Let's get right to it. Here are the five hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now.
1. Brandon Dubinsky expectations
Brandon Dubinsky returned to the Columbus Blue Jackets lineup on Tuesday and finished the game with a power-play assist in 19:09 of ice time. He played 19:31 on Thursday and was a plus-1 with two penalty minutes. Fantasy owners everywhere are wondering what to expect from the 28-year-old power forward. Dubinsky, known for his gritty, get-in-your-face, hard-working style of play, is one of the few players capable of contributing in all fantasy categories.
Center - CBJ
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 1 | PTS: 1
SOG: 3 | +/-: 0
Last season Dubinsky had 50 points and 98 penalty minutes, and only Wayne Simmonds
, David Backes
and Scott Hartnell
had more points among players with at least 95 PIMs. He finished the season as the 81st best fantasy player. Why he's only owned in 63 percent of leagues right now points to the fact people forgot about him because of his lengthy absence. It's time to wake up. Dubinsky is capable of being a difference-maker in any league, and while it may take him some time to get reacquainted, his versatility makes him worth starting on a regular basis.
2. Does Matt Beleskey really have 14 goals?
Yes. And considering his career high in the category was 11, set back in the 2009-10 season with the Anaheim Ducks, this is a surprise to all of us. What most people on Twitter are asking is whether Beleskey can continue to score at this rate. And to that, I have to say no. While adding him for the short term isn't the worst option out there, at some point he will regress. Beleskey has an absurdly high 18.4 shooting percentage that isn't sustainable (career mark is 9.7 percent). And let's not forget he has two assists this season and doesn't see a ton of power-play time, so he won't help much in those categories.
The good thing about Beleskey is he has value in other categories (plus/minus, penalty minutes, shots on goal) and is currently skating on a line with Ryan Kesler and Kyle Palmieri. However, I still stand on the side that says sell-high on Beleskey.
3. Speaking of shooting percentage ...
High shooting percentages usually points to regression in goals. So here's a look at some forwards who will likely see their goal-scoring numbers start to fade as the season progresses:
|Shooting percentage leaders
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings -- 12 G, 47 SOG, 25.5 shooting percentage
His career average is 14.6 percent. Datsyuk is playing fantastic hockey right now, but he's not going to continue to score at this rate.
Mike Ribeiro, Nashville Predators -- 8 G, 32 SOG, 25.0 shooting percentage
His career average is 15.0 percent. Ribeiro should continue to rack up assists with James Neal and Filip Forsberg on his wings, but the goals should cool off.
Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets -- 13 G, 56 SOG, 23.2 shooting percentage
His career average is 12.1 percent and there's simply no way he keeps at this scoring rate. Foligno's 18 goals last season were a career high and he had a high shooting percentage of 16.2 that season. Can you say sell-high?
Jiri Tlusty, Carolina Hurricanes -- 10 G, 47 SOG, 21.3 shooting percentage
His career average is 14.0 percent. Tlusty's sole fantasy value this season has come in the form of goals, but based on history, it won't remain that way.
Jiri Hudler, Calgary Flames -- 11 G, 53 SOG, 20.8 shooting percentage
Like Datsyuk and Ribeiro, that's well above his career mark of 14.7 percent. Hudler only has one 25-goal season under his belt in 2011-12 and shouldn't be relied on in fantasy for his goal-scoring prowess going forward.
4. And on the flip side ...
Abnormally low shooting percentages usually points to an increase in goal scoring. Here's a look at some forwards who should see their luck turn in the goal-scoring category as the season progresses:
Sam Gagner, Arizona Coyotes -- 3 G, 66 SOG, 4.5 shooting percentage
His career average is 9.7 percent. The four-time 15-plus goal-scoring forward should see better luck with time.
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings -- 5 G, 91 SOG, 5.5 shooting percentage
Right Wing - CHI
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 20
SOG: 90 | +/-: 3
His career average is 10.4. Zetterberg loves to put the puck on net and at some point, his fortune will turn around.
Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks -- 5 G, 90 SOG, 5.6 shooting percent
His career average is 12.6 and it's only a matter of time before his goal totals start to increase.
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins -- 5 G, 83 SOG, 6.0 shooting percentage
His career mark is 10.0. The five-time 20-plus goal scorer should see his percentage increase and finish with 20-plus for a sixth time in his career.
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders -- 6 G, 89 SOG, 6.7 shooting percentage
His career average is 10.1 percent, and in two of his past three seasons he exceeded the 13.0 mark. Look for him to start scoring more frequently soon enough.
5. My personal fantasy leagues
Many Twitter followers like to ask me how I'm doing in my fantasy leagues (probably because they want to know if I back up my fantasy advice). Let me give you a taste.
This season I took a step back and am "only" playing in four leagues. One is a head-to-head, keeper league with 16 work colleagues and I am currently in third place. My second league is a rotisserie format, non-keeper, auction league with 10 work colleagues and I am currently in second place. My third league is a standard 12-team rotisserie league that I am in first place in. And finally, in the 16-team NHL.com Fans vs. Experts head-to-head league, I am in sixth place.
So there you go.