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.
Here are 50 fantasy hits-league assets you should have on your radar. When applicable, owners should value these players higher than their standing in NHL.com's top 275 fantasy rankings because of the boost they provide in the hits category.
Ryan Getzlaf, C: Runner-up in scoring race; formed League-best point pair with Corey Perry and added 100-plus hits.
Alex Ovechkin, RW: No one covers categories in such elite fashion like Ovechkin; draft him No. 3 in hits leagues.
Chris Kunitz, LW: Flanks No. 1 fantasy player Sidney Crosby and gets it done in all seven categories.
David Backes, C/RW: Only player with 100-plus points, 600-plus hits, and 200-plus PIMs in past three seasons.
Wayne Simmonds, RW: Took power-play production to next level last season; ideal fourth-round pick in any format.
Gabriel Landeskog, LW: Only player with 25-plus goals, plus-20 or better, 175-plus hits and 220-plus shots on goal in 2013-14.
Milan Lucic, LW: Physical force on Bruins' top line; can count on points, PIMs, hits and strong rating.
Ryan Kesler, C/RW: Has chance to revive career with Ducks; provides position flexibility and has top-50 potential.
Evander Kane, LW: Among top-30 hits producers over past three seasons; 2nd in SOG per game since 2011-12.
Brandon Dubinsky, LW/C: Finished 13th in hits last season; one of six with 50-plus points and 90-plus PIMs.
David Perron, LW/RW: Most SOG among players with 90-plus PIMs last season, but remains undervalued.
Chris Kreider, LW: Has cemented top-six role with Rangers; uses speed to advantage; could soar in second full season.
Scott Hartnell, LW: Joins Kunitz and Landeskog as one of three seven-tool fantasy forward assets in the game.
Brayden Schenn, LW/C: Breakout candidate who plays with Simmonds; provides balanced scoring and hits production.
Shane Doan, LW/RW: One of five forwards with 120-plus points, 520-plus SOG and 450-plus hits in past three seasons.
Ryan Callahan, RW: Points-per-game average has dipped of late, but Callahan has potential to play in Tampa Bay's top six.
Troy Brouwer, RW: Combination of offense (goals, PPP) and physicality (PIMs, hits) makes him a late value pick.
Andrew Shaw, C: Underrated forward who touches on every category in depth role for elite team.
Dustin Brown, LW/RW: One of two (Callahan) with 100-plus points, 500-plus SOG and 600-plus hits in past three seasons.
Martin Hanzal, C: Will be even more fantasy-relevant in hits leagues if he stays healthy in 2014-15.
Nick Foligno, LW: Among those with 210-plus hits last season, only four forwards had more goals than Foligno.
Matt Martin, LW: NHL hits leader in each of past three seasons; perfect fit for second LW roster spot in hits leagues.
Tommy Wingels, RW: Gritty wing provides strong rating and accumulates hits at high rate; outside shot at top-six forward spot.
Cal Clutterbuck, RW: If you miss out on Martin, keep an eye on his teammate, Clutterbuck, who is among annual hits leaders.
Zac Rinaldo, LW/C: If you're in a league that counts hits and PIMs, Philly's grinder is worth your while in late rounds.
Justin Abdelkader, LW/RW: Dual-eligible wing has played top-six minutes in the past; under-the-radar producer in points and hits.
Marcus Foligno, LW: Has shown flashes in past and could benefit from Sabres' center depth if he's more consistent.
P.K. Subban, D: Subban is top standard-league 'D' because of coverage; 100-plus hits sweeten the deal.
Shea Weber, D: Weber's value surpasses that of Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson in hits leagues.
Drew Doughty, D: Had no statistical weakness this past regular season; elevated game to new heights on PP in postseason.
Zdeno Chara, D: One of two seven-tool assets on 'D' (Doughty); second among 'D' behind Weber with 10 PPG in 2013-14.
Dustin Byfuglien, RW/D: Role is up in air but position eligibility brings rare fantasy value; can bank on points, shots, PIMs, hits and PPP.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D: Six-tool asset should be taken over teammate Keith Yandle in hits leagues; adds goals and PPP galore.
Niklas Kronwall, D: Hits have dipped in past two seasons, but has been one of best 'D' in terms of PPP over span.
Brent Seabrook, D: Seabrook isn't nearly as valuable as Duncan Keith in fantasy, but he has a clear edge in the hits category.
Brent Burns, RW/D: Offensive totals will likely dip on 'D', but still RW-eligible in Yahoo; bound for PPP spike with more ice time.
Dion Phaneuf, D: One of four 'D' with 400-plus hits and 100-plus points in past three seasons; racks up PIMs as well.
Erik Johnson, D: Tyson Barrie has more upside, but Johnson is Colorado's most well-rounded 'D'; target after 14th round.
Slava Voynov, D: Outside of his assists, Voynov won't 'wow' you, but he covers five categories and is a quality mid-round pick.
Jake Muzzin, D: Could be a steal based on average draft position (146.3) if he improves his shooting percentage in 2014-15.
Jack Johnson, D: Solid totals in four categories and still hasn't hit ceiling; worth targeting after 13th round in hits formats.
Cody Franson, D: Rating liability last season, but led 'D' in hits (282); strong distributor who contributes on PP.
Radko Gudas, D: One of two with 150-plus PIMs and 20-plus points last season; presence felt even more in hits leagues.
Brenden Dillon, D: Work in progress, but rating, PIMs and hits make Dillon must-own material in such leagues.
Johnny Boychuk, D: Can boost totals in hits and rating as fourth or bench defenseman.
Francois Beauchemin, D: Benefits from deep roster; solid final pick in hits-league drafts to round out your defense.
Luke Schenn, D: Doesn't pack his brother's offensive punch, but has more hits (717) than any 'D' in past three seasons.
Brooks Orpik, D: Will continue to log 20-plus minutes of ice time per game with Capitals; sixth among 'D' in hits last season
Ladislav Smid, D: Doesn't contribute much in peripheral categories, but has hits and PIMs specialties.
Dan Girardi, D: Produces hits in droves and will chip in assists, SOG and solid rating; even more valuable in blocks leagues.
Author: Pete Jensen | NHL.com Fantasy Insider