Rest-of-season fantasy hockey rankings and wingers who can help

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Sometimes you’re seeking a short-term add on the waiver wire to help your team get through a rough spell, while other times fantasy players are looking for that long-term addition that could help their roster over the rest of the season. It’s more difficult to identify those skaters that can help now and later, and oftentimes those players are picked up for a short-term gain and end up staying on rosters because they continue to prove their worth.

That said, not all players who have a good chance to help fantasy teams over the long haul are on rosters. This week, we are taking a spin through some of the wingers available in more than 50 percent of ESPN leagues who are in a position to help now and on a going-forward basis.

Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Colorado Avalanche (rostered in 45.3 percent of ESPN leagues)

These are not your 2016-17 Avalanche, and it’s time fantasy players begin to collectively forget last season’s nightmare. Landeskog built a profile, not as a prolific scorer, but rather as a player who could contribute across the board. Last season was certainly ugly, with his points dropping from 53 to 33 and his plus/minus going from minus-5 to minus-25. He’s still not going to blow you away with offense, as his 82-game pace is currently for 61 points, but his other category contributions make the sum of the whole greater than the parts. Landeskog is on pace for a plus-32 rating, 230 shots on goal and 20:25 in average time on ice.

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Brendan Gallagher, RW, Montreal Canadiens (43.3 percent)

The Canadiens have kicked their season back into gear thanks to the return of a rested and reset Carey Price. A 10-goal outburst against the Detroit Red Wings over the weekend was an exclamation point on a span that started with Price’s return on Nov. 25. Gallagher has been playing on the Habs’ second line with Tomas Plekanec and Charles Hudon, collecting four goals and a helper during the five-game run of success. Gallagher’s past two seasons don’t inspire a lot of fantasy confidence, but he’s also spent a good chunk of those campaigns in the press box with injuries. The last time Gallagher played a healthy season in 2014-15, he managed 24 goals and 254 shots on goal, more than earning his place on fantasy teams. Guess what? Gallagher’s 82-game pace so far has him on track for 38 goals and 255 shots on goal. With an expectation that his shooting percentage returns to his career norm, that pace is about dead on for his 2014-15 campaign.

Micheal Ferland, LW/RW, Calgary Flames (22.9 percent)

Let’s just admit that the magic in Jaromir Jagr‘s ageless legs has finally begun to fade a little. Concerns over the superstar stealing a role on the top line have been proven baseless, and Ferland continues to roll with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan on a consistent basis. Admittedly, Ferland had a slow October settling in this season, but he has eight goals and 11 points in 14 games since Nov. 1. Only 14 players have more goals in that span.

Josh Anderson, LW/RW, Columbus Blue Jackets (22.7 percent)

Lost somewhat in the fact that the Blue Jackets are struggling to cobble together their secondary scoring is the fact that the top line, such that it is, has been absolutely rolling. Artemi Panarin, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Anderson have been a consistent presence for coach John Tortorella, all while the other lines face juggling to find a rhythm. Because of that, the trio has also become the de facto top power-play unit for the Jackets. Anderson has been watching his ice time rise, eclipsing 17 minutes in each of the past eight games. It’s a massive increase for a player who turned in 12:01 of ice time on average last season, and Anderson has responded to the added workload with 10 goals and 17 points in 25 games. Plus, he’ll top his shots on goal total from last season before this season is half over if he keeps up his current pace.

Sven Baertschi, LW, Vancouver Canucks (19.4 percent)

Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat seems to get more of the headlines, but Baertschi has been every bit as key a cog to the Canucks’ top line (we can start calling them the top line, right?). Even in the midst of a cold spell that has the line playing separately for the time being, Baertschi’s 82-game pace this season is still 52 points, with 18 of them on the power play. That’s a very sustainable incremental increase in scoring that can be accounted for by additional ice time and power-play responsibility. Still just 25 years old, Baertschi has his best years still ahead of him. Maybe don’t make this move until coach Travis Green has the young guns back together, though.

Craig Smith, RW, Nashville Predators (8.7 percent)

Since Kyle Turris joined the Predators on Nov. 11, the plan has gone precisely to script. Turris was brought in to upgrade the secondary scoring line, which ended up including Smith and Kevin Fiala. During that stretch of 11 games, Smith has nine of his 14 points this season (26 games played). His total pace calls for 28 goals by season’s end, but prorating just his time with Turris has him on an 82-game pace of 37 goals.


Forwards on the move

Pierre-Luc Dubois, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets (up 34 spots to No. 211)

With Anderson already mentioned above, it behooves us to note that Dubois is coming on just as strong. Dubois has cemented his role on the top line with Panarin, turning on the afterburners following a slow October. Since Nov. 1, the rookie forward has 10 points in 15 games and, as we guessed might happen at the end of last season, it appears Dubois has supplanted Alexander Wennberg as the Jackets’ top centerman — at least for now.

Milan Lucic, LW, Edmonton Oilers (up eight spots to No. 113)

It’s strange that the bar for Connor McDavid has been set so high that his 32 points in 27 games this season still has us wondering when he’ll really start to step things up. It’s coming at some point and, just like the Oilers’ wingers, you’ll want to be in the right place at the right time when it does. For now, Lucic is riding shotgun with McDavid, which is always where you want to look first. Even before Lucic ascended to his current gig on the top line, he’s put a slow start behind him. After collecting just five points and nine PIM in October, Lucic has 14 points and 40 PIM since Nov. 1.

Radek Faksa, C, Dallas Stars (enters ranks at No. 245)

While we thought a tall, Czech centerman would earn fringe fantasy value with the Stars this season, I was among those putting my chips on Martin Hanzal to be the best bet to fulfill such a description. Instead, Faksa is just two goals shy of matching his total output from last season and is riding a four-game point streak. After scoring seven points in 12:07 of average ice time during the first 16 games of the season, Faksa turned a corner in mid-November. He has nine points in nine games with 14:33 in average ice time since then.


Defensemen on the move

Erik Karlsson, D, Ottawa Senators (down six spots to No. 17)

As I wrote on Nov. 13 about Carey Price, some players are just to good to fail. Sure, it happens sometimes — just look to last season when Anze Kopitar never got it going. But more often than not, the true superstars will be back to their old selves before long. Karlsson, after missing the first bit of the season recovering from an ankle injury, notched a point in nine of his first 11 games this season for a total of 17 points. Since then, he has zero points and a minus-11 in nine games. It’s not just Karlsson, as the Sens have lost eight of those contests while scoring a grand total of nine goals in the losses. However, Karlsson is every bit as otherworldly as we have come to believe he is, so this is a matter of patience. It’s doubtful any fantasy manager with Karlsson will part for him for anything less than top-10 value, but it’s also worth asking.


Goalies on the move

Henrik Lundqvist, G, New York Rangers (up 36 spots to No. 132)

This move up the rankings does come with a warning: Lundqvist rope-a-doped us with this same move last season only to barely maintain No. 2 fantasy goaltender value by the end of the season. After starting last season with a subpar October, Lundqvist went 7-3-1 last November with a 2.37 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. Other than another burst of value in February (when it was arguably too late for many fantasy managers to recover), Lundqvist didn’t have another good month. He was terrible again in October this season, but managed a a 9-2-0 record, 2.34 GAA and .927 save percentage in November. When King Henrik is good, he’s great, but his track record over the past few seasons suggests he won’t be pushing for No. 1 fantasy goaltender value again. That said, on this Rangers team that is nearly unbeatable at home, Lundqvist can hold value as a No. 2.


Quick hits

In response to four losses in six games, Tyler Johnson earned a promotion up the depth chart to the top line with Steven Stamkos and Vladislav Namestnikov. Nikita Kucherov landed on the second line with Brayden Point and Ondrej Palat. It could be a temporary move, but it still warrants some consideration for Johnson over the short term. … Kyle Connor is day-to-day for the Winnipeg Jets, leaving Mathieu Perreault to feast on the top line with Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. Perreault is worth starting every game that Connor is out. … Adam Henrique has been made comfortable since his arrival in Anaheim, playing on a line with fellow former New Jersey Devils forward Joseph Blandisi and Corey Perry. His first goal as a Duck was even set up by charity game buddy Brandon Montour. Henrique should hold value until Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler return later this month. … Jakob Chychrun scored and skated a respectable 22:40 in his season debut on Sunday for the Arizona Coyotes.


Article source: http://www.espn.com/fantasy/hockey/story/_/id/21666542/fantasy-nhl-top-250-player-rankings-rest-season

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