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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Buy-low trade targets

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen provides in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top-100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen is your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.


We've reached the one-quarter mark of the 2015-16 NHL season, and plenty of big names have fallen short of expectations from a fantasy standpoint. But, thankfully, there's still a ton of time for those players to turn things around, presenting opportunities for buy-low trades to capitalize on impatient fantasy owners in your league.

Two seasons ago, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers became the prime example of why you shouldn't give up on an underperforming player in November. Giroux had no goals and seven assists in his first 15 games that season but ended up with 28 goals and 86 points (third in NHL) in 82 games. Patience paid off for some, but many who drafted him cut the cord way too early and ended up kicking themselves in hindsight.

New York Rangers right wing Rick Nash, who had many fantasy owners frustrated by his lack of production through October, has responded with four multipoint performances in his past nine games playing alongside Mats Zuccarello and Derick Brassard. This is further proof that if a slumping player with a strong shots on goal volume has reliable linemates and keeps plugging away, the results will come eventually.

With those examples in mind, here are five forwards currently ranked outside Yahoo's top 300 (based on performance) who are worth targeting in buy-low trade situations:

Sidney Crosby, C, Pittsburgh Penguins

Average draft position: 2.2

Current Yahoo rank: 345

Those of you who are in ultra-competitive leagues may laugh at the thought of anyone trading Crosby, the active leader in points per game (1.34) by a wide margin. But, truth be told, I have received a number of questions in recent days and weeks with trade proposals involving Crosby. Last season, Crosby had 11 goals heading into a Jan. 10 game at the Montreal Canadiens; he finished with 28 goals and 84 points. Write off Crosby with three quarters of the season remaining at your own risk, because the chances of him finishing among the top 10 NHL scorers are extremely high. His current linemates are a bit concerning, but Patric Hornqvist has four goals on 56 SOG (7.1 percent), so his luck should even out if he's with Crosby for the long haul. Sid is currently on pace for 44 points if he plays 82 games, but he's never had fewer than 72 points in any of his NHL seasons of at least 50 games played. Barring injury, I see him finding a way to reach at least 70 again.

Ryan Getzlaf, C, Anaheim Ducks

Average draft position: 22.5

Current Yahoo rank: 384

Regardless of whether you own Corey Perry, now is the prime time to pursue Getzlaf in fantasy. The 30-year-old center's season totals look poor based on his standards because he started with no goals and one assist in his first eight games prior to missing time because of appendicitis, but he has responded with eight points, including three multipoint performances, in nine games since returning. He has 70-plus points in each of the past two seasons and is better than a point per game from 2012-13 to 2014-15. He's far from a high-volume shooter, but he's scored one goal on 41 SOG so far. Getzlaf will not finish the season converting anywhere near the depths of his current shooting percentage (2.4). Regression to the mean is coming, which is good news for the Ducks, who are four points out of third place in the Pacific Division.

Marian Hossa, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

Average draft position: 95.7

Current Yahoo rank: 329

Marian Hossa
Marian Hossa
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 6 | PTS: 9
SOG: 51 | +/-: -1
Hossa, 36, may be a year older, but keep in mind he finished 41st and 33rd in Yahoo's year-end rankings for 2013-14 and 2014-15, respectively. He's off to a slow start with nine points in 18 games, but he also was quiet out of the gate last season before his shooting percentage corrected itself. Hossa has at least point in four of his past five games and will either see time with Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane all season long. He has three goals on 51 SOG (5.9 percent), but he's had 240-plus SOG in each of his past three full seasons. He plays more than two minutes per game with the man-advantage (four power-play points) and should be targeted if you need help at right wing. Throw a fast-starting, dual-eligible asset at your opponent as part of a package deal and reap the benefits over time.

Evander Kane, LW, Buffalo Sabres

Average draft position: 102.4

Current Yahoo rank: 564

Kane does not have an appealing track record when it comes to injuries and power-play production (34 PPP in 372 career games), but he does touch on a rare combination of categories: points, SOG, hits and penalty minutes. He is attainable in most leagues because his season totals are one goal and two assists in 11 games, but he is averaging nearly 3.5 SOG per game (38) and is covering peripheral categories well. Two of his points have come on the power play, and he'll either be playing with rookie standout Jack Eichel or on the other line with Ryan O'Reilly and Tyler Ennis. Either presents an opportunity for him to thrive for the Sabres, one of the most improved teams in the League.

Sean Monahan, C, Calgary Flames

Average draft position: 104.3

Current Yahoo rank: 348

Sean Monahan
Sean Monahan
Center - CGY
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 8 | PTS: 15
SOG: 44 | +/-: -6
Monahan is coming off a 31-goal season, and many believed he was capable of more in 2015-16. The Flames have the worst goal differential in the NHL entering Monday (-24), and Monahan's plus/minus rating has been disappointing (minus-6). He has 15 points in 21 games but just two on the power play; I expect the latter stat to change for the better with him seeing 2:50 per game with the man-advantage. The Flames' struggles are hurting his perceived value right now, but he still averages more than two SOG per game (44 SOG) and has a heavy faceoff workload if your league counts that category. If Monahan sustains his shooting percentage (15.9), which is realistic based on his career rate through 177 games (16.0), he could easily finish among the top 75 fantasy players.


TRENDING UP

Bobby Ryan, LW/RW, Ottawa Senators

Bobby Ryan
Bobby Ryan
Right Wing - OTT
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 19
SOG: 50 | +/-: 4
The closest Ryan has come to a point-per-game figure in a full season was when he had 71 points in 82 games in 2010-11, but that was many moons ago. His point totals dropped off significantly in the next three full seasons, with 57 in 2011-12 (82 games), 48 in 2013-14 (70 games), and 54 in 2014-15 (78 games). This season has been a rebirth for Ryan, who is seeing a ton of power-play time (3:19 per game) and has 19 points in 20 games with 2.5 SOG per game (50), four PPP and a plus-4 rating. Ryan is riding an eight-game point streak and has points in 12 of his past 13 games. After playing most of his even-strength minutes alongside Mika Zibanejad earlier in the season, he's been up top with Kyle Turris and Mike Hoffman for the past two games with three assists, a plus-3 rating and two SOG. This development gives Ryan much better linemates, and thus a much better chance to sustain his current scoring rate.

TRENDING DOWN

Jiri Hudler, C/LW/RW, Calgary Flames

It was unreasonable to expect Hudler to replicate his career-best season of 2014-15 (76 points in 78 games), but he was expected to finish among the top 100 fantasy players (Yahoo average draft position: 88.6). Instead, Hudler has gone from a top-10 scorer to a borderline-relevant fantasy asset. He has four goals on 35 SOG with a minus-7 and three PPP. His shooting percentage has dipped from 19.6 percent last season to 11.4 in 20 games this season, and he does not have the shot volume to suggest he can return to his previous form. This tri-eligible forward, who was sidelined Nov. 20 because of illness, should remain on your roster for another month or so in the hope that he and the Flames can salvage their season, but don't hesitate to drop Hudler in shallow formats.

KEEP AN EYE ON

Jannik Hansen, RW, Vancouver Canucks

Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin again rank among the League's best point pairs, with 15 team goals when each has a point; that's third in the League behind Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars (22) and Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin of the Blackhawks (16). As we've seen in recent weeks with third wheels being along for the ride (i.e. Leon Draisaitl, Brock Nelson, Rickard Rakell, Melker Karlsson), Hansen has seen a splash since joining the Sedin twins on Vancouver's top line. He's been a boom-or-bust player, but he had multipoint games Nov. 10 (four) and Nov. 21 (two), and has 16 SOG in his past seven games. Consistency is the key for Hansen if he hopes to stick in a first-line role, but he's worth a flier at 11 percent owned in deep leagues.

WORTH NOTING

Paul Stastny
Paul Stastny
Center - STL
GOALS: 1 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 5
SOG: 11 | +/-: 4
-- The St. Louis Blues activated center Paul Stastny (32 percent owned) from injured reserve Monday. Stastny, who has not played since Oct. 16 because of a broken foot, played 19:37 in his return with no points and one SOG, but did return to his previous spot alongside Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexander Steen.

-- Giroux and Jakub Voracek played on different lines at even strength Monday, but combined on two power-play points in the Flyers' 3-2 overtime victory against the Carolina Hurricanes. Each has showed signs of turning the corner of late and should be targeted if you can still obtain them in a buy-low spot.

-- Brendan Gallagher had surgery Monday to repair two fractured fingers on his left hand and is expected to miss six weeks. Gallagher was a top-25 fantasy forward alongside Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec prior to his injury, so look out for his replacement (potentially Alex Galchenyuk, David Desharnais or Sven Andrighetto) in the coming games.

-- Yahoo's fantasy MVPs page indicates which players appear most often on the top 500 public-league teams and is worth a glance at the quarter mark of the season. The forwards who appear most on top teams in rotisserie leagues are Kane (20 percent) and Daniel Sedin (18.2). Other forwards appearing on 15 percent or more of the top rosters include Jeff Carter (17), Patrick Sharp (17), Plekanec (15.8) and Seguin (15.2).

POSITION ELIGIBILITY UPDATE

In Yahoo's Nov. 18 roster update, the following players gained added position eligibility: Draisaitl (+RW), Ennis (+RW), Sharp (+RW), Sam Bennett (+LW), Boone Jenner (+RW), Joe Pavelski (+RW), Eric Staal (+LW), Dylan Larkin (+LW) and Leo Komarov (+LW).


TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS

These rankings are based on expectations for this 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 (SAME) 51 Anze Kopitar, C, LAK (+1)
2 Tyler Seguin, C/RW, DAL (SAME) 52 Ryan O'Reilly, C/LW/RW, BUF (-3)
3 Alex Ovechkin, LW/RW, WSH (SAME) 53 David Backes, C/RW, STL (-3)
4 Jamie Benn, LW, DAL (SAME) 54 Dylan Larkin, C/LW, DET (+4)
5 Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL (+1) 55 Henrik Sedin, C, VAN (+9)
6 Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL (-1) 56 Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL (-2)
7 John Tavares, C, NYI (SAME) 57 Matt Duchene, C/LW, COL (+12)
8 Joe Pavelski, C/LW/RW, SJS (SAME) 58 Joe Thornton, C, SJS (-5)
9 Taylor Hall, C/LW, EDM (SAME) 59 Sean Monahan, C, CGY (+2)
10 Claude Giroux, C/RW, PHI (SAME) 60 Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI (+6)
11 Steven Stamkos, C, TBL (SAME) 61 Bobby Ryan, LW/RW, OTT (+15)
12 Evgeni Malkin, C/RW, PIT (+1) 62 Bryan Little, C/RW, WPG (-5)
13 Sidney Crosby, C, PIT (-1) 63 Gustav Nyquist, C/LW/RW, DET (-4)
14 Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, COL (SAME) 64 Wayne Simmonds, LW/RW, PHI (-4)
15 Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH (SAME) 65 Kyle Palmieri, LW/RW, NJD (+13)
16 Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS (+3) 66 Tomas Tatar, LW/RW, DET (+4)
17 Phil Kessel, RW, PIT (SAME) 67 Milan Lucic, LW, LAK (+1)
18 Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN (+3) 68 Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM (+17)
19 Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET (-1) 69 Eric Staal, C/LW, CAR (-6)
20 Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG (-4) 70 Scott Hartnell, LW, CBJ (+1)
21 David Krejci, C, BOS (+1) 71 Brad Marchand, LW, BOS (+13)
22 Ryan Johansen, C/RW, CBJ (+2) 72 Jack Eichel, C, BUF (-5)
23 Alexander Steen, C/LW, STL (-3) 73 Mike Hoffman, C/LW, OTT (SAME)
24 Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (-1) 74 Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (-9)
25 Jeff Carter, C/RW, LAK (+2) 75 Loui Eriksson, LW/RW, BOS (+13)
26 Patrick Sharp, C/LW/RW, DAL (+2) 76 Mark Stone, RW, OTT (-14)
27 Kyle Turris, C, OTT (+2) 77 Jarome Iginla, RW, COL (-5)
28 Rick Nash, LW/RW, NYR (+8) 78 Martin Hanzal, C, ARI (+1)
29 Corey Perry, RW, ANA (-4) 79 Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA (+2)
30 Tomas Plekanec, C, MTL (SAME) 80 Derick Brassard, C, NYR (SAME)
31 Evgeny Kuznetsov, C/LW, WSH (+4) 81 Radim Vrbata, RW, VAN (-6)
32 Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA (SAME) 82 Derek Stepan, C, NYR (+1)
33 Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI (+1) 83 Evander Kane, LW, BUF (NR - INJ.)
34 Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY (+3) 84 Boone Jenner, C/RW, CBJ (+12)
35 Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CBJ (+12) 85 Nick Bjugstad, C, FLA (-3)
36 Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI (+5) 86 Kevin Hayes, RW, NYR (SAME)
37 Jason Spezza, C, DAL (+3) 87 Artem Anisimov, C/LW, CHI (+12)
38 Filip Forsberg, C/LW/RW, NSH (-7) 88 Mark Scheifele, C, WPG (+1)
39 Jaromir Jagr, RW, FLA (+4) 89 Patrick Marleau, C/LW, SJS (+5)
40 Tyler Johnson, C, TBL (DTD) 90 Justin Abdelkader, LW/RW, DET (SAME)
41 Tyler Toffoli, C/LW/RW, LAK (+8) 91 Jordan Eberle, RW, EDM (SAME)
42 James Neal, LW/RW, NSH (SAME) 92 Adam Henrique, C/LW, NJD (-5)
43 Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL (+2) 93 Mikko Koivu, C, MIN (SAME)
44 T.J. Oshie, C/RW, WSH (-6) 94 Brock Nelson, C, NYI (+1)
45 Andrew Ladd, LW, WPG (-6) 95 Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT (-3)
46 Pavel Datsyuk, C/LW, DET (+1) 96 Jiri Hudler, C/LW/RW, CGY (DTD)
47 Mats Zuccarello, LW/RW, NYR (+8) 97 Jonathan Huberdeau, C/LW, FLA (+1)
48 Max Domi, C/LW, ARI (-4) 98 Paul Stastny, C, STL (NR - INJ.)
49 Marian Hossa, RW, CHI (+2) 99 David Desharnais, C, MTL (NEW)
50 Mike Cammalleri, C/LW, NJD (+6) 100 Anthony Duclair, LW/RW, ARI (NEW)

Just missed: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C, EDM), Thomas Vanek (LW/RW, MIN), Lee Stempniak (LW/RW, NJD, Nikolaj Ehlers (LW/RW, WPG), Troy Brouwer (RW, STL), Nick Foligno (C/LW, CBJ), Dale Weise (RW, MTL), Frans Nielsen (C, NYI), Justin Williams (RW, WSH), Tomas Fleischmann (LW, MTL), Cam Atkinson (RW, CBJ), Joel Ward (RW, SJS), Mikael Granlund (C, MIN), Travis Zajac (C, NJD), Cody McLeod (LW/RW, COL)

Dropped out: Nugent-Hopkins, Ehlers, Jason Zucker

Key injuries: Zach Parise (LW, MIN), Connor McDavid (C, EDM), Brendan Gallagher (RW, MTL), Logan Couture (C/LW, SJS), Ondrej Palat (LW, TBL), Jaden Schwartz (LW, STL), Brandon Dubinsky (C/LW, CBJ), Jonathan Drouin (LW, TBL)

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