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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

On the 'D'-fence: Thankful for a defensive fantasy feast

Wednesday, 11.27.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com Correspondent Brian Metzer will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy defensemen in our weekly segment: "On the 'D'-fence." From updated defensemen rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Metzer will be your fantasy d-man insider all season long.

We are one day away from the Thanksgiving holiday in the United States, which provides the nation a chance to reflect on all of the things for which they are thankful.

While appreciating our health, prosperity, friends and family is at the heart of the day, we also see large gatherings in which everyone brings something to the table to aid in the celebration.

Today the defensemen of the National Hockey League come together to give you a fantasy feast!

This feast my not provide turkey legs, sweet potatoes or cranberry sauce, but the boys have covered dishes full of goals, assists, shots on goal and all of the other statistics you need to win your league.

The Front Line: Giving thanks in fantasy hockey

Tuesday, 11.26.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

To say we should be thankful for the play of Alexander Steen is an understatement. After all, on average he was selected with the 163rd pick in Yahoo leagues during draft season and right now he's ranked fifth among all players. I mean, the guy's second in points (29), is second in goals (19) and is tied for second among forwards with a plus-15 rating. This coming from a player that I ranked 154th coming into the season.

Steen is the obvious forward to be most thankful for this season. But what about the rest of the bunch? So, in honor of Thanksgiving, from the forwards that have performed as expected to the guys that have surprised everyone, let's have a look at what fantasy owners should be thankful for at this point of the season.

Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets -- For being one of the most complete fantasy players in the game. I ranked Little 192nd among all players at the start of the season and right now he's 40th in Yahoo leagues. Only three players in the NHL have more than 10 goals, 10 assists, 20 penalty minutes and a plus rating: Corey Perry (no surprise), David Backes (not a huge surprise) and, you guessed it, Bryan Little.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins -- For not missing any games this season. To no one's surprise, Crosby is my No. 1 overall fantasy player right now, and as long as he can stay healthy, he should remain there.

Fantasy All-Access: Giving #HockeyThanks

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

This is the week where fantasy owners get to stuff their faces with turkey, stuffing and plenty of hockey action; more on that later in the roster trends. Here are some of the players we are giving #HockeyThanks for in the fantasy world so far.

A healthy Sidney Crosby is where he belongs near the top of Yahoo fantasy rankings and it sure looks like there is no slowing down No. 87 on the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Even though he hasn't scored a goal in 10 games, the reigning Norris Trophy winner, P.K. Subban of the Montreal Canadiens, is the top-ranked fantasy defenseman with his 10 power-play points and 78 shots.

In the Cage: Injury replacements thriving in fantasy

Thursday, 11.21.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.

After a 5-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Ben Scrivens has now compiled a 4-0-0 record, 1.00 goals-against average, .963 save percentage, and two shutouts since Jonathan Quick suffered his Grade 2 groin strain.

Scrivens' shutout streak finally ended at 191:19 minutes, nearly eclipsing Quick's franchise-record 202:11 streak. With some simple, yet effective style refinements that include a narrower stance and a more traditional glove hand positioning, Scrivens' impressive play has also revealed a key fantasy trend through the first quarter of the season: The injury replacements are thriving.

On the 'D'-fence: Bouwmeester boon for owners

Wednesday, 11.20.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Heading into the 2002 NHL Draft scouts were drooling over a 6-foot-4, 204-pound defenseman named Jay Bouwmeester who had notched an impressive 114 points (25 goals) over his final 122 games with the Medicine Hat Tigers in the Western Hockey League.

Bouwmeester was selected by the Florida Panthers with the third selection in the draft and debuted with the team the next season, playing in all 82 of their games and notching 16 points along the way.

That production wasn't on par with what Bouwmeester had done at the WHL level and it would actually take him a few years to get going offensively in the NHL, but over a four-year span between the 2005-06 and 2008-09 seasons he would notch 167 points (47 goals) in 328 games. He also averaged 2.22 shots on goal and .19 power-play points per game over that span.

He managed to score 12 or more goals in three of those seasons, earning him a lucrative free-agent contract with the Calgary Flames in 2009.

Bouwmeester's production dropped from .51 points per game over that four-year span in Florida to.35 points per game in Calgary. He saw his shots per game drop to 1.48 and his power-play points to .16. Some began to wonder if the production we saw from him in Florida was a fluke.

The Front Line: Benn, Seguin form League's best duo

Tuesday, 11.19.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Only two players this season have recorded five or more points in a single game, and both of those performances came on the same night.

On Nov. 14, teammates Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin combined for 11 points in the Dallas Stars' 7-3 victory against the Calgary Flames. Benn finished the evening with an NHL-best six points (one goal, five assists), while Seguin posted four goals and an assist (Tomas Hertl is the only other player to have scored four goals in a game this season).

It didn't take them long, but Benn and Seguin have quickly become one of, if not the best duo in the NHL. If you were fortunate enough to land either player on your fantasy roster, it has paid immense dividends through the first quarter of the season.

EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS
Player
Avg. Pick
Avg. Round
Current Rank
Jamie Benn 52.4 5.3 19
Tyler Seguin 46.7 4.7 32
* based on Yahoo fantasy leagues

As you can see in the table to the right, both players currently have exceeded everyone's draft-day expectations. However, I was always extremely high on Benn -- prior to this season, I predicted he'd finish as a top-15 overall fantasy player, and I still believe he will.

Benn is the prototypical fantasy player -- he can contribute in every category. Seguin, no stranger to fantasy dominance, lacks the penalty minute presence Benn offers, which is why I rank Benn one spot higher than Seguin (21 and 22 respectively).

Fantasy All-Access: Quarter-mark bold predictions

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

The NHL has season has reached the first-quarter mark and that is a perfect time to make some bold fantasy predictions for what will we see for the rest of the fantasy season:

Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall will be a top-20 fantasy player. The first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft missed seven games due to a knee injury but is back and producing even with the struggling offense around him. The Oilers have 14 of their next 19 games at home so you can expect Hall and the Oilers to break out of their offensive slump and Hall to move up the rankings.

The San Jose Sharks' Antti Niemi will be the first goalie to start 75-plus games in a season since Martin Brodeur in 2009-10. The Finnish netminder has started 18 of the Sharks' first 21 games, and with only eight back-to-backs on the schedule for the rest of the season, look for Niemi to get into the net and carry Fantasy teams for the entire season.

In the Cage: Miller, Bryzgalov solid buy-low options

Thursday, 11.14.2013 / 12:30 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in NHL.com's weekly segment: "In the Cage." From updated goalie rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Goldman will be your fantasy goalie expert all season long.

The theme of our NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Google Hangout on Thursday is focused on identifying solid buy-low and sell-high candidates. With so many options, the panel will surely dish out some solid strategies to help you locate viable forwards and defensemen in both categories.

When it comes to finding good buy-low goalies, with fewer assets to work with, you’re basically looking for one of two things: a backup that has the potential to become a starter, or a good goalie on a bad team that would benefit from a turnaround. Workload will always be the driving force behind a goalie’s fantasy value, but you can’t buy them low or sell them high if they’re not going to play.

On the 'D'-fence: Rangers' McDonagh getting it done

Wednesday, 11.13.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

The New York Rangers came into the season ready for a fresh start. They were led by new coach Alain Vigneault, who was implementing a system that would allow their offensive players to open the game up a bit more than they were able to under John Tortorella.

That was great news for a defenseman like Ryan McDonagh. Unfortunately things didn't go as anticipated, at least in the early going. McDonagh stumbled out of the gates, collecting just three points over his first 10 games, and the team found itself sitting at 3-7-0.

That all started to change on Oct. 29 as the Rangers pulled off a come-from-behind victory over the New York Islanders. McDonagh scored the game-tying-goal and he and the team went on a 6-2-0 run over their next eight games.

Though there have been a lot of variables in the Rangers' turnaround, McDonagh has been a big part of it and is building upon the success of his first three seasons in the NHL.

The Minnesota native has taken steps toward becoming a very effective fantasy defenseman over the past two seasons, and even after starting slowly this season is currently producing .58 points per night, which continues his trend upward from .39 in 2011-12 and .40 in 2012-13.

The Front Line: Rangers forwards rise in fantasy ranks

Tuesday, 11.12.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Going into the season, five New York Rangers cracked my top 100 forward rankings: Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan, Derick Brassard and Brad Richards. This probably doesn't surprise anyone, as all five players carried decent value coming into the season.

However, the Rangers struggled out of the gate, losing seven of their first 10 games, and all five players either disappointed when on the ice or found themselves on the sidelines due to injury.

But in late October, the Rangers started to make some changes to their lineup, specifically to their top two forward lines. They also got a key player back: Carl Hagelin. Since Oct. 29 (when Hagelin returned to the lineup), the Rangers have gone 6-1-0 and have looked like a completely different team. And it's no surprise Hagelin has been at the center of this resurgence.

Last season, when the speedy forward recorded a point, the Rangers went 14-2-1, when he scored a goal they were 8-1-1 and when he tallied at least two points, they were 5-0-1. Hagelin is a difference maker for the Rangers, and he could be one on your fantasy roster as well.

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