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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Fantasy top 60 'D': Ducks defensemen making impact

Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Most teams in the National Hockey League have at least one defenseman who can be a valuable contributor to a fantasy roster, but there are a few teams out there that boast two or more options that can help owners.

The Calgary Flames have Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie and Dennis Wideman. The Los Angeles Kings have Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin and Alec Martinez, and the Pittsburgh Penguins have Kris Letang, Christian Ehrhoff and Paul Martin.

Then there is the team that we are going to discuss today, the Anaheim Ducks. The Ducks provide owners with a number of fantasy options on the back end, and they come in the form of Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm.

All three players are owned in at least 40 percent of Yahoo standard leagues, but it has been Vatanen and Fowler who have rewarded owners with the most production to this point on the season.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Seguin, Nash fit the bill

Tuesday, 12.16.2014 / 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.

There hasn't been much changing of the guard atop the NHL's goal-scoring list in recent seasons.

Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals has led the League in that category in four of the past seven seasons. Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning finished tied for first in 2009-10 and won the title outright in 2011-12. Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks led the way in 2010-11 and finished second behind Ovechkin in 2013-14. The lone players to reach 60 goals in a single season since 2005-06 are Ovechkin (65 in 2007-08) and Stamkos (60 in 2011-12).

Those were the three clear Maurice Richard Trophy (most regular-season goals) favorites entering 2014-15, but things aren't playing out that way.

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Fantasy All-Access: Cameron's impact on Senators

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.

The fantasy pre-draft talk focuses on whom to take with the first pick, and that conversation usually starts with Sidney Crosby vs. Steven Stamkos. On Monday, we won't see the 15th head-to-head matchup between these two because of Crosby's illness. This will be the ninth time in this matchup that one of the superstars did not suit up. In the previous 14 head-to-head matchups the Penguins have won 10, with Crosby scoring 10 goals and 12 assists. Stamkos has been productive despite the losses to the Penguins, with eight goals and 10 assists. Yet, when Crosby misses the matchup, Stamkos only has four assists in nine games.

WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers (owned in 6 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- The Philadelphia Flyers are finally getting some depth scoring, and leading that charge is this fourth-year center. Couturier is on a career-high six-game point streak that has seen him score three goals and four assists with eight shots on goal, four hits and five blocked shots. The Flyers have a busy schedule this week with four games scheduled (home vs. the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers and on the road vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets). Expect the No. 8 pick from the 2011 NHL Draft to continue his red-hot play.

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Hot fantasy topics: Dubinsky, shooting percentages

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Let's get right to it. Here are the five hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now.

1. Brandon Dubinsky expectations

Brandon Dubinsky returned to the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup on Tuesday and finished the game with a power-play assist in 19:09 of ice time. He played 19:31 on Thursday and was a plus-1 with two penalty minutes. Fantasy owners everywhere are wondering what to expect from the 28-year-old power forward. Dubinsky, known for his gritty, get-in-your-face, hard-working style of play, is one of the few players capable of contributing in all fantasy categories.

Brandon Dubinsky
Center - CBJ
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 3 | +/-: 0
Last season Dubinsky had 50 points and 98 penalty minutes, and only Wayne Simmonds, David Backes and Scott Hartnell had more points among players with at least 95 PIMs. He finished the season as the 81st best fantasy player. Why he's only owned in 63 percent of leagues right now points to the fact people forgot about him because of his lengthy absence. It's time to wake up. Dubinsky is capable of being a difference-maker in any league, and while it may take him some time to get reacquainted, his versatility makes him worth starting on a regular basis.
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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Don't give up on elite starters

Thursday, 12.11.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

We're in a new information era in hockey (at least new in a sense of public attention), with an increased emphasis on number crunching and statistics. There's a prevailing thought that, much like counting cards or playing the lottery, a finite equation can be used to predict future results. But some statistics and statistical concepts we use aren't as complicated as predicting what card will be drawn next from out of deck.

One thing to keep in mind when evaluating fantasy hockey goalies is regression.

Simply put, every player has an average stat line he produces. If a player is performing above or below that line, it's expected he eventually will produce more or less to achieve his average.

For example, during his career Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has scored on 12.3 percent of his shots. So if out of the first 100 shots Ovechkin takes in a season six (or six percent) go in, we would expect that number gradually to rise as he continues playing.

The same concept can be applied for goalies. The Boston Bruins' Tuukka Rask carried a career save percentage above .928 into this season, well above the League average. But Rask, for a number of reasons, has seen his save percentage drop to .912 through 21 games this season. The last time Rask had a save percentage below .920 for an entire season was 2010-11 when he was backing up Tim Thomas.

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Fantasy top 60 'D': Panthers' Ekblad proving his value

Wednesday, 12.10.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers once sang, "The waiting is the hardest part."

There are many interpretations as to what they might have been talking about in that song, but for today's purposes we’ll assume that it was NHL draft picks and the time it takes them to make an impact in the League.

Most players don't make the leap from the junior or college ranks right away. In fact, a team might have to invest years of coaching and development before they see the fruits of their labor; it takes even longer if that player is a defenseman.

Aaron Ekblad
Defense - FLA
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 18
SOG: 53 | +/-: 6
Though the "wait" typically is long when it comes to defensemen, sometimes a special player arrives and makes an immediate impact. The Florida Panthers are experiencing that right now with the player they selected with the first pick of the 2014 NHL Draft, Aaron Ekblad.

Ekblad is no stranger to making an immediate impact. He was granted exceptional player status as a 15-year-old to play in the Ontario Hockey League and went on to have 40 goals and 116 points in 175 games for the Barrie Colts between 2011 and 2014.

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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Five disappointing groups

Tuesday, 12.09.2014 / 12:05 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.

Fantasy performance is based on individual statistics, but team success or failure can also make or break a player's value.

Just look at how the early-season success stories of the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks have infiltrated fantasy rosters. From reliable goaltending (e.g. Pekka Rinne, Jaroslav Halak, Ryan Miller) to offensive defensemen (e.g. Mark Giordano) to standout rookies (e.g. Filip Forsberg, Johnny Gaudreau) to steals up front (e.g. Radim Vrbata, Brock Nelson), these developments have led to a positive fantasy ripple effect.

But remember, it's a two-way street. The unpredictability of hockey can turn a seemingly complete roster on paper into shambles over the course of a season.

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Fantasy All-Access: Wingels, Ramo deserve an add

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.

The Edmonton Oilers won a game Sunday for the first time since they beat the New York Rangers on Nov. 9. Their record since that day is 1-7-4, but that does not mean there aren't players with fantasy value in Edmonton. Taylor Hall has continued to produce with seven points in the 10 games he played during the winless streak. Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins have seven points in the past 12 games, while David Perron has three goals and four assists. Their fantasy owners could be clouded by the Oilers' slump and ready to deal these talented players, making them perfect buy-low candidates.

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Fantasy: Point-per-game scorers rising in 2014-15

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Not since the 2007-08 NHL season have we seen so many players scoring at such a high rate. Back in that '07-08 season, players like Dany Heatley, Vincent Lecavalier and Marc Savard were household names in terms of point production. All three of them averaged at least a point per game that season. In fact, of players that appeared in at least 35 games in the '07-08 season, 23 of them ended up averaging at least one point per game.

After the '07-08 season, scoring seemed to drop a bit. In the 2011-12 season, only nine players that played in at least 35 games averaged over a point per game. And just last season, only 13 players accomplished the feat.

Fast forward to this season and things seem to be looking up.

With most teams having played somewhere around 25-26 games this season, I used the benchmark that a player must have appeared in at least 10 of their team's games (approximately 40 percent). And at this moment, 22 players are averaging at least one point per game this season.

From Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at the top of the list averaging 1.38 points-per-game to Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg averaging exactly 1.00 point-per-game, we've seen plenty of household names among the 22 players, and plenty of unlikely, pleasant surprises. If you've been fortunate enough to have any of these guys on your fantasy team, it's likely helped you immensely in the standings. But can they keep it going for a full 82-game season? That is the big question.

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Fantasy top 30 goalies: Best ones able to bounce back

Thursday, 12.04.2014 / 12:23 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.

No matter where you go, goalie coaches around the NHL are of similar opinion. The best goaltenders in the world rarely have two bad games in a row.

Considering how often we have documented the rise of talent over the past three years, now more than ever, goalies simply can't expect to remain fantasy-relevant amidst a losing streak.

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NHL.COM FANTASY STORIES | VIDEOS
Top 60 defensemen ranks | Anaheim's trio
Top 100 forward ranks | Seguin new No. 2
Watch: Cubeta's week 10 fantasy forecast
Spin: Drouin, Galchenyuk moving up
All-Access: Cameron's impact on Senators
Hot topics: Dubinsky, shooting percentages