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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Fantasy top 60 'D': Replacing Pens' Letang from within

Wednesday, 12.03.2014 / 12:30 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 Pittsburgh Penguins boast some of the most dangerous offensive players in the NHL, and that makes them very popular with fantasy owners. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are among the first players drafted in Yahoo Standard leagues and when defensemen start going, it doesn't take long for Kris Letang to fall into the drafted queue.

The problem with these Penguins stars is they all come with their share of injury risk, and Letang might be the riskiest.

Fantasy top 100 forwards: Blackhawks' shift working

Tuesday, 12.02.2014 / 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.

Patrick Kane is enjoying a career-best multipoint binge. Kris Versteeg is producing at a higher rate than ever before.

And fantasy owners can thank Brad Richards -- the Chicago Blackhawks' one-year, $2 million man -- for putting all the pieces together.

Fantasy All-Access: Get Lightning's Killorn if you can

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.

WAIVER WIRE WATCH

Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning (owned in 9 percent of Yahoo Leagues) -- Playing on a line with Steven Stamkos, the third-year forward has points in seven straight games; he has five goals, three assists, 16 shots on goal and is a plus-4 in that span. Last season he had career-highs of 17 goals and 41 points, and he has a career average of 0.53 points per game. The Lightning have four games scheduled this week (at the New York Rangers, a home and home with the Buffalo Sabres, home for the Columbus Blue Jackets). With three games against teams that entered the week ranked near the bottom of goals-against per game, now is a perfect time to pick up Killorn.

Fantasy top 30 goalies: Giving thanks to backups

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every week 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.

Americans celebrated Thanksgiving on Thursday, so we felt Friday was a perfect time to give our own thanks to a legion of talented backup goaltenders that have provided strong fantasy value so far this season.

For quick reference, we've included a handy table of all the backups that have accumulated between 200 and 550 minutes of playing time.

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