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Right of Way: Late picks providing all-around value

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.

After breaking down and comparing Craig Smith and Alexander Steen to some of the League's most prominent players Wednesday and Thursday, today we'll wrap up this fun little game with the right wings. We will present you with the stat lines for the three players without telling you who they are -- and then we'll reveal the players and explain the comparison.

Player X: 28 games -- 10 G, 8 A, plus-6, 28 PIMs, 3 PPP, 78 SOG
Player Y: 25 games -- 11 G, 8 A, plus-2, 29 PIMs, 5 PPP, 82 SOG
Player Z: 25 games -- 12 G, 9 A, plus-7, 8 PIMs, 5 PPP, 80 SOG

Clearly all three players have produced similar fantasy value -- in fact they are separated by just four ranking spots in Yahoo! Leagues. The biggest difference is Player Z has just eight penalty minutes, but Player Z also sports the best plus-minus rating and has the most goals of the three guys.

Player X is St. Louis forward David Backes, who was drafted on average with the 61st overall pick prior to the season. Player Z is Joe Pavelski, who a lot of people had pegged for a big season and was drafted with an average pick of 73rd. Player Y is our mystery, surprise player -- and that would be Rangers captain Ryan Callahan.

Callahan was selected on average with the 132nd overall draft pick, but is currently the highest rated of the three forwards at 63rd among all NHL players (Pavelski is 66 and Backes is 67). Callahan is slowly becoming one of those fantasy players we grow to love -- the guy that contributes in all fantasy categories. He is seeing tons of ice time every game on a line with Brad Richards and is even on the team's top power-play unit. He's owned in 72 percent of leagues, but it would appear Callahan could be headed for his first 30-plus goal season of his career (he had 23 goals in just 60 games last season, so it shouldn't be a gigantic shocker if he accomplishes the feat this season).

It is very possible that Callahan ends up outperforming both Pavelski and Backes by season's end. If you happen to own Pavelski or Backes and are feeling daring, take a shot and try to acquire Callahan -- the other owner is likely unaware of the hidden value Callahan has.



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

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Jakub Voracek
Claude Giroux -- Even though he plays center for the Flyers, Giroux has RW eligibility in fantasy leagues and is officially our No. 1 guy for the time being at RW. He is currently the second-rated overall player in Yahoo! and deservedly so -- Giroux leads the NHL with 37 points in 27 contests and has been white-hot with eight points during a current four-game point-scoring streak. Giroux's line with Scott Hartnell and Jaromir Jagr might be the most lethal line in the NHL right now -- and it's mostly because of the playmaking ability Giroux possesses. If you're lucky enough to have him on your team, stick by his side all season long and enjoy the ride.

Jarome Iginla -- Could he finally be back to his usual self? After frustrating his fantasy owners throughout October and November, Iginla may have found his game in December. In his last four games, the Flames captain has 2 goals and 5 assists and has been a plus-4 during that span. He's also registered 14 shots on goal in his previous two contests, so perhaps he's starting to regain his confidence. Iginla won't reach his absurd numbers from last year (43 G, 43 A), but a 30-goal season should still be expected.

Jordan Eberle -- There's been plenty of talk about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the fantasy world, but not too much love for his leading linemate Eberle. The ultra-talented right wing has 10 goals and 29 points through 28 games for the Oilers and has been a big reason for the success of Nugent-Hopkins as a rookie. The duo has been the fourth most productive combination in all of the NHL with each player recording a point on the same goal 19 times (The Sedin twins lead the way with 24). Eberle is also tied for fourth in the NHL with nine multi-point games. He has flat out been a stud and should be relied on as a No. 1 or No. 2 right wing for the rest of the way.


Corey Perry -- Perry has finally been dethroned at the top of the right wing ranks. It's been a solid two months for Perry, but the fact of the matter is that Giroux has just been too good -- and Evgeni Malkin hasn't been too shabby either (26 points in 22 games). Perry had started to pick up his play towards the end of November with a seven-game point-scoring streak, but he has just 2 points in four December contests. While he's been relatively consistent on the season with 12 goals and 11 assists in 28 games, Perry isn't putting together those big nights like we got used to from last season -- he has just three multi-point efforts all season long. Because of his ability to help in all categories (save for his minus-11, which is unusually low for his standards), Perry still remains among the elite players in fantasy hockey.  

Martin St. Louis -- St. Louis had scored in two consecutive games, but Thursday at Tampa Bay's morning skate he suffered nasal and eye fractures after taking a puck to the face. While he hasn't been placed on injured reserve and an official timetable hasn't been determined just yet, you should expect him to be out for a couple of weeks at the minimum. St. Louis hadn't yet hit full stride this season (9 G and 13 A in 27 games), but this is a devastating blow for his fantasy owners regardless of how you slice it. Hope for the veteran to heal quickly and return to the lineup as soon as he's able.

Loui Eriksson -- With 10 goals on the season, Eriksson is tied for the team lead with Eric Nystrom, however, he has been held pointless in the last three games and has seen his plus/minus drop from plus-13 to plus-7 during that span. Eriksson doesn't play a physical game so his two penalty minutes on the season are also hurting his fantasy owners. You can expect him to record his usual numbers of around 30 goals and 60-70 points, but he won't help you too much anywhere else (just 2 PPP and 69 SOG on the season).


David Clarkson -- Of players with at least 50 penalty minutes on the season, no one has scored more goals than Clarkson's 9 -- Derek Dorsett is the next closest with 6 goals. Clarkson isn't the most skilled player but he certainly has provided decent fantasy value because of his ability to score some goals and rack up the PIMs (52). Clarkson is owned in 10 percent of Yahoo! Leagues and his power play ice time is definitely helping his point production -- he has 5 PP points while averaging more than three minutes of man advantage ice time per game. If you're in need of penalty minutes, look no further than Clarkson -- and enjoy the bonus when he scores you a goal.
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