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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

On the 'D'-fence: Familiar path for Stars' Gonchar

Wednesday, 12.18.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Many around the NHL raised an eyebrow when the Dallas Stars traded for the rights to defenseman Sergei Gonchar back on June 7 and signed him to a two-year, $10 million contract that would keep the veteran with the team through the 2014-15 season.

Though the move seemed a bit strange to some, it filled a need for the Stars, who were lacking a true quarterback for their power play. It also provided an opportunity for him to work with Alex Goligoski in much the same capacity that he had while the duo patrolled the blue line for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sounded like a nice plan until the season started and Gonchar produced just one point, an assist, over his first 15 games.

He has now played in 32 games for the Stars and finds himself with just 11 points, seven of which have come on the power play. That production isn't up to his standards, but those who have followed Gonchar's career closely are reacting with a wink and a nod as if they are in on a secret.

The Front Line: A look at the top 10 fantasy players

Tuesday, 12.17.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

We see it every year. Early on in each season, there's plenty of shuffling among the top-10 fantasy rankings -- this goes for Yahoo league rankings and my rankings. I have to try and determine where I believe each player fits in with so few games accounted for. If a superstar gets off to a slow start (Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers), do I drop him significantly or leave him high in the ranks with expectations he will return to past seasons' form? If a player comes out of nowhere to perform at the level of a superstar (Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues), do I rank him among fantasy's elite?

These are the questions that are most difficult to answer during the first month of the season. However, we're nearly three months into the 2013-14 NHL season and trends have now turned into realities.

Giroux is no longer a roster detriment like he was in the first few weeks of the season, but he's still ranked 52nd in Yahoo leagues. That's certainly not what we expected and that's why he's ranked 26th in my latest set of top 100 forwards. Steen's hot streak has lasted all season and he's currently the 10th most valuable fantasy player in Yahoo leagues, leading him to earn a top-20 place in my ranks for how I expect him to perform from this point on.

We see cases like Giroux and Steen throughout the ranks, where players have earned their high ranking or have fallen significantly despite being an early draft pick back in September.

Throughout all this player shuffling, consistency has finally started to develop within my top-10 forward rankings.

Fantasy All-Access: The time for giving gifts

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

This is the last All-Access until the New Year, so we decided to give our fantasy holiday gifts.

For owners of the top three players, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane, we give the gift of an iPad Air to watch all the amazing highlights they have been providing your fantasy team this season.

For Steven Stamkos owners we give the gift of an Elf on the Shelf to monitor his recovery and return back to the top of the fantasy charts.

Lastly, we give the gift of a carousel to all the goalies in the NHL as that symbolizes the state of fantasy hockey goalies at this point of the season.

In the Cage: Hurricanes face goaltending decision

Thursday, 12.12.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Thursday during the season, Justin Goldman, a regional goalie scout for USA Hockey and founder of The Goalie Guild, 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.

Over the past 10 days, Los Angeles Kings rookie Martin Jones has put on a goaltending clinic. The undrafted 23-year-old has four straight wins, including consecutive shutouts, and 111 saves on the first 114 shots of what looks to be a promising NHL career.

His shutout streak was snapped at 177 minutes and 16 seconds in Thursday night's 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, but between the impressive start to his career and the play of Ben Scrivens, the Kings are sitting atop the throne with a League-best 1.91 goals-against average even without Jonathan Quick.

The Anaheim Ducks have experienced similar success with their goaltending depth this season. Rookie Frederik Andersen has filled in admirably during Viktor Fasth's absence by going 8-1-0 with a 1.74 GAA and .938 save percentage. The same goes for the Chicago Blackhawks and rookie Antti Raanta, as he is now 5-0-1 with a 2.12 GAA and .926 save percentage with Corey Crawford sidelined.

With the rising number of injuries, the latest being Crawford and Detroit Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, the number of potential "three-headed monsters" will inevitably rise as well. Most of the time this isn't an issue, because the third goalies will return to the American Hockey League with no issues.

On the 'D'-fence: Fowler finally rewarding owners

Wednesday, 12.11.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

The Anaheim Ducks are cruising along with the second-best record in the Western Conference. Their 21-7-5 mark is actually good for second in the overall NHL standings as well. That is great news for the franchise, but their success has also paid huge dividends for fantasy owners.

Our Matt Cubeta took a look at their dynamic group of forwards in his "The Front Line" column on Tuesday and today we'll be talking a lot about one of their talented young defenseman who seems primed for a big step forward after a couple of down years: Cam Fowler.

Fowler burst onto the scene during the 2010-11 season after being selected with the 12th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. He made the lineup out of camp and went on to put up 40 points (10 goals) over 76 games. His plus-minus was an unpalatable minus-25, but for the most part he was a must-own defenseman that season, putting up 123 shots on goal and 20 penalty minutes. He also notched three game-winning goals.

The Front Line: Getzlaf powering Ducks' fantasy surge

Tuesday, 12.10.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

While the Pittsburgh Penguins forwards have hogged the fantasy headlines this season (and deservedly so, as Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin make up three of the top four fantasy forwards in Yahoo leagues), the Anaheim Ducks' duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf deserve some credit as well.

Last week I explained how it's the Penguins with the best fantasy quartet of forwards in the League (James Neal being the fourth player), but the Ducks could rival almost any other team for the most productive group of fantasy forwards. Some of their players are a bit more under-the-radar. Perry and Getzlaf certainly are household names by now, but Dustin Penner, Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano have found their fantasy niches this season.

Let's start with Getzlaf, who is in the middle of an NHL-best 14-game point-scoring streak (officially it's scored as a 12-game streak because Getzlaf missed three games in the middle of it due to injury from Nov. 9-14; see table to the right).

Getzlaf currently is the No. 7 player in Yahoo leagues and his 37 points this season trail only Crosby (43) and Malkin (38). If Getzlaf hadn't missed three games it's safe to say only Crosby would be ahead of him in the scoring race. The 6-foot-4 center has a plus-14 rating and 11 power-play points, but we've come to expect these kinds of numbers from him. Only once has Getzlaf finished a season with a minus rating and he's recorded a plus-13 or better in four of his eight seasons (excluding this season). He's also had 24 or more power-play points in six of them.

Fantasy All-Access: Filling in for injured stars

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Injuries have plagued the fantasy world lately and some of the biggest names currently are out of action.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the past two games with a lower-body injury, but could return to the lineup Monday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, is expected to miss the next 4-5 weeks with a strained groin, and the Detroit Red Wings are without Pavel Datsyuk (concussion) and Henrik Zetterberg (back).

Recent additions to the list of injured players has been Philadelphia Flyers center Vincent Lecavalier (back), Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (lower body), Vancouver Canucks defenseman Alexander Edler (lower body) and Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (oblique).

What does this mean for your team? If you are dealing with these injuries, look for the players featured below in our waiver-wire watch to step up.

In the Cage: Lundqvist's extension, rookies on rise

Thursday, 12.05.2013 / 12:09 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Justin Goldman - NHL.com Correspondent

Whether it was adjusting to smaller leg pads, acclimating to a new defensive system, or just trying to stay focused amidst ongoing contract negotiations, it has been a cumbersome first quarter of the season for New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

As a result, Lundqvist has experienced an unceremonious “first” in his eight-year NHL career: a losing record in back-to-back months. He went 3-5-0 with a 2.84 goals-against average and .908 save percentage in October, and then 5-6-0 with a 2.27 GAA and .924 save percentage in November.

That culminated with him riding the pine in consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 5-7, 2011.

Regardless, Lundqvist’s elite skills and overall consistency merited an extension that will make him the highest-paid goalie when his brand new seven-year, $59.5 million contract kicks in next season.

Knowing that Lundqvist’s workload will likely result in another 30-win campaign, expect his fantasy value to rise as the season continues. This is historically his weakest month in terms of save percentage (.913), but over his entire career, Lundqvist has a .921 save percentage in both January and March, a .924 mark in February, and a .928 mark in April.

On the 'D'-fence: Where to find power-play points

Wednesday, 12.04.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - NHL.com Correspondent

Every Wednesday 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 insider all season long.

Fantasy hockey shouldn't be complicated.

At the end of the day you want to discover and roster the players that will score and set up the most goals, and in some hockey pools that is all you need. Like the game that is actually played on the ice, if you score more than the other team you are going to win, but it isn't always that simple in leagues that track stats above and beyond those counting by standard scoring.

We are all guilty of dumbing the game down to goals and assists at times, while we neglect categories like hits, blocked shots or the one we'll discuss today, power-play points. Power-play points can be tough to come by, and that stems from the fact most teams only have five to eight players that log significant ice time with the extra man.

The Front Line: Malkin, Penguins forwards excelling

Tuesday, 12.03.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy forwards in his weekly segment: "The Front Line." From updated rankings to players you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy forwards insider all season long.

And just like that, Evgeni Malkin is back. How did it happen so quickly? The Pittsburgh Penguins forward went from outside the top 50 fantasy players in Yahoo leagues to the No. 4 overall player in less than two weeks.

After earning the week's No. 1 star, Malkin made his fantasy owners completely forget about his sluggish start when he had just three goals and 10 points in 13 October games. Thanks to an incredible November that saw him post four goals and 25 points in 15 games, Malkin's 35 points on the season trail only his teammate, Sidney Crosby, and by just one.

But for fantasy owners, Malkin has been even more valuable. His 15 power-play points are tied for the NHL lead with Alex Ovechkin; he is tied for ninth in the NHL with 13 minor penalties (good for 26 penalty minutes); and he has a plus-1 rating and 80 shots on goal which have certainly helped. He's been a completely dominant fantasy player, and most of this incredible production has come in the month of November. He would likely be the No. 1 player if not for his slow start.

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Buy-low forward trade targets | Top 100 ranks
DraftKings daily fantasy value picks for Nov. 24
All-Access: Be thankful for Klingberg, Panarin
Projected goalie starters | Fantasy Spin blog
Top 60 defensemen rankings | Top 30 goalies
Fantasy Friday: Curious case of Anze Kopitar
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