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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Kessel leads fantasy fast-starting performers

Thursday, 10.09.2014 / 11:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Getting off to a good start in fantasy hockey always is important, especially in rotisserie leagues where it's harder to make up ground as the season progresses. It doesn't hurt to have a strong beginning in head-to-head leagues either, but in this format there is a lot more luck involved and you typically see larger swings in the standings on a week-to-week basis.

Having a strong start won't just help you in the standings; it also could lead to you making trades that improve your roster. Last October St. Louis Blues forward Alexander Steen was one of the best fantasy players in the game, posting an NHL-best 11 goals, as well as five assists, a plus-7 rating and five power-play points in 10 games. He then had 22 goals and 46 points in his next 58 games; still very productive but not nearly as dominant as his October was. Steen could've fallen into the well-known "sell high" group after his fast start and you probably could've gotten a lot in return via trade if you sold him at the right moment.

Heading into this season let's see if we can find the next Steen for you. Here's a look at some interesting October stats and some players that have been known to be dominant forces during the early parts of an NHL season.

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Preseason standouts worth considering in fantasy

Tuesday, 10.07.2014 / 10:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Preseason performance should always be taken with a grain of salt as it pertains to fantasy hockey, but there's still a lot to take from these games as the regular season looms.

There's a feeling-out period where coaches tinker with line combinations, prospects are given a chance to push for roster spots and minor injury concerns cause players to miss games. However, fantasy owners can still use exhibition games to quantify sleeper picks and identify players worth adding off the waiver wire or drafting late.

Here are five players owned in 25 percent or fewer Yahoo leagues that have stepped up in the preseason and could emerge as fantasy-relevant players this season:

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NHL.com, Yahoo Sports team up for fantasy show

Tuesday, 09.30.2014 / 12:20 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

NHL.com Fantasy Hockey Staff

On Thursday, Oct. 2, NHL.com and Yahoo Sports will team up to produce a one-hour fantasy hockey draft special that will air at 7 p.m. ET online at NHL.com and Yahoo.com.

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The event will be hosted by NHL Network's Andi Petrillo and on-air talent will include NHL.com fantasy expert Matt Cubeta and Yahoo Sports Puck Daddy writer Greg Wyshynski. It will be accompanied by an interactive chat with NHL.com fantasy writer Pete Jensen. Fans will have a chance to submit questions to the show's hosts directly through the CoveritLive chat, which begins at 5 p.m. ET, or via Twitter using the hashtag #NHLFantasyShow.

With the 2014-15 NHL season approaching quickly, it's time to get ready for fantasy hockey and the experts are here to help. From positional rankings to sleepers and predictions, this one-hour fantasy hockey draft special is a great way to prepare for your fantasy draft.

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50 players with added fantasy value in hits leagues

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Standard Yahoo Fantasy formats don't take hits into account, but it's worth noting that the incorporation of this category is reaching many leagues.

We're at the point where one-third of all Yahoo leagues use hits, and many of those fans choose to use that statistic instead of penalty minutes as a category. Though PIMs often gauge the physicality of a player, the stat takes many tactical penalties into account, which are detrimental to their team in reality and reflect undisciplined play. Physical players who use clean body checks on opponents can help their team regain possession of the puck, which in turn helps generate offense.

Fantasy owners have become well aware of standard-league category specialists, but hits-league participants are always looking for difference-makers in their specific formats.

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Cu-bet on it: Team-by-team bold fantasy predictions

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

This is usually my favorite fantasy hockey story to write each preseason. This is my chance to go a little off the wall with some outrageous predictions.

I'm not here to tell you Tyler Seguin might lead the NHL in points. That's obviously a possibility considering he was fourth in the NHL last season. I'm here to say Logan Couture will lead the NHL in goals.

I know, I know, that's crazy. But that's the point of this story. These predictions might not actually happen, but I believe there is a chance they could, even if that chance is ever so slim. The point of writing this, and for you reading it, is so you can discover which players I might be high on, and those I think you should avoid having on your team.

I'm sure you'll all disagree with most of them, but have a look at my bold predictions from last season and you'll see I nailed a few. Of course I got more wrong than right, but again, these are supposed to be over-the-top predictions to emphasize how strongly I feel about that specific player.

Let's go ...

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Top teammate point pairs to target in fantasy drafts

Eric Goodman - NHL.com Staff Writer

Certain things are best enjoyed together. Like fine red wine and steak, or ice-cold milk and fresh-baked cookies, pairing up linemates and defensive counterparts for your fantasy hockey team can lead to great results.

Anaheim Ducks forwards Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf (55 team goals where each recorded a point) formed the NHL's most productive tandem in 2013-14, proof of how valuable the draft strategy of selecting successful pairings can be in fantasy. But because Perry and Getzlaf are being taken on average in the first round of Yahoo drafts this season, it's unlikely for fantasy owners to snag that duo.

The following list provides a guideline of which player combinations to target, but does not include teammates whose Yahoo average draft rounds (ADR) were in the same respective early rounds or in consecutive early rounds in snake drafts (e.g. Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn or Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane).

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MacKinnon, Schneider top Jensen's fantasy breakouts

Tuesday, 09.23.2014 / 11:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Last season, forwards Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars, Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers went from reliable fantasy producers to elite-level assets. On the defenseman and goalie fronts, fantasy owners witnessed Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames and Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche joining the likes of stardom at their respective positions.

These were players who made their mark on the fantasy landscape before, but never to the degree of statistical prowess that they put forth this past season. Sleepers are under-the-radar players who are drafted much later than they should be. Breakout players are players we respect from a fantasy standpoint that elevate their level of production to new heights.

Targeting breakout candidates in your fantasy draft can go a long way in building a championship-caliber roster. Here are five players I believe will take the jump from household name to superstar in 2014-15. Matt Cubeta's five breakout candidates can be found here.

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Couture, Skinner lead Cubeta's fantasy breakout list

Matt Cubeta - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Last season, forwards Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars, Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks and Wayne Simmonds of the Philadelphia Flyers went from reliable fantasy producers to elite-level assets. On the defenseman and goalie fronts, fantasy owners witnessed Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames and Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche joining the likes of stardom at their respective positions.

These were players who made their mark on the fantasy landscape before, but never to the degree of statistical prowess that they put forth this past season. Sleepers are under-the-radar players who are drafted much later than they should be. Breakout players are players we respect from a fantasy standpoint that elevate their level of production to new heights.

Targeting breakout candidates in your fantasy draft can go a long way in building a championship-caliber roster. Here are five players I believe will take the jump from household name to superstar in 2014-15. Pete Jensen will release his five breakout players on Tuesday, Sept. 23.

1. Logan Couture, C/LW, San Jose Sharks

In NHL.com's aggregate top-275 overall fantasy rankings, Couture came in at No. 32. Not too bad, right? I disagree. I think he should've been ranked a lot higher, and in my personal ranks I showed that, slotting him at No. 18 overall.

As I wrote in my top-50 fantasy breakdown, among players 25 or younger, only Stamkos, Tavares and Toews have more goals than Couture's 112. And his 924 shots on goal rank second. Yet for some reason, Couture is never included in the discussion as one of the NHL's best young players. He should be. Despite missing 17 games last season, Couture still finished as the 66th-ranked player in Yahoo fantasy leagues, scoring 23 goals, 54 points, a plus-21 rating, 20 penalty minutes, 13 power-play points and 233 shots on goal. His 3.6 shots on goal per game were 11th best in the NHL. Had he stayed healthy for the full season, he likely would've been an easy top-20 player.

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Talented crop of rookies has fantasy upside

Matt Sitkoff - NHL.com Contributor

We've already broken down the 2014 draftees and who can have an immediate impact on the fantasy landscape. Realistically, any of these players could find their name on the fantasy rookie of the year trophy, as Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche did last season.

However, with two of last season's Calder Trophy finalists being an undrafted free agent (Tyler Johnson) and a seventh-round pick in 2011 (Ondrej Palat), we see that rookie production doesn't always come from freshly drafted players.

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Analysis of NHL.com's fantasy hockey mock draft

Fantasy insider Pete Jensen breaks down 12-team, 16-round simulation

Thursday, 09.18.2014 / 9:00 AM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Over the course of the offseason, we've broken down the fantasy hockey implications of the biggest moves and identified players worth keeping an eye on for a variety of reasons.

Now it's time to put it all together in dissecting NHL.com's annual fantasy mock draft.

Having a strategy entering your draft is important, but improvising is just as essential to strong decision-making. You should always consider the best player available, fill positional and category needs when possible and be mindful of which players will be attainable in later rounds. Hitting home runs on the waiver wire can bring home fantasy championships, but the bottom line is that how you execute each round of your draft will shape your fortunes this season -- for better or worse.

NHL.com's fantasy hockey staff of Matt Cubeta, Pete Jensen, Matt Sitkoff, Brian Metzer and Justin Goldman joined forces with fellow NHL.com colleagues Dan Rosen, Corey Masisak, Mike Morreale, Adam Kimelman, Brian Compton, Tal Pinchevsky and Darryl Haberman to participate in this 12-team mock draft. This league has standard Yahoo scoring with 16 players on each roster (192 total draftees).

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