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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

On the 'D'-fence: Giordano marvelous in March

Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 12:56 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.

The National Hockey League season is a long one, stretching from October to June, when the Stanley Cup is awarded. We spend those eight months filling our collective craniums with statistics, insights and sleepers in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage in our various fantasy leagues.

Occasionally our readers send in questions or grab our crew on Twitter looking for advice on who to drop or who to pick up, and we try to provide the best answer at that moment. Many times the answers are sound, and the people take our advice and live happily ever after, but there are times when the advice crashes and burns, which happened March 7 when "On the 'D'-Fence" suggested to a Twitter user that dropping Mark Giordano rather than James Wisniewski in favor of Andrei Markov was the best plan.
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In the Cage: Sophomore slump busters in net

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.

No matter how we break it down, this has not been a good season for Chicago's Corey Crawford or Toronto's James Reimer. Both have had to overcome numerous hurdles that stem from the dreaded sophomore slump, and both have learned these lessons the hard way.
 
One reason why goalies struggle during their sophomore season is due to scouting. The more a goalie plays during their rookie season, the more their game can be picked apart by opposing players, coaches and scouts. The proverbial "book" gets written, and during the goalie's second season, they no longer are an unknown entity, often resulting in an increase in goals allowed due to exploited weaknesses.
 
This also plays a role in why rookies like Matt Hackett, Richard Bachman, Robin Lehner and Jacob Markstrom have had quality fantasy success in their limited action. Nobody in the NHL really knows what kind of goalies they are, so they often produce much better statistical outings than expected.
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The Real Spiel: Richards top act on Broadway

Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 8:18 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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.

PERES-TROIKA: The Real Spiel on the New York Rangers’ Top Line

Brad Richards
Center - NYR
GOALS: 23 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 55
SOG: 192 | +/-: 2
The New York Rangers have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season and much of the team’s success can be attributed to the team’s attention to detail in the defensive zone and the brilliant play of Hart Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist. Of late, however, the club’s play in their own end has been less sharp and, as a result, their lead atop the Atlantic Division is less secure. Fortunately, Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin have shouldered the load for the Blueshirts. The recently constructed top line on Broadway has done nothing but deliver offensively, in victory or defeat. Richards, the big fish in free agency this past offseason, is playing his best hockey of the year at the most important time, as he is riding a five-game point streak, in which he has amassed 10 points.  In those five games, two have been three-point nights and one was a two-point affair. To Richards’ right skated Gaborik, one of the premier goal-scorers in the NHL. He is in the midst of a four-game point streak and has goals in three straight, leaving him with a total of 35 on the year, good for third in the League. While the production of the two aforementioned forwards shouldn’t really come as a surprise, first-year pro Carl Hagelin has been the surprise for the Rangers. The 23-year-old has points in three of his past four games and 35 total through 52 games. Top teams sometimes slow down as the season winds down, so as to get ready for the playoffs, but the Rangers have a division to play for. As they fight for supremacy, they will rely on their top line, which has likely made the difference between playoff victory and defeat in fantasy leagues.

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Right of Way: Keep a look out for Alexander Radulov

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.

It's been almost four years since we last saw Alexander Radulov play in the NHL. He last appeared in a game for the Nashville Predators on April 20, 2008 -- a game that saw them eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 3-0 Game 6 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Radulov left in July of 2008 to sign in the KHL with Salavat Yulayev Ufa, and despite his dominant play overseas, he hasn't been discussed much in North America.

Until now.

With Radulov's KHL team having been eliminated from the playoffs, he is now eligible to return to the NHL -- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced at the GM meetings this week that Radulov can return to the Predators at any time this year without having to pass through waivers. It has also been revealed the Predators would gladly welcome Radulov's return and Radulov himself would love to rejoin the team for a run at this year's Stanley Cup.

However, it's a bit complicated. Despite his team being knocked out of the playoffs in the KHL, there are contractual obligations that could keep him in Russia until April 30 -- meaning Radulov wouldn't appear in a regular season game for Nashville. 
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Fantasy Mailbag: Take your pick, E. Staal or Lupul?

Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 2:07 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.



ADRIAN FROM JAMESTOWN, NORTH DAKOTA
is in a keeper league that factors in goals, assists, plus-minus, PPP, SHP and GWG. He can retain four keepers from his current squad for next season. He is planning on keeping Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Jonathan Toews, and Jonas Hiller, but is wondering if it would be worth the risk to instead keep Joffrey Lupul over one of those four players.

Staal and Lupul are having very different seasons based on the context of their careers, but hold similar value as point-producing forwards entering next season. I would agree that Perry, Toews and Hiller are untouchable keepers. Toews has missed 11 straight games with a concussion, but is a top-five fantasy skater when healthy and is nearing a return as the Chicago Blackhawks gear up for the playoffs. Hiller and Perry were simply not themselves early on this season, but have shown positive signs of production recovery over the past two months. With a clean slate to work with, each should be in line for a bounce-back season.
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Turn Left Here: McDonald, Hagelin key for stretch run

Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 1:37 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Time is running out. For those of you in head-to-head leagues, anything can still happen, assuming you've made the playoff bracket. But for those in rotisserie style leagues, it won't be easy to gain ground and move up in the standings now that there are only a dozen or so games remaining for each NHL team.

With that, here are five left wings that are available in the majority of Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues and could turn out to help you during these last couple weeks of the regular season:

Pascal Dupuis (owned in 34 percent of Yahoo! Leagues) -- The energetic forward has 5 points in his last three games and at least one point in seven of his last nine. With Sidney Crosby due back tonight, there's a definite possibility that Dupuis will line up on Sid's wing at some point -- if that's the case, Dupuis should be extremely valuable down the stretch.
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On the 'D'-fence: St. Louis young guns stepping up

Tuesday, 03.13.2012 / 11:52 AM / 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.

The 2011-12 NHL season has provided a number great stories, including the return of the Winnipeg Jets, the resurgence of the Florida Panthers and one of our favorites here at "On the 'D'-fence," Erik Karlsson's meteoric rise to stardom, but the most impressive might be the season the St. Louis Blues have put together.
 
The Blues didn't start the way that they wanted, but a coaching change back on Nov. 6 that saw Ken Hitchcock enter the fold kicked off an impressive 39-11-7 stretch that has them sitting on top of not only the Central Division but the entire League.

No skaters on the Blues roster have benefitted more from Hitchcock's arrival than Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk, who have each spent the season becoming more complete players and adding to the already impressive resumes they had accumulated over the past couple of seasons.
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The Real Spiel: Implications of Crosby's return

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.


CROS-BY ALL YOU CAN BE: The Real Spiel on Sidney Crosby

Sidney Crosby
Center - PIT
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 10 | PTS: 12
SOG: 31 | +/-: 7
When the Pittsburgh Penguins revealed that Sidney Crosby was cleared for contact, speculation of his return grew rampant. It was thought that he might return when the Penguins hosted the Boston Bruins Sunday afternoon, but the team captain ruled himself out and said he wanted to take advantage of more physical practice sessions between games. While no official return date is set, Thursday night at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers remains a possibility. Either way, one of the League's most dominant players could be back soon enough to alter the fantasy hockey landscape as the playoffs near.

In his first return from concussion symptoms earlier this season, Crosby collected four points in his first game and added four more in five games that followed before suffering from more symptoms. He looked his old self, creating chances and being an across-the-board asset that filled the fantasy stat sheet. With the Penguins rolling and looking to catch the Rangers for the Atlantic Division title, it's safe to believe Crosby would perform at a similar level this go-around. Still, his potential return could have adverse impact on some other key fantasy contributors, such as Evgeni Malkin, James Neal and Chris Kunitz. Malkin is in the midst of an MVP season and his wingers, Neal and Kunitz, have been the beneficiaries. Typically, Crosby has played alongside Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

The question remains: Will coach Dan Bylsma break up Malkin's line and join Kunitz with Crosby? If so, fantasy owners should wonder about the production of the aforementioned players. It's possible that the 1-2 punch down the middle will make the Penguins more potent and, as a result, all will benefit. On the other hand, however, breaking up a line that’s been dominant for months could be costly.
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In the Cage: Pick a rookie, any rookie

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.

As if the loss of Tuukka Rask and Craig Anderson wasn't enough for poolies to handle, now Mathieu Garon is down and out, while Josh Harding left a game last Thursday with a lower-body tweak. The goalie infirmary is running out of beds, and at the worst possible time; the playoffs start today for many poolies, meaning tougher decisions when picking up potential replacements.

Due to those injuries, a new pair of rookies now has the potential to provide some solid fantasy points this week -- Matt Hackett and Dustin Tokarski. So which one carries more value down the stretch?

Hackett is trying to survive on a team struggling to win games. The Wild are just 3-6-1 in their last 10, and currently sit eight points out of eighth place in the West. This works in his favor, however, as he's likely to get more looks while the Wild inevitably evaluate their goaltending situation for next season.

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Right of Way: Purcell, Ryder provide unlikely value

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.

The right wing position has proven to be arguably the deepest in fantasy hockey this season, but over the last month or so there have also been a few unexpected players delivering in ways we didn't think would be possible.

Sure, Evgeni Malkin (center and right wing eligible in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues) and Corey Perry have been coming through as we expected over the last 30 days, but let's take a look at guys you didn't expect that are producing at an elite level of late and can be extremely useful for your run at first place:

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