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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

In the Cage: Fantasy lessons learned for final countdown

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.

With only two weeks left in the regular season, it's the final countdown for fantasy leagues across the globe. At this point, most poolies have either been eliminated, or are up for not-so-consolation awards. For those still in the running for a trophy, ride your horses until the bitter end, and keep an eye out for a few sleepers like Marty Turco, Dwayne Roloson, or maybe even Al Montoya and Ty Conklin.
 
Regardless of where your team stands, we hope you learned some valuable lessons about fantasy goaltending this season. It's not only the most important position on the ice, but it's also the most difficult to predict and manage. As such, below are a few topics we discussed this season, all of which will help you decipher future goaltending trends, and therefore make better daily fantasy decisions.

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Right of Way: Perry, Gaborik, Sharp among top RWs

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.

The center position has been consistent. The left wings have been unpredictable. That leads us to the right wings.

The right wing position has proven to be arguably the deepest position in fantasy hockey this season. With stars like Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux, Ilya Kovalchuk, James Neal and others all having multiple position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues, it has made ranking the right wings difficult every single week. Since we already discussed the dominant nature of the aforementioned superstars in our "Center Stage" and "Turn Left Here" earlier this week, today we'll address the remaining top tier of elite right wingers.
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Fantasy Mailbag: Healthy Havlat can fuel title run

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 2:03 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.



ELI FROM TORONTO
is deciding whether or not to add Martin Havlat via free agency for his fantasy postseason. His league categorizes goals, assists, rating, PPP, SOG, PIMs and hits. With Mike Cammalleri out of the lineup, he needs all the help he can get for his playoff run.

Havlat has only played in 30 of the San Jose Sharks' 73 games this season after the team acquired him for goal-scoring specialist Dany Heatley in a trade with the Minnesota Wild last July. Between Havlat's inability to stay healthy and his pedestrian numbers through his first 25 games of the season, his fantasy owners endured a bumpy ride. But in a fantasy world of "what have you done for me lately," Havlat's performance over the past week has quickly put him back on the map as a game-breaking fantasy forward.

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Turn Left Here: Neal takes over the top LW ranking

Thursday, 03.22.2012 / 1:05 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

While the center position has seen the same three players atop our rankings for the past seven weeks, the left wing's top players have been juggled relatively often throughout the 2011-12 season.

At the start of the season NHL.com agreed that Alex Ovechkin was the top choice at left wing (and the top player overall -- we expected him to bounce back and we were sadly wrong) with Daniel Sedin and Zach Parise closely behind him. Here we are now, over eight months later, and Ovechkin currently resides in the nine spot in our most recent rankings. Clearly, the left wing position has been unpredictable.

In fact, it has been so unpredictable that in our new rankings, James Neal finally takes the top left wing spot for the first time all season acter starting the season ranked 19th. Neal has surpassed our wildest expectations and deserves to be the No. 1 left wing, having been the most dominant player at his position over the last 30 days and the No. 3 overall fantasy player on the season, behind only Evgeni Malkin and Henrik Lundqvist.

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Center Stage: The top tier -- Malkin, Stamkos, Giroux

Wednesday, 03.21.2012 / 12:44 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Is there any debate about who the top three centers in the NHL are this season?

Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Claude Giroux have been the clear-cut top tier centers for fantasy owners in 2011-12. The three players have been in that respective order for the last seven weeks in our "Center Stage" rankings, and there has been no need to change them at all.

At the start of the 2011-12 season, Stamkos was actually our top center, with Evgeni Malkin ranked fourth and Claude Giroux much lower at No. 14 -- Henrik Sedin and Pavel Datsyuk were ranked two and three at the time.

While Sedin and Datsyuk both have spent a little time in that elite tier, for the most part this season has belonged to Malkin, Stamkos and Giroux -- and deservedly so.

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On the 'D'-fence: Giordano marvelous in March

Tuesday, 03.20.2012 / 12:56 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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.

The National Hockey League season is a long one, stretching from October to June, when the Stanley Cup is awarded. We spend those eight months filling our collective craniums with statistics, insights and sleepers in hopes of gaining a competitive advantage in our various fantasy leagues.

Occasionally our readers send in questions or grab our crew on Twitter looking for advice on who to drop or who to pick up, and we try to provide the best answer at that moment. Many times the answers are sound, and the people take our advice and live happily ever after, but there are times when the advice crashes and burns, which happened March 7 when "On the 'D'-Fence" suggested to a Twitter user that dropping Mark Giordano rather than James Wisniewski in favor of Andrei Markov was the best plan.
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In the Cage: Sophomore slump busters in net

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.

No matter how we break it down, this has not been a good season for Chicago's Corey Crawford or Toronto's James Reimer. Both have had to overcome numerous hurdles that stem from the dreaded sophomore slump, and both have learned these lessons the hard way.
 
One reason why goalies struggle during their sophomore season is due to scouting. The more a goalie plays during their rookie season, the more their game can be picked apart by opposing players, coaches and scouts. The proverbial "book" gets written, and during the goalie's second season, they no longer are an unknown entity, often resulting in an increase in goals allowed due to exploited weaknesses.
 
This also plays a role in why rookies like Matt Hackett, Richard Bachman, Robin Lehner and Jacob Markstrom have had quality fantasy success in their limited action. Nobody in the NHL really knows what kind of goalies they are, so they often produce much better statistical outings than expected.
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The Real Spiel: Richards top act on Broadway

Saturday, 03.17.2012 / 8:18 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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.

PERES-TROIKA: The Real Spiel on the New York Rangers’ Top Line

Brad Richards
Center - NYR
GOALS: 23 | ASST: 32 | PTS: 55
SOG: 192 | +/-: 2
The New York Rangers have been one of the best teams in the NHL this season and much of the team’s success can be attributed to the team’s attention to detail in the defensive zone and the brilliant play of Hart Trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist. Of late, however, the club’s play in their own end has been less sharp and, as a result, their lead atop the Atlantic Division is less secure. Fortunately, Brad Richards, Marian Gaborik and Carl Hagelin have shouldered the load for the Blueshirts. The recently constructed top line on Broadway has done nothing but deliver offensively, in victory or defeat. Richards, the big fish in free agency this past offseason, is playing his best hockey of the year at the most important time, as he is riding a five-game point streak, in which he has amassed 10 points.  In those five games, two have been three-point nights and one was a two-point affair. To Richards’ right skated Gaborik, one of the premier goal-scorers in the NHL. He is in the midst of a four-game point streak and has goals in three straight, leaving him with a total of 35 on the year, good for third in the League. While the production of the two aforementioned forwards shouldn’t really come as a surprise, first-year pro Carl Hagelin has been the surprise for the Rangers. The 23-year-old has points in three of his past four games and 35 total through 52 games. Top teams sometimes slow down as the season winds down, so as to get ready for the playoffs, but the Rangers have a division to play for. As they fight for supremacy, they will rely on their top line, which has likely made the difference between playoff victory and defeat in fantasy leagues.

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Right of Way: Keep a look out for Alexander Radulov

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.

It's been almost four years since we last saw Alexander Radulov play in the NHL. He last appeared in a game for the Nashville Predators on April 20, 2008 -- a game that saw them eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 3-0 Game 6 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Radulov left in July of 2008 to sign in the KHL with Salavat Yulayev Ufa, and despite his dominant play overseas, he hasn't been discussed much in North America.

Until now.

With Radulov's KHL team having been eliminated from the playoffs, he is now eligible to return to the NHL -- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced at the GM meetings this week that Radulov can return to the Predators at any time this year without having to pass through waivers. It has also been revealed the Predators would gladly welcome Radulov's return and Radulov himself would love to rejoin the team for a run at this year's Stanley Cup.

However, it's a bit complicated. Despite his team being knocked out of the playoffs in the KHL, there are contractual obligations that could keep him in Russia until April 30 -- meaning Radulov wouldn't appear in a regular season game for Nashville. 
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Fantasy Mailbag: Take your pick, E. Staal or Lupul?

Thursday, 03.15.2012 / 2:07 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.



ADRIAN FROM JAMESTOWN, NORTH DAKOTA
is in a keeper league that factors in goals, assists, plus-minus, PPP, SHP and GWG. He can retain four keepers from his current squad for next season. He is planning on keeping Corey Perry, Eric Staal, Jonathan Toews, and Jonas Hiller, but is wondering if it would be worth the risk to instead keep Joffrey Lupul over one of those four players.

Staal and Lupul are having very different seasons based on the context of their careers, but hold similar value as point-producing forwards entering next season. I would agree that Perry, Toews and Hiller are untouchable keepers. Toews has missed 11 straight games with a concussion, but is a top-five fantasy skater when healthy and is nearing a return as the Chicago Blackhawks gear up for the playoffs. Hiller and Perry were simply not themselves early on this season, but have shown positive signs of production recovery over the past two months. With a clean slate to work with, each should be in line for a bounce-back season.
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