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Fantasy top 100 forwards: Emerging trios by the slice

by Pete Jensen / NHL.com

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

It's tough to order pizza by the pie in fantasy hockey. Grabbing a slice is much more realistic.

Because of frequent changes to forward combinations and injuries over the course of the regular season, it's always tough to land an under-the-radar point pair, let alone all three pieces of an emerging line. But, in many cases, one slice of the pie can be satisfying.

Three examples have come into fruition over the first two weeks of this season. Each of these trios was either underrated or unlikely entering the season, but has meshed so well that each component has turned into a commodity. The quicker you land a piece of one of these trios, either via trade or the waiver wire, the quicker your team can reap the benefits.

FANTASY HOCKEY ANALYSIS

The 2014-15 NHL season is underway, so NHL.com has you covered with weekly fantasy hockey positional rankings, real-time spin updates and waiver wire advice.

Ryan Johansen (93 percent owned), Nick Foligno (30) and Cam Atkinson (26)

The best point pair in the NHL this season is … Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry? Nope. Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz? Wrong again. Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin? You'll never guess … it's Johansen and Foligno (six team goals where each has recorded a point), and the Johansen-Atkinson pair is right behind them (four team goals). Considering Johansen missed all of training camp because of a contract dispute and his frequent linemates Nathan Horton and Boone Jenner are out with injuries, it's remarkable that Johansen has shaken off the rust so quickly and that Foligno and Atkinson have filled in the gaps. Foligno has points in each of his first five games and touches on penalty minutes, shots on goal and hits. Atkinson put up 216 shots on goal last season and has clear 30-goal potential. Each is seeing upwards of three minutes per game for the Columbus Blue Jackets on the power play. If you're in a deep league, don't miss out on Foligno and/or Atkinson.

Jeff Carter (94), Tyler Toffoli (53), Tanner Pearson (50)

This line has taken on a life of its own, and I'm not talking about the nickname. The Los Angeles Kings have scored 14 goals in six games this season, and the components of "That '70s Line" have totaled 11. Carter, Toffoli and Pearson formed a line that carried the Kings for much of their Stanley Cup run last spring, and the trio has yet to be on the ice for a single goal against this regular season. Each member of the line is at least a point-per-game player this season, with Pearson and Toffoli leading the way with seven apiece. Carter and Toffoli, meanwhile, are tied for the NHL lead in rating (each is plus-9). The duo of Carter and Toffoli has at least a point on five team goals (T-2nd in NHL), while the Carter-Pearson tandem has combined for four (T-7th). You get the drift. Each slice should be owned in all formats.

Loui Eriksson (71), Carl Soderberg (24), Chris Kelly (4)

This is technically the Boston Bruins' third line, but it's producing like a top line early on. Soderberg and Kelly are tied for the team lead with five points apiece, and each of the three-point pairs on this line (Eriksson-Kelly, Eriksson-Soderberg, Kelly-Soderberg) has had a hand on three team goals. Eriksson entered the season as a potential top-line wing replacement for Jarome Iginla, but he has picked up where he left off from last season alongside Soderberg, a fellow Swede. It's rare to find points-rating specialists on the waiver wire, so look no further than Soderberg or Kelly if you need a lift in those categories.


TRENDING UP

Mike Cammalleri (C/LW, New Jersey Devils)

Mike Cammalleri
STATS PRIOR TO OCT. 21 GAMES
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 2 | PTS: 7
SOG: 25 | +/-: 3
Cammalleri has been as advertised for the Devils, who finished among the League's bottom five in goals per game last season. New Jersey landed the two-time 30-goal scorer in free agency and he has kicked off the season with a five-game point streak and five goals (T-2nd in NHL) in as many games alongside mostly Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr. He's seeing three-plus minutes per game on the power play and already has two goals with the man advantage. To top things off, he has 25 shots on goal (7th) and has a career average of nearly three SOG per game. The dual-eligible forward climbed 30 spots in my forward rankings this week and is cashing in for owners who took a flyer on him after the 15th round of their drafts. Pencil him in for 30-plus goals, 20-plus power-play points and 250-plus shots if he plays 75-plus games.

TRENDING DOWN

Matt Moulson (LW, Buffalo Sabres)

Matt Moulson
STATS PRIOR TO OCT. 21 GAMES
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 13 | +/-: -4
Moulson (1 assist, minus-4 in six games this season) was a 30-goal fixture with the New York Islanders next to John Tavares, but those days are over. His fall from fantasy relevance is partially due to his team's offensive woes, but also because he doesn't touch on peripheral categories (penalty minutes, rating or hits). When he's not lighting the lamp, he simply doesn't carry much value. He's playing alongside decent offensive players in Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford and is among the League's top 25 in total power-play time on ice this season (22:57 through six games), but has yet to record a point in those situations. The more fantasy owners see names of left wings like Tanner Pearson, Mikkel Boedker, Nick Foligno and even PIMs-points specialist Antoine Roussel on the waiver wire, the more they are faced with the decision of cutting ties with the struggling Moulson. The Sabres offense has started the season with an even worse goals-per-game average than last season, so fantasy owners shouldn't have as much patience as they did with Moulson during his contract year in 2013-14.

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KEEP AN EYE ON

Matt Beleskey (LW, Anaheim Ducks)

It remains to be seen if Beleskey can stick with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry on a long-term basis, but the Ducks have stormed out of the gate with five wins in six games and Beleskey has scored a goal in four of those victories. He's at least a short-term stopgap for fantasy owners while he plays with as good of a point pair as there is in the League. The 26-year-old has never scored more than 11 goals in a single season, but could continue to capitalize on his opportunity while Patrick Maroon (knee) is sidelined for much of the next month. If you're in a deep league, take advantage of Beleskey's low Yahoo ownership (8 percent). There's a legitimate chance he'll earn minutes in a top-six role with Anaheim over the course of the season, and you never know what his upside could be if he's on that top line for the long haul.


TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS

These rankings are based on expectations for the season ahead. 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 Sidney Crosby, C (SAME) 51 Blake Wheeler, RW (-1)
2 Steven Stamkos, C (SAME) 52 Mike Cammalleri, LW/C (+30)
3 Corey Perry, RW (SAME) 53 Jaromir Jagr, RW (+1)
4 John Tavares, C (SAME) 54 Brandon Saad, LW/RW (+1)
5 Evgeni Malkin, C/RW (SAME) 55 Jonathan Drouin, LW (NR - INJ.)
6 Ryan Getzlaf, C (SAME) 56 Ryan O'Reilly, LW/C (+2)
7 Claude Giroux, C/RW (SAME) 57 Tyler Toffoli, RW (+28)
8 Alex Ovechkin, RW (SAME) 58 James Neal, LW/RW (+1)
9 Jamie Benn, LW (+1) 59 Alexander Steen, LW/C (+2)
10 Tyler Seguin, C/RW (+4) 60 Jaden Schwartz, LW (+8)
11 Patrick Kane, C/RW (-2) 61 Pascal Dupuis, LW/RW (-8)
12 Jonathan Toews, C (SAME) 62 Jordan Eberle, RW (-2)
13 Anze Kopitar, C (-2) 63 Alex Galchenyuk, LW/C (+23)
14 Phil Kessel, RW (-1) 64 Brayden Schenn, LW/C (+16)
15 Joe Pavelski, LW/C (+1) 65 Radim Vrbata, RW (+2)
16 Chris Kunitz, LW (+1) 66 Thomas Vanek, LW/RW (-9)
17 Patrick Sharp, LW/C (+1) 67 Bobby Ryan, LW/RW (-5)
18 Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW (-3) 68 Mikael Granlund, C (-4)
19 Zach Parise, LW (SAME) 69 Kyle Turris, C (+1)
20 Nicklas Backstrom, C (+2) 70 Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (+3)
21 Patrice Bergeron, C (SAME) 71 Jason Pominville, RW (-5)
22 Patric Hornqvist, RW (+8) 72 Ondrej Palat, LW (-1)
23 Taylor Hall, LW/C (-3) 73 Brock Nelson, C (+1)
24 Ryan Johansen, C/RW (+3) 74 Bryan Little, C/RW (-5)
25 Wayne Simmonds, RW (+1) 75 Tomas Hertl, LW (SAME)
26 Rick Nash, LW/RW (+6) 76 David Perron, LW/RW (-13)
27 Daniel Sedin, LW (+1) 77 T.J. Oshie, C/RW (-12)
28 Joe Thornton, C (+1) 78 Valtteri Filppula, LW/C (+1)
29 David Backes, C/RW (-4) 79 Mikkel Boedker, LW (+16)
30 Matt Duchene, LW/C (-7) 80 Filip Forsberg, C/RW (+18)
31 Logan Couture, LW/C (-7) 81 Chris Kreider, LW (-3)
32 Henrik Zetterberg, LW/C (+1) 82 Tanner Pearson, LW (NEW)
33 Pavel Datsyuk, LW/C (NR - INJ.) 83 Scott Hartnell, LW (SAME)
34 Henrik Sedin, C (+1) 84 Ryan Callahan, RW (+9)
35 Ryan Kesler, C/RW (-4) 85 Mikko Koivu, C (-13)
36 Patrick Marleau, LW/C (+2) 86 Nazem Kadri, C (-10)
37 Jason Spezza, C (+3) 87 Carl Soderberg, LW/C (+4)
38 Kyle Okposo, RW (+4) 88 Tomas Plekanec, C (+1)
39 Max Pacioretty, LW (-2) 89 Mark Scheifele, C (-8)
40 Jakub Voracek, RW (+6) 90 Shane Doan, LW/RW (+10)
41 Martin St. Louis, RW (+2) 91 Jeff Skinner, LW/RW (NR - INJ.)
42 Jeff Carter, C/RW (+2) 92 Andrew Ladd, LW (-15)
43 Marian Hossa, RW (-9) 93 Nick Foligno, LW (NEW)
44 Gabriel Landeskog, LW (-8) 94 Brendan Gallagher, RW (NEW)
45 David Krejci, C (+2) 95 Tyler Bozak, C (+4)
46 Jarome Iginla, RW (-1) 96 Brad Marchand, LW (-12)
47 Milan Lucic, LW (-6) 97 Joffrey Lupul, LW/RW (-10)
48 Loui Eriksson, LW/RW (+4) 98 Reilly Smith, RW (-4)
49 James van Riemsdyk, LW (-1) 99 Cam Atkinson, RW (NEW)
50 Gustav Nyquist, C/RW (+6) 100 Patrik Elias, LW/C (-8)

Just Missed: Clarke MacArthur, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Andre Burakovsky, Craig Smith, Matt Moulson, Alexander Semin, Antoine Roussel, Andrew Shaw, Troy Brouwer, Jori Lehtera

Dropped out: Nugent-Hopkins, Moulson, Semin

Key injuries: Marian Gaborik, Evander Kane, Eric Staal, Paul Stastny, Brandon Dubinsky, Derek Stepan, Valeri Nichushkin, Nathan Horton

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