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Fantasy awards at one-quarter mark

Connor McDavid most valuable; Alex Galchenyuk biggest steal so far this season

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Senior Fantasy Editor

We've reached the one-quarter mark of the 2016-17 NHL season, and there has been no shortage of fantasy surprises -- for better or worse.

Now is an opportune time to identify the most valuable standard-league assets at each position, including top rookie, biggest surprise, and more. Standard Yahoo leagues include goals, assists, plus/minus. penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal for skaters, and wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts for goalies.

NOTE : These selections are based solely on fantasy performance to date, not on expectations for the rest of the season. In certain cases, Yahoo average draft position has been taken into account.


Most Valuable: Connor McDavid (EDM)

Honorable mentions: Carey Price and Shea Weber (MTL), Nikita Kucherov (TBL)


Top Center: Connor McDavid (EDM) 

McDavid has outperformed his lofty average draft position (5.0) and has been the most valuable fantasy asset in the League. He leads the NHL in scoring with 27 points in 21 games entering Friday, and has provided outstanding coverage of plus/minus (plus-6), PPP (seven) and SOG (58). Despite plenty of different linemates, McDavid's productivity has not wavered. He has the much-improved Edmonton Oilers atop the Pacific Division.

Honorable mentions: Sidney Crosby (PIT), Mark Scheifele (WPG)

Video: EDM@DAL: McDavid completes his first NHL hat trick


Top Left Wing: Artemi Panarin (CHI)

 It's been a disappointing season for left wings with slow starts for Alex Ovechkin (who's now back to normal), Jamie Benn and Johnny Gaudreau (prior to injury), but Panarin has proved to be no fluke for the Chicago Blackhawks. Despite not seeing nearly as much time alongside Patrick Kane as he did last season, Panarin has avoided the sophomore slump. He's the only left wing with at least 15 points (19), a plus-10 (plus-11) rating and 50 SOG (56). The scary part is Panarin's power-play production (four) still has plenty of room for improvement; he had 24 PPP in 80 games as a rookie.

Honorable mentions: Alex Ovechkin (WSH), Brad Marchand (BOS)


Read: Top NHL storylines at one-quarter mark


Top Right Wing: Nikita Kucherov (TBL)

Kucherov and Scheifele are the only two players with at least 10 goals and 10 assists entering Friday. Despite concerns after Kucherov was a restricted free agent and didn't sign until just before the season began, he leads the NHL in road points (17 in 11 games). Even after linemate Steven Stamkos went down with a long-term injury, Kucherov has reaffirmed his elite status with four goals, two assists, a plus-5 rating and 15 SOG in his past five games.

Honorable mentions: Patrick Kane (CHI), Vladimir Tarasenko (STL)


Top Defenseman: Shea Weber (MTL) 

The Weber-for-P.K. Subban trade was arguably the biggest fantasy talking point of the offseason, but the aftermath has taken a surprising twist. Subban has been a top 10 fantasy defenseman with the Nashville Predators, but the older Weber has emphatically reminded fantasy owners that he's still in peak form for the League-leading Montreal Canadiens. He's tied for the NHL lead in power-play points (10), has the second-best rating (plus-17) behind Michael Grabner (plus-19) of the New York Rangers, and has the most goals (eight) among D-men.

Honorable mentions: Brent Burns (SJS), Zach Werenski (CBJ)

Video: OTT@MTL: Weber blisters in one-timer for PPG


Top Goalie: Carey Price (MTL) 

Speaking of the Canadiens, Price has them atop the NHL standings by Thanksgiving for the second straight year. He was 10-2-0 prior to sustaining a season-ending injury last November, and has returned to his prior form with a 12-1-1 record, a 1.71 GAA, .945 SV% and two SO. He has the second-best even-strength SV% (.957) among goalies with at least 10 games played, trailing only Devan Dubnyk (.959), but has four more wins than the Minnesota Wild goalie in one fewer game.

Honorable mentions: Devan Dubnyk (MIN), Tuukka Rask (BOS)


Biggest Bounce-back: Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ)

Few expected Bobrovsky and the Columbus Blue Jackets to play as well as they have, especially being in the tough Metropolitan Division. He was available late in fantasy drafts (ADP: 133.4), but is currently a top-five goalie in standard leagues. Bobrovsky is on pace to shatter his career high in wins (32 in 2013-14) and challenge the peripherals of his Vezina Trophy-winning season in 2012-13 (2.00 GAA, .932 SV%, four SO); he is 10-5-1 with a 2.18 GAA, .929 SV% and three SO in 16 games.

Honorable mentions: Jakub Voracek (PHI), Ryan Kesler (ANA), Marian Hossa (CHI), Nick Foligno (CBJ)


Biggest Steal: Alex Galchenyuk (MTL; ADP: 133.8)

Galchenyuk has gone from a preseason breakout candidate to 10th overall in Yahoo's performance-based rankings. He has found his groove alongside another huge steal in Alexander Radulov, and is sixth in the NHL in scoring with 21 points in 21 games. He is plus-10 and on pace for a career high in power-play points (seven so far; career high: 16 in 2015-16).

Honorable mentions: J.T. Miller (NYR; 153.3), David Pastrnak (BOS; 169.0), Andrei Vasilevskiy (TBL; 170.7)


Top Rookie: Patrik Laine (WPG)

The NHL's youth movement is in full effect this season, and Laine is tied for second in the League in goals (12, five on the power play), behind Sidney Crosby (14) of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Winnipeg Jets' offense became dangerous after coach Paul Maurice put Laine and Scheifele on the same line early and often, and Laine is leading a strong rookie class in scoring with 18 points in 22 games. Maybe the strongest honorable mention of any category goes to Blue Jackets rookie defenseman Zach Werenski, who's covering five of the six standard categories and is the fourth most valuable fantasy defenseman.

Honorable mentions: Zach Werenski (CBJ), Auston Matthews (TOR), Mitchell Marner (TOR)

Video: CHI@WPG: Laine chips in Byfuglien's attempt


Biggest Surprise: Jonathan Marchessault (FLA)

 Not many could have envisioned Marchessault standing among the top 40 fantasy assets this deep into the season. He has nine goals, seven assists, five PPP, a plus-3 rating and 55 SOG, ranking 39th among standard-league assets. Marchessault has been a fixture among the Florida Panthers' top-six forwards and on their first power-play unit, helping the team overcome the long-term injury to Jonathan Huberdeau. There could be some regression over time, but fantasy owners who added Marchessault off the waiver wire have gotten enormous bang for their buck in terms of production and/or sell-high value. An honorable mention is Grabner, who is among the League's best in two of the six standard offensive categories.

Honorable mentions: Artem Anisimov (CHI), Michael Grabner (NYR), Alexander Wennberg (CBJ)


Biggest Disappointment: Brian Elliott (CGY; ADP: 71.3) 

Elliott, who led the NHL in SV% (.930, minimum 15 games) last season with the St. Louis Blues, has already lost the starting job to Chad Johnson at the one-quarter mark of the season. It's been a shocking fall from grace for Elliott, who was traded to the Calgary Flames on Jun. 24 and was expected to boost one of the worst back ends in the League (3.13 goals per game in 2015-16, last in NHL). Among the 34 goalies to play at least 10 games as of Friday, Elliott is tied for the fewest wins (three) and has the worst GAA (3.42) and SV% (.882).

Honorable mentions: Evgeny Kuznetsov (WSH; 20.4), Patrice Bergeron (BOS; 35.9), Andrew Ladd (NYI; 86.6)

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