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Fantasy forwards: McDavid should aid Eberle, Yakupov

Rookie can spike value of Oilers forwards; updated top 100 rankings

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Even though the Edmonton Oilers are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, the sky is the limit for Connor McDavid's fantasy value once he returns to the lineup. 

With McDavid's impact comes the splash effect, and two potential recipients are clear: Jordan Eberle and/or Nail Yakupov.  

McDavid (92 percent owned in Yahoo) remains one of the most prized keeper-league assets in the game, but Eberle (78 percent) and Yakupov (36 percent) are attainable in fantasy either on the waiver wire or via trade. Prior to his Nov. 3 injury, McDavid was most frequently lined up with Yakupov and Benoit Pouliot because Eberle missed the beginning of the season with an injury of his own. 

Eberle returned the game after McDavid was injured, so McDavid and Eberle are expected to be in the lineup together for the first time all season Tuesday when the Oilers face the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rexall Place. Forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, another key component of Edmonton's rebuild, remains sidelined with a hand injury, but the Oilers have 32 games left to play to at least see how Eberle looks alongside McDavid. 

McDavid, the first pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, got off to a hot start with 12 points and 24 shots on goal in his first 13 games before sustaining a fractured clavicle, forcing him to miss nearly three months. He's expected to skate with Eberle and Pouliot in his return. 

Pouliot had seven points alongside McDavid (.538 points per game), but his points per game average for the season (.536) has remained similar despite McDavid's absence. The player who has been much more dependent on McDavid being in the lineup is Yakupov, with 10 points in his first 13 games before earning four in his next 15, with a lengthy injury absence of his own. 

Considering the first line of Taylor Hall, Leon Draisaitl and Teddy Purcell has stuck together through thick and thin, with Hall-Draisaitl being the third-best point pair in the NHL this season (29 team goals with each recording a point), it makes sense for the Oilers to roll out McDavid and Eberle on the same line before weighing their options leading up to the 2016 NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 29. 

Don't wait to swing a fantasy trade for Eberle, who has underwhelming numbers this season (22 points, five on the power play), a minus-11 and 77 SOG in 37 games. If his owner is unwilling to part ways, you still could find Yakupov available in shallow leagues. Any exposure to the unknown factor of McDavid's return can pay major fantasy dividends if the rookie picks up where he left off down the stretch. 

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TRENDING UP 

Bobby Ryan, LW/RW, Ottawa Senators 

Kyle Turris (lower body) is banged up and the Senators are inconsistent offensively, but Ryan has kept them in the Eastern Conference wild card picture with goals in five of his past six games to go along with two assists, two power-play points and 14 SOG in that span. Ryan has been playing alongside Mika Zibanejad of late, and Zibanejad cracks the top 100 forwards this week in the midst of a six-game point streak. Ryan is tied for sixth in the League in terms of most games with at least one point (32 of 49 games) and is a high-end fantasy asset, but Zibanejad is dual-eligible in Yahoo (C/RW) and only 22 percent owned. 

Video: BUF@OTT: Ryan kicks puck to himself, puts it in

TRENDING DOWN 

Max Pacioretty, LW, Montreal Canadiens 

Talk about a fall from grace for the Canadiens and Pacioretty. He has one goal, no assists and a minus-8 in his past five games as Montreal continues its downward spiral without goalie Carey Price. Pacioretty sustained an upper-body injury in the Canadiens' final game before the All-Star break, but is expected to play Tuesday. There's still a lot to like about his value and bounce-back potential moving forward, especially with such a high SOG volume (195, third in NHL), but he's outside the top 20 forwards this week for the first time in a long time. 

KEEP AN EYE ON 

Andre Burakovsky, LW, Washington Capitals 

I mentioned Burakovsky a few weeks ago in my forwards roundup, but his ownership still hasn't picked up, even though he's tied for seventh in the League in scoring since Jan. 10 (nine points in six games). He had two goals in the Capitals' final game before the All-Star break, marking his fourth multipoint showing in the aforementioned span. He's inconceivably only five percent owned despite playing alongside a top-10 fantasy forward and All-Star selection Evgeny Kuznetsov at even strength. Not sure what everyone's waiting for, but he's a stretch-run sleeper who's probably available in your league. 

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WORTH NOTING 

-- Mike Cammalleri (upper body) of the New Jersey Devils was placed on injured reserve Monday retroactive to Jan. 26. He is out Tuesday against the New York Rangers but the severity of the injury is unknown. He had three points and was a plus-5 in four games since his previous injury absence, so he's definitely worth holding onto in fantasy. Burakovsky is the perfect replacement option for Cammalleri once you're able to stash the Devils forward on IR in Yahoo. 

-- Five Danish forwards have played in the NHL this season, and three have earned at least one hat trick. Jannik Hansen (RW, eight percent), who scored three goals Jan. 23, plays with Henrik Sedin (currently injured) and Daniel Sedin for the Vancouver Canucks, but is not used much with the man-advantage (0 PPP). Mikkel Boedker (LW/RW, 32 percent), who has two hat tricks this season and is tied for the most points (34) on the Arizona Coyotes, is barely still among the top 100 forwards in light of his 14-game goal drought. 

Nikolaj Ehlers (LW/RW, 16 percent), on the other hand, played on the Winnipeg Jets' top line and power-play unit with Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele when he had his first career hat trick in his final game before the NHL All-Star break on Jan. 26. Ehlers has power-play points in back-to-back games and at least one point in seven of his past nine. When he's in the Jets' top six, he's worth owning in fantasy. 

TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS 

These rankings indicate fantasy expectations for the rest of the 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 
2. Alex Ovechkin, LW/RW, WSH* 
3. Jamie Benn, LW, DAL 
4. Evgeni Malkin, C/RW, PIT (+1) 
5. Tyler Seguin, C/RW, DAL (-1) 
6. Vladimir Tarasenko, RW, STL 
7. Sidney Crosby, C, PIT 
8. Joe Pavelski, C/LW/RW, SJS 
9. Taylor Hall, C/LW, EDM 
10. Evgeny Kuznetsov, C/LW, WSH 
11. Claude Giroux, C/RW, PHI 
12. Daniel Sedin, LW, VAN 
13. Nicklas Backstrom, C, WSH 
14. Patrice Bergeron, C, BOS 
15. Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, COL (+1) 
16. Steven Stamkos, C, TBL (-1) 
17. Patrick Sharp, C/LW/RW, DAL 
18. Corey Perry, RW, ANA (+1) 
19. Anze Kopitar, C, LAK (+1) 
20. Nikita Kucherov, RW, TBL (+4) 
21. Ryan Johansen, C/RW, NSH 
22. Johnny Gaudreau, LW, CGY (+1) 
23. Blake Wheeler, RW, WPG (+2) 
24. John Tavares, C, NYI (-2) 
25. Artemi Panarin, LW, CHI (+1) 
26. Matt Duchene, C/LW, COL (+1) 
27. Jakub Voracek, RW, PHI (+3) 
28. Jason Spezza, C, DAL 
29. Max Pacioretty, LW, MTL (DTD) 
30. Jonathan Toews, C, CHI* (-1) 
31. Alexander Steen, C/LW, STL 
32. Tyler Toffoli, C/LW/RW, LAK 
33. Phil Kessel, RW, PIT 
34. Henrik Zetterberg, C/LW, DET (+1) 
35. James Neal, LW/RW, NSH (+1) 
36. Joe Thornton, C, SJS (+8) 
37. Zach Parise, LW, MIN (-3) 
38. Jeff Carter, C/RW, LAK 
39. David Krejci, C, BOS 
40. Bobby Ryan, LW/RW, OTT (+3) 
41. Ryan Getzlaf, C, ANA (+1) 
42. Filip Forsberg, C/LW/RW, NSH (-2) 
43. Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL (+2) 
44. Brandon Saad, LW/RW, CBJ (+2) 
45. Rick Nash, LW/RW, NYR (DTD) 
46. Connor McDavid (C, EDM) (NR - INJ.) 
47. Wayne Simmonds, LW/RW, PHI (+3) 
48. Ryan O'Reilly, C/LW/RW, BUF 
49. Pavel Datsyuk, C/LW, DET 
50. Dylan Larkin, C/LW, DET (+4) 
51. Mike Hoffman, C/LW, OTT 
52. T.J. Oshie, C/RW, WSH (+1) 
53. Brendan Gallagher, RW, MTL (-6) 
54. Jaromir Jagr, RW, FLA (-2) 
55. Brad Marchand, LW, BOS 
56. Justin Williams, RW, WSH 
57. Logan Couture, C/LW, SJS 
58. Aleksander Barkov, C, FLA 
59. Leon Draisaitl, C/RW, EDM 
60. Scott Hartnell, LW, CBJ (+1) 
61. Loui Eriksson, LW/RW, BOS (-1) 
62. Jack Eichel, C, BUF (+3) 
63. Tyler Johnson, C, TBL (-1) 
64. Derick Brassard, C, NYR 
65. Kyle Palmieri, LW/RW, NJD (-2) 
66. Jonathan Huberdeau, C/LW, FLA (+4) 
67. Marian Hossa, RW, CHI (+2) 
68. Sean Monahan, C, CGY (-2) 
69. Tomas Plekanec, C, MTL (-2) 
70. Max Domi, C/LW, ARI (-2) 
71. Kyle Okposo, RW, NYI 
72. Milan Lucic, LW, LAK 
73. Bryan Little, C/RW, WPG 
74. David Backes, C/RW, STL 
75. Carl Soderberg, C/LW, COL (+3) 
76. Boone Jenner, C/RW, CBJ (+3) 
77. Mats Zuccarello, LW/RW, NYR 
78. Lee Stempniak, LW/RW, NJD (-2) 
79. Eric Staal, C/LW, CAR (+1) 
80. Ryan Spooner, C/LW, BOS (+7) 
81. Tomas Hertl, C/LW, SJS (+10) 
82. Kyle Turris, C, OTT (DTD) 
83. Nazem Kadri, C, TOR 
84. Patric Hornqvist, RW, PIT 
85. Brandon Dubinsky, C/LW, CBJ (+7) 
86. Mikko Koivu, C, MIN (-1) 
87. Ryan Kesler, C/RW, ANA (+10) 
88. Tomas Tatar, LW/RW, DET (-7) 
89. Gustav Nyquist, C/LW/RW, DET (-7) 
90. Chris Kreider, LW, NYR (-2) 
91. Shane Doan, LW/RW, ARI (-2) 
92. Evander Kane, LW, BUF (+1) 
93. David Perron, LW/RW, ANA (NEW) 
94. Andre Burakovsky, LW, WSH (NEW) 
95. Mark Stone, RW, OTT (-5) 
96. Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, OTT (NEW) 
97. Ondrej Palat, LW, TBL (-3) 
98. Mikkel Boedker, LW, ARI (-3) 
99. Patrick Marleau, C/LW, SJS (-1) 
100. Chris Kunitz, LW, PIT (DTD) 

*Suspended for first game after All-Star break 

Just missed: Marcus Johansson (C/LW/RW, WSH, DTD), Leo Komarov (C/LW, TOR), Frans Nielsen (C, NYI), Mark Scheifele (C, WPG), Cam Atkinson (RW, CBJ), Andrew Ladd (LW, WPG), Mike Ribeiro (C, NSH), Jakob Silfverberg (LW/RW, ANA), Derek Stepan (C, NYR), Jussi Jokinen (C/LW/RW, FLA) 

Dropped out: Ladd, Adam Henrique, Sam Bennett  

Key injuries: Henrik Sedin (C, VAN), Mike Cammalleri (C/LW, NJD), James van Riemsdyk (LW, TOR), Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C, EDM), Jaden Schwartz (LW, STL) 

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