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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Malkin leads list of midseason fantasy awards

Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 12:46 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Staff

In light of the holiday season and the NHL's fast-approaching midway point on Jan. 9, NHL.com's fantasy experts are proud to present the midseason fantasy hockey awards. As all of you know, players around the League have made their mark through three months of NHL action -- for better or for worse. Thus, our aim is to recognize the names that have most defined the fantasy landscape in that span.

Our regular fantasy contributors -- Matt Cubeta, Sergei Feldman, Pete Jensen, Justin Goldman and Brian Metzer -- have cast their votes, outlining the best fantasy players at each position based on eligibility in Yahoo! leagues. If a player is listed at two positions in Yahoo! Leagues, then it was the writer's choice to put him where he wanted among the awards.

We made the list, checked it twice and stuffed it with the most notable fantasy rookies, surprises, disappointments and much more. So, without further ado, here's our gift to our loyal fans: The 2011-12 NHL.com midseason fantasy hockey awards.
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Holiday Special: The 'X-Mas' Factors

Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Santa Claus is coming to town…

And this year, he’s bringing with him a bag full of fantasy gifts.

Fortunately, for all you fantasy team owners out there, NHL.com’s fantasy insider Sergei Feldman digs deep inside Santa’s bag and hands out the Top 5 impactful fantasy performers of the season at each position up to the holiday break.

Without further adieu, here is this year’s All-Christmas Fantasy Team:

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CENTER: Evgeni MalkinPittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin
Center - PIT
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 25 | PTS: 40
SOG: 133 | +/-: 7
The knee injury Pittsburgh PenguinsEvgeni Malkin faced last season, which forced him to undergo surgery and miss a large chunk of the season is old news for those familiar with the star center. The nagging knee injury this season—after supposedly fully rehabilitating leading up to the season—is also old news, but of the don’t-forget-about-it variety.

“Geno” started the season with a three-game point streak, but then missed games on and off (seven total) until he felt he was near 100 percent for good. He returned and produced modestly until Nov. 21, Sidney Crosby’s first game back from a concussion. Suddenly, Malkin dazzled. In the 14 games since, with or without Crosby in the lineup, the 25-year-old has put up points in all but two games. In that span, he has amassed 24 points.

As a result, Malkin has climbed the NHL scoring leaders ladder. Despite ranking third in points (40), the 6-foot-3, 195-pound center reigns supreme atop fantasy performs in Yahoo! Standard leagues. As his Penguins get injured bodies back in the lineup, Malkin’s production could only improve. Much like his status as one of the premier fantasy contributors.


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Malkin atop updated fantasy forward rankings

Wednesday, 12.21.2011 / 1:54 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

The time has come to give fantasy hockey fans a joined look at all the forwards -- not just our usual Center-Left Wing-Right Wing break downs, but a look at the League's elite forwards. With the holiday's approaching and the midway point of the NHL season just a couple of weeks away, we thought this week would be a good time to provide you with updated rankings of all the top fantasy hockey forwards.

After entering preseason as the top overall fantasy player, where does Alex Ovechkin now rank among the forwards after 32 games of NHL play? How about the emergence of Joffrey Lupul, where does he fit in with the world's best offensive players? What about injured players like Sidney Crosby and Claude Giroux, where do they stand? You'll have to read on to find out...

While our weekly rankings help you gauge the value of each player at their respective positions, these rankings will help you assess the value of every forward. Is Zach Parise going to outperform Anze Kopitar going forward? Will Kris Versteeg continue to be more valuable than Joe Thornton? These rankings allow you to see if a wing is going to be more productive than a center, and vice versa. They are based on expectations of the season from this point on -- this means that just because Phil Kessel leads the NHL in points right now, we don't necessarily think he'll be the most valuable fantasy player for the rest of the way.
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On the 'D'-fence: Niskanen easing loss of Letang

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.

When Matt Niskanen arrived in Pittsburgh as part of the trade that saw the Penguins swap Alex Goligoski for James Neal, many felt he wasn't much more than a throw-in -- an extra piece that would give the Penguins some flexibility to offset a number of injuries plaguing their lineup.

The young defenseman, who had burst onto the scene with seasons of 26 (7G-19A) and 35 (6G-29A) points during his first two years in the League, had come crashing down to earth during his third and fourth, mustering a combined 25 points (4G-21A).

Stars general manager Joe Nieuwendyk and Penguins GM Ray Shero both felt a change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for Niskanen.

Unfortunately, at least at first glance, that didn't seem to be the case. He had some trouble adapting to new coach Dan Bylsma's system, and quickly fell down the Penguins' depth chart. In fact, there was some question if he would even make the Penguins' 2011-12 roster as training camp approached. 
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In the Cage: Windows of opportunity for backups

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.
 
For many hidden gems and rarely seen backups, the windows of opportunity to raise their value are few and far between. So when these chances do occur, they must win every start they get and play extremely well if they expect to increase their role with the team.
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The Real Spiel: Devils' trio more than 1-2-3 punch

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.


DEVILS IN DETAILS: The Real Spiel on New Jersey’s Trio

Zach Parise
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 16 | PTS: 27
SOG: 121 | +/-: -3
The New Jersey Devils have their share of marquee names. Ever heard of Martin Brodeur? How about Zach Parise? Or Ilya Kovalchuk? While the future Hall-of-Fame netminder hasn’t dazzled in 2011-12, Parise, Kovalchuk and youngster Adam Henrique certainly have. In the past five games, the aforementioned trio has combined for 7 goals, 13 assists and 20 points. Sometimes the production of line combinations can be misleading, particularly when one player has a dominant stretch of play. Not the case here. Parise, Kovalchuk and Henrique, individually, are fantasy hockey threats. Parise has 11 goals, 16 assists, 27 points and ranks third in the NHL with 121 shots. Of late, he has goals in three of his past four games, including eight points. Kovalchuk's 10 goals, 15 assists, 25 points and 98 shots make him a valuable players, as does his stretch of three straight two-point nights. How about Henrique? The 2008 third-round selection has 25 points and is a plus-7. Of late, he has 2 goals, three assists in his past five games. It may be a risk to rely on a trio, but the reward can be greater.


 
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Fantasy Mailbag: Dealing with the injury wave

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 12:53 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.



JEFF FROM ST. LOUIS is contemplating trading Sidney Crosby since there's no time frame for his return in dealing with concussion-like symptoms. Jeff has received a trade offer where he would receive Claude Giroux - who is also out indefinitely with a concussion - straight up for Crosby.

This trade involves two of the game's top offensive forces, both of whom are young and dealing with concussion-like symptoms. Crosby (2 G, 10 A, plus-7, 8 PIM, 3 PPP, 31 SOG, 7 hits) battled a similar injury earlier this calendar year with a 10-month absence from the game, but dazzled upon his return to the League in November. Crosby absorbed a number of hits in the Penguins' loss to the Bruins on Dec. 5, leaving the 24-year-old out indefinitely again with concussion-like symptoms only eight games into his season. Giroux, meanwhile, leads the NHL with 39 points on the season but a ended up with a concussion last Saturday against Tampa Bay and is out indefinitely as well. Like Crosby, the injury came as a major setback to Giroux – who was putting together a top-tier fantasy season at age 23.
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Right of Way: Breaking down the value of PIMs

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.

While we'll still provide you with updated right-wing rankings, today we'll start by taking a look at the value of penalty minutes in fantasy leagues.

People always question why getting penalty minutes are a good thing in fantasy hockey, and the only answer that can be given is that it allows every NHL player to potentially have value in fantasy hockey -- the enforcers are able to contribute to a fantasy team, just as they do in real life.

In reality, it may hurt to put your team shorthanded with a penalty, but those same sin-bin minutes help you in standard fantasy leagues.

Going into fantasy drafts, people always seem to keep an eye on guys that can record points and penalty minutes -- Corey Perry, Milan Lucic, David Backes and many others. It's extremely difficult to find a player that can score goals and have a knack for taking minor penalties or dropping the gloves, so we tend to value those that can achieve that a bit more -- the fact that Perry dominated in every category made him invaluable last season.
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Center Stage: The elite point-per-game players

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 3:14 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.

Posting at least one point per game over the course of a season is not an easy task. Of players that appeared in more than two games last season, only 15 averaged point-per-game numbers -- Daniel Sedin (104 in 82 games), Martin St. Louis (99 in 82), Corey Perry (98 in 82), Henrik Sedin (94 in 82), Steven Stamkos (91 in 82), Jarome Iginla (86 in 82), Alex Ovechkin (85 in 79),Teemu Selanne (80 in 73), Henrik Zetterberg (80 in 80), Brad Richards (77 in 72), Ryan Getzlaf (76 in 67), Patrick Kane, (73 in 73), Sidney Crosby (66 in 41), Pavel Datsyuk (59 in 56) and Derek Roy (35 in 35).

That number seems to have been a bit lower in comparison to this year and previous seasons. In fact, in the 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons, exactly 22 players averaged at least a point-per-game. Now here's the kicker: So far this season, 22 players are also averaging at least a point-per-game – weird, right?
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On the 'D'-Fence: Can Visnovsky return to form?

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.

It has certainly been an odd season for the National Hockey League, as many of its star players have been in and out of their respective lineups. This has spilled over into the fantasy realm, and specifically the fantasy blue line as Kris Letang, Chris Pronger, Mike Green, Marc Staal, Tobias Enstrom, Alex Goligoski and last season's leading scorer, Lubomir Visnovsky, have all missed significant time. Paying attention to these injuries, especially when players are set to return, can make a huge impact on your team -- which brings us back to the aforementioned Visnovsky.

Visnovsky has missed 13 games with a broken finger and his team has struggled mightily without him, winning only two of those contests. Fantasy teams have also been feeling the sting of losing a defenseman that posted monster totals of 18 goals and 68 points last season. You would think that getting that kind of talent back into the lineup would have owners clamoring for the 35-year-old Czech, but it doesn't seem to be the case. 
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