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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

On the 'D'-fence: All hail King Karlsson

Wednesday, 03.26.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Entering this season, we penned a fantasy faceoff breaking down the merits of owning the Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban against those of owning the Senators' Erik Karlsson. While we explained it was more about preference when determining which of those two defensemen to draft, we pointed you in the direction of Subban based on the fact Karlsson didn't quite look like himself at the end of the last season upon returning from injury.

In fact, on Sept. 5, 2013, we said "though Karlsson made it back late in the season and still managed to post .82 points-per-game, he just didn't look comfortable. Speed and agility are such an important part of his game and it just wasn't there as he seemed to be dealing with the lingering effects of the severed Achilles."

Well, today, we admit that was a load of hogwash and shout from the rooftop of our secret fantasy headquarters, "All Hail King Karlsson!"

Sure owning Subban, who has 50 points in 73 games, isn't hurting your team, but it isn't helping as much as if you had drafted the leading scorer at the position, Karlsson.

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The Front Line: Giroux closest to Crosby-like value?

Tuesday, 03.25.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

I'll be the first to admit I was wrong about Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux. Back on Nov. 5, I said you should trade Giroux and I didn't believe there was "much of a resurgence coming." Here we are 141 days later and Giroux is currently the No. 8 overall player in Yahoo fantasy leagues. Clearly, Giroux has proven me wrong.

Prior to that story on Nov. 5, Giroux had no goals and six assists in his first 13 games of the season. He wasn't coming close to living up to his average draft selection (16th overall). In fact, he didn't score his first goal of the season until his 16th game. But from that 16th game onward, Giroux has pretty much been his usual self; that of an elite fantasy forward.

In his next 55 games, the 26-year-old forward has gone on to score 24 goals and 43 assists, a rate of 1.22 points per game. The only player to average more than that this season is Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby at 1.32 points per game. Of course, Crosby has done that for all 71 games he's played in, but the point is if you wipe away Giroux's first 16 games of the season, he's been the second-best point producer in the NHL behind only Crosby. He's also had 21 of his 22 multi-point games during this 55-game stretch. Only Crosby and the Toronto Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel have had more multi-point efforts all season (28 and 23 respectively).

Of players that have appeared in at least 25 games this season, 14 have averaged at least a point per game (Giroux being one of them despite the sluggish start). Last season there were 20 players that averaged at least a point per game (excludes the Maple Leafs' Joffrey Lupul, who averaged 1.12 but only played 16 of 48 games), which makes Giroux's inclusion on this season's list even more impressive.

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Fantasy All-Access: Streaking Bruins have value

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

The Boston Bruins are two wins shy of their franchise record for consecutive wins, 14 set in 1929-30; let’s look at the streak from a fantasy aspect.

Veteran Jarome Iginla has paced the team with 11 goals and 14 points during the win streak. Rookie Carl Soderberg has raised his fantasy stock with 10 points in the past 13 games. Both Bruins goalies have contributed to the win streak; Tuukka Rask has won seven straight while giving up only 11 goals. Chad Johnson has won five straight while stopping 125 of 131 shots.

The Bruins have four games this week (MTL, CHI, @WSH, @PHI); expect their red-hot players to keep pacing your fantasy teams.

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In the Cage: A deeper look at this year's rookie class

Thursday, 03.20.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

As of Thursday, a total of 88 goaltenders have made at least one NHL appearance this season.

To put that number in perspective, it's the highest total since the 2011-12, 2008-09, and 2007-08 seasons, when 89 goalies appeared in an NHL game. But that doesn't trump the 2005-06 season, when a whopping total of 91 goalies were used.

Of this season's 88 goalies, 19 of them comprise the rookie class. Eddie Lack's shutout in a 2-0 win over Nashville on Wednesday pushed their record to 88-62-23, a solid .575 point percentage. The rookie class also has a cumulative .914 save percentage, stopping 4,690 of 5,133 total shots on goal.

Last season, the rookie class of 14 goalies went 32-32-7 with a .906 cumulative save percentage. In the 2011-12 season, 20 rookies combined for a 63-72-16 record with a .913 save percentage.

With so much emerging goalie talent being used so often this season, we wanted to provide you with a top-10 keeper league ranking. This will not only help you pinpoint some of the best long-term goalies to own in a keeper league, but it will show you just how deep the talent pool has become.

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On the 'D'-fence: Tough pill powers Coyotes' Yandle

Wednesday, 03.19.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

The United States Olympic team was announced on New Year's Day following the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. While those named to the roster were celebrating their selections, Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle was left to wonder what he could have done differently upon being left behind.

Yandle thought he gave himself a great chance to be selected to the roster with his first-half performance, calling his omission from the team "a tough pill to swallow."

The good news for the Coyotes and fantasy owners of Yandle is that rather than sulk, he used the experience as motivation and has been one of the most productive defensemen in the League since the Olympic break.

Make no mistake, his first half numbers were impressive. He picked up seven goals and 31 points over his first 58 games this season, good for .66 points per game. That would tie him for 11th in the League in points per game among defensemen, had he continued along at that pace.

He was firing 2.78 shots on goal per game and had contributed 22 power-play points.

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The Front Line: March Madness has arrived in fantasy

Tuesday, 03.18.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

March Madness is something we all associate with NCAA basketball, and understandably so. It's a time that captures so many people with its excitement, upsets and heroics.

But what many people don't realize is that March also signifies the end is near in fantasy hockey. If you're in head-to-head leagues your playoffs have just begun. If you're in points leagues or the traditional rotisserie league, you're likely holding on for dear life or fighting to climb in the standings despite time running out. In a way, the month of March is fantasy hockey's own March Madness.

In lieu of the NCAA tournament, let's have a college basketball-themed look at some key fantasy hockey forward storylines:

The No. 1 seed -- Florida = Sidney Crosby

The Gators earned the top overall seed in the tournament, and in fantasy hockey Crosby has been far and away the best player in the game. He consistently has contributed in all categories and he's the only player currently on pace for more than 100 points (108).

The unbeaten -- Wichita St. = Alex Ovechkin

The Shockers are 34-0 heading into the tournament and will look to see if they can stay unbeaten through March. Ovechkin looks like he's a runaway to be unbeaten for the second straight season in the goal-scoring category. With 45 goals in 65 games (nine more than Corey Perry's 36, who ranks second), Ovechkin continues to shine as the NHL's best pure goal-scorer.

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Fantasy All-Access: Spoilers have value for playoffs

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

With the push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in full swing there are teams trying play spoiler, and within those teams you can find fantasy gold.

The Calgary Flames have won five out of their past 10 games and Mike Cammalleri has six goals in those games. A youth movement has begun in Florida, but it is veteran Scottie Upshall who is continuing his bounce-back season with nine points in his past 14 games. And in Buffalo, Tyler Ennis has four goals in eight March games.

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In the Cage: Tight schedule adds value to backups

Thursday, 03.13.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

With only a few days before standard Yahoo Fantasy league playoffs begin (March 17), it's time to pinpoint some hidden talent that can help you squeeze more points out of your goaltending categories.

Fortunately, the condensed NHL schedule has opened the door for plenty of backups to gain some crucial fantasy points that, if earned a few months ago, would have largely gone unnoticed.

To get an idea of how jam-packed the schedule will be over the next month, look at the remaining back-to-back games. The Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils, Ottawa Senators and Pittsburgh Penguins will play five sets over the next month. The Anaheim Ducks, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Montreal Canadiens and the New York Islanders all have four sets remaining. The rest of the League has two or three.

Now is a great time to consider adding an Edmonton Oilers goaltender. Not only are the Oilers 8-3-2 in their past 13 games, but their schedule is not as grueling as the rest of the League. They only have two back-to-back sets remaining and they play 10 of their final 16 games at home.

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On the 'D'-fence: Timonen producing at typical pace

Wednesday, 03.12.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen has long been a staple on fantasy hockey blue lines, but that started to change a bit this season. While he led all Flyers defensemen in scoring last season with 29 points in 45 games, prompting fantasy owners to draft him on average in the 11th round of Yahoo Fantasy Leagues, he and the Flyers limped out of the gates to a 4-10-1 record in their first 15 games.

Timonen managed to put up just one assist and a minus-2 rating over that span, causing fantasy owners to cut and run. He found himself on the most-dropped lists in many different platforms and formats, but while owners weren't paying attention he and the Flyers were heating up.

The Flyers have gone 29-15-6 over their next 50 games, effectively turning their season around. Timonen appeared in 47 of those games, collecting 25 points in the process. His .53 points per game over that span might not compare to the .64 he put up last season, but it is on par with some of his best career numbers to date.

The 38-year-old native of Kuopio, Finland has only broken .60 points per game in a season on three occasions. He achieved the feat in both of his final two seasons with the Nashville Predators back in 2005-06 and '06-07, and then again last year.

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The Front Line: Hemsky, Moulson thrive after trades

Tuesday, 03.11.2014 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

In all likeliness, your league's trade deadline has passed (March 6 was the standard league trade deadline date). Hopefully you've made some moves to help your team toward winning a championship, or if you weren't in contention for the title, you made some trades to build for the future.

The NHL saw plenty of trades that will impact your league. From the Montreal Canadiens' acquisition of Thomas Vanek to the subtle Minnesota Wild trade for Matt Moulson, here's a look at how six of the top forwards have performed since joining their new team and what to expect for the remainder of the fantasy season (in order of where they fall in my updated rankings).

Martin St. Louis, New York Rangers

Games with new team: 3 (0 G, 1, minus-1, 0 PIMs, 1 PPP, 9 SOG)

St. Louis has been skating on a line with former Tampa Bay Lightning teammate and good friend Brad Richards and speedy forward Carl Hagelin. The one noticeable difference is his playing time. With the Rangers having a bit more depth than the Lightning, St. Louis has eclipsed the 20 minute mark just once in three games -- on the season St. Louis' has averaged 21:33 of ice time per game.

Expectation: He'll remain a top-15 forward and should continue to put up point-per-game numbers while getting comfortable in New York.

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