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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

The Real Spiel: Elias providing steady play for Devils

Saturday, 01.21.2012 / 12:42 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer

Given the complex, never-steady landscape of fantasy hockey, each week, 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.

PAT ON THE BACK: The Real Spiel on Patrik Elias

Patrik Elias
Center - NJD
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 45
SOG: 96 | +/-: -2
Milestones seasons are hard to come by, but don’t tell that to New Jersey Devils center Patrik Elias. On top of surpassing the 1,000 game mark his season, Elias’ game has returned to a point-per-game pace, an accomplishment that has eluded the veteran since 2008-09. Through 45 games, Elias has a healthy 45 points on 17 goals and 28 assists. Those are the numbers of an obviously impactful player, but in the case of the 51st overall pick of the 1994 NHL Draft, those are the numbers of a player who knows how to pick his spots, as Elias has thrown just 96 shots on the cage, good for 129th in the NHL. Recent success has propelled the 35-year-old to greater heights among fantasy players, as Elias is happily in the midst of a seven-game point streak, in which he’s collected 11 points and has been a minus player just once. While the Czech native won’t steal the show with hits, PIMs or shots, his point production certainly makes him a valuable option for fantasy owners.


Right of Way: What's going on with Patrick Kane?

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.

Prior to this season, Patrick Kane was selected on average in the second round of fantasy drafts, with the 21st overall pick. In Yahoo! Leagues, he was rated as the 14th-best fantasy player. The super-skilled forward got off to a fast start with 6 points in his first four games and finished October with 11 points in 11 games (4 goals, 7 assists). He was playing on a line with the equally talented Jonathan Toews and featured on the top power-play unit with Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith. Everything pointed to Kane having the best season of his career -- even better than when he posted a career-high 88 points in 2009-10.

November treated Kane OK -- he had 3 goals and 13 points in 14 games. December got off to a fast start, with him carrying over a modest five-game point-scoring streak in which he notched 8 points. But since that streak ended Dec. 11, things seemed to change for Kane.

Kane immediately followed that mini-hot streak by being held pointless in three straight games. In 18 games since Dec. 11, Kane has just 2 goals and 6 points -- not exactly what his fantasy owners have come to expect. He hasn't had a multi-point performance in 19 games; he has recorded a plus rating just four times during this extended cold streak; he has just 1 power-play point in those 18 games despite seeing his usual power-play ice time (he averages 3:36 of ice time per game on the man-advantage).

So what is happening to Patrick Kane?

Turn Left Here: Kovalchuk rises in ranks, Lupul drops

Thursday, 01.19.2012 / 2:11 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, 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.

It's never easy trying to decide which player to start at a certain position on a night when you have a full roster playing. Who do you bench? What about your utility spot? Should you go with the hot hand or the player that's performed better over the full season? These are just a few questions fantasy owners deal with on a nightly basis -- especially on Saturday's when most NHL teams are in action.

The answers to these questions depend on several things -- what kind of league you're in (head-to-head, rotisserie, points), what stats you need to improve in, who your opponents are and many others.

In order to try and help gauge the value of your players, we're going to play a little game called, "Fantasy Face-off" -- it's basically a shortened version of our fantasy face-offs we ran in the preseason. Here's the idea: We'll list left-wing eligible players that are very comparable and then decide who we believe we'd rather start/have on any given night. Let's give it a shot:

Center Stage: Seguin, Tavares moving up in rankings

Wednesday, 01.18.2012 / 12:35 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.

You'll notice several players getting a big bump up in this week's rankings, and that's because we've seen several injuries in the last couple of weeks.

Sidney Crosby has now been joined by other elite center-eligible fantasy players, like Washington's Nicklas Backstrom, who could be nearing a return, but for now he remains listed on IR. Productive fantasy players like Patrick Sharp and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will still be sidelined for the next three or four weeks, while Jeff Carter found himself back on IR for the second time in his short Columbus career. Some under-the-radar fantasy centers are also currently on the sidelines: Mikko Koivu, Jordan Staal, Alexander Steen and Mike Ribeiro.

What should fantasy owners do about all these injuries?

First things first: You can't panic. You're likely not the only one in your league dealing with injuries and it's almost inevitable that we all have to see one of our valuable fantasy players on the sidelines at some point during the season. You have to be sure to stay on top of your team as a manager and hunt the waiver wires for a solid pick up in the meantime. Here are a few suggestions -- these players are all available in over 80 percent of Yahoo! Leagues:

On the 'D'-fence: Letang cleared for takeoff

Tuesday, 01.17.2012 / 11:56 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.

We promise that this space will eventually be used to talk about something other than injuries and those who are suffering from them, but it would be folly to gloss over the latest high-profile player that is set to make his triumphant return: Kris Letang.

Letang spent an awful lot of time sitting in the No. 1 slot in our rankings before exiting the Penguins' lineup with a concussion suffered on Nov. 26 against the Montreal Canadiens, and his return should have the Penguins as well as fantasy owners singing hallelujah.

The Montreal native was set to rejoin his teammates in practice Tuesday and has been cleared for full contact. Unfortunately there isn't a definitive date for his actual return to game action, but most believe it will be sooner rather than later. The gray area on when he will play kept him listed in our injured reserve section, but be aware that he could be back on the ice before we check back in next week.

In the Cage: Four buy-low candidates

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.

As the sense of urgency rises for teams hinging on a playoff spot, so too does the sense of urgency for their goaltenders. We've seen hints of brilliance from a few savvy veterans over the last week, so we want to give you the lowdown on four interesting buy-low candidates for the rest of the regular season. There will always an inherent risk with these goalies, but this is universal; if you own them, expect a lot in return. If you want to acquire them, try to sneak a buy-low steal from otherwise unaware managers!

1. Craig Anderson: Leading the race in volume stats categories, Anderson is 4-0-1 in his last five games and currently playing the best hockey of his season. He sits first in games played (41), second in minutes (2,289:59), and first in shots faced (1,219). He plays at his best when he's ultra-aggressive and fierce in the crease, so if you see him shoving players in the back and swiping his stick to create space, you know he's on his game. This type of attitude and durability is what made him so successful in Colorado (in the 2009-10 season), and it could make him a major force for the Senators in the second half.

2. Cam Ward:
With a monumental 3-2 win over the Bruins last Saturday night, the Hurricanes finally came up on the right side of a tight one-goal game, and Ward was a big reason for that. Sunday's return of Jeff Skinner acted as another morale booster for the team, and now Ward's value is rising. He stopped 89 of 95 shots in his last three games, and has allowed just two goals against in each of his last five games (3-2-0). Keep in mind that Ward's best month in his career is in March (35-11-4 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .924 save percentage), so we feel he fits the profile of a buy-low candidate.

Fantasy Mailbag: Reimer's value dwindling in January

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Pete Jensen - Staff Writer 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 Fantasy Mailbag by contacting

KENNY FROM ALBERTA is contemplating dropping James Reimer for either Josh Harding or Evgeni Nabokov.

It's no secret that Reimer's value has taken a significant hit over the past two weeks, leaving his fantasy owners bewildered. Jonas Gustavsson has started all six games for the Toronto Maple Leafs this calendar year, emerging as the team's most reliable goaltender. Reimer sports a 7-4-4 mark this season but has allowed three or more goals in eight of his 11 outings since returning from a concussion that caused him to miss 18 games. The good news for Reimer owners is that Gustavsson, following a four-game win streak that included two shutouts, has fallen back down to earth with consecutive losses at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres and New York Rangers. But the reality holds true for the time being, as the 23-year-old Reimer (owned in 58 percent of Yahoo! leagues) hasn't played since Dec. 31 and can only bide his time as coach Ron Wilson continues to dissect the goaltending dilemma. Reimer should still be retained if at all possible, but stability should be sought from an available netminder.

James Reimer
Goalie - TOR
RECORD: 7-4-4
GAA: 3.01 | SVP: 0.900
Harding (29 percent) has the sixth-best save percentage in the League (.929) and has been in net for the Minnesota Wild in each of its last three games. Once starter Niklas Backstrom (flu) is back, this will return to a free-for-all for playing time, but Harding remains a nice short-term option with game-breaking capability as evidenced but his monster 47-save effort in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues. The Wild have only won twice in their last 15 games, but if Harding gets his season back on track, there is potential left in the tank from a fantasy standpoint. That being said, your best bet at this time is probably Nabokov (27 percent), who has started 11 straight games for the New York Islanders and is fresh off his 300th career win Saturday vs. Buffalo. Nabby, believe it or not, has overcome a forgettable 2-8-0 start with five wins in his last eight outings. Al Montoya (concussion) is working his way back, but Rick DiPietro (sports hernia) is likely done for the season leaving a familiar void in net on Long Island. The bottom line is this veteran is rediscovering his rhythm and already becoming a growing commodity in the fantasy world.

The Real Spiel: Hossa emerging as fantasy MVP

Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 8:31 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer

Given the complex, never-steady landscape of fantasy hockey, each week, 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.

MIDWEST HOSS-PITALITY: The Real Spiel on Marian Hossa

Marian Hossa
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 17 | ASST: 30 | PTS: 47
SOG: 153 | +/-: 23
One might argue that Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has had himself an MVP-caliber season, both in real life and in fantasy hockey. One might also agree. Hossa is a bona fide stud for fantasy team owners. His assists (30), points (47), plus/minus (plus-23) and power-play goals (7) all rank in the Top 10 in the NHL. Throw in his 17 goals and 153 shots and you've got yourself a more-than-reliable option to lead your team to greatness. History of production is also on Hossa's side, as he is essentially a point-per-game player. However, he hasn't played in 80-plus games in each of the past four seasons. When healthy, Hossa's the guy to get your team to the Promised Land.


Breaking down our updated top-50 fantasy rankings

Thursday, 01.12.2012 / 4:09 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Having released our midseason updated top-175 overall fantasy hockey rankings, it's time to provide you with some explanations for our top-50 picks. Why was Evgeni Malkin chosen over the Sedin brothers, or over the League's top goal-scorer in Steven Stamkos? Why was the struggling Alex Ovechkin ranked one spot higher than the surprising superstar-like Phil Kessel? Why did Brian Elliott not crack our top 50 despite being second in the NHL in goals against average and save percentage?

These are just a few questions many of you are probably wondering, but this is our reasoning for our top-50 overall rankings at the midpoint of the 2011-12 season:

The overall ranking order is based on Matt Cubeta's updated rankings at the midpoint of the 2011-12 season.

Rankings are based on a standard fantasy hockey league that includes a 6x4 scoring system: goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots on goal, penalty minutes, goalie wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts.


Updated top-175 overall fantasy hockey rankings

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Welcome to the second half of the NHL season. With the midway point of the 2011-12 campaign officially behind us as of Monday, Jan. 9, it's time re-rank every fantasy player.

These rankings take everything into effect. They are based on a standard fantasy league (categories: goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points, shots on goal, goalie wins, save percentage, goals-against average and shutouts), with fantasy being the key word. These rankings are not an ordered list of the best NHL players -- they are based solely on their fantasy hockey value.

These rankings are based on expectations for the remainder of the 2011-12 season. Obviously what a player has done up to this point plays a critical role on where they are ranked, but just because Bobby Ryan has had a rough first half, doesn't necessarily mean we think he's going to struggle as much in the second half. They also include players that are currently injured or listed on IR -- their rank takes into consideration how long that player is expected to be sidelined. 

Lastly, these rankings have been compiled solely by's fantasy guru, Matt Cubeta -- therefore you may see he has goalies in a different order than Justin Goldman's "In the Cage" rankings, or different from Brian Metzer's defenseman rankings in his "On the 'D'-fence" weekly feature.

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