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Fantasy specialists: Who helps in each category

by Matt Sitkoff / NHL.com

When drafting a fantasy hockey team, it's always important to make sure you address every statistical need. The goal is to put together the best possible well-rounded roster.

There are only a handful of players capable of providing value in all or most categories (Corey Perry, David Backes, Brandon Dubinsky and Milan Lucic, to name a few), which is why you must draft players for specific needs. Here are some skaters to consider for each fantasy category, some as mid-level picks and others as options late in the draft:

GOALS

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

The 2014-15 NHL season is drawing closer by the day, so NHL.com has you covered with all the fantasy hockey advice you'll need come draft day.

Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens Six players in the past three seasons have more goals than Pacioretty's 87. Pacioretty had a career-high with 39 goals last season; being the first Montreal player since 1993-94 to reach the 40-goal mark (Vincent Damphousse) is not out of the question.

Rick Nash, New York Rangers Once a first-round pick in NHL fantasy drafts, the 2002 Rocket Richard Trophy winner is now counted on solely for his goal-scoring ability. He had 66 percent of his point production on goals (26 of 39 points) last season and has averaged 0.40 goals per game (77 goals in 191 games) during the past three seasons. That's tied for 14th in the NHL during that time.

Troy Brouwer, Washington Capitals The 29-year-old center had a career-high 25 goals last season playing in the top six for the Capitals. He scored 12 of those goals on the Capitals' lethal power play, which is an added bonus for fantasy owners. The player who was traded for a first-round pick from Chicago is finally reaching his goal-scoring potential.

Mike Cammalleri, New Jersey Devils The two-time 30-goal scorer is now with New Jersey, a team desperate for goals; the Devils were 27th in the NHL in goals per game last season (2.40). The speedy 32-year-old forward had 13 goals for the Calgary Flames after the Olympic break, tied for the third in the NHL during that span.

Nick Holden, Colorado Avalanche The 27-year-old defenseman broke onto the scene with the Avalanche by scoring 10 goals in 54 games in his first full NHL season. His 0.19 goals per game tied him for ninth among defensemen and earned him a three-year contract.

ASSISTS

Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets With 40 or more assists in two of the past three seasons, Wheeler is becoming one of the League’s best playmakers. The 28-year-old has 110 assists in the past three seasons, which is 20th in the NHL during that period.

Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames The 30-year-old has averaged 0.46 assists per game in his two seasons with Calgary. He finished last season with a career-high 37 assists and had great chemistry with the Flames' top center, Mikael Backlund. Hudler also led all Flames forwards in power-play ice time (3:06) and assists on the power play (11).

Mikko Koivu
Center - MIN
GOALS: 11 | ASST: 43 | PTS: 54
SOG: 147 | +/-: 0
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild The Wild's top-line center has great chemistry with left wing Zach Parise; they combined for 25 goals on which each had a point. In the past five seasons, the 31-year-old has 0.61 assists per game, tied for 12th in the NHL.

Alex Goligoski, Dallas Stars The Stars' offense is on the rise and Goligoski, a playmaking defenseman, is a key component. His 25 assists after Jan. 1 were fourth among defensemen and his 36 assists last season were a career-high.

James Wisniewski, Columbus Blue Jackets Wisniewski's 44 assists last season were a career high and make him an assists machine when healthy. His 0.48 assists per game in the past three seasons are tied for sixth among defenders during that span.

PENALTY MINUTES

Radko Gudas, Tampa Bay Lightning In 95 career games, the 6-foot defenseman has 190 penalty minutes. His 152 PIM last season were the most among defenseman.

Antoine Roussel
Left Wing - DAL
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 29
SOG: 113 | PIMs: 209
Antoine Roussel, Dallas Stars The native of France was the only player in the NHL to have more than 200 penalty minutes (209) and reach double figures in goals (14) last season.

Zack Kassian, Vancouver Canucks The 6-foot-3 power forward has 226 career penalty minutes in 156 games and should see top-six ice time in Vancouver.

Chris Neil, Ottawa Senators No one has more penalty minutes (533) in the past three seasons. Neil, now 35, has had 200 or more PIM four times and has 2,216 in his career.

Zac Rinaldo, Philadelphia Flyers Rinaldo has been right behind Neil in the past three seasons with 470 penalty minutes, including a career-high 232 in 66 games in 2011-12.

POWER-PLAY POINTS

Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers Only Alex Ovechkin and James Neal have more power-play goals than Simmonds' 32 during the past three seasons. In 209 games with Philadelphia he has 56 power-play points.

Ryan Callahan, Tampa Bay Lightning He has 36 power-play goals in the past four seasons, which is tied for ninth in the NHL during that time. Callahan had five power-play points in 20 games with Tampa Bay after being acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline, and that number should go up sharply during a full season with Steven Stamkos.

Keith Yandle, Coyotes – His 31 power-play points last season tied him with Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators for the most by a defenseman. In all, 117 of Yandle's 270 career points (43.3 percent) and 21 of his 61 goals (34.4 percent) have come on the power play.

Niklas Kronwall
Defense - DET
GOALS: 8 | ASST: 41 | PTS: 49
SOG: 110 | PPP: 25
Niklas Kronwall, Red Wings – The retirement of Nicklas Lidstrom has boosted Kronwall's power-play ice time. Kronwall has played 444:45 on the power play in the two seasons following Lidstrom's retirement, the most of anyone on the Red Wings, and produced 41 power-play points.

Dan Boyle, New York Rangers The Rangers needed a power-play boost, so they signed the veteran defenseman to a two-year contract. With 281 of his 561 career points (50.1 percent) coming with his team up a man, Boyle is a pure power-play player.

PLUS/MINUS

Johnny Boychuk, Bruins – Seven other players, including teammate Zdeno Chara (plus-72), have a better plus/minus (plus-63) than Boychuk in the past three seasons.

Hampus Lindholm, Ducks – The 20-year-old finished 12th in the League in plus/minus at plus-29, and he was plus-44 in Anaheim victories). Lindholm played the second-most even-strength minutes (1,320:48) of all Ducks players last season.

Jaden Schwartz, Blues – After a rookie season that saw him finish minus-4, Schwartz followed with a plus-28 rating in his sophomore season. He also saw his average ice time rise from 12:28 to 17:31, and with more responsibility came better results.

Ondrej Palat
Left Wing - TBL
GOALS: 23 | ASST: 36 | PTS: 59
SOG: 165 | +/-: 32
Ondrej Palat, Lightning – The Calder Trophy finalist finished strong; he was plus-24 after Jan. 1, tied for the second-best in the NHL. Palat started 53.8 percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, showing he can play a solid two-way game.

Pascal Dupuis, Penguins – The 35-year-old forward is coming off a knee injury that caused him to miss the final four months of last season, but he's one year removed from leading the NHL with a plus-31 rating. A return to the Penguins' top line should help him add to his plus-81 career rating with Pittsburgh.

SHOTS ON GOAL

Phil Kessel, Toronto Maple Leafs: Only Alex Ovechkin has more shots on goal in the past three seasons than Kessel's 761. Since Kessel entered the League in 2006-07, his 1,998 shots on goal are the seventh-most in that time span.

Jeff Carter
Center - LAK
GOALS: 27 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 50
SOG: 256 | +/-: 8
Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets: The talented left wing has 1,088 shots, an average of 3.36 per game, in his five-year career. Already with three seasons with more than 200 shots on goal, including 250 in only 63 games last season, Kane is a lock for 200-plus shots this season.

Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings: Carter led the Stanley Cup champions with 256 shots on goal last season and added another 73 in the Kings' run to the Cup. He's had more than 300 shots on goal in three seasons and his 1,569 are the fourth-most since 2008-09.

Nick Bjugstad, Florida Panthers: The 6-foot-6 center finished with the second-most shots on goal by a rookie last season with 185 and has 202 career shots on goal in only 87 games. With an increased role, Bjustad will easily hit 200-plus shots on goal this season.

Alexander Edler, Vancouver Canucks: Even in a down offensive year for Edler he finished with 178 shots on goal in 68 games, which was 13th-most by a defenseman. In the past five seasons his 801 shots on goal is ninth-best at his position.

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