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Features

Fantasy top 100 forwards: Preseason rankings

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

As part of NHL.com's preseason fantasy hockey draft coverage, NHL.com will preview each of the three positions this week, with Pete Jensen on forwards, Brian Metzer on defensemen and David Satriano on goalies. These positional outlooks will include the writer's individual standard-league rankings, offseason reaction and all the strategy and advice you'll need on draft day.

OVERVIEW

Alex Ovechkin, who turns 30 on Sept. 17, is in his prime and the most valuable fantasy player in the game. He led the NHL in goals, power-play goals and shots on goal by wide margins last season, and was second in power-play points and tied for fourth in points. Since 2012-13, no one has more goals, PPP or SOG. His peripherals (58 penalty minutes, 259 hits in '14-15) solidify his standing, and he went from a minus-35 in 2013-14 to a plus-10 last season, addressing his lone weakness.

The Washington Capitals got stronger by adding T.J. Oshie and Justin Williams, and one of them will play on Ovechkin's opposite wing. If you're worried about center Nicklas Backstrom's health as the season approaches, up-and-coming Russian Evgeny Kuznetsov is poised to play with Ovechkin in the worst-case scenario. Ovi also retains dual eligibility in Yahoo. Case closed.

Jets' Hellebuyck pushing for time in net

Sunday, 09.13.2015 / 4:44 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Connor Hellebuyck doesn't want to ruffle any feathers, but he's not planning to concede as a challenger for the Winnipeg Jets goal crease this season.

Hellebuyck, 22, will be competing with Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson.

"I know they have two really good goalies in [Pavelec] and [Hutchinson] right now," Hellebuyck said at the Young Stars Classic tournament. "I'm just going to go out and try to do my thing, get better every day and when it's time, it's time. I feel that I'm ready, but to that point I still feel there is a lot more I can get better at. The biggest obstacle will be keep taking the right steps and keep doing the right thing and don't take any steps backward."

Russian prospects hope for success at Traverse City

Sunday, 09.13.2015 / 10:52 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Detroit Red Wings prospect Evgeny Svechnikov should note that Pavel Datsyuk made his Red Wings debut at the Traverse City Prospects Tournament.

Svechnikov, a first-round pick (No. 19) in the 2015 NHL Draft, is hoping he can follow in the footsteps of Datsyuk by making a lasting impression to a successful NHL career.

As one of three high-profile Russian players participating in the tournament this week at Centre Ice Arena, Svechnikov is excited to be wearing the winged wheel and catching up with friends and fellow countrymen Ivan Barbashev (2014 draft, No. 33) of the St. Louis Blues and Sergey Tolchinsky (undrafted free agent) of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Team Russia roster projection for World Cup

Sunday, 09.13.2015 / 3:00 AM / World Cup of Hockey 2016

Vassili Ossipov - NHL.com Staff Writer

Heading into the 2014 Sochi Olympics, there was one main priority for the entire host nation of Russia: Win a gold medal in hockey.

The Russians won three of five games in the group stage but were eliminated before the medal round, losing 3-1 to Finland in the quarterfinals. It was the most disappointing loss for Russia since it was upset by the United States in the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

In Sochi, Russia seemed to be a team of individuals rather than a unit.

Now Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk and the rest of Russia's talent will be more than eager to redeem themselves against other hockey powers at the 2016 World Cup.

Most valuable point pairs to target in fantasy drafts

Eric Goodman - NHL.com Fantasy Staff Writer

Strategy for the first round of fantasy hockey drafts is universal: Take the best player available when it is your turn to pick. But after owners choose the cornerstone of their respective fantasy teams, it makes sense to seek out NHL teammates to link together in an effort to get the most out of your players.

Having a few tandems where each player registers a point when their respective NHL teams score a goal can go a long way in achieving fantasy dominance. The following list takes into account the average draft round (ADR) in Yahoo fantasy leagues of select point-pair leaders. Players like the Dallas Stars' Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin or new Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel are being selected in the first round of drafts and are not included here.

Eichel gets assist for Sabres in tournament debut

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 11:17 PM / Prospects

Joe Yerdon - NHL.com Correspondent

BUFFALO -- It didn't take long for Buffalo Sabres rookie Jack Eichel to make a good impression at the Buffalo Sabres Prospects Challenge.

Eichel, the No. 2 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, assisted Nicholas Baptiste on a 2-on-1 break 25 seconds into the first period for the first of Baptiste's two goals, and the Sabres defeated the New Jersey Devils 6-2 at First Niagara Center on Saturday.

Eichel was sprung on the break after a backhand pass from former Boston University teammate Evan Rodrigues out of the defensive zone. Eichel carried the puck up the left wing and floated a pass behind Devils defenseman Reece Scarlett to Baptiste, who shot past goalie Mackenzie Blackwood.

"I knew I had a step on the guy that [Rodrigues] had chipped it by," Eichel said. "I saw the other [defenseman] and I wasn't sure if it was more of a breakaway or a 2-on-1 and it ended up being more of a 2-on-0, so [Baptiste] did a good job to drive the net and find the back of the net."

News, notes from Traverse City Tournament

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 10:52 PM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- Carolina Hurricanes prospect Sergey Tolchinsky is a big fan of 3-on-3 hockey.

The 5-foot-8, 170-pound wing proved it Saturday when he utilized all the space given in scoring the game-winner 2:56 into overtime to give the Hurricanes a 5-4 victory against the Dallas Stars prospects at the Traverse City Tournament.

"I think 3-on-3 is fun," Tolchinsky, 20, said. "There's a lot of room and you can show your skill. You have more time to think and see the situation. There's a lot of room and you can do whatever you want."

Hurricanes defense prospect Haydn Fleury, a first-round pick (No. 7) in the 2014 NHL Draft, assisted on Tolchinsky's winner. He believes NHL fans will enjoy 3-on-3 hockey.

Oilers forward Draisaitl aims for full-time NHL role

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 5:53 PM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- Leon Draisaitl is a year older, a year wiser, and a year further along in his development, but his goal remains the same.

The 19-year-old forward wants to become a full-time member of the Edmonton Oilers.

"It's the same mindset at last year," Draisaitl told NHL.com at the Young Stars Classic tournament. "I want to establish myself as a full-time NHL player. That's my goal. That's what I worked for all summer. Putting in all this work, you don't do it for nothing. You want to make the team and then you want to impress people. That's what I'm here for."

Skjei eager for chance to crack Rangers defense corps

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 10:54 AM / Prospects

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- New York Rangers prospect Brady Skjei knows it won't be easy to crack the opening-night roster out of training camp.

That doesn't mean the 21-year-old defenseman won't put his best foot forward in an attempt to realize his dream much sooner than later.

"Every guy coming into camp has the main goal of making the team and it'll be a challenge for sure but I'm going day by day," Skjei said. "If it happens, it happens and if not, I'll go to [the American Hockey League in Hartford] and work on my game there and see what happens."

Team Czech Republic roster projection for World Cup

Saturday, 09.12.2015 / 3:00 AM / World Cup of Hockey 2016

Michael Langr - NHL.com Correspondent

After winning gold at the 2010 IIHF World Championship and bronze the following two years, the Czech Republic hasn't been successful in any of the big international events since.

Heading into the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, almost all of the leaders from the "Golden Generation" that won gold medals at the World Championship six times and at the 1998 Nagano Olympics between 1996 and 2010 are gone, and powerhouses Canada, the United States and Sweden have gotten stronger.

The most intriguing question for the Team Czech Republic roster for the World Cup involves forward Jaromir Jagr, who will turn 44 in February. He is heading into the final year of his contract with the Florida Panthers and he may not be playing in the NHL by the time the tournament starts in Toronto in September 2016.

But it's been that way a few times in recent years, and Jagr always came back and performed beyond expectations. At the 2015 World Championship in Prague he was voted tournament MVP when he had nine points in 10 games. Afterward he said his international career was over.

Because of that statement and his age, it seems more likely he won't be on the roster and Czech hockey has to start a new, post-Jagr era.

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