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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

The Real Spiel: Kessel's dominance can be a norm

Sergei J. Feldman - 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.


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 - Staff Writer

All season long,’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. 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 Fantasy Mailbag by contacting

Right of Way: Phil Kessel: A man on a mission

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Every Friday during the season, 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.

Fantasy Spin: Vanek regaining form as top-tier LW

Pete Jensen - 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.

Center Stage: Lots of depth from fantasy middle-men

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 1:28 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Every Wednesday during the season, 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 so much depth at the center position, it becomes more and more difficult to rank the League's top 30 middle men. Throw in the fact that there are several players who also possess dual-position eligibility, and the rankings begin to look even stronger each week.

That's why today's "Center Stage" will take a look at a few players that didn't crack this week's top 30 rankings -- we'll also explain why these guys are performing so well. They're worthy of ownership in several fantasy leagues at this point, and at the very least deserve mentioning for their hot starts. They could possibly make an appearance in the ranks at some point during the season (if they haven't already), but for now, they're on the outside looking in.

Halak owners must remain patient

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 1:41 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Eric Lipschutz - Staff Writer

Jaroslav Halak's nightmarish start to the 2011-12 season continued on Tuesday night, when he was pulled early in the third period after allowing four goals in the Blues' 5-0 loss to Los Angeles. With the loss, Halak fell to 1-4 on the year and has stopped only 81 of the 97 shots he has faced this season.

Jaroslav Halak
Goalie - STL
RECORD: 1-4-0
GAA: 3.47 | SVP: 0.835
Unfortunately, there is not much comfort to offer Halak owners at this point.  As an entrenched starter entering his second season on what appeared to be an improved St. Louis squad, Halak looked to be a very strong value on draft day. However, Halak has done little to warrant that acclaim to this point and has shown no signs of getting out of his funk.

So for now, fantasy GMs have few options but to remain patient with Halak. If you are fortunate to have alternative options in goal on your roster, it would be wise to use them and keep Halak on the bench until he proves he is capable of regaining his form.    

Kesler's return can change fantasy landscape

Wednesday, 10.19.2011 / 1:12 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer

The Vancouver Canucks are once again believed to be Stanley Cup contenders this season, and their chances of justifying that label just increased significantly.

Stud two-way center Ryan Kesler joined the lineup Tuesday night against the visiting New York Rangers for the first time after undergoing arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip in the offseason.


Brodeur's injury makes Hedberg a hot commodity

Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 11:19 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Eric Lipschutz - Staff Writer

Attention all Martin Brodeur owners: If you haven't already made the move to scoop up Johan Hedberg off the waiver wire, the time has officially come.

According to reports on Tuesday, Brodeur is unlikely to play Friday when the Devils host San Jose.  His status for Saturday night's game in Pittsburgh is also very much in doubt.  When Brodeur was originally hurt in a 2-1 shootout win over the Kings, the injury was not thought to be serious.  However, Brodeur has already missed New Jersey’s win over Nashville and now his return to the ice appears to be up in the air.
Meanwhile, Hedberg has been stellar in Brodeur's absence.  He was perfect in relief of Brodeur against Los Angeles and made 29 stops to earn a victory over the Predators. Hedberg is a seasoned veteran and a former No.1 goalie in the NHL and should continue to be consistent in net for as long as he is required to fill in for Brodeur.

On the 'D'-fence: Rocky Mountain High

Tuesday, 10.18.2011 / 11:49 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

Every Tuesday during the season, 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.

Each year fantasy owners plan out their strategies and spend countless hours poring over statistics, cheat cheats and rankings trying to find a couple of players that will give them the edge against the competition. We here at do the same thing when it comes to studying the statistics and determining where to rank players to help provide that edge for you and, yes, even our own teams.

Though we have all done the work, it seems there are always surprises during the season's infancy, and that is the case again this year. The Colorado Avalanche didn't get a ton of respect heading into October based on the fact that they were placing a ton of faith in a young injury-prone goaltender and leaning on a new-look blue line led by former No. 1 pick Erik Johnson.  

Thus far, the Avs are getting it done, and after an opening-night loss they have reeled off five consecutive victories. That success is noteworthy to fantasy owners and specifically those in need of some defensive depth, as they are getting far more production from the blue line than one would have dreamed. In fact, of the 18 goals they have scored as a team, 17 have run through their defense.

In the Cage: Evaluating coaching strategies

Justin Goldman - 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'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.

When it comes to choosing a nightly starter, every head coach has their own unique goalie strategy. Some stick to the same strategy every year, no matter who is rostered. Some make their choices depending on how the goalies perform in practices and games, otherwise known as the “riding the hot hand” strategy. Others have a strict routine; they adhere to a schedule created before the season began. Others fly by the seat of their pants and adjust things on a weekly or daily basis; nothing is written in stone, there's no visible pattern, and the goalies essentially make the coach's decisions for them.

With this in mind, the more you evaluate a coach's goaltending strategy, the more likely you will be to find free agents with hidden fantasy value before your competition does. Remember, last year was the first time since the 2003-04 season that a goalie didn't win 40 games. Combined with the barrage of backups that have already played this season, it looks like coaches will once again utilize both of their goalies in a more balanced and effective manner this year. 
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Watch: Cubeta, Jensen tackle burning Q's
Top 100 forward rankings: Line combos crucial
Top 60 defensemen ranks: Hedman joins elite
Top 30 goalie rankings: Backups prove worth