Skip to Main Content

Fantasy forwards: Ever-changing lines to watch

Getzlaf, Stamkos linemates have short-term value; top 100 forwards

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / Fantasy Insider

With forward injuries piling up around the League, fantasy owners with roster flexibility need to be as attentive as ever for line changes. 

Whether it's a single elite player with constant adjustments around him or a top-notch point pair with a rotating third wheel, there are available options that can lift your team down the stretch of the season.

Fantasy championships are won by a combination of strong drafting and timely waiver wire pickups, so there's no shame in using the maximum add/drops your league has to offer. Plenty of players and lines have been defined by instability all season, so take full advantage as we close in on the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline and each team's final 20 games of the regular season.

Here are some players and ever-changing line situations around the League that are worth prioritizing from here on out:

Steven Stamkos - Stamkos has been playing on a line with Ondrej Palat and Vladislav Namestnikov most often since the Tampa Bay Lightning have been back at full strength, but the new combination is Stamkos with Alex Killorn (C/LW, 8 percent owned in Yahoo) and Ryan Callahan (RW, 28 percent). Stamkos has goals in three straight games since the adjustment and Callahan has five points (three goals, two assists) in his past four games and at least a point in six of his past nine. Callahan is far from the must-own category cog he once was, but is a serviceable add for as long as he's flanking one of the best goal-scorers in the game on Tampa Bay's top line. If the Lightning switch back to Namestnikov eventually, he's readily available as well at nine percent owned.

Ryan Getzlaf - With the deadline days away, David Perron is the prime example of how even small roster moves can pay enormous dividends. When the Anaheim Ducks swapped Carl Hagelin for slumping Perron earlier this season, there was the possibility he could stick with Getzlaf and Corey Perry, but no one could have foreseen what has happened. The line of Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg and Andrew Cogliano has ignited, the longtime duo of Getzlaf and Perry has been separated, and Perron's fantasy ownership has risen to 44 percent after 14 points in 15 games alongside Getzlaf. Perry is on the third line but has shown chemistry with young center Rickard Rakell. Although everything appears to be going according to plan, never underestimate the line changes Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau has up his sleeve for when they hit a rough patch. Perry could eventually re-join Getzlaf or Patrick Maroon could take Perron's spot. Mike Santorelli (owned in fewer than one percent of leagues) has latched on with Getzlaf and Perron lately with three goals, three assists, a plus-5 and a solid shot volume (13) in his past six games. Santorelli is worth a desperation add if you need an instant, short-term lift.

Video: ANA@VAN: Getzlaf gives the Ducks a three-goal lead

John Tavares - Tavares is back to normal for the New York Islanders with at least a point in nine of his past 11 games, suddenly approaching the point-per-game realm (47 points in 54 games). He's been locked in with Ryan Strome (C/RW, 14 percent owned) and Mikhail Grabovski for much of February, and Strome has responded to the continuity with two goals, three assists, a plus-6, six penalty minutes and 13 SOG in seven games. But when changes are made to Tavares' line, it usually comes with adjustments to each wing; he no longer plays regularly with Kyle Okposo at even strength. While it looks like Strome is there to stay, no one would be shocked to see Tavares playing with Brock Nelson (C, 17 percent owned) or Anders Lee (C/LW, 23 percent owned) again before the regular season ends.

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin - While Jason Spezza was out, the hot commodity from the Stars' top line was Patrick Eaves (LW/RW, 10 percent). But with Ales Hemsky posting points in five of his past six games and seeing top-line exposure Saturday, Dallas' carousel continues. There's also Valeri Nichushkin and Cody Eakin, who have been and could be moved up with Benn and Seguin again at any moment. Spezza skated next to Benn and Seguin at practice Monday, and their most frequent linemate this season has been Patrick Sharp, so there are a ton of options in play here. This is the extreme situation where you can add and drop at will if your league does not cap your roster moves. Other fantasy owners are not so lucky.

Others situations to monitor: Third wheel of Boston Bruins' first (Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand) and second (David Krejci and pending unrestricted free agent Loui Eriksson) lines; Jonathan Toews' linemates (currently Andrew Shaw and Richard Panik with Marian Hossa out); third wheel of Nashville Predators' first line (Ryan Johansen, James Neal).



Arizona Coyotes' top line

When Martin Hanzal (C, 27 percent owned) has been productive, the Coyotes have been at their best. Right now, Hanzal is centering promising rookies Max Domi (C/LW, 67 percent owned) and Anthony Duclair (LW/RW, 24 percent owned), and Arizona coach Dave Tippett has kept that trio together in recent games at even strength and on the power play. The trio was held off the scoresheet Monday at the Washington Capitals, but had combined to score 22 points, nine coming on the power play, in its previous six games. Domi and Duclair have been inconsistent, but much of those stretches have come with Hanzal banged up or out of the lineup. If you're in a standard Yahoo league, chances are you can benefit from rostering any component of this trending trio.


Gustav Nyquist and Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings

Whether together or apart, it's been a bumpy ride for Nyquist and Tatar all season. Nyquist has 14 goals in 60 games after scoring 28 in 2013-14 (57 games) and 27 in 2014-15 (82 games). Tatar has 16 goals in 59 games after breaking out with 29 last season (82 games). The Red Wings have gotten elite-level goaltending from Petr Mrazek, but rank 20th in the NHL with 2.50 goals per game. With Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg playing on the same line with Justin Abdelkader, Nyquist and Tatar have given fantasy owners little reason to be patient any longer. Each is barely still among Yahoo's top 200 player rankings, Nyquist is stuck in a 10-game goal drought and Tatar has been held without a point in seven straight games. With three weeks to go before the fantasy playoffs, these two are droppable if the right player is available.


Colorado Avalanche's top-six group

Nathan MacKinnon has been held without a point in six of his past seven games, and Avalanche coach Patrick Roy has been forced to switch gears in the midst of Colorado's Stanley Cup Playoff chase. Matt Duchene and MacKinnon are on separate lines again with Gabriel Landeskog and Alex Tanguay flanking MacKinnon. But the other line is where the production has been lately, with Duchene centering Mikhail Grigorenko and surging Jarome Iginla, who re-enters the top 100 forwards this week. Iginla has points in eight of his past nine games, and is tied for the ninth-most points in the League since Feb. 4 (11 points in nine games). Grigorenko is the player to watch in this equation, because he's owned in fewer than two percent of Yahoo leagues and has assists in four of his past five games with a plus-1 rating and six SOG. Single eligibility is not ideal, but he could see a splash from Duchene if they stick together.

Video: CHI@COL: Landeskog rips loose puck by Crawford



-- Alexander Steen (upper body; Yahoo rank: 28) is on injured reserve and will be re-evaluated in four weeks. Luckily, the Blues have depth at left wing, led by a healthy Jaden Schwartz (LW, 63 percent owned) on his usual line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Jori Lehtera. Schwartz has four goals, two assists, a plus-5, one power-play point, and 13 SOG in six games since returning from a lengthy injury absence. On the second line, Paul Stastny and Troy Brouwer are joined by red-hot rookie Robby Fabbri (C, 4 percent), who's covering categories with three goals, five assists, 13 PIMs, five PPP and 15 SOG in 10 games this month. He should be on everyone's watch list, especially in deep formats.

-- Ryan O'Reilly (lower body; Yahoo rank: 99) has been placed on injured reserve, and the Buffalo Sabres lineup looks completely different without their first-line center. Sam Reinhart (C, 7 percent owned) shifts from right wing to center on a line with high-volume shooter Evander Kane and recent call-up Justin Bailey, while Jack Eichel is centering Jamie McGinn and Zemgus Girgensons. The Sabres are on the outside of the postseason picture, but Reinhart's development will be tested in the coming weeks without his frequent linemate. Like Fabbri with the Blues, Reinhart's ice time should increase down the stretch, so keep this high-end rookie goal-scorer (18 goals, 115 SOG) on your radar.

-- With Jonathan Huberdeau (Yahoo rank: 80) and Aleksander Barkov (Yahoo rank: 148) sidelined with upper-body injuries, the Florida Panthers have a newly arranged top line of Jaromir Jagr, Jussi Jokinen and Vincent Trocheck. Jokinen (C/LW/RW, 43 percent owned) had two assists Saturday after the move to snap a four-game point drought, and Trocheck (C/RW, 36 percent owned) continues to cover all six categories as a borderline top-100 fantasy forward. Barkov could return from injury as early as Thursday, so keep an eye on who's playing with Jagr as that line's health and production could make or break the Panthers' Atlantic Division title chances.



These rankings indicate fantasy expectations for the rest of the season. Value is quantified by line combinations, power-play usage, past performance and overall upside in standard Yahoo categories (goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal.

1. Patrick Kane, C/RW, CHI    
2. Alex Ovechkin, LW/RW, WSH    
3. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL    
4. Tyler Seguin, C/RW, DAL    
5. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT    
6. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C/LW, WSH (+3)
7. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL (-1)
8. Evgeni Malkin, C/RW, PIT (DTD)
9. Joe Pavelski, C/LW/RW, SJS (-1)
10. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS (+3)
11. Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN (+4)
12. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH (-2)
13. Claude Giroux, C/RW, PHI (DTD)
14. Anze Kopitar, C, LAK (DTD)
15. Steven Stamkos, C, TBL (+2)
16. Taylor Hall, C/LW, EDM    
17. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY (+4)
18. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL (DTD)
19. John Tavares, C, NYI (+1)
20. Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI (+4)
21. Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG (+1)
22. Joe Thornton, C, SJS (+4)
23. Ryan Johansen, C/RW, NSH (-4)
24. Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA (+6)
25. Jakub Voracek, LW/RW, PHI (+2)
26. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (+2)
27. Corey Perry, RW, ANA (-4)
28. Patrick Sharp, C/LW/RW, DAL (-3)
29. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS (+4)
30. Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, COL (-12)
31. Connor McDavid, C, EDM    
32. Wayne Simmonds, LW/RW, PHI (+3)
33. James Neal, LW/RW, NSH (-1)
34. Tyler Toffoli, C/LW/RW, LAK    
35. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL (-6)
36. Matt Duchene, C/LW, COL (+2)
37. David Krejci, C, BOS    
38. Filip Forsberg, C/LW/RW, NSH (+1)
39. Jason Spezza, C, DAL (NR - INJ.)
40. Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET (-4)
41. Phil Kessel, RW, PIT (+3)
42. Zach Parise, LW, MIN (+5)
43. Jaromir Jagr, RW, FLA (+5)
44. Dylan Larkin, C/LW, DET (+1)
45. Bobby Ryan, LW/RW, OTT (-5)
46. Pavel Datsyuk, C/LW, DET (-4)
47. Derick Brassard, C, NYR (+4)
48. Jeff Carter, C/RW, LAK (-5)
49. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL    
50. Justin Williams, RW, WSH (+7)
51. T.J. Oshie, C/RW, WSH (+3)
52. Henrik Sedin, C, VAN (+8)
53. Loui Eriksson, LW/RW, BOS (+8)
54. Ryan Kesler, C/RW, ANA (+19)
55. Logan Couture, C/LW, SJS (+1)
56. Tyler Johnson, C, TBL (+2)
57. Mike Hoffman, C/LW, OTT (-7)
58. Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CBJ (-3)
59. Rick Nash, LW/RW, NYR (DTD)
60. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA (DTD)
61. Scott Hartnell, LW, CBJ (+1)
62. Jack Eichel, C, BUF (+2)
63. Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL (-4)
64. Mats Zuccarello, LW/RW, NYR (+4)
65. Kyle Palmieri, LW/RW, NJD (+4)
66. Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI (-3)
67. Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT (+5)
68. Milan Lucic, LW, LAK (-2)
69. Shane Doan, LW/RW, ARI (+5)
70. Jonathan Huberdeau, C/LW, FLA (DTD)
71. David Perron, LW/RW, ANA (+9)
72. Max Domi, C/LW, ARI (+12)
73. Tomas Plekanec, C, MTL (-6)
74. Boone Jenner, C/RW, CBJ (+3)
75. Sean Monahan, C, CGY (-5)
76. Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM    
77. Andre Burakovsky, LW, WSH (-2)
78. Carl Soderberg, C/LW, COL (-7)
79. Bryan Little, C/RW, WPG (DTD)
80. Evander Kane, LW, BUF (+2)
81. Jordan Eberle, RW, EDM (+5)
82. Tomas Hertl, C/LW, SJS (+3)
83. Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL (+12)
84. David Backes, C/RW, STL (-1)
85. Lee Stempniak, LW/RW, NJD (-7)
86. Jussi Jokinen, C/LW/RW, FLA (+3)
87. Ryan Spooner, C/LW, BOS (-6)
88. Eric Staal, C/LW, CAR    
89. Chris Kunitz, LW, PIT (+2)
90. Mikko Koivu, C, MIN (+6)
91. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (+2)
92. Brayden Schenn, C/LW, PHI (NEW)
93. Brandon Dubinsky, C/LW, CBJ (-3)
94. Mark Stone, RW, OTT    
95. Andrew Shaw, RW, CHI (NEW)
96. Andrew Ladd, LW, WPG (NEW)
97. Justin Abdelkader, LW/RW, DET    
98. Jeff Skinner, LW/RW, CAR (NEW)
99. Jarome Iginla, RW, COL (NEW)
100. Jordan Staal, C/LW, CAR (NEW)

Just missed: Vincent Trocheck (C/RW, FLA), Ondrej Palat (LW, TBL), Adam Henrique (C/LW, NJD), Mike Ribeiro (C, NSH), Tomas Tatar (LW/RW, DET), Derek Stepan (C, NYR), Gustav Nyquist (C/LW/RW, DET), Frans Nielsen (C, NYI), Cam Atkinson (RW, CBJ), Martin Hanzal (C, ARI)

Dropped out: Henrique, Tatar, Nyquist, Atkinson, Nazem Kadri

Key injuries: Alexander Steen (C/LW, STL), Ryan O'Reilly (C/LW/RW, BUF), Mike Cammalleri (C/LW, NJD), Marian Hossa (RW, CHI), James van Riemsdyk (LW, TOR), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C, EDM)

View More