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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Center Stage: Kane up, Toews down in center ranks

Wednesday, 11.02.2011 / 3:22 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.

It's time to shake things up.

With so many players now possessing dual-position eligibility in Yahoo! fantasy hockey leagues, we have decided to expand our weekly forward rankings. That's right, we're bumping it up from 30, to 40 for each position. Going forward, our updated NHL.com rankings will list the top 40 Yahoo!-eligible centers, left wings and right wings.

Simply put, there were just too many good players being left off the rankings because of so many of them being listed in multiple sets of forward rankings -- Chicago's Patrick Sharp is listed at C, LW and RW, despite the fact he has stated he does not want to play in the middle this season (hence Patrick Kane's emergence at the center position).

We want to put Sharp in each set of rankings because it is valuable to you if you have him on your fantasy team -- it will help you gauge his value at each position, because only you know where you want him to be on your roster. Maybe Sharp's a center for one owner, but for another, he could be a starting left wing, so we feel continuing to put him in each set of rankings is useful for everyone.
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On the 'D'-fence: Karlsson rising in fantasy ranks

Tuesday, 11.01.2011 / 12:15 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 Ottawa Senators are in what some would call a rebuilding mode, but their record during the first month of the season tells a slightly different tale. Their 7-5 mark might not be mind blowing, but it gets a lot more impressive when you consider the fact that they have just reeled off six consecutive wins and are doing it with major contributions from their youngsters.

Of those youngster,s none has been more impressive than third year D-man Erik Karlsson, who has notched an impressive 13 points (1G-12A) through his team's first 12 games.

Karlsson has long had fantasy owners, as well as his bosses in Ottawa, salivating, but no one could have predicted how quickly he would become a brilliant offensive defenseman. After seeing his young rearguard post 26 points (5G-21A) during his first season in the League, General Manager Bryan Murray tried to help the process along by bringing in Sergei Gonchar last season to assist in the grooming process. After all, Gonchar had been quite effective in assisting with the maturation of Kris Letang in Pittsburgh and it has paid off in spades for the young Swede.
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In the Cage: Turnaround time for veteran goalies

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.

Before hosting the Ducks yesterday, the Columbus Blue Jackets held a team meeting to discuss their disastrous October. The result? A 3-1 win and a strong effort from Steve Mason, one that included some timely stops in the second and third periods.
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The Real Spiel: Superb history on Luongo's side

Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer

There's no denying the unpredictable and ever-changing nature of hockey, especially in the "new" NHL, where blistering speed and high-end skill reign supreme and not much remains status quo.

One second too late or one deke too many could mean the difference between a thrilling win or a devastating loss, while one week on top of the world can quickly turn into a permanent slump.

A similar -- if not exact -- dynamic exists in fantasy hockey.

Just when you think it's safe to celebrate a win against an opponent, you find yourself scrambling to find a gem on waivers to remain in contention. Meanwhile, norms become aberrations and blips on the radar become stranglehold positions.

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


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Right of Way: Perry awakening for fantasy owners

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.

Watch out folks, last season's fantasy hockey MVP is making his move.

Ducks forward Corey Perry is slowly coming alive. After struggling out of the gate with no points in his first three games, Perry has started to deliver for his fantasy owners with points in each of his last six games, including his first multi-point performance of the season on Thursday against the Wild.

If you were fortunate enough to have Perry on your fantasy team a season ago you would know he's typically a slow starter. To start 2010-11, the versatile forward also was held pointless in his first three contests and then went on to record 8 points in his next six games -- this season he has 7 points in the six games following the pointless streak to start out.
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Turn Left Here: Sedin dethrones Ovi from top LW rank

Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 1:24 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.

The left wing position is quickly proving to be quite deep.

While some of the typical superstars are still struggling in the early parts of the 2011-12 season, several unlikely players are stealing the headlines in fantasy leagues everywhere. Guys like Kris Versteeg, Joffrey Lupul and Milan Michalek may be playing over their heads a bit right now, but who's to say they can't keep this up?

Versteeg received a fresh opportunity playing for his fourth NHL team and is on Florida's top line -- maybe his fast start is legit and he's happy with his new team. Is it that far-fetched to think he can't score 30 goals and post 60-plus points?

Lupul has teamed up with the hottest player in the NHL in Phil Kessel to formulate one of the League's most deadly combinations after about three weeks of action -- maybe he stays healthy for the full season and helps Toronto to a winning season.
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Fantasy Spin: Max-imize your value with Pacioretty

Thursday, 10.27.2011 / 12:03 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Eric Lipschutz - NHL.com Staff Writer

Talk about a turn of events. All but ruled out for Wednesday’s game against Philadelphia with an upper body injury, forward Max Pacioretty made an unexpected return to the lineup and scored a pair of goals, added an assist and was a plus-3 while leading the struggling Montreal Canadiens to a much needed win. 

Pacioretty’s gutsy effort will surely grab the headlines in Montreal but fantasy GMs need to take notice as well. Most of the hockey world knows Pacioretty best for the controversial hit he took from Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, in which he suffered a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra. The Chara hit cost Pacioretty the final 14 games of the 2010-11 season and forced him to miss the Canadiens' first-round playoff series loss to Boston. But Pacioretty has returned to the ice this season and could be poised for a breakout year with the Habs.

If healthy, the 22nd overall pick of the 2007 Entry Draft could blossom into the rare type of multidimensional forward who can contribute to a variety of fantasy categories. He is a big body who plays physical, possesses a scoring touch and at just 22 years old, is just going to get better and better. In just 37 games last season, Pacioretty had 14 goals and 10 assists while firing 112 shots and amassing 39 PIMs.  Over a full season, that translates to the type of production across the board that makes fantasy GMs salivate.
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Center Stage: Backstrom, Spezza back to old tricks

Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 1:44 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.

With nearly three weeks of the NHL season in the books, it's time to take a look at the top fantasy players at the center position according to standard fantasy leagues. Three weeks is still not a gigantic portion of the season, so you'll notice that we continue to show patience with our updated center rankings. However, we can begin to put more faith in some players' hot or cold starts -- guys like Jordan Staal, Vinny Prospal and Jamie Benn, for example.

You'll also notice that our updated center rankings will differ from Yahoo! League ratings because we're projecting how we expect players to perform for the remainder of the season -- Yahoo's rankings are based on what they've done up to this point. For example, Steven Stamkos remains our top-ranked center going forward, but in Yahoo! Leauges, Stamkos is currently rated 20th among centers.

With that said, let's take a look at the top-five performers at the center position up to this point. You'll see one player is finally living up to expectations, another is performing like he did last year, another is rebounding like we hoped he would, and the other two are reaching the expectations that many of us have had for the last couple of years.

We're talking about Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, Nicklas Backstrom and two centers that we'll be hearing from for many, many years to come: Claude Giroux and John Tavares.
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Fantasy Spin: Goalie fallout from Oil win over 'Nucks

Wednesday, 10.26.2011 / 1:35 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Eric Lipschutz - NHL.com Staff Writer

Tuesday night's Edmonton Oilers win over the Vancouver Canucks made us realize that although it's still very early, the Oilers may be arriving ahead of schedule while the Canucks' struggles could be a true cause for concern.  In addition, when you look beneath the surface, the game gave fantasy owners plenty to consider regarding the goalie situations on both sides of the ice.

First to the victors.  Heading into the season, the common belief was that the starting goalie job was going to be groomed for 25-year old Devan Dubnyk, who would take the reins of a young up-and-coming team.  Well, apparently, someone forgot to share that with Nikolai Khabibulin.  Khabibulin was stellar between the pipes Tuesday night, limiting the high-octane Canucks offense to just two goals on 37 shots.  Though Dubnyk has been solid so far this season, posting a 2.31 GAA and .920 save percentage, Khabibulin has outperformed him, turning aside an incredible 129 of the 134 shots he has faced, while posting three wins, compared to Dubnyk's one.
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On the 'D'-fence: Phaneuf reliving his glory days?

Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 12:21 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.

Al Bundy, patriarch of the rag-tag Bundy clan on the now defunct show "Married With Children," spent his days peddling shoes and thinking back to his glory days -- or should I say glory day. Bundy, portrayed by Ed O'Neill, often reminisced about a singular day back in 1966 that would forever be his defining moment -- a four-touchdown affair against his nemesis "Spare Tire" Dixon and Andrew Johnson High School in the city championship.

Though Al scored four touchdowns, won the game, got the girl and was on top of the world, somewhere it all went wrong. As mentioned above, he didn't go on to a career in football, but to one selling shoes, and he was left with nothing but memories of his former greatness.

Though the above is a story about a fictional man, it could just as easily be the story of Dion Phaneuf -- a fantasy darling upon entering the League during the 2005-06 season with his surly on-ice demeanor, howitzer shot and all-around complete game.

During his first four seasons in the League he never scored less than 47 points, 11 goals, or 21 power-play points, with high-water marks of 60 points, 17 goals and 33 power-play points coming during the 2007-08 campaign. Phaneuf had scored his four touchdowns in one game.
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