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Turn Left Here: Couture, Heatley starting to heat up

by Matt Cubeta /
Every Thursday during the season, fantasy hockey expert Matt Cubeta will provide you with an in-depth analysis of fantasy left wings in our weekly segment: "Turn Left Here." From updated left wing rankings to guys you should keep a close eye on and much more, Cubeta will be your fantasy left wing expert all season long.

You'll notice there isn't any movement from our top four spots, and if it wasn't for the return of Patrick Sharp in our rankings (he came off IR on Jan. 31), Kovalchuk would have remained in the No. 5 spot. Daniel Sedin, Pavel Datsyuk, Alex Ovechkin and James Neal all hold down the top four spots. In fact, we believe that only Ovechin is in jeopardy of being knocked out of the top five as of now, but we're still holding on and looking for him to go on a surge that carries the Capitals to the playoffs.

However, outside our usual suspects at the top of the charts, you'll see some definite shake-ups throughout the rest of our top-40 rankings of the left wing position. Let's get right into it:



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.
*dual position eligibility in Yahoo! Leagues
** was listed on IR in last week's rankings

Players that dropped out of previous rankings: Ryan Smyth

Players on IR: Ryane Clowe, Evander Kane, Matt Duchene, James van Riemsdyk, Jordan Staal, Alexander Steen
Logan Couture -- Prior to representing the Sharks as their lone All-Star participant, Couture had been on a three-game point-scoring streak (2 G, 1 A). In his one game since the break, Couture notched 2 assists as the Sharks bounced the Blue Jackets, 6-0. The talented forward is well on his way to surpassing his 32-goal, 56-point campaign from last season (he's currently on pace for 35 goals and 64 points). The Sharks have split up their big four (Couture, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Joe  Pavelski) with Ryane Clowe and Martin Havlat still on the sideline due to injury, so Couture has been seeing ice time with Marleau and Benn Ferriero, and so far so good.

Dany Heatley -- Many people thought Heatley's first season with the Wild wouldn't produce the numbers we got used to seeing him post in San Jose -- and the start of this season didn't go smoothly -- but he is quietly putting up points at a similar rate to last season. With 17 goals and 37 points on the season overall, he's actually on pace to top the 26 goals he had last year. His recent hot streak of 4 goals and 3 helpers in his last three contests have shown that the former Shark still has something to prove in his first season in Minnesota.

Erik Cole -- Cole might be having one of the quietest, most productive fantasy seasons of any player this season. When you look at his stat line (50 games: 19 G, 20 A, plus-10, 22 PIMs, 10 PPP, 149 SOG) nothing really jumps out at you. Thanks to a recent surge with 9 points in his last six games, Cole is actually rated 46th among all players in Yahoo! Leagues and is proving to be Montreal's most valuable fantasy player outside of Carey Price. Add in the fact that he has left and right wing eligibility and you're looking at a guy that is turning out to be a must-start player in all leagues.


Thomas Vanek -- Buffalo's leading goal scorer suffered an upper-body injury on Jan. 31 and while a definitive time table has yet to be set, it's expected that Vanek will be sidelined for at least another week or two. Vanek was extremely productive in October, but his value has actually subsided a bit in each month since then. After posting 15 points in 10 October games, Vanek notched 12 points in 14 November games, then 12 points in 14 December games (with a minus-4 rating) and only 2 points in 12 games in January. He's still an elite left wing, but he should obviously be on the bench until he's healthy and then proves he's back to his scoring ways. 

Rick Nash -- Not much has gone right for Nash this season. Usually counted on for around 35-plus goals every year, it would appear Nash will have a difficult time reaching the 30-goal mark. Not only is his goal and point production down, but his current minus-23 rating is hurting his fantasy owners even more. In fact, in 51 games this season, only nine times has Nash finished the game with a plus-rating. With trade rumors surrounding his team and specifically Jeff Carter, it doesn't seem like things are going to turn around for Nash anytime soon.

Michael Cammalleri -- Cammalleri came into the season rated 90th among all players in Yahoo! Leagues -- he's currently rated 327th overall. Of course we do expect him to pick up his play a little bit down the stretch, but we were certainly hoping for a rebound season after a down year last year. Not only has Cammalleri struggled over his 44 games this season, but he's also not producing like we were hoping when the Canadiens shipped him back to Calgary. In six games with the Flames, Cammalleri has just 2 goals (both on the power play) and a minus-5 rating. He has skated primarily on the team's top line with Jarome Iginla and Mikael Backlund, but the production is still missing. If you still have him on your squad, we'd suggest giving him about five more games to turn things around before dumping to the waiver pool.


Clarke MacArthur -- MacArthur broke out last season in his first year with the Maple Leafs (62 points), but got off to a slow start in year two. However, he has heated up lately, posting 4 goals and 2 assists in his last three games and seeing his successful line (Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin) from last season finally start to pick up their play this year. MacArthur should easily surpass his career high of 21 goals from last season and with about two minutes of power play ice time per game, he makes for a decent bench player in deep fantasy leagues.
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