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Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

On the 'D'-Fence: Ryan Whitney back on the ice

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

Every Tuesday during the season, 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.

If we were to tell you that you could grab a defenseman off of the waiver wire who has averaged .57 points per game over his seven year NHL career, has a 59-point season on his resume and was scoring .77 points per game through the first 35 games of last season before suffering an injury in December, would you leap at the opportunity?

No-brainer, right?

What if we were to tell you that the player has missed 113 games over the last four seasons? Does that temper your enthusiasm at all? If so, then you are well aware of what it feels like to own or to contemplate owning Ryan Whitney.

The talented Oilers' defenseman has long tantalized fantasy owners with his mixture of skating ability, vision and scoring prowess, but it all comes with a disclaimer that reads "proceed with caution."

Fantasy Mailbag: Assessing Couture's keeper value

Fantasy Insider Pete Jensen answers your weekly fantasy hockey questions

Pete Jensen - Staff Writer 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 Fantasy Mailbag by contacting

DANIEL FROM TORONTO has been offered a deal where he would receive Matt Duchene, along with Devin Setoguchi, in exchange for Logan Couture and Dustin Brown. Both Duchene and Couture are keepers in his league.

Duchene and Couture (both C/LW eligible) are the long-term centerpieces of this deal, and both warrant keeper status in most leagues. Couture (22 G, 19 A, plus-10, 10 PIM, 12 PPP, 152 SOG) was an All-Star and has had tremendous success on the San Jose Sharks' secondary line this season. He's done nothing but instill more confidence in his owners as of late, with four goals and five assists during his current six-game point streak, including a goal Saturday against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Logan Couture
Center - SJS
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 41
SOG: 152 | +/-: 10
Duchene (12 G, 12, minus-8, 6 PIM, 9 PPP, 92 SOG), meanwhile, injured his knee on Dec. 29 against Phoenix and has been stuck on Injured Reserve ever since. His extended absence has been a red flag to his owners, considering he had missed only three games over his first two NHL seasons. With 15 games already lost to injury, Duchene remains a question mark in his ongoing recovery. There's no question that Duchene was productive alongside rookie Gabriel Landeskog when healthy and is certainly a great keeper option, but he wasn't even on pace to sniff his 67-point showing from last season even before the injury. He's struggled to diversify his fantasy game outside of point-production, has been unable to compensate for his negative rating and low hit and PIM totals.

Brown (13 G, 14 A, plus-3, 36 PIM, 10 PPP, 147 SOG) has experienced five separate stretches of four-plus games without a goal this season, but is healthy and a key piece for a contending club in the Los Angeles Kings. Setoguchi, like Duchene, has missed time due to injury this year, and while he possesses goal-scoring ability, he's been dragged down in his team's inconsistency for large chunks of this season. That Brown has been a much more stable fantasy force for L.A., and has dual eligibility -- along with better numbers in every category -- makes him clearly a more valuable asset. Both Duchene, 21, and Couture, 22, are solid power-play producers and integral pieces to the core of their respective teams moving forward, but it's hard to ignore that Couture is fixated on one of the deepest, most talented clubs in the NHL. With viable options around him whether on five-on-five or the man advantage, his keeper value is much higher than that of Duchene at this juncture of their careers. Considering you have Couture and Brown in your grasp at the moment, it should take more than Duchene and Setoguchi to budge in a trade offer.

The Real Spiel: Preds' defense a force to acknowledge

Saturday, 02.04.2012 / 5:55 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Sergei J. Feldman - Staff Writer

Given the complex, never-steady landscape of fantasy hockey, each week, 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.

The Pred Scare: The Real Spiel on Ryan Suter and Pekka Rinne

Ryan Suter
Defense - NSH
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 29
SOG: 92 | +/-: 8
Nashville Predators blueliner Ryan Suter was in the middle of an unintended controversy recently, when he discussed his future with the club and whether or not he plans on signing with the Preds prior to the trade deadline. The dust has settled on the issue and Suter has been able to just do what Suter has done for the better part of his career. Currently, Suter ranks in tied for 10th in the NHL in points among defenseman. Helping him get there has been his play of late, as the rugged defender has amassed points in three of his past four games. Playing alongside elite defenseman Shea Weber has certainly complemented Suter’s game. Suter isn’t likely available in many fantasy leagues, but as your teams evolve into either contenders or pretenders, the Pred could be someone to aim for.

The man behind the blueline has been as much a part of the Predators’ success as anyone else, as netminder Pekka Rinne is having himself a season to remember in 2011-12. Through 46 games, the Finnish product ranks second in the League in wins (29). In fact, Rinne has wins in each of his last 10 starts.  In that span, Rinne has given up more than two goals just once. Given the emphasis on strong defensive play in Nashville, Rinne’s numbers figure to remain the same for the duration of the season. When all is said and done, he could reign supreme among fantasy goalies.


Gagner's great night a 'lesson to never set limits'

Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and ... Sam Gagner? Yes, that's the type of company Gagner is keeping these days.

Well, at least he did for one night. Gagner lit up the Chicago Blackhawks with four goals and four assists Thursday night, authoring the 15th eight-point game in NHL history (Darryl Sittler's 10-point bonanza is technically the 16th).

"I wouldn't be in the same breath as Gretzky or Coffey, if it was anything but this," Gagner told reporters after the game. "It is a great lesson to never set limits. The great players that have played here before never did that, and I was never thinking about that tonight. I was just looking at continuing to play and we just kept scoring. It was crazy."

Turn Left Here: Couture, Heatley starting to heat up

Thursday, 02.02.2012 / 1:46 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Every Thursday during the season, 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.

You'll notice there isn't any movement from our top four spots, and if it wasn't for the return of Patrick Sharp in our rankings (he came off IR on Jan. 31), Kovalchuk would have remained in the No. 5 spot. Daniel Sedin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin and James Neal all hold down the top four spots. In fact, we believe that only Ovechin is in jeopardy of being knocked out of the top five as of now, but we're still holding on and looking for him to go on a surge that carries the Capitals to the playoffs.

However, outside our usual suspects at the top of the charts, you'll see some definite shake-ups throughout the rest of our top-40 rankings of the left wing position. Let's get right into it:

Center Stage: Tavares is taking over fantasy world

Wednesday, 02.01.2012 / 2:38 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Every Wednesday during the season, 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.

With the All-Star festivities behind us and fantasy hockey playoffs inching nearer for those of you in head-to-head leagues, it's time to get back into the swing of things with our weekly "Center Stage" feature that covers everything related to fantasy hockey centers.

And who better to lead with than Islanders center John Tavares, who was just announced earlier today as the No. 1 star for January. In fact, Tavares has been so unbelievably good lately that he is the only player we're going to talk about as our "Trending Upward" player. Usually we discuss three guys, but Tavares has been good enough to equal three players in January.

Tavares was drafted in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues with an average pick of 55.5 coming into the season. He is currently rated as the 12th most valuable fantasy player, with Evgeni Malkin, Claude Giroux and Steven Stamkos being the only other centers rated higher. On the season his stat line looks like this: 22 G, 53 points (4th in NHL), plus-4, 14 PIMs, 16 PPP and 184 SOG (4th in NHL). His January was quite remarkable.

On the 'D'-fence: Rookie rearguards who rank

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

The 2012 NHL All-Star Game is in the books and as always it was an exciting event that showcased the skills of some of the best and brightest the league has to offer. Though there were 42 vets selected to participate in the game itself, the League's selection committee also chose 12 rookies to take part in the weekend's activities.

That is what we are going to do here today.

Considering that we had a short week in the fantasy realm due in large part to those All-Star festivities, we figured that we would point out a handful of rookies that are starting to slide into bigger roles for their teams. These players may not be a benefit to all of you, but they could offer some nice depth scoring and should definitely be on the radars of those in keeper or dynasty leagues. 

In the Cage: Two so-called backups

Justin Goldman - Correspondent

Every Monday during the season, Justin Goldman, goalie specialist and founder of The Goalie Guild, will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy goaltenders in'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.
To get an edge on the competition, poolies must realize that a goaltender's stats are merely the end result of a unique situation. The position is 90 percent mental, so confidence, rhythm, focus, and opportunity are key ingredients in making what we call a "sleeper" or a "hidden gem" fantasy talent.
For two so-called backups, Devan Dubnyk and Sergei Bobrovsky, a few impressive performances before the All-Star break have led us to believe they're currently surrounded by very promising situations. Furthermore, both goalies could see their fantasy value rise due to the struggles of their counterparts.

Under-the-radar fantasy players to keep an eye on

Wednesday, 01.25.2012 / 2:25 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Matt Cubeta - Staff Writer

Note: With the 2012 NHL All-Star festivities beginning on Thursday, Matt Cubeta's regular Center Stage, Turn Left Here and Right of Way fantasy stories will return next week.

Last season James Reimer came out of practically nowhere to take the NHL and fantasy leagues by surprise. After making just seven starts prior to last season's All-Star Game, Reimer went on to make 28 starts for Toronto after the break. He finished with a 16-7-5 record to go along with a 2.69 goals-against average, .917 save percentage and three shutouts while powering the Maple Leafs to a second-half surge that would give them hope heading into the 2011-12 season.

Reimer is the ultimate example for a player fantasy owners hope to snag up around the midway point of the season. We're all in search of that unknown guy that gets called up and produces at a high level when his team is willing to give young players a chance -- this is the time for coaches to see what kind of talent they have in their minor league systems.

Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic was a similar story last season, emerging as a major fantasy difference-maker on the blue line. Hamonic was called up early last season (Nov. 24), but turned out to be extremely valuable in the latter part of the season, finishing with 5 goals, 18 points, a plus-11 and an amazing 78 penalty minutes in 33 contests after the All-Star break.

On the 'D'-fence: PP points can power you to victory

Tuesday, 01.24.2012 / 12:08 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Brian Metzer - Correspondent

Every Tuesday during the season, 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.

Power-play points may not be included in all scoring formats that you are participating in, but they have earned a spot alongside goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, and shots on goal in Yahoo! standard leagues. Some leagues even break it down further giving you credit for each power-play goal or assist your players earn. This makes it a pretty valuable stat, and it can tilt many a tightly-contested scoring period in your direction if you have the right players on your roster.

We are all familiar with the likes of Erik Karlsson, Zdeno Chara, Kris Letang and Shea Weber, as they provide the most bang for your fantasy buck across almost every scoring category. However, you may be surprised to find out that these aren't exactly the names that are going to win the power-play points category for you on a weekly basis.
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