey comes to an end.
With that said, let's take a look at some notable tandems during the preseason and how it affects the fantasy landscape:
Jordan Eberle and David Perron (Edmonton Oilers) -- Perron missed Edmonton's last preseason game due to an illness, but prior to that he and Eberle had been two of the most productive players in preseason. Eberle tied for the NHL lead with eight points in five games while Perron tied for the lead in goals with five (in just four games). With injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner, the Oilers will be leaning heavily on Eberle and Perron, and fantasy owners should too.
Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik (Columbus Blue Jackets) -- Reunited from their days with the New York Rangers, they've played on the same line throughout preseason and have each recorded seven points (Gaborik in four games, Dubinsky in five). Gaborik is more than capable of returning to his 35-plus goal-scoring ways and Dubinsky is a candidate to post at least 50 points and 100 penalty minutes – a unique feat in fantasy hockey.
Cory Conacher and Clarke MacArthur (Ottawa Senators) -- The third member of this line is Kyle Turris, but since Conacher and MacArthur are still widely available in Yahoo fantasy leagues (81 and 95 percent respectively), I'll focus on them. Conacher has notched four goals, one assist and 17 shots on goal in five games, and has even chipped in 10 penalty minutes. Meanwhile, MacArthur has posted two goals and two assists with a plus-2 in four contests. Both players should be monitored to start the year and could make for nice pick-ups in deep leagues.
OTHER PRESEASON NOTES
- Capitals newcomer Mikhail Grabovski led all forwards with seven assists (in four games).
- Alex Ovechkin led all players with four power-play goals.
- Evander Kane had the most shots on goal with 28.
TRENDING UPWARDPavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings -- As mentioned, Datsyuk notched eight points in just four preseason games and looks primed for a huge season. He's starting the year with Henrik Zetterberg on his wing, and if Detroit keeps the two superstars together all season long Datsyuk could eclipse the 80-point mark for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars -- Seguin's first preseason in Dallas went well, as he posted a goal and six assists in five games skating on a line with Jamie Benn and Erik Cole. We're all aware of Seguin's potential, and at just 21 there's reason to believe his first season with the Stars could be his best yet.
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers -- Those of you that drafted Stepan while he was still holding out can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After signing a two-year deal with the Rangers, feel free to insert Stepan into your starting lineup and look for him to build off an impressive 2012-13 season in which he finished as the 30th best overall fantasy player. Stepan could end up centering Rick Nash for a full season and reach the 70-point mark.
Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes -- Semin's status for opening night is in jeopardy right now and based on his injury history, fantasy owners have to be cautious with how they use him to start the year. Skinner is dealing with a lower-body injury, but could be ready for the opener. He didn't have the most impressive preseason (one goal, minus-3 in three games) and should start the year on fantasy owners' bench.David Krejci, Boston Bruins -- Krejci is currently listed as day-to-day and didn't skate this Sunday at practice. He also struggled in three preseason games with just one point (a goal) and a minus-3 rating. And while we all know he doesn't shoot the puck a ton, Krejci only registered four shots on goal this preseason. You might have to stash him on your bench to start.
David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Thanks to a 10-game suspension, Clarkson's fantasy owners will have to wait three-plus weeks before they can activate him. Before the suspension was handed out I ranked Clarkson 89th among all forwards; now he falls outside the top 100. However, he's still worthy of being on a roster considering he could produce solid numbers in a top-six role when he returns to the lineup.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Matt Frattin, Los Angeles Kings -- Frattin earned a spot on the Kings' second line with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and is worth a pick-up immediately after putting together a noticeable preseason. In five contests he tallied one goal and five assists, gaining confidence with each game. Available in 95 percent of Yahoo leagues, Frattin deserves to be rostered to start the year.TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS
These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.
|1||Sidney Crosby, Penguins||51||Milan Lucic, Bruins|
|2||Steven Stamkos, Lightning||52||Jakub Voracek, Flyers|
|3||Alex Ovechkin, Capitals||53||Patrick Marleau, Sharks|
|4||Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks||54||Joe Thornton, Sharks|
|5||John Tavares, Islanders||55||Alexandre Burrows, Canucks|
|6||Evgeni Malkin, Penguins||56||Andrew Ladd, Jets|
|7||Corey Perry, Ducks||57||Loui Eriksson, Bruins|
|8||Patrick Kane, Blackhawks||58||Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche|
|9||Rick Nash, Rangers||59||PA Parenteau, Avalanche|
|10||James Neal, Penguins||60||Mikko Koivu, Wild|
|11||Claude Giroux, Flyers||61||Jason Pominville, Wild|
|12||Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks||62||Johan Franzen, Red Wings|
|13||Eric Staal, Hurricanes||63||Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs|
|14||Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings||64||Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers|
|15||Zach Parise, Wild||65||James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs|
|16||Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs||66||Jeff Carter, Kings|
|17||Martin St. Louis, Lightning||67||Dustin Brown, Kings|
|18||Anze Kopitar, Kings||68||Ryan Callahan, Rangers|
|19||Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals||69||Scott Hartnell, Flyers|
|20||Daniel Sedin, Canucks||70||Pascal Dupuis, Penguins|
|21||Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings||71||Cody Hodgson, Sabres|
|22||Chris Kunitz, Penguins||72||Chris Stewart, Blues|
|23||Henrik Sedin, Canucks||73||Justin Williams, Kings|
|24||Taylor Hall, Oilers||74||Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens|
|25||Jason Spezza, Senators||75||David Perron, Oilers|
|26||Evander Kane, Jets||76||Mike Richards, Kings|
|27||Marian Gaborik, Blue Jackets||77||Vincent Lecavalier, Flyers|
|28||Matt Duchene, Avalanche||78||Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes|
|29||Jamie Benn, Stars||79||Tomas Fleischmann, Panthers|
|30||Tyler Seguin, Stars||80||Ray Whitney, Stars|
|31||Max Pacioretty, Canadiens||81||Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche|
|32||Logan Couture, Sharks||82||T.J. Oshie, Blues|
|33||Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks||83||Blake Wheeler, Jets|
|34||Bobby Ryan, Senators||84||Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets|
|35||Jordan Eberle, Oilers||85||Radim Vrbata, Coyotes|
|36||Marian Hossa, Blackhawks||86||Patrik Elias, Devils|
|37||Thomas Vanek, Sabres||87||Derick Brassard, Rangers|
|38||Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs||88||David Krejci, Bruins|
|39||David Backes, Blues||89||Michael Ryder, Devils|
|40||Brad Marchand, Bruins||90||Dany Heatley, Wild|
|41||Patrice Bergeron, Bruins||91||Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings|
|42||Derek Stepan, Rangers||92||Kyle Turris, Senators|
|43||Nail Yakupov, Oilers||93||Jaromir Jagr, Devils|
|44||Alexander Semin, Hurricanes||94||Stephen Weiss, Red Wings|
|45||Matt Moulson, Islanders||95||Alexander Steen, Blues|
|46||Wayne Simmonds, Flyers||96||Milan Michalek, Senators|
|47||Jarome Iginla, Bruins||97||Brad Richards, Rangers|
|48||Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes||98||Jiri Tlusty, Hurricanes|
|49||Ryan Kesler, Canucks||99||Teemu Selanne, Ducks|
|50||Joe Pavelski, Sharks||100||Brayden Schenn, Flyers|