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Center Stage: Time to give up on the Detroit duo?

by Matt Cubeta
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.

As you're perusing through the box scores to see how your fantasy players did, you quickly notice the Red Wings scored five goals en route to a 5-2 victory over the Avalanche Tuesday night. You're thinking to yourself, "Datsyuk and Zetterberg must have done something, right?"

Sadly, you are let down. Again.

While both players recorded a plus-2 rating in the victory, only Datsyuk's name appeared on the scoresheet with an assist -- Zetterberg was held pointless for the eighth time in 13 games this season, something his fantasy owners are definitely not accustomed to.

Zetterberg has just 3 goals, 2 assists, a minus-1, 2 penalty minutes, 52 shots on goal and no power play points. He was drafted on average with the 26th pick this year and rated 22nd coming into the season in Yahoo! Leagues -- he's currently rated No. 333 among all players.

Datsyuk has a more respectable 2 goals, 8 assists, minus-4, 6 penalty minutes, 3 power play points and 44 shots on goal. He was drafted on average with the 11th pick this year and rated seventh coming into the season in Yahoo! Leagues -- he's currently rated No. 138 among all players.

Both players are extremely talented and we've obviously come to expect much more from them. Most of their fantasy owners are surely frustrated and probably starting to panic -- and while you should usually give a player a 20-game gauge, it wouldn't be surprising if you've been actively trying to deal either of them. Your panicking is completely understandable.

Datsyuk and Zetterberg are point-per-game caliber players and in all likelihood they will snap out of the slump. If you're one of the unfortunate owners of either Detroit player, we advise you to stay patient for a little bit longer. However, time is starting to run out before we officially believe this could be a down year for the proven superstars.



These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). Note: Positions are dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Stephen Weiss, Brandon Dubinsky, Mikhail Grabovski

Players on IR: Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter, Andy McDonald
Jamie Benn -- Welcome to the elite, Jamie Benn. And who else could be more deserving? He is currently the top-rated center in Yahoo! Leagues with an extremely productive stat line across all categories: 5 G, 13 A, plus-8, 16 PIMs, 6 PPP, 40 SOG. Benn jumps ten spots in the ranks thanks largely in part because of his astonishing hot streak in which he's notched 3 goals and 8 assists during a current six-game point-scoring streak (8 points in his last three games). The Stars may regress a bit from their early season success -- which could result in Benn's plus/minus decreasing -- but Benn's overall statistics should continue to impress all season long.

Patrick Marleau -- After posting no goals and just 2 assists in his first five games, Marleau has since recorded 4 goals and 6 assists in his last eight. Now that's more like it! Marleau is back to his usual ways, but this year he and Joe Thornton have a new running mate -- Joe Pavelski. The trio has clearly started to click and with the amount of talent they combine for, Marleau owners should continue to see point-per-game numbers all year -- expect another 35-goal, 70-plus point season.

David Krejci -- Krejci was a popular player on draft day with very high expectations after notching 23 points in 25 playoff contests for the Bruins last season. However, he struggled with just 1 goal and no assists in his first eight games while battling through injuries. But now he seems like he's at full strength and showing his true talent -- Krejci has tallied 3 points in each of his last two games to go along with a plus-4 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 1 power play point and 5 shots on goal. Krejci is a legitimate playmaker (49 assists in 75 games last season) that should continue to rack up points for you while centering Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic.


Ryan Kesler -- With just 6 points in his first 10 games, Kesler clearly isn't performing the way he did last season. Maybe he's still recovering from his hip injury or maybe all those playoff games last year took a toll on him, but either way, he drops in the ranks until he proves he's officially "back." The acquisition of David Booth was supposed to bring some more depth to the Canucks and add a scoring threat to the Kesler line, but so far, things haven't gone accordingly. However, these things take time, so expect Kesler and Booth to find their Michigan chemistry and eventually the points will come.

Patrick Sharp -- Sharp is currently rated 19th among all fantasy players in Yahoo! Leagues, but it's slightly misleading. While Sharp's overall stat line (15 games: 5 G, 7 A, plus-7, 20 PIMs, 3 PPP, 52 SOG) looks great, you should know that the penalty minutes are a clear outlier -- 14 came in one game. And sure his plus/minus and shots are exceptional right now, but he's only on pace for 27 goals and 65 points -- of course this isn't a bad season, but it's less points than he's had in each of the last two. Sharp should continue to see chances while skating on a line with Jonathan Toews, but look for those penalty minutes to cap off at around 40.

Eric Staal -- It just continues to get worse for the Carolina captain. We thought 4 points in his first eight games was bad, but boy were we mistaken -- Staal has one measly assist in the last seven contests. His point production isn't the only thing bringing him down this year -- Staal is far and away the worst in the NHL with a minus-16 (Jan Hejda is next at minus-12). Until he shows full evidence that he's snapped out of his slump, Staal will continue to drop in our weekly rankings.


Adam Henrique -- Henrique has burst into the fantasy world with his play recently. The Devils center has posted 4 goals and 2 assists in his last four games while playing hero on a nightly basis for New Jersey. The biggest reason for his recent surge can be attributed to the new line combination that seems to have found immediate chemistry: Henrique centering Zach Parise and David Clarkson. Henrique is owned in just 4 percent of Yahoo! Leagues, but that number should rise quickly thanks to his hot streak. The 21-year-old won't keep at this red-hot pace, but if he can manage to stick on a line with the ultra-talented Parise, he'll easily exceed all expectations his fantasy owners have.
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