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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Booth, Perron among Cubeta's fantasy sleepers

Tuesday, 08.27.2013 / 12:00 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

With few exceptions, the majority of top-tier players are established and well-known to the common fantasy owner. Though those players are integral components of a championship team, under-the-radar options with high potential -- better known as sleepers -- can pay huge dividends in fantasy leagues.

Whether drafted or added off waivers, these players typically are undervalued on draft day but ultimately can become major fantasy commodities by season's end. Sleepers are extremely unpredictable every season, but the bottom line is these players end up outperforming everyone’s expectations, regardless of their age, team or position.

This week, NHL.com fantasy insiders Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen and Matt Sitkoff take in-depth looks at underrated players who should be on your fantasy team's radar entering drafts. Each expert will provide 10 sleeper picks with corresponding stat projections (in order of preference), along with five additional candidates for fantasy owners to keep an eye on.

Breaking down the top 50 fantasy hockey rankings

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

It seems like it was only yesterday when we were handing out fantasy awards for the 2012-13 NHL season, but now we're just a couple weeks away from the opening of training camps. You know what that means, right? It's time to start preparing for fantasy hockey.

You may or may not have already checked out NHL.com's top-200 overall fantasy hockey rankings, but below is a breakdown of those top 50 players. What was our reason for going with Sidney Crosby over Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin? Why do we believe Erik Karlsson will bounce back from injury to regain the No. 1 fantasy defenseman status? Why are we so high on Taylor Hall? These are just a few of the questions you might have after glancing at our rankings, and now, we provide you with the reasons and explanations.

The overall ranking order is based on NHL.com's composite rankings determined by fantasy experts Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen, Matt Sitkoff and Chris Foster (average of each expert's selections).

The ABC's of Fantasy Hockey

A look at league formats, draft formats and draft strategies

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

It's that time of year again. Welcome back, fantasy hockey fans!

Each year we hope that this is "the" year -- the year you take home that fantasy crown and own bragging rights for the offseason. Whether you're looking to bounce back from a devastating loss last season or looking to defend your title, there's nothing better than the start of the new fantasy season.

That year of years starts with the best strategies to build and develop your fantasy league's champion. From draft preparation all the way through in-season trades and the playoffs (for those of you in head-to-head leagues), NHL.com's panel of fantasy hockey experts will be here for you year-round.

It starts now.

Let's first take a look at the fantasy hockey league formats and draft types, and then turn to winning strategies for the 2011-12 fantasy hockey season.

Top 200 Overall Fantasy Hockey Rankings

Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen, Matt Sitkoff and Chris Foster rank the top 200 fantasy players

NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Staff

Below is a list of NHL.com's top 200 overall fantasy hockey player rankings, as determined by fantasy experts Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen, Matt Sitkoff and Chris Foster.

Past statistics, potential linemates, injuries and much more are taken into account in producing these rankings, but these projections should be viewed as our experts' opinionated projections of the most valuable players in the League from a fantasy standpoint. Some of our experts value a workhorse goalie over one who will split time with his backup; others prefer a skater who is elite in a few categories to one who is solid in all six.

When it's all said and done, though, these rankings take each expert's stance into account, providing you with a big-picture view of each player's impending fantasy value.

These rankings project value in standard fantasy hockey leagues, which include a 6x4 category scoring system: goals, assists, plus-minus, power-play points, shots on goal, penalty minutes, goalie wins, goals-against-average, save percentage and shutouts.

So, whether you're searching for a goal-scorer, distributor, power-play anchor, PIM producer or a top-tier netminder, our top 200 rankings will give you an edge in your upcoming fantasy hockey draft. For clarification on the top-50 overall rankings, check out Cubeta's in-depth assessment.


NHL.com's four fantasy experts first put together a pool of what they believed were the top 300 fantasy players. Once this pool was created, each analyst went their separate ways and individually ranked those 300 players. We have published 200 of them for you to view. Therefore, because composite rankings are determined by averages, numbers higher than 200 appear in some cases when sorting the individual rankings.

Lastly, NHL.com's placement of a given player within the overall top 200 rankings may differ from our sets of positional rankings (to be released starting the week of September 2) because the overall rankings take into account each expert's respective selections. Fantasy insiders submitted their rankings on Wednesday, August 21.

Fantasy take on the 2013-14 NHL schedule

Saturday, 08.24.2013 / 9:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

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.

Knowing the schedule for your draft is more important this season, as the NHL has realigned its divisions and will feature a balanced schedule that ensures that all 30 NHL teams will play in all 30 arenas at least once.

Here are some fun facts about the 2013-14 NHL schedule that will help you on fantasy draft day.

* The New Jersey Devils have a League-high 22 back-to-backs, followed by the Carolina Hurricanes, who have 20.

Devils legend Martin Brodeur was 0-1-2 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .885 save percentage last season in the second game of back-to-backs. Cory Schneider was acquired on Draft Day by the Devils and last season won his only appearance in the second half of a back-to-back, giving up two goals and stopping 26 of 28 shots.

Young players to target in fantasy drafts

Saturday, 08.17.2013 / 3:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Keeper/dynasty leagues all run different and every season they are getting more creative in who and how long you can keep them. If you have Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Steven Stamkos and Alex Ovechkin on your team, and rules allow you to, of course you are going to keep them, as they again will be near the top of fantasy rankings every season. With that in mind, let's examine some players currently in the NHL who will be 22 years old or younger at the start of the season and have at least two seasons of service in the League that you should target that can help you this season and beyond.

Taylor Hall, F, Edmonton Oilers

The first pick of the 2010 NHL Draft had a breakout season in 2012-13, finishing ninth in scoring with 50 points but more importantly played in 45 of the 48 games (he missed two because of a League suspension). That level of durability for the 21-year-old is far better than his two previous seasons, when he missed 17 as a rookie and 21 in 2011-12.

He's been a clutch player for Edmonton with 15 game-winning goals in his career, which is tied for 18th in the last three seasons and tops on his team in that time frame. Another fantasy category he has become a go-to player is power-play points, as he has 25 power-play goals and 46 power-play points in three seasons. With the offensive talent that surrounds him in Edmonton, expect those numbers to continue to rise.

Players whose fantasy stock rose in playoffs

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Staff Writer

A player's postseason numbers may not count in fantasy leagues, but the positive impression an individual makes on potential owners always plays into draft strategy the following season.

Owners often can anticipate productivity in the playoffs from elite-level players who have achieved prior success either in recent postseasons (Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, David Krejci, etc.) or the preceding regular season (Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi, James Neal, etc.). But there always are those eye-opening playoff contributions from less likely sources that stay fresh in our minds all summer long.

Let's take a look at 10 underrated playoff performers from the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs that warrant more fantasy consideration than ever entering 2013-14.

2013 draftees can make immediate fantasy splashes

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

Rookies can make a huge impact on fantasy teams and can lead to long-term success in dynasty/keeper leagues. Last season we had eight players from the 2012 NHL Draft class play in either a regular season or playoff game. That group was made up of Nail Yakupov, Alex Galchenyuk, Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko, Scott Laughton, Stefan Matteau, Tom Wilson and Tanner Pearson, although the latter two only played only in the postseason.

But the Calder Trophy finalists were all members of either the 2010 NHL Draft (Brendan Gallagher) or 2011 NHL Draft (Jonathan Huberdeau and Brandon Saad), showing that rookie production doesn't just come from freshly-drafted players. But if previous seasons are any indication, some members of the 2013 Draft class should play a big role in fantasy.

Here are some of the 2013 draftees most likely to make their presence felt:

Moves can help new teammates' fantasy value

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

The trading, signing and drafting frenzy has brought some top-tier fantasy players to new homes, but how it affects their new teammates can't be lost on fantasy owners. Here are some of the beneficiaries of some of the biggest moves made in the offseason:

Jason Spezza - Ottawa Senators:

The Senators lost captain Daniel Alfredsson left, but gained Bobby Ryan in a multi-player deal with the Anaheim Ducks. The person that stands to benefit the most from those moves is Spezza, Ottawa's top-line center. The 30-year-old already was on the radar as a perfect candidate for a bounce-back season after back surgery limited him to five regular-season games, but he did return for three Stanley Cup Playoff games. And put a healthy Spezza on a line with four-time 30-goal scorer Ryan and Spezza rises to serious contention to be the sixth-best center option for fantasy players. Spezza has 30-plus assists in eight of his 10 NHL seasons, with four of them being 50-plus assist campaigns. Look for him to reach those numbers easily if paired with Ryan.

Recent signings could see mixed fantasy results

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

The 2013 NHL offseason has been nothing short of spectacular so far. Since free agency opened on July 5, we've seen 87 players sign NHL contracts and eight NHL trades take place. This excludes the Tyler Seguin-Loui Eriksson swap that took place on July 4.

Nearly every team has experienced change in the early parts of this summer and that means fantasy owners will need to adjust accordingly heading into the 2013-14 season.

NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen broke down this summer's two biggest trades -- Bobby Ryan heading to the Ottawa Senators and the Boston Bruins-Dallas Stars blockbuster -- but I'm here to discuss the biggest player signings and how their fantasy value may change with their new team.

Jarome Iginla - Boston Bruins

While Iginla's production seems to be on a steady decline (43 goals and 86 points in 2010-11; 32 goals and 67 points in 2011-12; 14 goals and 33 points in 44 games -- projected to be 26 goals and 62 points for an 82-game season), the 36-year-old veteran could actually see a boost in value with the Bruins. I expect him to play on the team's second line with playmaker Patrice Bergeron and sparkplug Brad Marchand. If that's the case, there's reason to believe Iginla can eclipse the 60-point plateau for the 13th time in his career.

Let's also not forget that Iginla posted five goals and 11 points in 13 games playing for an elite Pittsburgh Penguins squad after being dealt at the Trade Deadline. The fact that he's not in Calgary anymore should help his plus/minus rating; he was a minus-7 with the Flames and a plus-2 with the Penguins. Add in his willingness to put the puck on goal and his penalty minute production, and you're starring at a third- or fourth-round draft pick in fantasy pools this coming season.

2013-14 projections: 29 G, 39 A, plus-7, 42 PIMs, 21 PPP, 249 SOG.

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