We passed the midway point of the 2016-17 NHL season this week, so let's take this opportunity to acknowledge the biggest fantasy stories of the past three months.
Below are the most valuable players at each position in standard fantasy leagues, as well as candidates for overall MVP, top rookies and more. These selections are based solely on fantasy performance to date, not on expectations for the rest of the season. Yahoo average draft positions are listed next to the biggest steals, surprises and disappointments.
NOTE : 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.
MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: TOP 100 FORWARDS | TOP 50 D-MEN | TOP 25 GOALIES
Fantasy MVP (Overall): Sidney Crosby (PIT) -- Crosby leads the NHL in points per 60 minutes (4.02) and points per game (1.29), and has the best shooting percentage of his career (21.7 percent) with a League-leading 26 goals for the Pittsburgh Penguins. He's tied for second in the NHL in scoring (45 points in 35 games; five behind Connor McDavid's 50 in 44) despite missing his first six games because of a concussion. McDavid recently called Crosby "the best player in the world," a statement that applies to fantasy and reality.
Honorable mentions: Connor McDavid (EDM), Devan Dubnyk (MIN), Evgeni Malkin (PIT)
Top center: Sidney Crosby (PIT)
Honorable mentions: Connor McDavid (EDM), Evgeni Malkin (PIT), Ryan Kesler (ANA)
Top left wing: Artemi Panarin (CHI) -- This was a close call, given the strong push by Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals during the past month (16 points in 15 games since Dec. 11), but Panarin has seven more points (leads LWs with 42 in 44 games), a better rating (plus-15 to plus-5) and more power-play points (14 to 11) than Ovechkin so far this season.
Honorable mentions: Alex Ovechkin (WSH), Brad Marchand (BOS), Patrik Laine (WPG)
Video: CAR@PIT: Crosby buries one-timer off the post in 2nd
Top right wing: Patrick Kane (CHI) -- Kane, the top-ranked finisher in Yahoo leagues last season, is among the top five players again based on performance. His 33 assists are second to McDavid (36), he's tied for second in points (45) and tied for seventh in shots on goal (143), covering all six standard categories on the opposite wing and Chicago Blackhawks' first power-play unit (13 PPP) with Panarin.
Honorable mentions: Vladimir Tarasenko (STL), Cam Atkinson (CBJ), Joe Pavelski (SJS)
Top defenseman: Brent Burns (SJS) -- In addition to leading the NHL in SOG (166), Burns has a six-point lead (44) in the scoring race among defensemen and a 16-point lead on the fifth highest-scoring defenseman (Shea Weber, 28). He's fifth in the League in scoring (forwards included), and is on pace (17 goals in 42 games) to exceed his career-high 27 goals from last season. Burns has a serious case for overall MVP because of position scarcity.
Honorable mentions: Victor Hedman (TBL), Shea Weber (MTL), Erik Karlsson (OTT)
Top goalie: Devan Dubnyk (MIN) -- Dubnyk ranks second in wins (22), first in goals-against average (1.77), first in save percentage (.940) and tied for first in shutouts (five). He was in goal for 10 victories in the Minnesota Wild's 12-game winning streak. That streak ended against fellow Vezina Trophy contender Sergei Bobrovsky in the midst of the Columbus Blue Jackets' 16-game win streak. But outside of wins (Bobrovsky leads NHL with 26), Dubnyk has been better in the other three standard fantasy categories.
Honorable mentions: Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ), Braden Holtby (WSH), Tuukka Rask (BOS)
Video: MIN@ANA: Dubnyk stones Cogliano on the doorstep
Biggest bounce-back: Sergei Bobrovsky (CBJ) -- The Blue Jackets are easily the biggest story of the fantasy season. Bobrovsky's turnaround after underachieving seasons in 2014-15 and 2015-16, not to mention a low fantasy ADP (130.6) and an 0-2-0 start, is as impressive as it gets. The 2013 Vezina Trophy winner returned to form with 14 victories and a .941 SV% during Columbus' 16-game winning streak, and has kept the Blue Jackets ahead of the Capitals, Penguins and New York Rangers in the ultra-competitive Metropolitan Division.
Honorable mentions: Ryan Kesler (ANA), Jakub Voracek (PHI), Eric Staal (MIN)
Biggest steal: Cam Atkinson (CBJ; ADP: 157.8) -- Even with Bobrovsky's resurgence, it's arguable that he's not the most valuable fantasy player on his own team. Atkinson is one of two players (Tarasenko is the other) with at least 20 goals and 20 assists entering Friday, and is tied for the NHL lead in power-play points (19). After being overlooked in drafts, he's 18th in Yahoo's performance-based rankings -- close behind Bobrovsky (15th).
Honorable mentions: Leon Draisaitl (EDM; 159.3), Nikolaj Ehlers (WPG; 165.1), Jeff Carter (LAK; 130.7)
Top rookie: Auston Matthews (TOR) - Last season, Panarin scored the most goals (30) by a rookie since 2010-11. This season, Matthews is on pace to shatter that mark with 21 goals in his first 39 NHL games. His incredible rookie season started off with a bang (four goals in his NHL debut), and his ability to sustain success has him tied for third in the League in goals with fellow rookie Patrik Laine (currently on injured reserve with a concussion). Matthews leads all rookies in SOG (140; Laine has 111 in three more games) and points per game (.90).
Honorable mentions: Patrik Laine (WPG), Zach Werenski (CBJ), Matthew Tkachuk (CGY)
Video: DET@TOR: Matthews shines at the Centennial Classic
Biggest surprise: Michael Grabner (NYR; 133.2) -- Grabner, an underrated July 1 signing, leads the Rangers in goals (19, T-8th in NHL) and plus/minus (plus-22, fifth). He ranks second behind Crosby in goals per 60 minutes (2.04), and is doing all this in a third-line role and despite a total of 1:50 on the power play through 41 games.
Honorable mentions: Artem Anisimov (CHI; 143.4), Justin Schultz (PIT; 138.5), Peter Budaj (LAK; 148.4)
Biggest disappointment (early rounds): Anze Kopitar (LAK; 29.4) -- Kopitar, ranked 239th in Yahoo, has points in four of his past five games but only 21 and six PPP in 37 games on the season. Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (132nd), who's also heating up lately (seven points in past eight games), is a close second for biggest disappointment but at least ranks among the NHL leaders in SOG (158, third; Kopitar has 76). That discrepancy, combined with Kopitar's negative rating (minus-2), higher ADP and underwhelming linemates makes him the slightly more underachieving player.
Others: Patrice Bergeron (BOS; 36.1), Cory Schneider (NJD; 27.6), Shayne Gostisbehere (PHI; 53.7)
Biggest disappointment (middle rounds): Brian Elliott (CGY; 71.7)
Though the Calgary Flames are back in Stanley Cup Playoff contention, Elliott has struggled to win back the starting job, let alone return to fantasy relevance. Chad Johnson, an early-season fantasy steal, has nearly twice as many wins (15) and much better peripherals (2.26 GAA, .923 SV%, three SO) than Elliott (eight wins, 2.95, .889, 0 SO). Elliott had a five-game winning streak from Dec. 19 to Jan. 4, but the Flames have started Johnson in each of the three games since Elliott's run ended Jan. 6.
Others: Andrew Ladd (NYI; 86.8), Dylan Larkin (DET; 92.9), Tyson Barrie (COL; 92.7)