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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Fantasy All-Access: Hutchinson emerging for Jets

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, food, faceoffs and a chance to reflect on what we are most thankful for. In the fantasy world we are thankful for all the great top line combinations; from the "STL Line" to "That 70's Line" to the top-line threats of the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators.

These trios have been supplying fantasy owners with plenty of points. We are also thankful for the Calgary Flames defense. The top four of Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Dennis Wideman and Kris Russell have combined for 60 points, were all drafted in low rounds or plucked of waiver wires, and have been gravy for fantasy teams. Lastly, we are thankful for Darcy Kuemper, who was drafted on average in the 13th round but is making saves as easy as pie.

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Callahan, hits and keepers among hot fantasy topics

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Let's jump right into the five hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now.

1. Callahan coming through in Tampa Bay

For some strange reason, several fantasy hockey owners have been reaching out to me on Twitter asking about Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan. Whether it's adding him for someone else, or trading him, or whether he can keep his hot streak going, Callahan has been a topic of discussion of late.

I'll say this: I'm a fan of Ryan Callahan. The only issue with him is that he's had difficulty avoiding injuries throughout his career. If he can stay on the ice for the Lightning, I expect an extremely productive fantasy season. He won't reach his current on-pace for stats of 38 goals, 71 points and a plus-28 rating, but he has the ability to score 30-plus with 60 points.

There are three main reasons I'm a believer in Callahan: 1) He skates on a line with Steven Stamkos; 2) He averages 3:30 of power-play ice time per game (six power-play points this season); and 3) He has a solid track record of all-around per-game production over his career.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Avoid starts in tail-end games

Thursday, 11.20.2014 / 12:05 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Through action Wednesday, 279 games of the 1,230-game regular season schedule have been played. Of those 279 games, 90 of them have come on the tail end of a back-to-back situation.

That number is pretty significant when it comes to fantasy goaltending, because it means nearly one-third of the total games played (32.2 percent) have resulted in a goalie playing behind a tired team.

For that reason alone, back-to-back situations are never easy to manage. As one NHL goalie coach in the Western Conference told us, the emphasis is almost always placed on earning a win in the first game, as it "sets the tone" for the tail-end game. That makes sense from a team perspective, but from a fantasy standpoint, goalies playing behind tired teams are struggling as a whole.

Overall, teams are just 37-45-8 in the tail-end game of a back-to-back. That includes a 12-17-0 record at home and a 25-28-8 record on the road. Of those 90 tail-end games, 51 of them have seen the tired team allow more shots compared to the previous night. That means 56.7 percent of tail-end games will see the goalie face more shots and likely more scoring chances behind a tired team.

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Habs' Gonchar, Therrien reunite

Wednesday, 11.19.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

It isn't often you have the opportunity to find a difference-making defenseman sitting on the waiver wire a month into the season in a Yahoo Standard League, but that is exactly what you could be getting if you're willing to take a chance on Sergei Gonchar.

The veteran is owned in just five percent of leagues, but his value got a shot in the arm when he was traded from the Dallas Stars to the Montreal Canadiens last week.

Playing in Montreal doesn't change the fact he is 40 years old, a step or two slower and in the twilight of his career, but it does put him back in a situation that helped him have some of the most productive seasons of his career: playing in Michel Therrien's system.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Nashville trio breaking mold

Tuesday, 11.18.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber has been their leading scorer in each of the past two seasons. The Predators haven't had a 60-point producer since J-P Dumont in 2008-09, the longest active drought in the NHL.

But times are changing in the Music City under coach Peter Laviolette, and fantasy owners are cashing in on the Predators' offensive resurgence. Through 17 games, each of Nashville's top-line components, James Neal, Mike Ribeiro and rookie Filip Forsberg, is on pace for more than 60 points.

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Fantasy All-Access: Coyotes' Dubnyk worth pickup

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Every Monday, NHL.com contributor Matt Sitkoff identifies waiver wire pickups, roster trends, schedule notes and a prospect to watch in fantasy hockey.

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Kane, Subban slumps among hot fantasy topics

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar's fantasy struggles in the early parts of the 2014-15 season have been well-documented. He has seven points in 14 games after putting together a 70-point effort a season ago. Coming into this season, Kopitar was drafted on average with the 19th pick. Right now he ranks 449th among all players in Yahoo fantasy leagues.

It's been an ugly start for Kopitar. However, he missed three-and-a-half games because of an upper-body injury. We can sort of give him a free pass for his struggles due to the injury. An excuse, perhaps. Plus, Kopitar has two goals and two assists in the past three games. Maybe he's breaking out of the slump. If so, the buy-low window may have just disappeared.

If you can't acquire Kopitar, there are two other elite players you should be targeting: Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane and Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban. Try and pry either of these guys away from their owners at a discounted price right now. It may be the last chance you have.

Let's take a look at their situations.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Hurricanes' Ward has awoken

Thursday, 11.13.2014 / 12:20 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with in-depth goalie analysis. From updated weekly top 30 rankings to trending players and more, Goldman will be your go-to guy for fantasy goalie advice all season long.

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward is kind of like the Rip Van Winkle of fantasy hockey.

For the first time in more than five seasons Ward has won five games in a row. It’s the first time he has accomplished this feat since stringing together nine straight wins from March 18 to April 9, 2009.

Considering he was 0-3-1 with a .840 save percentage (84 saves on 100 shots) in October, Ward is starting to prove to even his harshest critics that he's waking up from a very lengthy slumber.

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Flames' Giordano tops rankings

Wednesday, 11.12.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with in-depth defensemen analysis. From updated weekly top 60 rankings to trending players and more, Metzer will be your go-to guy for fantasy blue line advice all season long.

The Calgary Flames have been one of the most interesting stories through the first month of the NHL season. They have gotten off to a 9-6-2 start and sit just three points behind the Western Conference-leading Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division. There have been many reasons for that success, but one of the biggest has been the play of Mark Giordano.

Giordano, who jumps to the head of the line in our rankings this week, leads all defensemen in assists (14) and points (19), and ranks second in goals (five) and points per game (1.12). He collected 10 of those points (three goals) over his past five games and is probably the hottest player in the league not named Sidney Crosby.

He might not have been the first name you thought of when drafting defensemen for your fantasy team, but he probably should have been, especially when you consider he rolled up 47 points (five goals) over the 64 games he played last season.

That production translated into .73 points per game and was good enough to rank him behind the Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson (.90) and the Chicago Blackhawks' Duncan Keith (.77) in that category.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Flyers' Voracek sustainable

Tuesday, 11.11.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

Philadelphia Flyers right wing Jakub Voracek was taken on average with the 94th pick in Yahoo fantasy hockey drafts.

The upside was clear: the 25-year-old was fresh off a career season in terms of goals, assists, shots on goal and power-play points. He was a lock to play with top-tier fantasy asset Claude Giroux again, so getting a taste of that pie was only logical for fantasy owners.

That said, Voracek didn't have the pedigree to suggest such elevated consistency and offensive balance through 14 games in 2014-15.

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NHL.COM FANTASY STORIES | VIDEOS
Jensen's top 100 forward ranks | Big steals
All-Access: Hutchinson emerging for Winnipeg
Watch: Cubeta's latest fantasy forecast
Top 30 goaltenders | Back-to-back analysis
Top 60 defensemen | Gonchar has value
Twitter fantasy face-off results, next matchup