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Features

NHL.com's top 275 overall fantasy hockey rankings

Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen, Matt Sitkoff identify most valuable players

NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Staff

The 2014-15 NHL season is drawing closer by the day, so NHL.com has you covered with a full positional breakdown of all the players around the League worth owning in fantasy hockey.

NHL.com fantasy hockey insiders Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen, and Matt Sitkoff have constructed a pool of players who they believe are the top 275 in standard Yahoo leagues. The writers then went their separate ways and individually ranked those assets based on a number of factors, including but not limited to offseason moves, position eligibility, line combinations, category coverage or lack thereof, contract situations, and statistical performance from previous seasons.

These rankings should be viewed as our experts' opinionated projections of the NHL's most valuable fantasy players based on expectations entering this season. They should be used as a basis of reference when making your educated selections on draft day.

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Young talent in Ducks lineup ready for breakthrough

Saturday, 08.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Anaheim Ducks had a great regular season in Bruce Boudreau’s second full year in charge, winning the Western Conference and coming within a point of the Presidents’ Trophy.

Taking the eventual Stanley Cup champions to seven games in a Western Conference Second Round series is no shameful exit, but the end (a 6-2 loss in Game 7 to the rival Los Angeles Kings in the inaugural "Freeway Series") was a painful one.

It also meant the end for Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu, two of the best players in the history of their country and great ambassadors for the sport. Ducks fans will certainly miss them, but this franchise has a bushel of young forwards ready for bigger roles.

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Kesler, goaltending among Ducks' five questions

Saturday, 08.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

The search for a second-line center has been a long-term project for the Anaheim Ducks. Since trading Andy McDonald in 2007, the Ducks have largely struggled to slot someone behind captain Ryan Getzlaf.

Anaheim was able to run through the regular season with Saku Koivu and Mathieu Perreault, but their lack of size eventually hurt them against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Second Round series, won by the Kings in seven games.

General manager Bob Murray responded by trading for Ryan Kesler, giving the Ducks as good a one-two pairing at center as any team in the NHL. Kesler's contribution in a conference that only got tougher in the offseason is one of five prominent questions facing Anaheim.

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Ducks fixing issues that doomed playoff run

Saturday, 08.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

NHL.com continues its preview of the 2014-15 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams throughout August.

For a team that led the Western Conference with 116 points, the Anaheim Ducks had a lot of issues that came back to bite them in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Their power play was unacceptable, their lack of depth at center was exposed by the rival Los Angeles Kings, and defense and goaltending that had held up most of the season finally cracked.

General manager Bob Murray, who long had tried to upgrade the center position, landed Ryan Kesler in an offseason trade with the Vancouver Canucks to give Anaheim a 1-2 punch down the middle with Kesler and captain Ryan Getzlaf. Murray was willing to part with center and 22-goal scorer Nick Bonino to get Kesler, and he declined to re-sign veterans Saku Koivu and Mathieu Perreault.

Murray also signed Nate Thompson, who likely will center the third line.

Coach Bruce Boudreau is excited at the possibilities, but also sounded caution.

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Ducks hope Heatley fills revolving door at left wing

Saturday, 08.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

The audition to find a left wing to play with captain Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry lasted all last season for the Anaheim Ducks.

Dustin Penner rebooted his career there before he was traded. There was Patrick Maroon. Matt Beleskey. Kyle Palmieri. Jakob Silfverberg. Devante Smith-Pelly. Coach Bruce Boudreau estimated he tried at least 10 players there.

Anaheim certainly would like Dany Heatley to end the tryout.

The Ducks signed the veteran left wing to a low-risk, one-year, $1 million contract July 9 in the hopes that Heatley can channel the sniper capability that has defined most of his 12-year career.

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Heralded Gibson highlights Ducks' top 10 prospects

Saturday, 08.30.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry have been part of the Anaheim Ducks organization since they were first-round picks in 2003. They emerged as NHL stars during the Ducks' run to the Stanley Cup in 2006-07.

They continue to serve as examples for the Ducks; not just with how they play, but the patient path they took to reach their current level of stardom. If the slow approach worked for those two superstars, it can work for other young players.

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Intricacies of NHL schedule important in fantasy

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Studying the NHL schedule is very important to any fantasy hockey owner. Fortunately, NHL.com will provide a weekly look at certain players who are entering a favorable stretch in their schedule. This NHL Fantasy All-Access column will spotlight the players who should be picked up or played for that week.

Now that the NHL features a balanced schedule that ensures all 30 teams will play in all 30 arenas at least once, knowing the schedule for your draft is more important than ever.

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Sharks lineup, roster full of question marks

Friday, 08.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

No team has had a more peculiar offseason than the San Jose Sharks.

The Sharks were one victory from defeating the eventual Stanley Cup champions in a Western Conference First Round series. They won the first three games in that series, and the ensuing collapse against the Los Angeles Kings was a stunning ending for a franchise branded by postseason failure in the past decade.

General manager Doug Wilson said the Sharks were a rebuilding team, but as the summer progressed little on the roster actually changed. Veteran defensemen Dan Boyle and Brad Stuart exited and no one was added to replace them, though defenseman-turned-forward Brent Burns will be moving back to his old position. There was no clear-cut starting goaltender at the end of the season, but both key figures are back.


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Captaincy, goaltending among Sharks' five questions

Friday, 08.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

After a painful offseason in the wake of their stunning first-round meltdown against the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the San Jose Sharks will try to regroup for 2014-15.

The Sharks, still in search of their first Stanley Cup championship, are no strangers to postseason disappointment. But they've never collapsed the way they did against the Kings last spring, when they dropped four straight after taking a 3-0 series lead. It was a historic loss which sent shockwaves throughout the organization.

Here are five key questions the Sharks face this season:

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Sharks hope Burns' return to defense goes smoothly

Friday, 08.29.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Eric Gilmore - NHL.com Correspondent

When the San Jose Sharks moved Brent Burns from defense to right wing midway through the 2012-13 season, he provided instant offense and made the transition look easy.

Entering the 2014-15 season, the question is whether Burns can make the return trip to defense look just as smooth after a season and a half away from the blue line.

Brent Burns
Defense - SJS
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 26 | PTS: 48
SOG: 245 | +/-: 26
"We acquired him in a trade to be a stud defenseman," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "To find a guy at that size who can shoot and skate that's played in this League and been an All-Star as a defenseman, we don't think there's going to be any issue there, and especially if you're working with [associate coach] Larry Robinson and [assistant coach] Jim Johnson.

"It's also something that Brent really wants to do. In my conversation with him, he views himself as a defenseman. Having that big body back there that can be creative and also shoot the puck like he does, we think will be a great asset to our team."


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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley