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50 players with added fantasy value in hits leagues

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

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.

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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.

NOTE: "NR" indicates players who were not ranked in our standard-league top 275. Consider these players fantasy-relevant in 12-team, hits-league drafts. Red indicates players who were seven-category assets in 2013-14.

RANK FORWARDS TEAM COVERAGE ANALYSIS
5 Ryan Getzlaf, C G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG, HIT Runner-up in scoring race; formed NHL-best pair with Corey Perry and added 100-plus hits.
6 Alex Ovechkin, RW G, A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT No one covers categories in such elite fashion like Ovechkin; draft him No. 3 in hits leagues.
22 Chris Kunitz, LW G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Flanks No. 1 fantasy player Sidney Crosby and gets it done in all seven categories.
35 David Backes, C/RW G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, HIT Only player with 100-plus points, 600-plus hits, and 200-plus PIMs in past three seasons.
44 Wayne Simmonds, RW G, A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Took power-play production to next level last season; ideal fourth-round pick in any format.
46 Gabriel Landeskog, LW G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Only player with 25-plus goals, plus-20, 175-plus hits and 220-plus shots in 2013-14.
68 Milan Lucic, LW G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, HIT Physical force on Bruins' top line; can count on points, PIMs, hits and strong rating. 
73 Ryan Kesler, C/RW G, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Has chance to revive career with Ducks; provides position flexibility and has top-50 potential.
87 Evander Kane, LW G, A, PIMs, SOG, HIT Among top-30 hits producers over past three seasons; 2nd in SOG per game since 2011-12.
104 Brandon Dubinsky, LW/C A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, HIT Finished 13th in hits last season; one of six with 50-plus points and 90-plus PIMs.
108 David Perron, LW/RW G, A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Most SOG among players with 90-plus PIMs last season, but remains undervalued.
123 Chris Kreider, LW G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, HIT Cemented top-six role with NYR; uses speed to advantage; could soar in second full season.
134 Scott Hartnell, LW G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Joins Kunitz and Landeskog as one of three seven-tool fantasy forward assets in the game.
147 Brayden Schenn, LW/C G, A, PIMs, SOG, HIT Breakout candidate who plays with Simmonds; provides balanced scoring and hits production.
156 Shane Doan, LW/RW G, A, PPP, HIT One of five fwd. with 120-plus points, 520-plus SOG and 450-plus hits in past three seasons.
171 Ryan Callahan, RW A, PPP, HIT Points-per-game average has dipped of late, but should crack Lightning's top-six group.
199 Troy Brouwer, RW G, A, PIMs, PPP, HIT Late value pick who brings offense (goals, PPP) and physicality (PIMs, hits).
204 Andrew Shaw, C G, A, +/-, PIMs, HIT Underrated forward who touches on every category in depth role for elite team.
207 Dustin Brown, LW/RW +/-, PIMs, SOG, HIT One of two with 100-plus points, 500-plus SOG and 600-plus hits in past three seasons.
233 Martin Hanzal, C A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Will be even more fantasy-relevant in hits leagues if he stays healthy in 2014-15.
257 Nick Foligno, LW G, A, +/-, PIMs, HIT Among those with 210-plus hits last season, only four forwards had more goals than Foligno.
NR Matt Martin, LW PIMs, HIT NHL hits leader in each of past three seasons; perfect fit for second LW spot in hits leagues.
NR Tommy Wingels, RW A, +/-, HIT Gritty wing has strong rating and accumulates hits at high rate; chance at top-six forward spot.
NR Cal Clutterbuck, RW PIMs, HIT If you miss Martin, target his teammate, Clutterbuck, who is among annual hits leaders.
NR Zac Rinaldo, LW/C PIMs, HIT If you're in a league that counts hits and PIMs, Philly's grinder is worth your while in late rounds.
NR Justin Abdelkader, LW/RW A, HIT Dual-eligible wing has played top-six minutes in past; underrated producer in points and hits.
NR Marcus Foligno, LW PIMs, HIT Has shown flashes in past; could benefit from Sabres' center depth if he's more consistent.
RANK DEFENSEMEN TEAM COVERAGE ANALYSIS
16 P.K. Subban, D G, A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Subban is top standard-league 'D' because of coverage; 100-plus hits sweeten the deal.
30 Shea Weber, D G, A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Weber's value surpasses that of Ottawa Senators' Erik Karlsson in hits leagues.
49 Drew Doughty, D G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Had no statistical weakness this past reg. season; hit next level on PP in postseason.
64 Zdeno Chara, D G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT One of two seven-tool 'D' assets; second among 'D' behind Weber with 10 PPG in 2013-14.
65 Dustin Byfuglien, RW/D G, A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Role up in air but eligibility brings rare value; lock for points, shots, PIMs, hits and PPP.
72 Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D G, A, PIMs, PPP, SOG, HIT Take this six-tool asset over teammate Keith Yandle in hits formats; goals and PPP galore.
114 Niklas Kronwall, D G, A, PIMs, PPP, HIT Hits have dipped in past two seasons, but has been one of best 'D' in terms of PPP over span.
128 Brent Seabrook, D G, A, +/-, HIT Seabrook isn't as valuable as Duncan Keith in fantasy, but has clear edge in hits category.
135 Brent Burns, RW/D G, A, +/-, PPP, SOG, HIT Offense will dip on 'D', but still RW-eligible in Yahoo; bound for PPP spike with more ice time.
145 Dion Phaneuf, D G, A, PIMs, PPP, HIT One of four 'D' with 400-plus hits and 100-plus points in past three seasons; racks up PIMs.
172 Erik Johnson, D G, A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, HIT Tyson Barrie has more upside, but Johnson is Avs' most well-rounded 'D'; target after Rd. 14.
185 Slava Voynov, D A, +/-, PIMs, PPP, HIT Outside of assists, Voynov won't 'wow' you, but covers five categories; quality mid-round pick.
196 Jake Muzzin, D A, +/-, PIMs, SOG, HIT Could be a steal based on avg. draft position (146.3) if he improves shooting percentage.
198 Jack Johnson, D A, PIMs, PPP, HIT Solid totals in four categories; still hasn't hit ceiling; target after Rd. 13 in hits formats.
211 Cody Franson, D A, PPP, HIT Rating liability last season, but led 'D' in hits (282); strong distributor who contributes on PP.
253 Radko Gudas, D A, PIMs, HIT One of two with 150-plus PIMs and 20-plus points last season; presence felt in hits formats.
NR Brenden Dillon, D G, +/-, PIMs, HIT Work in progress, but rating, PIMs and hits make Dillon must-own material in such leagues.
NR Johnny Boychuk, D A, PIMs, SOG, HIT Can boost totals in hits and shots as fourth or bench defenseman.
NR Francois Beauchemin, D +/-, HIT Benefits from deep roster; solid final pick in hits-league drafts to round out your defense.
NR Luke Schenn, D PIMs, HIT Doesn't pack his brother's offensive punch, but has most hits among 'D' in past three seasons.
NR Brooks Orpik, D PIMs, HIT Will log 20-plus minutes of ice time per game with Caps; sixth among 'D' in hits last season
NR Ladislav Smid, D PIMs, HIT Doesn't contribute much in peripheral categories, but has hits and PIMs specialties.
NR Dan Girardi, D A, +/-, HIT Produces hits in droves; chips in assists, SOG and solid rating; added value in blocks leagues.

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