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The Front Line: Turris, Hertl among fast starters

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.


While we're just barely approaching the one-week mark of the 2013-14 season, we've still seen plenty of fantasy headlines early on. From Alex Ovechkin continuing his dominant ways, to Marc-Andre Fleury putting his playoff woes behind him, to Claude Giroux being held pointless in his first three games, this season's storylines are slowly starting to unfold.

With that said, let's take a look at some unexpected forwards off to fast starts and whether I'm buying their hot starts, or selling them:

Kyle Turris, Ottawa Senators -- BUY -- In two games, he has one goal, three assists, a plus-4 rating and seven shots on goal. He's centering Ottawa's second line and has found immediate chemistry with Clarke MacArthur and Cory Conacher.


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Lars Eller, Montreal Canadiens -- SELL -- Eller's entire kid line (with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher) has been on absolute fire to start the season, but this is Montreal's third line, so regression is likely coming. He posted 30 points in 48 games last year, but only 28 in 79 games the season before.

Mikhail Grabovski, Washington Capitals -- BUY -- The newest Capital is adjusting quite nicely in D.C. In three contests he has three goals and two assists with four of those five points coming with the man advantage. Skating regularly on the top power play unit, Grabovski could be in line for his best season yet.

Dave Bolland, Toronto Maple Leafs -- SELL -- Like Eller, Bolland is his team's third-line center, so we can't expect him to continue to put up point-per-game stats (two goals, one assist in three games). He's also proven to be a bit injury prone in the past, so it's safe to say you shouldn't trust him in fantasy leagues.

David Jones, Calgary Flames -- SELL -- Jones has had two 20-plus goal seasons in the past for the Colorado Avalanche, but despite his hot start (two goals, two assists, plus-3 in three games), I still think he'll disappoint fantasy owners. The Flames aren't the most appealing offensive bunch and we can't expect Jones to be more than a fill-in player.

Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks -- BUY -- The 19-year-old Czech has two goals and an assist in his first two NHL games and should continue to find the back of the net. He's playing on a line with Joe Thornton and Brent Burns and could end up being a Calder Trophy candidate.


Evander Kane, Winnipeg Jets -- While Kane has been quiet in two of his three games this season, that one other game shows why he is such a unique fantasy player to own. Against the Los Angeles Kings last week, Kane posted one goal, two assists, a plus-3 rating, nine penalty minutes and seven shots on goal. He is currently ranked fourth among all forwards in Yahoo leagues and has the potential to be a top-25 overall player this year.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers -- Nugent-Hopkins made his season debut on Monday and for the majority of the night he centered his old linemates, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall. He finished with one power-play goal on six shots and received an astounding 28:12 of ice time, proving that he's completely healthy and ready to play. RNH has point-per-game potential and should be started in all formats.

Damien Brunner, New Jersey Devils -- Brunner is proving to be a great late signing for the Devils. He was held without a point in his team debut, but still managed to put eight shots on goal. He followed up that performance with a two-goal night against the Islanders and then potted a goal and an assist on Monday against the Oilers. Brunner is skating on a line with Ryane Clowe and Andrei Loktionov and is looking as comfortable as ever early on in 2013-14.


Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins -- Malkin is still an elite fantasy player. I'm not denying that. But the loss of his linemate, James Neal, will be vital to Malkin's value. Instead of having Neal on his wing he'll now line up with veteran Jussi Jokinen and rookie Beau Bennett, which is why, for the time being, Malkin is moving down in my forward ranks.

Alexander Semin, Carolina Hurricanes -- In two games, Semin has yet to record a point for the Hurricanes. No big deal, right? Right. But what is alarming is that he's yet to even register a shot on goal in those two games. Semin is still getting his normal ice time (averaging 18:39 this season) and is skating on his usual line with Eric Staal and Jiri Tlusty, but the trio has to yet to get things going. For now he drops, but I expect all three players to heat up soon enough.

Alexandre Burrows, Vancouver Canucks -- The John Tortorella method of blocking shots is already hurting the Canucks -- literally. In the team's first game of the season, Burrows suffered a foot injury blocking a slap shot and will be sidelined for a couple of weeks. Stash him on your bench for the time being.


Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues -- After Blues coach Ken Hitchcock declared that Schwartz was the team's best player during the preseason, it's no surprise to see the 21-year-old get off to a good start. While he was held without a point in the season opener, Schwartz posted one goal, two assists, a plus-3 rating and five penalty minutes in just 13:27 of ice time against the Florida Panthers on Saturday. Schwartz is owned in just four percent of Yahoo leagues, but that number should increase quickly thanks to his fast start.


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.

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

* Was listed on injured list last week

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Derick Brassard, Dany Heatley, Stephen Weiss, Jiri Tlusty

Injured: James Neal, Alexandre Burrows, Sam Gagner, Nathan Horton, Mike Cammalleri, Carl Hagelin, Martin Havlat, Marcus Foligno, Charlie Coyle, Nikolai Kulemin


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