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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Don't sleep on Panthers

by Pete Jensen

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

UPDATED TOP 100 FORWARD RANKINGS

You can't always judge a book by its cover in fantasy hockey.

No one is mistaking the 2014-15 Florida Panthers for an offensive juggernaut. Their 2.36 goals-per-game average ranks 25th out of 30 teams and they haven't had much of a presence in these top 100 fantasy forward rankings.

But that's not to say their forward group won't be fantasy relevant down the stretch. The Panthers happen to have two under-the-radar forwards who can aid your fantasy squad in the goal-scoring department.

Nick Bjugstad, 22, and Jimmy Hayes, 25, have quietly kept the Panthers in the running for the final Stanley Cup Playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with consistent goal scoring based on their time on ice. Neither of these young forwards sees a ton of minutes per game, but that hasn't stopped them from making a fantasy impact by committee for a team that lacks a top-flight point producer.

Each has a 1.30 or better goals per 60 minutes average with at least 600:00 of total ice time, ranking among the League's top 35 according to sportingcharts.com. Only seven other teams League-wide have two such players: the Anaheim Ducks (Corey Perry, Matt Beleskey), St. Louis Blues (Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz), Detroit Red Wings (Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist), Minnesota Wild (Jason Zucker, Zach Parise), Los Angeles Kings (Tyler Toffoli, Marian Gaborik), New York Islanders (Anders Lee, John Tavares) and Tampa Bay Lightning (Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov).

Nick Bjugstad
STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 17 GAMES
GOALS: 20 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 35
SOG: 163 | +/-: -3
Bjugstad (C, 33 percent owned in Yahoo leagues) and Hayes (RW, five percent) are linemates at even strength and see time together on the Panthers' first power-play unit. Each contributes with the man-advantage, a key ingredient to a successful fantasy waiver wire pickup for the stretch run. Bjugstad has four goals over his past six games, specializes in shots on goal (3.0 per game) and deserves ownership in most formats.

Hayes is more of a commodity in deep leagues that count hits. He had a stretch of points in four of five games earlier this month, and has touched on peripheral categories (four penalty minutes, six SOG, three hits) over his recent two-game pointless drought.

The Panthers have 27 games remaining; many other teams have 26 to as little as 23. Florida trails the Boston Bruins by four points with one game in hand entering Tuesday. Despite the perception that the East playoff qualifiers have been determined, the Panthers continue to prove they're not going away anytime soon.


Jeff Carter
STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 17 GAMES
GOALS: 16 | ASST: 27 | PTS: 43
SOG: 147 | +/-: 6
TRENDING UP

Jeff Carter, C/RW, Los Angeles Kings

The defending champions are heating up again down the stretch with their eye on a playoff spot, and Carter and his linemate, Toffoli, are shouldering much of the load. Carter scored a third-period goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday, and he and Toffoli have combined for seven goals and seven assists over their past five games. Fantasy owners of this duo had their patience tested over the course of the season, but this is proof that good things often come to those who wait.

TRENDING DOWN

David Krejci, C, Boston Bruins

Patrice Bergeron is chipping in shorthanded points of late and has benefited from a shooting percentage correction, but Krejci is still stuck in his offensive rut. He scored a goal last Tuesday but has turned in a minus rating in three of his past four games. He has gone without a shot in eight of 18 games since the turn of the calendar year and is striking fear into his fantasy owners who hoped his production would improve once the Bruins got back to full strength. Fantasy owners of Krejci and Milan Lucic have no choice but to hope the Bruins make a move to acquire right-wing help before the 2015 NHL Trade Deadline.

Mark Stone
STATS PRIOR TO FEB. 17 GAMES
GOALS: 13 | ASST: 20 | PTS: 33
SOG: 85 | +/-: 5
KEEP AN EYE ON

Mark Stone, RW, Ottawa Senators

Since the Senators replaced Paul MacLean with Dave Cameron behind the bench on Dec. 8, Stone has 22 points in 28 games. Stone, 22, has played mostly alongside Kyle Turris over that stretch with a goal and three assists (one power-play assist) over his past four games. Even with Ottawa falling out of the postseason race, Stone (seven percent owned) is available in the vast majority of leagues and can give your team a lift in points and chip in SOG and power-play points. Those in hits leagues should note that Stone has picked up his physical play with 18 of his 34 hits coming in his past 10 games.


TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS

These rankings are based on expectations for the season ahead. Upward and downward trends are based on games since Feb. 10, 2015. Value is quantified by line combinations, overall upside and past performance in standard Yahoo categories (goals, assists, plus-minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal).

1 Alex Ovechkin, LW/RW, WSH (SAME) 51 Jeff Carter, C/RW, LAK (+13)
2 Sidney Crosby, C, PIT (+1) 52 Martin St. Louis, C/RW, NYR (SAME)
3 Patrick Kane, C/RW, CHI (+2) 53 Ryan Callahan, RW, TBL (-2)
4 Evgeni Malkin, C/RW, PIT (SAME) 54 Derek Stepan, C, NYR (+3)
5 Rick Nash, LW/RW, NYR (+3) 55 Marian Gaborik, LW/RW, LAK (-5)
6 Steven Stamkos, C/RW, TBL (+1) 56 Jiri Hudler, LW/RW, CGY (+5)
7 Claude Giroux, C/RW, PHI (-1) 57 Henrik Sedin, C, VAN (+1)
8 John Tavares, C, NYI (+3) 58 Derick Brassard, C, NYR (+10)
9 Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL (SAME) 59 Milan Lucic, LW, BOS (-4)
10 Joe Pavelski, LW/C/RW, SJS (+2) 60 Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, COL (+2)
11 Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI (-1) 61 Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL (+6)
12 Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL (+2) 62 Jarome Iginla, RW, COL (+7)
13 Corey Perry, RW, ANA (+2) 63 Colin Wilson, LW/C, NSH (+2)
14 Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH (+3) 64 Patrick Marleau, LW/C, SJS (+2)
15 Tyler Johnson, C/RW, TBL (+1) 65 Scott Hartnell, LW, CBJ (+10)
16 Filip Forsberg, LW/C/RW, NSH (+3) 66 Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY (+5)
17 Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA (-4) 67 Bobby Ryan, LW/RW, OTT (+5)
18 Ryan Johansen, C/RW, CBJ (SAME) 68 Mike Ribeiro, C, NSH (-5)
19 Jamie Benn, LW/C, DAL (+2) 69 Eric Staal, LW/C, CAR (-10)
20 Zach Parise, LW, MIN (SAME) 70 Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL (+3)
21 Jonathan Toews, C, CHI (+1) 71 James van Riemsdyk, LW, TOR (-15)
22 Henrik Zetterberg, LW/C, DET (+1) 72 Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CHI (+4)
23 Alexander Steen, LW/C, STL (+2) 73 Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (+5)
24 Pavel Datsyuk, LW/C, DET (SAME) 74 Matt Duchene, LW/C, COL (+3)
25 David Backes, C/RW, STL (+1) 75 Tyler Toffoli, RW, LAK (+4)
26 Nick Foligno, LW, CBJ - DTD 76 Jason Pominville, RW, MIN (+4)
27 Logan Couture, LW/C, SJS (+1) 77 Tomas Plekanec, C, MTL (+15)
28 Andrew Ladd, LW, WPG (+6) 78 Ryan Strome, C/RW, NYI (+7)
29 Nikita Kucherov, LW/RW, TBL (+2) 79 David Krejci, C, BOS (-9)
30 David Perron, LW/RW, PIT (SAME) 80 Alex Galchenyuk, LW/C, MTL (+2)
31 Jason Spezza, C, DAL (+8) 81 Brandon Dubinsky, LW/C, CBJ (+3)
32 Marian Hossa, RW, CHI (+6) 82 Mats Zuccarello, LW/RW, NYR (+16)
33 Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN (+2) 83 Steve Downie, LW/RW, PIT (-9)
34 Anze Kopitar, C, LAK (-1) 84 Kris Versteeg, LW/RW, CHI (-1)
35 Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT (+1) 85 Sean Monahan, C, CGY (+5)
36 Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG (+12) 86 Mike Fisher, C, NSH (SAME)
37 Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS (+3) 87 Mathieu Perreault, LW/C, WPG - IR
38 Joe Thornton, C, SJS (+3) 88 Nick Bjugstad, C, FLA (NEW)
39 Gustav Nyquist, C/RW, DET (-2) 89 Valtteri Filppula, LW/C, TBL (+7)
40 James Neal, LW/RW, NSH (+3) 90 Blake Comeau, LW/RW, PIT (NR - IR)
41 Patrick Sharp, LW/C, CHI (-9) 91 Brad Marchand, LW, BOS (-4)
42 Tomas Tatar, LW, DET (+3) 92 Paul Stastny, C, STL (-3)
43 Wayne Simmonds, RW, PHI (+4) 93 Jordan Eberle, RW, EDM (+4)
44 Bryan Little, C/RW, WPG (+9) 94 Alex Tanguay, LW/RW, COL (+1)
45 Radim Vrbata, RW, VAN (+4) 95 Thomas Vanek, LW/RW, MIN (NEW)
46 Chris Kunitz, LW, PIT (-2) 96 Anders Lee, LW/C, NYI (NEW)
47 Phil Kessel, RW, TOR (-18) 97 Brock Nelson, C, NYI (-4)
48 Ryan Kesler, C/RW, ANA (-7) 98 Antoine Roussel, LW, DAL (-7)
49 Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL (-3) 99 Mikko Koivu, C, MIN (NEW)
50 T.J. Oshie, C/RW, STL (+4) 100 Mike Hoffman, LW/C, OTT (NEW)

Just Missed: Justin Abdelkader, Brendan Gallagher, Mike Cammalleri, Jori Lehtera, Craig Smith, Matt Beleskey (DTD), Brayden Schenn, Kyle Turris, Carl Soderberg, Mark Scheifele

Dropped out: Abdelkader, Cammalleri, Lehtera, Loui Eriksson

Key injuries: Tyler Seguin, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Taylor Hall, Mikkel Boedker, Johan Franzen, Tanner Pearson, Valeri Nichushkin, Pascal Dupuis

DTD: Day-to-day; NR - IR: Not ranked last week because of injury

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