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Right of Way: Breaking down the value of PIMs

by Matt Cubeta /
Every Friday during the season, fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy right wings in our weekly segment: "Right of Way." From updated right wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy right wing expert all season long.

While we'll still provide you with updated right-wing rankings, today we'll start by taking a look at the value of penalty minutes in fantasy leagues.

People always question why getting penalty minutes are a good thing in fantasy hockey, and the only answer that can be given is that it allows every NHL player to potentially have value in fantasy hockey -- the enforcers are able to contribute to a fantasy team, just as they do in real life.

In reality, it may hurt to put your team shorthanded with a penalty, but those same sin-bin minutes help you in standard fantasy leagues.

Going into fantasy drafts, people always seem to keep an eye on guys that can record points and penalty minutes -- Corey Perry, Milan Lucic, David Backes and many others. It's extremely difficult to find a player that can score goals and have a knack for taking minor penalties or dropping the gloves, so we tend to value those that can achieve that a bit more -- the fact that Perry dominated in every category made him invaluable last season.

Let's take a look at some of the forwards that have been extremely valuable in the PIMs department as well as the other fantasy categories. Much like baseball's five-tool players, these guys are hockey's six-tool players -- helping fantasy owners in all six standard categories (goals, assists, plus/minus, penalty minutes, power-play points and shots on goal). They are the select few, and in all likelihood, they have helped your team more than any other player on your roster this season.

Steven Stamkos (19 G, 16 A, plus-10, 30 PIMs, 9 PPP, 110 SOG) -- Stamkos had 74 penalty minutes last season and is on pace for 79 this campaign.

Joffrey Lupul (13 G, 21 A, plus-6, 32 PIMs, 12 PPP, 87 SOG) -- Lupul seems to like his using his stick for penalties -- he has three high-sticking minors and four tripping penalties.

Thomas Vanek (14 G, 15 A, plus-4, 30 PIMs, 11 PPP, 98 SOG) --
Vanek hasn't had more than 44 PIMs in his previous three seasons, but he's on pace for over 80 this season.

Scott Hartnell (15 G, 12 A, plus-19, 30 PIMs, 7 PPP, 74 SOG) -- Hartnell has posted at least 142 PIMs in all four seasons since joining the Flyers in 2007; he's on pace for "just" 82 this season.

Jamie Benn (8 G, 18 A, plus-6, 37 PIMs, 8 PPP, 94 SOG) -- Benn had 52 PIMs in 69 games for the Stars last season and could reach the 100-PIM mark this season.

Brad Marchand (11 G, 11 A, plus-19, 48 PIMs, 3 PPP, 68 SOG) -- His power-play production is limited, but Marchand is willing to drop the gloves (two fighting majors), and already has a 10-minute misconduct this season.

Ryane Clowe (7 G, 12 A, plus-3, 48 PIMs, 6 PPP, 79 SOG) -- His 19 points don't jump out at you, but he should surpass the 100-PIM plateau for the third straight season.

Milan Lucic (10 G, 13 A, plus-5, 48 PIMs, 5 PPP, 55 SOG) -- Lucic and Clowe are two of the regulars on this six-tool player list -- they both play for good teams, and have the potential for 25-plus goals and good peripheral stats every season.


These modified re-rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward (including injuries). The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings from last week. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). Note: Positions are dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

NOTE: Neal and Burrows recently gained RW eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Nathan Horton, Milan Hejduk

Patrick Sharp -- It's time to give Sharp his due. The Blackhawks are loaded with fantasy talent, but surprisingly, no one has been more valuable than Sharp. He's eligible at all three forward spots, is currently the fourth-rated overall player in Yahoo! and has outdone all of his teammates to this point. While there's a definite chance Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa will move ahead of Sharp in the RW-ranks in the future, Sharp's current seven-game point-scoring streak (6 G, 4 A) shows he deserves the honor for the time being.

James Neal -- Having recently gained RW-eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues, Neal cracks our rankings at the No. 10 spot. Neal has been the consistent force in the Pens' lineup with Sidney Crosby being sidelined for extended periods and Evgeni Malkin having missed time. With 4 points in his last three games and an NHL-leading 127 shots on goal, Neal clearly is an elite fantasy player going forward.

Jeff Carter -- Every Carter owner is hoping his four-game goal-scoring streak is a sign of things to come. Carter has gotten off to a rough start in his first season in Columbus with just 7 goals and 5 assists in 20 games, but perhaps he's finally adjusting to life with a new team. He still is skating on the team's top line with Rick Nash and Vinny Prospal and is receiving plenty of power-play opportunities (3:59 of power-play ice time per game), so maybe Carter is starting to wake up.


Jeff Skinner -- Skinner hasn't been placed on injured reserve, but he has been ruled out indefinitely due to a concussion. Skinner had been one of the only bright spots for a struggling Hurricanes team, with 12 goals and 12 assists in 30 games, but his owners will have to look elsewhere for production for the time being. If you're looking for a similar replacement to Skinner, try to add Erik Cole, who's available in 33 percent of fantasy leagues -- Cole shoots a ton (like Skinner) and has 22 points this season.

Milan Michalek -- Another member of the concussion list. Like Skinner, Michalek, one of the NHL's leading goal scorers (tied with Stamkos at 19), Michalek will be sidelined indefinitely with a concussion suffered when he collided with a teammate during a game last week. Michalek seemed to find chemistry with playmaker Jason Spezza as his go-to shooting weapon, but unfortunately he'll have to put his breakout season on hold. With concussions being so hard to determine a timetable for, Michalek will drop nine spots in the rankings for now.

Nathan Horton -- Horton was a big question mark coming into the season, but many still expected him to bounce back after suffering a concussion in last season's playoffs. Unfortunately, it's been a struggle for the gritty Bruins forward. Horton has just 19 points in 30 contests and only 1 goal and no assists in his previous six games. His total ice time is down to under 16 minutes per game and he's receiving just 2:31 of power-play ice time. Horton certainly has the skill to rebound, but for the time being, he slips out of our top-40 rankings.


Wayne Simmonds -- With Giroux sidelined, Simmonds has been given a chance to step up on offense for the Flyers. Now skating on a line with Danny Briere and rookie Matt Read, Simmonds definitely is worth a flyer in most leagues -- certainly the deeper ones. He's available in 83 percent of leagues and should continue to provide decent point production plus reliable penalty minutes. Simmonds is in the middle of a four-game goal-scoring streak in which he's also recorded 6 points -- by season's end, you could be looking at 25 goals, 50 points and well over 100 PIMs.
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