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
As fantasy owners one of the most difficult decisions we're faced with is whether to give up on a player we had high expectations for coming into the season. Not only is it tough to determine whether you should cut ties with that player, but deciding when to do so also is a stressful task.
Last season was tough to gauge because of the 48-game schedule, but forwards like Bobby Ryan, Marian Gaborik and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins all fell short of expectations. In hindsight the ideal situation would have been to sell these players early during their struggles, but that's not an easy thing to do when it's someone you planned on relying on for top-tier production.
I've always preached that anywhere from 10-15 games is a good time to judge a player's start to the season, and now we're at that point.
In an effort to help provide clarification on some of these challenging decisions, I'll take a look at several forwards who haven't lived up to their expectations (excluding injuries). I'll then decide whether I think you should cut the player, trade him -- even if it means not getting close to the value you feel you deserve based on their name -- or stick with him.
(Note: In order to break down several players for you, I've focused this week's piece solely on these types of players, removing this week's trending upward, downward and keep an eye on sections).
Claude Giroux, Flyers -- TRADE HIM
The Flyers are a mess and if I had Giroux in any of my leagues I'd be doing my best to deal him. I don't think there's much of a resurgence coming and you can all but guarantee his plus/minus will be a major detriment to your roster. You obviously can't drop a player that was drafted on average with the 16th pick in Yahoo leagues, but you might be able to get another owner to give up something decent for him based on his past seasons performance.
ERIC STAAL'S PRODUCTION
Eric Staal, Hurricanes -- STICK WITH HIM
Since the 2008-09 season (excluding last season), the first two months of the season almost never treat Staal kindly. As you can see in the table to the right, Staal traditionally is a slow starter, but once he enters that third month his production takes off (in the 2010-11 campaign Staal's dominant play began one month early, in November). If you don't have him on your team, now's the time to try and acquire him.
Nail Yakupov, Oilers -- CUT HIM
Drafted on average in the latter parts of Round 4, Yakupov has been nothing close to what any of us were hoping for. He's still owned in 78 percent of Yahoo leagues and I understand it's tough to part with someone you drafted that early, but I'm guessing you won't be able to trade him to anyone so your best bet is send him to waivers. He has three points and is a minus-12 as his role on the Oilers continues to diminish.
While much of the disappointing fantasy attention has gone to Yakupov, Eberle hasn't been great either. He has 10 points in 15 games but his lack of category coverage makes him a glamour player and not exactly the most valuable fantasy player (currently ranked 271st in Yahoo). Because he's still a popular name and he has decent point production, you should be able to get a solid player via trade. Just remember, Eberle won't have a great plus/minus, he won't record penalty minutes, he doesn't shoot a ton and he only has one power-play point.
PA Parenteau, Avalanche -- STICK WITH HIM
After posting 43 points in 48 games last season, Parenteau has four goals and four assists in 13 games this season. Usually good for a nearly a penalty minute per game, he also has just six this season to go along with 18 shots on goal. Things could change soon, though, as the departure of Steve Downie opens a spot for Parenteau to be reunited with Matt Duchene on the team's top line.
Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers -- STICK WITH HIM
While Huberdeau is falling eight spots in my updated forward rankings, I still believe he has the potential to turn things around in Florida. His stat line has been a let-down (three goals, three assists, minus-6 in 14 games), but Huberdeau's average ice time per game and power-play ice time per game are up from last season, so look for him to start getting more scoring opportunities soon.
Brad Marchand, Bruins -- CUT HIM
Marchand is my type of player -- good coverage across all fantasy categories -- but he hasn't covered much of anything this season. While a bump back into the Bruins' top-six thanks to the injury to Loui Eriksson could help him, I'd give him about five more games as a tryout and then cut him if he doesn't improve.
Alexander Semin, Hurricanes -- TRADE HIM
Semin is an interesting player to own because I believe his linemate, Staal, will turn things around, I also think Semin will. However, he has proven to be one of the League's streakiest players and that's why I'm advising you to deal him. The key is you have to make sure you trade him while he's in the middle of a hot steak which is always tough to do because we become attached to players at that point and think they're invincible when they're hot.
Brandon Dubinsky, Steve Ott or Ryan Malone). As for Voracek, last season is looking more like an aberration than the norm.
Johan Franzen, Red Wings -- TRADE HIM
Franzen has been a source of consistency throughout the years, usually good for 25-30 goals and 50-60 points when healthy. However, he's 33, has struggled this season (two goals, three assists, minus-2 in 13 games) and could be on the decline, which is why I'd trade him hoping someone else overpays for his last three seasons worth of stats (71 goals, 71 assists, plus-41 in 194 games).
These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings -- NR means not ranked in previous rankings. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.
|1||Sidney Crosby, Penguins (same)||51||Jason Pominville, Wild (+12)|
|2||Steven Stamkos, Lightning (+1)||52||Justin Williams, Kings (+15)|
|3||Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (-1)||53||Mikko Koivu, Wild (+2)|
|4||John Tavares, Islanders (same)||54||Alexander Semin, Hurricanes (-1)|
|5||Corey Perry, Ducks (same)||55||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (-3)|
|6||Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (same)||56||Andrew Ladd, Jets (same)|
|7||Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings (same)||57||Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (-3)|
|8||Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (same)||58||Radim Vrbata, Coyotes (+1)|
|9||Daniel Sedin, Canucks (+5)||59||Tomas Hertl, Sharks (-1)|
|10||Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings (-1)||60||PA Parenteau, Avalanche (+4)|
|11||Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (+2)||61||Pascal Dupuis, Penguins (-1)|
|12||Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (-2)||62||Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (+7)|
|13||Henrik Sedin, Canucks (+2)||63||Cody Hodgson, Sabres (+3)|
|14||Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (-2)||64||Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (+11)|
|15||Chris Kunitz, Penguins (+4)||65||Brad Richards, Rangers (+7)|
|16||Zach Parise, Wild (-5)||66||Tomas Fleischmann, Panthers (+7)|
|17||Logan Couture, Sharks (same)||67||T.J. Oshie, Blues (+4)|
|18||Martin St. Louis, Lightning (-2)||68||Dustin Brown, Kings (+2)|
|19||Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (+1)||69||Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings (+8)|
|20||Anze Kopitar, Kings (+1)||70||Johan Franzen, Red Wings (-2) DTD|
|21||Matt Duchene, Avalanche (+1)||71||Kyle Turris, Senators (+12)|
|22||David Backes, Blues (+4)||72||Wayne Simmonds, Flyers (-11)|
|23||Jason Spezza, Senators (+2)||73||Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers (-8)|
|24||Patrick Marleau, Sharks (same)||74||Mike Richards, Kings (+8)|
|25||Joe Pavelski, Sharks (+3)||75||Kyle Okposo, Islanders (+17)|
|26||Tyler Seguin, Stars (+1)||76||Ryan Callahan, Rangers (NR)*|
|27||Evander Kane, Jets (-9) DTD||77||Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets (+2)|
|28||Eric Staal, Hurricanes (-5)||78||Vincent Lecavalier, Flyers (-2) DTD|
|29||Bobby Ryan, Senators (+2)||79||Frans Nielsen, Islanders (+8)|
|30||Thomas Vanek, Islanders (+3)||80||Mike Cammalleri, Flames (+5)|
|31||Marian Gaborik, Blue Jackets (-2)||81||Nail Yakupov, Oilers (-3)|
|32||Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs (same)||82||Brad Marchand, Bruins (-1)|
|33||Jamie Benn, Stars (+2)||83||Jakub Voracek, Flyers (-9)|
|34||Joe Thornton, Sharks (same)||84||Chris Stewart, Blues (same)|
|35||Claude Giroux, Flyers (-5)||85||Alex Killorn, Lightning (NR)|
|36||Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (+4)||86||Paul Stastny, Avalanche (NR)|
|37||Milan Lucic, Bruins (same)||87||Chris Kreider, Rangers (NR)|
|38||Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks (+1)||88||Patrik Elias, Devils (same) DTD|
|39||Alexander Steen, Blues (+9)||89||Blake Wheeler, Jets (same)|
|40||Jarome Iginla, Bruins (-2)||90||Mikhail Grabovski, Capitals (+4)|
|41||Matt Moulson, Sabres (same)||91||Sam Gagner, Oilers (NR)*|
|42||Ryan Kesler, Canucks (same)||92||Carl Hagelin, Rangers (NR)|
|43||James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (+1)||93||Alexandre Burrows, Canucks (-2)|
|44||Derek Stepan, Rangers (+5)||94||Jiri Hudler, Flames (same)|
|45||Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (NR)*||95||Jaromir Jagr, Devils (same)|
|46||Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (+1)||96||Alex Galchenyuk, Canadiens (-3)|
|47||Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (+4)||97||Martin Hanzal, Coyotes (+1)|
|48||Jordan Eberle, Oilers (-12)||98||Bryan Little, Jets (+2)|
|49||David Krejci, Bruins (+8)||99||Brendan Gallagher, Canadiens (NR)|
|50||Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes (-2)||100||Mikael Granlund, Wild (NR)|
* Appeared on injured list last week