Every Tuesday during the season, NHL.com fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy forwards in his weekly segment: "The Front Line." From updated rankings to players you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy forwards insider all season long.
UPDATED TOP 100 FORWARD RANKINGS
While the Pittsburgh Penguins forwards have hogged the fantasy headlines this season (and deservedly so, as Sidney Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Evgeni Malkin make up three of the top four fantasy forwards in Yahoo leagues), the Anaheim Ducks' duo of Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf deserve some credit as well.
Last week I explained how it's the Penguins with the best fantasy quartet of forwards in the League (James Neal being the fourth player), but the Ducks could rival almost any other team for the most productive group of fantasy forwards, and some of their players are a bit more under-the-radar. Perry and Getzlaf certainly are household names by now, but Dustin Penner, Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano have found their fantasy niches this season.
* streak still active
|LET'S GO STREAKING
|(longest point-scoring streaks this season)
Let's start with Getzlaf, who is in the middle of an NHL-best 14-game point-scoring streak (officially it's scored as a 12-game streak because Getzlaf missed three games in the middle of it due to injury from Nov. 9-14; see table to the right).
Getzlaf currently is the No. 7 player in Yahoo leagues and his 37 points this season trail only Crosby (43) and Malkin (38). If Getzlaf hadn't missed three games it's safe to say only Crosby would be ahead of him in the scoring race. The 6-foot-4 center has a plus-14 rating and 11 power-play points, but we've come to expect these kinds of numbers from him. Only once has Getzlaf finished a season with a minus rating and he's recorded a plus-13 or better in four of his eight seasons (excluding this season). He's also had 24 or more power-play points in six of them.
If there's one place where Getzlaf has underwhelmed it's been in the penalty-minute department, where he has just 13, with seven of them coming opening night. However, he's made up for that with 81 shots on goal, or 2.70 per game, which is better than his career average of 2.32. No matter how you slice it Getzlaf is a top-five fantasy forward and has as good a chance as anyone to lead the NHL in points this season.
As for his linemates, Perry and Penner, they have been nothing short of spectacular. Perry is the No. 2 fantasy forward behind only Crosby in Yahoo leagues and Penner comes in at No. 28.
Perry is the most complete fantasy player in the game and is on pace for 50 goals, 87 points, a plus-30, 17 power-play points, 80 penalty minutes and 296 shots on goal. Perry is in the middle of his own six-game goal-scoring streak (and eight-game point streak), and you won't find anyone that can match this kind of category coverage.
With nine goals and 14 assists, Penner has been one of the biggest surprises in fantasy hockey. His plus-18 leads all forwards and he's also been a big contributor on the power play with nine points. He's on pace for a career-best 66 points. While he might not reach that number, there's reason to believe he can come close to it playing on a line with two of the NHL's best players.
Outside of Anaheim's top line there are a couple more hidden gems that can help fantasy owners.
Bonino, available in 83 percent of leagues, has eight goals and 15 assists, and he has 10 points in his past 11 games. If you're looking for some power-play help, Bonino makes for a great add as he has 11 points with the man-advantage while averaging 2:44 of power-play ice time per game.
Cogliano won't help with power-play production but he's well-rounded with nine goals, seven assists, a plus-5 rating and 68 shots. He's available in 94 percent of leagues.
And then there's always Teemu Selanne in the back pocket. Selanne finally has started to slow down this season (three goals and seven points in 25 games), but you never can count out the Finnish Flash. He could go on a point streak and make himself fantasy relevant again, but for now we can just sit back and see if Getzlaf or Perry can extend their own streaks.
Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks --
Left Wing - CHI
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 15 | PTS: 27
SOG: 123 | +/-: 10
Sharp is providing near six-category coverage this season. He has 12 goals, 15 assists, a plus-10 rating, 10 power-play points and 123 shots (fifth in the NHL). The only category he doesn't help a ton in is penalty minutes (12). Playing on a line with Jonathan Toews
and Marian Hossa
is working for Sharp and fantasy owners love it.
Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets -- Johansen has seen his fantasy ownership rise all the way to 45 percent thanks to a hot streak of four goals and six assists in his past seven games. Johansen is seeing 2:35 of ice time per game on the power play, where he's produced nine points, and he's now ranked 71st overall in Yahoo leagues. Expect his ownership to continue to increase.
Andrew Ladd, Winnipeg Jets -- Ladd has 21 points in 31 games, but just two of them have come in the past seven, which is cause for alarm. What's bizarre is that his linemates, Bryan Little and Blake Wheeler, have been putting up a lot of points recently, but Ladd isn't. You can expect things to turn around eventually, but for now he's dropping in my ranks.
Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche -- With no points and a minus-6 rating in the past six games, it shouldn't be a surprise to see Stastny drop 13 spots in my rankings. Since posting 79 points in 2009-10, Stastny mostly has disappointed. Then this season rolled along and it appeared he may have righted the ship. Unfortunately the hot streak that saw him post 12 points in 11 games has turned into a cold streak. Keep an eye on how Stastny handles this rough patch.
KEEP AN EYE ON ...
Chris Higgins, Vancouver Canucks -- Higgins seems to be settling into a role alongside fellow American Ryan Kesler. Through 33 games Higgins has eight goals, 19 points, a plus-4 and 105 shots on goal. He has five points in the past three games. He won't wow his fantasy owners but he won't hurt you anywhere either.
TOP 100 FANTASY FORWARDS
These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. The plus or minus for each player is movement based on our most recent rankings -- NR means not ranked in previous rankings. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.
||Sidney Crosby, Penguins (same)
||Jason Pominville, Wild (-3)
||Alex Ovechkin, Capitals (same)
||Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes (+7)
||Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (same)
||Justin Williams, Kings (+1)
||Corey Perry, Ducks (same)
||David Krejci, Bruins (+2)
||Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (+1)
||Johan Franzen, Red Wings (same)
||Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (+2)
||T.J. Oshie, Blues (+1)
||John Tavares, Islanders (-2)
||Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens (+5)
||Chris Kunitz, Penguins (+2)
||Tomas Hertl, Sharks (-6)
||Zach Parise, Wild (+2)
||Matt Moulson, Sabres (-8)
||Daniel Sedin, Canucks (+3)
||Kyle Turris, Senators (same)
||Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (-2)
||Andrew Ladd, Jets (-8)
||Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings (NR)*
||Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs (-1)
||Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs (+2)
||Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (+1)
||Logan Couture, Sharks (same)
||Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes (-6)
||James Neal, Penguins (-3) SUSP.
||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers (same)
||Henrik Sedin, Canucks (+1)
||Bryan Little, Jets (+1)
||Anze Kopitar, Kings (-1)
||Mike Richards, Kings (+1)
||Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks (+7)
||Jeff Carter, Kings (-2)
||David Backes, Blues (same)
||Steve Downie, Flyers (+1)
||Rick Nash, Rangers (-2)
||Jaromir Jagr, Devils (+2)
||Patrick Marleau, Sharks (same)
||Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets (+1)
||Alexander Steen, Blues (+1)
||Kyle Okposo, Islanders (-3)
||Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (-3)
||Chris Kreider, Rangers (same)
||Eric Staal, Hurricanes (+4)
||Shane Doan, Coyotes (same)
||Bobby Ryan, Senators (-3)
||Dustin Penner, Ducks (+12)
||Jamie Benn, Stars (-2)
||Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (+1)
||Marian Hossa, Blackhawks (+2)
||Wayne Simmonds, Flyers (-1)
||Tyler Seguin, Stars (NR)*
||Martin Hanzal, Coyotes (+4)
||Joe Pavelski, Sharks (-3)
||Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings (+5)
||Claude Giroux, Flyers (-3)
||Ryan Callahan, Rangers (-5)
||Taylor Hall, Oilers (+3)
||Cody Hodgson, Sabres (same)
||Ryan Kesler, Canucks (+3)
||Jakub Voracek, Flyers (-3)
||Joe Thornton, Sharks (-2)
||Clarke MacArthur, Senators (+8)
||Jason Spezza, Senators (-1)
||Blake Wheeler, Jets (+6)
||Martin St. Louis, Lightning (-3)
||Ryan Johansen, Blue Jackets (+10)
||Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (same)
||Brad Marchand, Bruins (same)
||Matt Duchene, Avalanche (-7)
||Dustin Brown, Kings (+2)
||Milan Lucic, Bruins (same)
||Chris Stewart, Blues (-3)
||James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs (+5)
||PA Parenteau, Avalanche (-6)
||Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche (+1)
||Mats Zuccarello, Rangers (+8)
||Mikko Koivu, Wild (-1)
||Paul Stastny, Avalanche (-13)
||David Perron, Oilers (+7)
||Patrik Elias, Devils (+4)
||Jordan Eberle, Oilers (same)
||Brandon Saad, Blackhawks (+4)
||Thomas Vanek, Islanders (-7)
||Mikhail Grabovski, Capitals (NR)
||Brent Burns, Sharks (-3)
||Scott Hartnell, Flyers (+3)
||Derek Stepan, Rangers (-7)
||Pascal Dupuis, Penguins (-3)
||Brad Richards, Rangers (same)
||Brendan Gallagher, Canadiens (NR)
||Evander Kane, Jets (-3) DTD
||Andrew Shaw, Blackhawks (+2)
||Radim Vrbata, Coyotes (+1)
||Brayden Schenn, Flyers (-5)
||Jarome Iginla, Bruins (-4)
||Alex Galchenyuk, Canadiens (NR)
* Appeared on injured list last week
Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Mike Cammalleri, Frans Nielsen
Injured: Steven Stamkos, Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Gaborik, Joffrey Lupul, Loui Eriksson, Alexander Semin, Vincent Lecavalier, Alexandre Burrows, Nathan Horton, Sean Monahan, Jakob Silfverberg, Mikael Granlund