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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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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Fantasy Spin: Jagr owners should ride the wave

Tuesday, 10.25.2011 / 12:01 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Eric Lipschutz - NHL.com Staff Writer

This was the game Jaromir Jagr fantasy owners have been waiting for. Jagr busted out in a big way on Monday night scoring two goals, and assisting on another in the Flyers' 4-2 win against Toronto at the Wells Fargo Center.

Jagr's first goal as a Flyer was particularly valuable to the fantasy faithful as it came on the power play.  In addition to his three points, Jagr was a plus-2 on the night and fired six shots on net.

Jagr's breakout performance seemed to be just a matter of time. Through his first seven games the veteran winger had assisted on four goals and compiled 18 shots but had yet to find the back of the net.  Now that Jagr is officially on the board, it would appear that a lengthy hot streak could be on the horizon.
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In the Cage: Evaluating the struggling starters

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.

It may be unfair, but many of you might already be forced to undergo "damage control" by dropping a starter that has struggled to begin the season. But you'll want to be careful, because with so much hockey left to be played, one poolie's trash could be another poolie's treasure.
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The Real Spiel: Kessel's dominance can be a norm

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 could quickly turn into permanent residency in a slump.

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Fantasy Mailbag: Patience with Price can pay off

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Saturday, 10.22.2011 / 5:15 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

All season long, NHL.com’s weekly Fantasy Mailbag will feature the best fantasy hockey-related questions from you, the fans.

Locked into a toss-up in deciding which player to add or drop? Looking for insight on a trade proposal? Look no further than this interactive forum every Saturday during the season for comprehensive analysis on moves that can make or break your fantasy squad.

NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen has your inquiries covered all season long. 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: Phil Kessel: A man on a mission

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.

Last week's "Right of Way" preached patience to fantasy owners, and this week should be no different. We are still very early into the 2011-12 season with no teams playing double digit games yet this season and the Penguins leading the way with nine games played so far -- in fact no other team has played in more than seven other than Pittsburgh. Looking even more closely at the schedule there are still three teams that have only played four games -- the Devils, Red Wings and Sharks.

You simply cannot read too much into the production of each player at this point -- there is a whole lot of hockey still to be played and we can expect our usual top fantasy players to perform up to their capabilities.

When looking at the top right wings at this point of the season, you'll notice several unlikely players -- Phil Kessel is the No. 1 right wing in standard Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues, with Jason Pominville, Joffrey Lupul, Patrick Sharp and Milan Michalek rounding out their top five. However, when you look at our updated ranks, things will look quite different.

That's because we're sticking with our guns and again, it's just too early to start believing or disbelieving in these early starts.
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Fantasy Spin: Vanek regaining form as top-tier LW

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Buffalo Sabres are off to their best start since 2008-09, and Thomas Vanek's strong start is a huge reason why.

After his second two-goal performance of the season in Buffalo's 3-0 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, Vanek has shown a knack for thriving in front of the net -- and his fantasy owners have rejoiced on a nightly basis as a result.

The 27-year-old sniper is far from unrecognized as a standout goal-scorer in his career, but the past two seasons have seen his fantasy stock take a slight hit.

After 40-plus goal seasons in 2006-07 and 2008-09, the Austrian-born left wing has averaged 30 goals over the past two seasons, with average PIM totals and plus-minus outings.

Vanek is now anchoring the Sabres offensively with 10 points through 6 games (6G, 4A) , only trailing surging Toronto Maple Leafs' forward Phil Kessel (12 pts) for the League lead. Vanek also sports a plus-5 rating and 8 PIMs so far this season.
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