With the 2014-15 NHL season inching closer by the day, NHL.com has you covered with positional fantasy rankings. Based on Yahoo eligibility, projected lineups, past performance, injury history and each insider's opinion, Matt Cubeta (centers), Matt Sitkoff (left wings), Pete Jensen (right wings), Brian Metzer (defensemen) and Justin Goldman (goalies) bring you up to speed by identifying all the players worth targeting at each position in your upcoming drafts.
Expecting the unexpected comes with the territory in fantasy hockey. That is, unless you draft Anaheim Ducks forward Corey Perry.
Perry, who leads the fantasy right wing ranking for the third time in the past four seasons, is third in NHL.com's top 275 rankings for three reasons: his linemate, category coverage and durability.
The 29-year-old formed the best point pair League-wide last season with Ryan Getzlaf and finished among the League's top seven in goals, points, shots on goal and plus/minus. Perry also is no stranger to the penalty box, with his 50-goal, 104-penalty minute season in 2010-11 being a prime example of his production in that category. He has played in more than 96 percent of his team's games since 2006-07 and should be the first player on your list after Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos.
NHL.com fantasy insider Pete Jensen believes Corey Perry's category coverage, durability and chemistry with Ryan Getzlaf set him apart from the deep pack of right wings. (Photo: NHL.com Illustration)
Not far behind at the position is Alex Ovechkin, who led the NHL in goals and shots while finishing second in power-play points and tied for eighth in points alongside teammate Nicklas Backstrom. But his prowess with the man advantage came with suspect results at even strength, as Ovechkin posted the third-worst plus-minus in the League (minus-35) last season. Even so, Ovechkin carries tremendous potential entering any season and has a chance to round out his game under new Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz.
Patrick Kane, third among right wings, is dual-eligible in Yahoo leagues and should benefit from the Chicago Blackhawks' addition of Brad Richards and the continued development of Teuvo Teravainen. Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel, fourth at the position, is tied for the second-most points and has the second-most shots on goal of any player during the past three seasons combined. Fantasy owners can expect these four elite right wings to be off the board by the end of Round 2, but there's still an abundance of value beyond that point at the position.
There were plenty of moves this offseason among right wings, including the trade between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators involving James Neal and Patric Hornqvist. How they, as well as Jarome Iginla, Ales Hemsky, Radim Vrbata and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau, mesh with their new teams, will go a long way in determining their fantasy stock as the season progresses.
The right wing market also features a promising batch of young forwards looking to take the next step in their careers (Vladimir Tarasenko, Valeri Nichushkin, Tyler Toffoli, Craig Smith), along with a group of steady veterans (Marian Hossa, Jaromir Jagr, Jason Pominville, Shane Doan) who still can contribute.
Questions surrounding the position include whether breakout stars from last season (Wayne Simmonds, Kyle Okposo, Gustav Nyquist) can replicate their success. Loui Eriksson and Rick Nash have a chance to bounce back after underachieving campaigns, while Marian Gaborik and Pascal Dupuis look to feed off top-notch linemates and rebound from injury-plagued regular seasons. Fellow top-100 assets Martin St. Louis and Bobby Ryan face uncertainty as each enters a contract year.
The right wing position is loaded with talent and questions, creating difficult draft-day decisions for fantasy owners. Let's paint a picture of the position's landscape entering 2014-15.
MOCK DRAFT: Results, analysis of NHL.com's 12-team, 16-round simulation
RANKINGS: Top 50 breakdown | Center | Left Wing | Right Wing | D-men | Goalies
SLEEPERS: Cubeta | Jensen | Sitkoff
NOTE: NHL.com's fantasy staff has determined that the primary position of the players listed below is right wing. Each of these players is RW-eligible in Yahoo leagues. These are Pete Jensen's right wing rankings and may not reflect the order of NHL.com's aggregate top 275 overall fantasy rankings.
Just missed: Cam Atkinson (Blue Jackets), Troy Brouwer (Capitals), Chris Stewart (Sabres), Jakob Silfverberg* (Ducks), Steve Downie* (Penguins), Nail Yakupov (Oilers), Devante Smith-Pelly (Ducks), Daniel Alfredsson (UFA), Dany Heatley (Ducks), Teddy Purcell (Oilers)
* Player has dual-position eligibility in Yahoo leagues