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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Holiday Special: Giving thanks in fantasy hockey

Wednesday, 11.23.2011 / 10:54 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

While people will be enjoying their Thanksgiving Day feast and watching some football, hockey fans will anxiously be awaiting the first-ever 2011 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown between the Detroit Red Wings and Boston Bruins on Friday at 1 p.m. ET on NBC.

Who needs football when we can sit back, digest all that food from the night before and watch a great hockey game between Original Six rivals? And while you're sitting there watching some great hockey, why not give thanks to the players that have helped your fantasy team to this point?

From the players that are performing as we hoped and expected to the guys that have surprised us all, let's take a look at what fantasy owners can be thankful of at the quarter-pole of the NHL season.
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On the 'D'-fence: Byfuglien rounding into form

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.

During his 7-year NHL career, Dustin Byfuglien has pretty much done it all. He has played all over the ice, skating as both a forward and a defenseman, and those skills helped the Chicago Blackhawks hoist a Stanley Cup back in 2010. After that championship, Byfuglien was shipped to the Atlanta Thrashers, now the Winnipeg Jets, who made him primarily a defenseman. "Big Buff" thrived in that role and went on to post 53-points (20G-33A), 347 shots on goal and a very manageable minus-2.

The career year set expectations high for the Minnesota native, but he had some trouble meeting them in October. Byfuglien was maligned by some who questioned his conditioning. The thinking was that he had bulked up a little too much during the off-season and it was hurting his ability to play end-to-end. He seemed to be struggling when it came to getting back to the defensive zone after a rush and it resulted in the coaching staff shortening his shifts for a period of time, which in turn limited his scoring opportunities.

Whatever the reason for his early-season struggles, it hurt the Jets and it hurt fantasy owners who spent an early round pick on the player that we had 8th overall in our pre-season rankings. Byfuglien went on to register a minus-5 and just 4 points (1G-3A) in 11 October games, a decent total for your fourth or fifth defenseman, but not for the guy who was likely your number one.
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In the Cage: Shifting roles in Colorado

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 Jean-Sebastian Giguere starting three straight games for the Avalanche over the last week, the roles in goal are changing. To help you decipher how that impacts the fantasy value for both he and the struggling Semyon Varlamov (0-5-1 with a .831 save percentage in November), we explain three major shifts taking place between the two puck-stoppers.

SHIFT 1 --- ROLES: The day he signed, Varlamov was handed the starting gig. But as a 23-year-old with limited NHL experience, he should've been forced to earn it. As a result, he's now being hindered by many obstacles. These include – but are not limited to – making timely saves, and lacking the support and guidance from a full-time goalie coach. None of these are roadblocks for the veteran Giguere, so earlier projections of a 60-22 split in games played for Varlamov is inching more towards a 48-34 split.
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The Real Spiel: Staal still valuable despite slow start

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.


NOT ST-ALL SHE WROTE

Eric Staal
Center - CAR
GOALS: 4 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 8
SOG: 78 | +/-: -18
Eric Staal’s name has rarely been synonymous with struggles. After his rookie season, the Carolina Hurricanes captain has never finished a season with less than 29 goals, 35 assists, 70 points, 277 shots and 50 PIMs. As of now, he’s on pace for 16 goals, 16 assists and 32 points. If you’re a fantasy team owner and have Staal on your roster, he’s likely there because you were convinced he’d deliver more often than not and lift your team to the top. Now, you’re thinking that might not have been the best idea, right? It’s time to get rid of his subpar production and league-worst minus-18 rating, right? Wrong.

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Fantasy Mailbag: Kopitar is fantasy difference-maker

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Saturday, 11.19.2011 / 6:05 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.



ALEX FROM CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE received an offer in his league, in which he would receive Anze Kopitar in exchange for Marian Gaborik.

This trade involves top-five players at their respective positions. Kopitar (9 G, 14 A, plus-2, 8 PPP, 58 SOG, 10 hits) has been one of the most dynamic fantasy centers in the League this season. Despite the bipolar Kings’ offense, Kopitar’s well-versed puck-moving abilities have enabled him to put up points consistently. Gaborik (9 G, 6 A, plus-7, 8 PIM, 4 PPP, 74 SOG) has been outstanding as well with four goals and three assists during the Rangers’ current seven-game win streak.
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Right of Way: Perry, Malkin holding on at top of ranks

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 is your fantasy right wing expert all season long.

When you're looking over our updated right wing rankings, you'll notice absolutely nothing has changed among our top six skaters.

You may question us for still having Corey Perry at the top of our list, but he's still an extremely productive player despite just 13 points in 19 games (35 penalty minutes, 9 power-play points, 67 shots on goal). Plus, at some point we tend to think that explosive top line for the Ducks will get things together.

Evgeni Malkin showed off his talent on Tuesday, scoring arguably the goal of the year against the Avalanche. He might not be at the top of the Yahoo! ratings, but Malkin has posted 14 points and is averaging 4.3 shots per game in just 12 games. As long as he can stay healthy, he'll be one of the most productive fantasy players in the game.

Patrick Kane is currently the fifth-rated overall player in Yahoo! Leagues, and deservedly so. He has posted 6 points during a current four-game point-scoring streak and is only on pace for a career-best 90 points right now.
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Turn Left Here: Ovi underachieving for fantasy owners

Thursday, 11.17.2011 / 2:27 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy left wings in our weekly segment: "Turn Left Here." From updated left wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy left wing expert all season long.

After a two-week hiatus from NHL.com's 'Turn Left Here' update, there's plenty to talk about regarding our left wings.

Daniel Sedin is still the top ranked left wing in our rankings and he's the top-rated Yahoo! left wing. Thomas Vanek has continued to score at an unworldly rate for the Sabres (11 goals and 12 assists in 18 games). Kris Versteeg and Joffrey Lupul (both LW and RW eligible) haven't slowed down a bit this season and their ownership has steadily increased -- 78 percent and 84 percent respectively. Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Bobby Ryan, Zach Parise and many other proven stars are still looking to find their game.

Alex Ovechkin
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 7 | PTS: 14
SOG: 54 | +/-: -3
Meanwhile, the biggest fantasy story surrounds Alex Ovechkin. Our No. 1 overall fantasy player coming into the 2011-12 season is also still struggling. The Capitals captain has 14 points in 16 games (which isn't bad for any player other than Ovechkin), but fantasy owners have simply come to expect far more from Ovi. Ovechkin failed to score for the fifth time in his last seven games on Tuesday night and his seven goals on the season are his lowest scoring total through 16 games since he entered the League in 2005-06.
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Center Stage: The Giroux-Benn-Seguin take over

Wednesday, 11.16.2011 / 2:13 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Wednesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy centers in our weekly segment: "Center Stage." From updated center rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy center expert all season long.

The center position is almost always the most talented and deepest position in fantasy hockey. Maybe it's because they have a great shot or are good at face-offs, but in most cases, it's because they have the best vision on the ice and play solid two-way hockey. The center is counted on to create in the offensive zone and help out their defensemen in the defensive zone.

However, the latter doesn't mean much to us fantasy owners. We only care about what they do on offense.

While the center position clearly has great depth this season, it has surprisingly lacked in elite talent through the first six-plus weeks of action. Of the forward positions, only three players represent the centers among the top-10 rated players in Yahoo! Leagues -- and all three of them actually have dual-position eligibility.

Claude Giroux
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 22
SOG: 52 | +/-: 3
Claude Giroux is currently the sixth-rated player (C and RW), Tyler Seguin is eighth (C and RW) and Jamie Benn is 10th (C and LW). Not exactly the group of players you were probably expecting from the center position. Some of our usual suspects -- Steven Stamkos, Evgeni Malkin, Henrik Sedin, etc… -- will probably work their way into the top-10 at some point this season, but let's not mistake these tremendous starts from Grioux, Seguin and Benn as misleading. These three players are legit fantasy studs and should be trusted in all leagues. They are extremely talented and have as good vision as anyone, and because they're so young, you can expect them to continue to develop as players.
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On the 'D'-fence: Don't doubt Doughty

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 12:24 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.

When the Los Angeles Kings selected Drew Doughty with the second pick in the 2008 NHL Draft, they knew they were getting themselves a great player. Doughty played in the League that first season, netting 6 goals and 27 points and putting himself squarely on the radar of every fantasy owner from here to Zanzibar.

Expectations were high heading into year two and the young blueliner exploded with a season that even the most grizzled NHL veteran would have killed for. Doughty posted 16 goals and 59 points, 142 shots on goal, and 31 power-play points. He even managed to register a plus-20, which showed his strong play on both ends of the puck, and was selected as a finalist for the Norris Trophy.
 
Unfortunately for Doughty, another step forward in year three was expected and anything less was abject failure -- at least according to the many owners who made him one of the first defensemen off the board in 2010. As of Dec. 11, Doughty found himself with just 7 points through his team's first 21 games, and owners were cutting bait. The fact he went on to finish that season with 11 goals and 40 points, 15 of which came with the extra man, is a tribute to his offensive prowess and kept him ranked high heading into this season.
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In the Cage: Damage control for Miller owners

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 Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller out indefinitely, reportedly due to a concussion, poolies are feverishly seeking a replacement. This isn't easy to do with an elite workhorse like Miller, but hidden gems are out there, waiting to be discovered.

The first option is obvious -- Jhonas Enroth. As of Sunday night, he was owned in just 34 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues. With a perfect 5-0-0 record, his 1.75 goals-against average and .944 save percentage projected over the course of one or two months as a starter becomes quite valuable to poolies.
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OFFSEASON FANTASY RANKINGS

RANK TEAM PLAYER
1. Sidney crosby
2. Steven Stamkos
3. Corey Perry
4. Evgeni Malkin
5. alex Ovechkin

CUBETA & JENSEN'S COMPLETE RANKINGS