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
NHL action officially resumes Tuesday (Carolina Hurricanes at Buffalo Sabres, 7 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, SPSO, MSG-B, BELL TV) and fantasy owners should be prepared for their stretch run after a two-week hiatus due to the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
It was a fantastic tournament, but now it's time to get back to work. I've provided updated top-100 forward rankings for the remainder of this season. Unfortunately, we've lost another elite forward in New York Islanders captain John Tavares, but hopefully fantasy owners will see Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos returning to their rosters in the very near future. This week should also see some other top fantasy forwards back in action as Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks, Evander Kane of the Winnipeg Jets, Marian Gaborik of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings are all expected to play.
But before we officially hop back on the saddle, let's find out which forwards have seen their value increase thanks to their performances in Sochi.Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings -- Available in 11 percent of Yahoo leagues
While owned in nearly all Yahoo leagues, Carter makes for a great player to try and acquire via trade. He's coming off an impressive Olympic performance with three goals, two assists, 24 shots on goal and a plus-6 rating in six games. He bounced around the lineup all tournament, but looked dominant at times. Carter struggled before the Olympic break with no goals in eight games for the Kings, but expect him to finish the season strong.
If you didn't know about Oshie before the Olympics, I'm guessing you do now. After being nicknamed T.J. Sochi thanks to his shootout heroics against Russia in the preliminary round, the American hockey hero has plenty to live up to when he takes the ice for the St. Louis Blues again. While his shootout performance doesn't count for anything statically, in six games for the United States, Oshie finished with one goal and three assists. Not too bad considering he was playing fourth-line minutes and averaging 11:12 of ice time per game. But Oshie was already a dominant fantasy forward prior to the Olympics. He has 14 goals and 46 points to go along with a plus-17 rating and 30 penalty minutes in 57 games for the Blues this season. Despite ranking 63rd among all players in Yahoo, he's still out there in 22 percent of leagues. It's time to add him in all leagues, folks.
Alfredsson only averaged 14:17 of ice time per game for Sweden, but he still managed to record two goals and two assists in his six games. He quietly has had a strong season in Detroit with 14 goals and 35 points in 46 games, including 12 points on the power play where he's averaged 3:24 of ice time per game. Alfredsson might be 41, but as long as he can stay healthy, he might just have a little more to offer to fantasy owners for the stretch run.
What can I say about Selanne? One of the most loved players in the NHL was one of the biggest storylines at the Olympics. He earned MVP honors and led his team to a bronze medal with four goals and two assists in six contests. Those point-per-game numbers are far from what he was doing with Anaheim prior to the Olympics (seven goals, 20 points in 47 games), but I believe Selanne should be added in nearly all leagues right now just in case his magnificent heroics in his final Olympics rejuvenate him for the rest of the NHL season.
Back on Feb. 4, I listed Granlund in the "Keep an Eye on …" section and after his Olympic performance, I think he's a player worth grabbing, especially in deep leagues. Granlund played top-line minutes for Finland and finished the tournament with three goals and four assists in six games. If you watched him at all, you could immediately notice his vision on the ice. He's got 28 points in 46 games for the Wild this season and at 21, Granlund has the potential to turn into a premier playmaker.
Grabner led the Austrian team with five goals and six points in four games (including a hat trick in the opening game against Finland). He also amassed 17 shots on goal while averaging 19:25 of ice time. The ice time wasn't the same with the Islanders before the break (he averaged just 14:06 per game), but Grabner could be looked on for more scoring in New York with John Tavares out for the season. He's not a player I would add right away, but he's worth monitoring in case he carries over his Olympic success.
Hemsky was tied for the Czech Republic team lead in scoring with four points (three goals, one assist) in five games. He did all of this despite averaging 12:01 of ice time per contest. Hemsky has 24 points in 52 games with the Oilers this season and his minus-11 rating certainly doesn't help his cause. Neither does the fact that he only averages 1.67 shots on goal per game. However, there's a chance he could be moved before the NHL trade deadline and that could boost his fantasy value. Until then, it's probably best to leave Hemsky on waivers, but his Olympic play may have caught the eye of some NHL general managers, which in turn could end up being significant for fantasy owners.
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||Marian Gaborik, Blue Jackets (NR)*|
|2||Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (+1)||52||Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (+4)|
|3||Corey Perry, Ducks (-1)||53||Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (same)|
|4||Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (same)||54||T.J. Oshie, Blues (+1)|
|5||Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (+1)||55||Scott Hartnell, Flyers (+2)|
|6||Chris Kunitz, Penguins (+1)||56||Clarke MacArthur, Senators (-7)|
|7||Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks (+2)||57||Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets (-5)|
|8||Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (same)||58||Jordan Eberle, Oilers (-7)|
|9||James Neal, Penguins (+1)||59||Jakub Voracek, Flyers (same)|
|10||Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (+1)||60||Derek Stepan, Rangers (-2)|
|11||Claude Giroux, Flyers (+3)||61||Bryan Little, Jets (-1)|
|12||Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (same)||62||David Perron, Oilers (-8)|
|13||Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings (NR)*||63||Brad Richards, Rangers (same)|
|14||Joe Pavelski, Sharks (+1)||64||Radim Vrbata, Coyotes (-3)|
|15||Martin St. Louis, Lightning (+1)||65||Andrew Ladd, Jets (same)|
|16||Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (+2)||66||Ryan Johansen, Blue Jackets (+8)|
|17||Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (+3)||67||Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs (-5)|
|18||Patrick Marleau, Sharks (-1)||68||Chris Kreider, Rangers (-4)|
|19||Alexander Steen, Blues (same)||69||Johan Franzen, Red Wings (NR)*|
|20||Zach Parise, Wild (+1)||70||Brad Marchand, Bruins (+3)|
|21||Jamie Benn, Stars (+2)||71||Alexander Semin, Hurricanes (-2)|
|22||Logan Couture, Sharks (NR)*||72||Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (-1)|
|23||Anze Kopitar, Kings (+1)||73||Jason Pominville, Wild (-6)|
|24||Rick Nash, Rangers (-2)||74||Brent Burns, Sharks (-8)|
|25||David Backes, Blues (same)||75||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (-5)|
|26||Tyler Seguin, Stars (+3)||76||Martin Hanzal, Coyotes (-8)|
|27||Eric Staal, Hurricanes (-1)||77||Jaden Schwartz, Blues (same)|
|28||Daniel Sedin, Canucks (-1)||78||Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (-2)|
|29||Thomas Vanek, Islanders (+1)||79||Brandon Saad, Blackhawks (same)|
|30||Matt Duchene, Avalanche (-2)||80||Shane Doan, Coyotes (-8)|
|31||Taylor Hall, Oilers (same)||81||Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes (-3)|
|32||James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (same)||82||Nick Bonino, Ducks (NR)*|
|33||David Krejci, Bruins (+8)||83||Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings (+5)|
|34||Joe Thornton, Sharks (-1)||84||Paul Stastny, Avalanche (+1)|
|35||Henrik Sedin, Canucks (same)||85||Nathan Horton, Blue Jackets (-1)|
|36||Wayne Simmonds, Flyers (same)||86||Patrik Elias, Devils (-5)|
|37||Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes (-3)||87||Jussi Jokinen, Penguins (same)|
|38||Jarome Iginla, Bruins (+5)||88||Matt Moulson, Sabres (NR)*|
|39||Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (+1)||89||Chris Stewart, Blues (-6)|
|40||Bobby Ryan, Senators (-2)||90||Justin Williams, Kings (-8)|
|41||Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (+1)||91||Tyler Bozak, Maple Leafs (same)|
|42||Ryan Kesler, Canucks (-3) DTD||92||Ryan O'Reilly, Avalanche (-2)|
|43||Evander Kane, Jets (NR)*||93||Ryan Callahan, Rangers (same)|
|44||Jeff Carter, Kings (same)||94||Loui Eriksson, Bruins (+1)|
|45||Jason Spezza, Senators (+3)||95||Gustav Nyquist, Red Wings (-3)|
|46||Milan Lucic, Bruins (same)||96||Cody Hodgson, Sabres (-10)|
|47||Jaromir Jagr, Devils (same)||97||Tyler Johnson, Lightning (-8)|
|48||Kyle Turris, Senators (-3)||98||Reilly Smith, Bruins (-4)|
|49||Kyle Okposo, Islanders (-12)||99||Mike Richards, Kings (NR)|
|50||Blake Wheeler, Jets (same)||100||Brendan Gallagher, Canadiens (NR)|
* Appeared on injured list in previous rankings