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The Front Line: Preseason recap and looking ahead

by Matt Cubeta /

Every Tuesday during the season, 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.


With the 2013-14 NHL season set to begin Tuesday night, fantasy hockey owners are surely ready for their teams to embark on a championship season.

Drafts are complete; rosters should be in place, now we just have to manage our teams and hope to outsmart the opponent until April 13, when the regular season and fantasy hockey comes to an end.

With that said, let's take a look at some notable tandems during the preseason and how it affects the fantasy landscape:


David Perron totaled 25 points in 48 games with the Blues last season before getting traded to the Oilers during the off-season. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jordan Eberle and David Perron (Edmonton Oilers) -- Perron missed Edmonton's last preseason game due to an illness, but prior to that he and Eberle had been two of the most productive players in preseason. Eberle tied for the NHL lead with eight points in five games while Perron tied for the lead in goals with five (in just four games). With injuries to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner, the Oilers will be leaning heavily on Eberle and Perron, and fantasy owners should too.

Brandon Dubinsky and Marian Gaborik (Columbus Blue Jackets) -- Reunited from their days with the New York Rangers, they've played on the same line throughout preseason and have each recorded seven points (Gaborik in four games, Dubinsky in five). Gaborik is more than capable of returning to his 35-plus goal-scoring ways and Dubinsky is a candidate to post at least 50 points and 100 penalty minutes – a unique feat in fantasy hockey.

Cory Conacher and Clarke MacArthur (Ottawa Senators) -- The third member of this line is Kyle Turris, but since Conacher and MacArthur are still widely available in Yahoo fantasy leagues (81 and 95 percent respectively), I'll focus on them. Conacher has notched four goals, one assist and 17 shots on goal in five games, and has even chipped in 10 penalty minutes. Meanwhile, MacArthur has posted two goals and two assists with a plus-2 in four contests. Both players should be monitored to start the year and could make for nice pick-ups in deep leagues.


- Max Pacioretty, Eric Fehr and Perron all tied for the preseason lead with five goals.

- Capitals newcomer Mikhail Grabovski led all forwards with seven assists (in four games).

- Pavel Datsyuk, Joe Pavelski, Eberle, Fehr and Grabovski all tied for the preseason lead with eight points.

- Alex Ovechkin led all players with four power-play goals.

- Evander Kane had the most shots on goal with 28.


Pavel Datsyuk
Pavel Datsyuk
Center - 2012-13
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 34 | PTS: 49
PIMs: 14 | SOG: 107 | +/-: 21
Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings -- As mentioned, Datsyuk notched eight points in just four preseason games and looks primed for a huge season. He's starting the year with Henrik Zetterberg on his wing, and if Detroit keeps the two superstars together all season long Datsyuk could eclipse the 80-point mark for the first time since the 2009-10 season.

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars -- Seguin's first preseason in Dallas went well, as he posted a goal and six assists in five games skating on a line with Jamie Benn and Erik Cole. We're all aware of Seguin's potential, and at just 21 there's reason to believe his first season with the Stars could be his best yet.

Derek Stepan, New York Rangers -- Those of you that drafted Stepan while he was still holding out can finally breathe a sigh of relief. After signing a two-year deal with the Rangers, feel free to insert Stepan into your starting lineup and look for him to build off an impressive 2012-13 season in which he finished as the 30th best overall fantasy player. Stepan could end up centering Rick Nash for a full season and reach the 70-point mark.


Alexander Semin and Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes -- Semin's status for opening night is in jeopardy right now and based on his injury history, fantasy owners have to be cautious with how they use him to start the year. Skinner is dealing with a lower-body injury, but could be ready for the opener. He didn't have the most impressive preseason (one goal, minus-3 in three games) and should start the year on fantasy owners' bench.

David Krejci
David Krejci
Center - 2012-13
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 23 | PTS: 33
PIMs: 20 | SOG: 93 | +/-: 1
David Krejci, Boston Bruins -- Krejci is currently listed as day-to-day and didn't skate this Sunday at practice. He also struggled in three preseason games with just one point (a goal) and a minus-3 rating. And while we all know he doesn't shoot the puck a ton, Krejci only registered four shots on goal this preseason. You might have to stash him on your bench to start.

David Clarkson, Toronto Maple Leafs -- Thanks to a 10-game suspension, Clarkson's fantasy owners will have to wait three-plus weeks before they can activate him. Before the suspension was handed out I ranked Clarkson 89th among all forwards; now he falls outside the top 100. However, he's still worthy of being on a roster considering he could produce solid numbers in a top-six role when he returns to the lineup.


Matt Frattin, Los Angeles Kings -- Frattin earned a spot on the Kings' second line with Jeff Carter and Mike Richards and is worth a pick-up immediately after putting together a noticeable preseason. In five contests he tallied one goal and five assists, gaining confidence with each game. Available in 95 percent of Yahoo leagues, Frattin deserves to be rostered to start the year.


These rankings are based on expectations of the season going forward. They are based on a standard fantasy league with these offensive categories: G, A, plus/minus, PIMs, PPP, SOG.

1 Sidney Crosby, Penguins 51 Milan Lucic, Bruins
2 Steven Stamkos, Lightning 52 Jakub Voracek, Flyers
3 Alex Ovechkin, Capitals 53 Patrick Marleau, Sharks
4 Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks 54 Joe Thornton, Sharks
5 John Tavares, Islanders 55 Alexandre Burrows, Canucks
6 Evgeni Malkin, Penguins 56 Andrew Ladd, Jets
7 Corey Perry, Ducks 57 Loui Eriksson, Bruins
8 Patrick Kane, Blackhawks 58 Gabriel Landeskog, Avalanche
9 Rick Nash, Rangers 59 PA Parenteau, Avalanche
10 James Neal, Penguins 60 Mikko Koivu, Wild
11 Claude Giroux, Flyers 61 Jason Pominville, Wild
12 Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks 62 Johan Franzen, Red Wings
13 Eric Staal, Hurricanes 63 Nazem Kadri, Maple Leafs
14 Pavel Datsyuk, Red Wings 64 Jonathan Huberdeau, Panthers
15 Zach Parise, Wild 65 James van Riemsdyk, Maple Leafs
16 Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs 66 Jeff Carter, Kings
17 Martin St. Louis, Lightning 67 Dustin Brown, Kings
18 Anze Kopitar, Kings 68 Ryan Callahan, Rangers
19 Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals 69 Scott Hartnell, Flyers
20 Daniel Sedin, Canucks 70 Pascal Dupuis, Penguins
21 Henrik Zetterberg, Red Wings 71 Cody Hodgson, Sabres
22 Chris Kunitz, Penguins 72 Chris Stewart, Blues
23 Henrik Sedin, Canucks 73 Justin Williams, Kings
24 Taylor Hall, Oilers 74 Tomas Plekanec, Canadiens
25 Jason Spezza, Senators 75 David Perron, Oilers
26 Evander Kane, Jets 76 Mike Richards, Kings
27 Marian Gaborik, Blue Jackets 77 Vincent Lecavalier, Flyers
28 Matt Duchene, Avalanche 78 Jeff Skinner, Hurricanes
29 Jamie Benn, Stars 79 Tomas Fleischmann, Panthers
30 Tyler Seguin, Stars 80 Ray Whitney, Stars
31 Max Pacioretty, Canadiens 81 Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche
32 Logan Couture, Sharks 82 T.J. Oshie, Blues
33 Patrick Sharp, Blackhawks 83 Blake Wheeler, Jets
34 Bobby Ryan, Senators 84 Brandon Dubinsky, Blue Jackets
35 Jordan Eberle, Oilers 85 Radim Vrbata, Coyotes
36 Marian Hossa, Blackhawks 86 Patrik Elias, Devils
37 Thomas Vanek, Sabres 87 Derick Brassard, Rangers
38 Joffrey Lupul, Maple Leafs 88 David Krejci, Bruins
39 David Backes, Blues 89 Michael Ryder, Devils
40 Brad Marchand, Bruins 90 Dany Heatley, Wild
41 Patrice Bergeron, Bruins 91 Daniel Alfredsson, Red Wings
42 Derek Stepan, Rangers 92 Kyle Turris, Senators
43 Nail Yakupov, Oilers 93 Jaromir Jagr, Devils
44 Alexander Semin, Hurricanes 94 Stephen Weiss, Red Wings
45 Matt Moulson, Islanders 95 Alexander Steen, Blues
46 Wayne Simmonds, Flyers 96 Milan Michalek, Senators
47 Jarome Iginla, Bruins 97 Brad Richards, Rangers
48 Mike Ribeiro, Coyotes 98 Jiri Tlusty, Hurricanes
49 Ryan Kesler, Canucks 99 Teemu Selanne, Ducks
50 Joe Pavelski, Sharks 100 Brayden Schenn, Flyers
Injured: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sam Gagner, Nathan Horton, Carl Hagelin, Jakob Silfverberg, Marcus Foligno


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