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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Center Stage: Gauging the value of unknown talent

Wednesday, 12.07.2011 / 2:26 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy centers in our weekly segment: "Center Stage." From updated center rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy center expert all season long.

We all know about the big-time surprise players this season -- the Joffrey Lupuls and Brian Elliotts of the NHL -- but what about some of the lesser-known shockers from the first two-plus months of the season?

In today's Center Stage we're going to take a look and compare a player that you might not realize is having such a good season with players that are far more well-known and usually produce at a high level. We will present you with the stat lines for the three players without telling you who they are -- and then we'll reveal the players and explain the comparison. We'll start with centers today and then move on to left wings and right wings on Thursday and Friday.

Player X: 29 games -- 11 G, 12 A, minus-7, 18 PIMs, 5 PPP, 96 SOG
Player Y: 27 games -- 8 G, 14 A, even, 20 PIMs, 9 PPP, 74 SOG
Player Z: 23 games -- 7 G, 13 A, plus-2, 30 PIMs, 9 PPP, 59 SOG
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On the 'D'-fence: Boyle's production slowing down?

Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 12:10 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Tuesday 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 expert all season long.

Dan Boyle has been one of the premiere offensive defensemen in the National Hockey League for a while now, and that offensive prowess again made him one of the first defensemen to go in fantasy drafts this season. We here at NHL.com thought so highly of Boyle that he was ranked fifth in our preseason rankings and has managed to stay in the top 10 through last week based largely on that potential and reputation.

Boyle forged that reputation by posting 306 points (77 goals, 229 assists) in 427 games over the previous six seasons. He has had only one season of less than 50 points since the League's work stoppage, and that largely was due to his missing all but 37 games in 2007-08, yet he still managed to put up 25 points. His 0.72 points per game over that span is an average most forwards would relish and it is reason enough to be patient with the early struggles for the 35-year-old. However, there are plenty of red flags that should have his owners feeling a bit antsy. 
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In the Cage: Head Cases -- Miller, Hiller and Reimer

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Monday during the season, goalie specialist and founder of The Goalie Guild Justin Goldman 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.
 
Two starters that suffered head injuries earlier this season -- Ryan Miller and James Reimer -- are back between the pipes. A third starter, Jonas Hiller, recovered from his head issues (vertigo) over the summer, but went just 2-6-3 with a 3.54 goals-against average and a .895 save percentage in November. 
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The Real Spiel: Malkin's more than a sidekick

Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer

Given the complex, never-steady landscape of fantasy hockey, each week, NHL.com Fantasy Insider Sergei Feldman will give you The Real Spiel on some of the quirks and trends that permeated your week of fantasy hockey by way of in-depth analysis.


GE-NO PROBLEM: The Real Spiel on Evgeni Malkin

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 9 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 24
SOG: 91 | +/-: 3
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has garnered a lot of attention since returning to the lineup after being diagnosed with a concussion and missing action since Jan. 5. Rightfully so, as the superstar center has done nothing but deliver since coming back. But hidden in the shadows of The Crosby Show has been the play of the "other" superstar in The Steel City, Evgeni Malkin. The 2011-12 season is a bounce back/comeback season for Malkin, too, who missed considerable time last season after undergoing knee surgery. Though he was in and out of the lineup at the start of the campaign, "Geno" played well. But of late, the talented center shown he's ready to return to Art Ross form. Can he do it? Why not? When Crosby returned Nov. 21, Malkin collected two points. The next game? Another two points. The game after that? Another two points. How about the one after that? Yep. Through 20 games, the 2004 first-round selection ranks 20th in the NHL in points (24). Moreover, he's a top-20 shot producer (91), has 18 PIMs on the season and is a plus-3 performer. Those figures have elevated the 6-foot-3 center's status as one of the premier fantasy performers. Playing behind Crosby and alongside James Neal certainly won't hurt Malkin’s chances of continued success. As the season progresses, keep an eye out for No. 71.


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Fantasy Mailbag: Window not closed on Hiller

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Saturday, 12.03.2011 / 12:16 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen has you covered all season long with the weekly Fantasy Hockey Mailbag. The most compelling questions posed each week will be answered in an effort to provide you with the best chance to succeed in your particular league.

Submit your best questions for the NHL.com Fantasy Mailbag by contacting PJensen@NHL.com.
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Right of Way: Selanne still valuable as Ducks struggle

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Friday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy right wings in our weekly segment: "Right of Way." From updated right wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy right wing expert all season long.

Amidst a coaching change, teammates being involved in trade rumors and his team struggling worse than ever, Teemu Selanne continues to provide fantastic fantasy value for his owners at the age of 41.

With 8 goals, 14 assists, 11 power-play points, 38 penalty minutes and 70 shots on goal, Selanne has been one of the most effective right wings in fantasy hockey. Of the players eligible solely at RW in Yahoo! Leagues, Selanne is rated only behind Phil Kessel -- he is 25th among all players and somehow is still owned in just 88 percent of leagues.

Despite Anaheim's woeful season and their powerhouse offensive players not playing up to their capabilities (they are showing signs of coming around though), Selanne has been a rock. He has 7 points in his last seven games and has even chipped in with 2 penalty minutes in four of those contests -- a nice little bonus from a guy not known to take too many penalties.

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Turn Left Here: Lupul joins group of elite fantasy LWs

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:36 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy left wings in our weekly segment: "Turn Left Here." From updated left wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy left wing expert all season long.

Welcome to December. We're into our third month of the NHL season and some surprising early-season hot starts have carried their way all the way into December. Players like Jamie Benn, Kris Versteeg, Tyler Seguin, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sheldon Souray, Brian Campbell, Brian Elliott and Nikolai Khabibulin have all exceeded fantasy expectations and have provided great value for their fantasy owners to this point. Even at a higher level, players have done more than we could have hoped for -- guys like Phil Kessel, Erik Karlsson and Kari Lehtonen.

But when we discuss true surprises this season, we're specifically looking at you, Joffrey Lupul. No one has been more valuable or more productive in all of fantasy hockey than Lupul. He might not continue at this 39-goal, 98-point pace all season long, but it's time to give the Toronto forward his due.

Lupul was given a fresh opportunity in Toronto to play on the left wing of the Leafs' top line with Phil Kessel on the right side. His season started quite nicely, as we all know, with 4 goals and 3 assists in his first five contests. Kessel got off to an even hotter start, making fantasy owners believe that Lupul could ride the wave and be a fantasy asset going forward. His Yahoo! ownership increased quickly.
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Center Stage: Crosby jumps to No. 1 center rank

Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 1:37 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy centers in our weekly segment: "Center Stage." From updated center rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy center expert all season long.

We knew he was good, but to immediately prove he's the best player in the world so quickly after missing over 10 months of action -- how does he do it? We're not sure anyone saw this coming so soon. In just five games since his return, Sidney Crosby has 11 points and immediately jumps up to the No. 1 center ranking -- and the No. 1 overall fantasy rank as well. Our rankings are based on expectations for the rest of the season, and we believe no one will be more valuable than Crosby.

Drafted on average with the 26th pick in standard Yahoo! Leagues, Crosby's fantasy owners can finally celebrate now that the superstar can be inserted into their lineup. Congratulations if you were able to stay close to the top of your league standings without Crosby -- now you have the most lethal weapon and can sit back and watch as Sid carries you to the top.  
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On the 'D'-fence: Markov's fantasy value rising

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 12:47 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Tuesday 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 expert all season long.

As fantasy comebacks go, they don't get any bigger than that of Sidney Crosby, who has burst back on the scene with 9-points (2G-7A) in four games after missing more than ten months of action due to a concussion. Situations like Crosby's are a rarity, but there could be a similar one shaping up on the blue line of the Montreal Canadiens as Andrei Markov is drawing ever closer to making his long-awaited return.

Markov has been out of the Canadiens' line up for over a year after re-injuring his surgically repaired right knee in a collision with Eric Staal on November 13, 2010. A second procedure on the knee was needed and Markov was left on the shelf until he kicked off an intense rehabilitation program in Florida under the watchful eye of Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. James Andrews in October. The program yielded huge dividends and Markov was back on the ice on Nov. 1. 
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In the Cage: A string of starts makes a difference

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Monday during the season, goalie specialist and founder of The Goalie Guild Justin Goldman 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.
 
To truly gain an edge on your competition, procure darkhorse goalies that could earn a string of starts.
 
Getting a string of starts can be career-altering for "1-B" goalies and backups. It allows them to get into a rhythm, while instilling confidence in themselves, their teammates, and coaches. The more games they play in a row, the more they realize they're capable of carrying a larger role with the club, and the better they're likely to play. Roles change, momentum is gained, and their perceived fantasy value rises.
 
Right now, a number of lesser-owned goalies are improving their fantasy value due to getting a string of starts. This list includes Jonas Gustavsson (13 percent owned in Yahoo! Fantasy leagues), Sergei Bobrovsky (14 percent), Al Montoya (20 percent), Curtis Sanford (20 percent), Cory Schneider (44 percent), and Brian Elliott (66 percent).
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NHL.COM FANTASY HOCKEY COVERAGE
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OFFSEASON FANTASY RANKINGS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Evgeni Malkin
5. alex Ovechkin

CUBETA & JENSEN'S COMPLETE RANKINGS