Every Friday during the season, NHL.com 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.
It's been almost four years since we last saw Alexander Radulov
play in the NHL. He last appeared in a game for the Nashville Predators
on April 20, 2008 -- a game that saw them eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in a 3-0 Game 6 loss to the Detroit Red Wings
. Radulov left in July of 2008 to sign in the KHL with Salavat Yulayev Ufa, and despite his dominant play overseas, he hasn't been discussed much in North America.
With Radulov's KHL team having been eliminated from the playoffs, he is now eligible to return to the NHL -- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly announced at the GM meetings this week that Radulov can return to the Predators at any time this year without having to pass through waivers. It has also been revealed the Predators would gladly welcome Radulov's return and Radulov himself would love to rejoin the team for a run at this year's Stanley Cup.
However, it's a bit complicated. Despite his team being knocked out of the playoffs in the KHL, there are contractual obligations that could keep him in Russia until April 30 -- meaning Radulov wouldn't appear in a regular season game for Nashville.
While both Radulov and his agent are speaking with his KHL team to try and work something out to facilitate his return to the NHL, fantasy owners everywhere should be paying attention to the situation -- because if Radulov does come back, he's a must-own in all leagues.
TOP 40 FANTASY RIGHT WINGS
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. (NR means not ranked in previous rankings). Note: Positions are dictated by how they're labeled in Yahoo! Fantasy Leagues.
- 1. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins* (same)
- 2. Claude Giroux, Flyers* (same)
- 3. Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils* (+2)
- 4. Marian Gaborik, Rangers (+4)
- 5. James Neal, Penguins* (-1)
- 6. Corey Perry, Ducks (-3) (DTD)
- 7. Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (same)
- 8. Jarome Iginla, Flames (+3)
- 9. Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (-3)
- 10. Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks* (-1)
- 11. Patrick Kane, Blackhawks* (+1)
- 12. Teemu Selanne, Ducks (-2)
- 13. Martin St. Louis, Lightning (same)
- 14. Tyler Seguin, Bruins* (same)
- 15. Johan Franzen, Red Wings* (+1)
- 16. David Backes, Blues* (-1)
- 17. Joe Pavelski, Sharks* (same)
- 18. Jordan Eberle, Oilers (+3)
- 19. Loui Eriksson, Stars* (+4)
- 20. Radim Vrbata, Coyotes (same)
- 21. Jason Pominville, Sabres (-2)
- 22. Rick Nash, Blue Jackets* (-4)
- 23. Blake Wheeler, Jets (+5)
- 24. Erik Cole, Canadiens* (same)
- 25. Ryan Callahan, Rangers (-3) (DTD)
- 26. Alexandre Burrows, Canucks* (-1)
- 27. Jeff Carter, Kings* (same)
- 28. Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes* (-2)
- 29. Michael Ryder, Stars (+2)
- 30. PA Parenteau, Islanders (same)
- 31. T.J. Oshie, Blues* (+1)
- 32. Dany Heatley, Wild (-3)
- 33. David Clarkson, Devils (+4)
- 34. Milan Michalek, Senators* (+1)
- 35. Teddy Purcell, Lightning (-1)
- 36. Dustin Brown, Kings* (same)
- 37. Martin Erat, Predators (NR)
- 38. Alexander Semin, Capitals* (same)
- 39. Jaromir Jagr, Flyers (same)
- 40. Danny Briere, Flyers* (same)
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Ryane Clowe
Injured: Joffrey Lupul
(DTD), Kris Versteeg
(DTD), Nathan Horton
As a rookie in 2006-07, Radulov scored 18 goals and registered 37 points and a plus-19 rating in 64 games for the Predators. He followed up that impressive debut with 26 goals, 58 points and a plus-7 rating in 2007-08 and appeared to be headed for superstar status at just 21 years old. Of course, he then headed to the KHL, but that doesn't mean his level of play has changed. If anything, he's continued to get better and better.
In 2010-11, Radulov posted 20 goals and 60 assists in just 54 KHL games -- he also added 83 penalty minutes and a plus-27 rating. This season he recorded 25 goals and 63 points in 50 games, as well as 64 penalty minutes. He's a fantasy star in the making; we just need him to join the Predators. He has all the tools to be a fantasy difference-maker and has been widely regarded as the most dominant player in the KHL over the last two seasons.
If things end up working out and he is able to join the Predators this season, you should immediately put a waiver claim in to pick him up. He has the potential to post point-per-game numbers with solid penalty minutes and a great plus/minus while playing for one of the best teams in the NHL. Don't even think twice about dumping a player that usually sits around on your bench -- he could be a No. 1 or at the least, a No. 2 right wing for your fantasy team.
Marian Gaborik --
Coming into the season Yahoo! rated Gaborik 59th overall in their fantasy ranks -- he currently resides at No. 10 among all players. The Rangers' most lethal offensive weapon has bounced back in a big way this season and has 35 goals, 31 assists, a plus-18 rating, 34 penalty minutes, 18 power-play points and 241 shots on goal in 70 contests. Gaborik has made those that play on his line better all season long, and right now he's doing wonders for Brad Richards
and Carl Hagelin
. The Slovakian sniper has 3 goals and 5 helpers in the previous four games and has been extremely consistent with 25 points over his last 22. He looks to be headed for the third 40-goal campaign of his career and second as a Ranger -- start him every time he's on the ice.
Jarome Iginla --
Slowly but surely, Iginla is climbing his way back up among the right wing rankings. Other than his minus-3 rating on the season, Iginla has helped his fantasy owners tremendously (31 G, 31 A, 37 PIMs, 16 PPP, 225 SOG in 71 games). What's even more impressive is what he's been doing lately -- he's in the middle of an eight-game point-scoring streak and a six-game goal-scoring streak, and has 14 points during those eight games. It's safe to say Iginla is still an elite fantasy right wing.
Martin Erat --
After appearing in the "Keep an eye on" section of last week's right wing update, Erat cracks the ranks at No. 37 this week. Always underrated, Erat has 17 goals, 53 points and an above average plus-14 rating in just 62 games for Nashville this year. He's averaging just about 1.5 shots per game, which isn't great, but if you're in need of someone that can carry your team in point production, then Erat's a great addition -- he's available in 69 percent of Yahoo! Leagues and has 3 goals and 4 assists in the past six games.
Corey Perry --
Perry looked to be finding some consistency that he had lacked for most of this season, but then he went down with a shoulder injury against the Stars on March 10 and has remained out of the lineup since then. While he's considered day-to-day, Perry falls in the rankings until he returns to the ice and shows he's back to full health. His owners are surely missing the 34 goals and 94 penalty minutes he had under his stat line, but hopefully he'll return soon.
David Backes --
Backes remains one of the most well-rounded fantasy players in the game, but he has cooled off since the start of March. The power forward has just 2 goals and 1 assist in the previous eight games while being a minus-3 during that time, despite playing on the Western Conference's best team. Another concerning stat with Backes is that he has 93 PIMs on the season, but just 2 over the last nine games.
Ryane Clowe --
After falling in the rankings for several weeks in a row, Clowe officially sees himself on the outside of the top 40. With just 12 goals and 36 points to go along with a minus-7 rating in 64 games for the Sharks, Clowe has not delivered for his fantasy owners. Outside of his 85 PIMs, Clowe has become a mostly useless fantasy player for the stretch run.
KEEP AN EYE ON...
Martin Havlat --
Right Wing - SJS
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 15
SOG: 65 | +/-: 8
After missing 39 games, Havlat returned to the Sharks' lineup on Thursday. While he didn't record a point, he did finish the night with nearly 19 minutes of ice time, showing that he is probably fully healthy. When healthy earlier in the season, Havlat was a complete disappointment in his first season in San Jose -- he had just 2 goals and 13 helpers in 26 games. He is still a very talented player that could get hot before the season closes, so be sure to monitor what he does in the next few games.