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Fantasy Corner: January 13, 2019

The first half of the season has brought on many surprises and some things that have been expected. The rankings and awards are based off of the standard Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey statistics; these are the following for forwards (goals, assists, plus minus, power play points, shots and hits) and for goalies (wins, save percentage, goals against average and shutouts). These rankings and awards are also based on a head-to-head: categories league.

Top in Assists: Nikita Kucherov, TBL

Stats: 45GP, 22G, 53A, +15, 27PPP, 126SOG, 19HITS

Kucherov has been on an absolute tear of late and has come away as one of the top contenders for the Hart Trophy. He has put up 57 points in his last 27 games played, a 2.11 points per game average. Of those 57 points, 22 of them have come on the power play. Tampa has the league’s most lethal power play at 30.5%. With their assets they have on their offensive side of the puck, I don’t see their power play slowing down. Kucherov currently leads the league in assists, points and power play points. He is also averaging 2-3 minutes less time on ice than other top fantasy assets.

Top in Goals: Alexander Ovechkin, WSH

Stats: 44GP, 32G, 18A, +13, 13PPP, 176SOG, 130HITS

One of the most prolific goal scorers of all-time is on pace to have his second-best goal scoring season to date through 44 games (on pace for 60). He is finding a way to score more even strength goals than ever before. If he can find a way to score a few more goals on the power play this season he could be on track to reach another 65+ goal season. His shot from the left circle is one of the best of all time. He is proving that even with age, he can find different ways to find the back of the net. As long as he keeps playing with Backstrom and Kuznetsov, he will continue to find ways to fill the net. His passion and drive to win is shown not only in his offensive stats, but also the 130 hits that he has made this season.

Fantasy MVP: Nathan MacKinnon, COL

Stats: 45GP, 26G, 40A, +17, 205SOG, 26HITS

MacKinnon has picked up right where he left off at the end of last season, bringing an MVP-worthy performance. The line of Rantanen, Landeskog and MacKinnon has put up a total of 185 points in 45 games this season. MacKinnon has driven the line so far and is a big reason why the Avalanche hold a wild car spot at this point in the season. He has an average of 1.46 points per game. His ability to use his skill at top speed has him in MVP races with the likes of Kucherov, McDavid and Gaudreau. MacKinnon finds a way to get shots on net (1st in the league by 25 shots) and puts up a ton of points on the power 3play (3rd in the league behind Pastrnak and Kucherov).

Top Fantasy Defenceman: Brent Burns, SJS

Stats: 9G, 43A, +11, 20PPP, 168SOG, 48HITS

Burns has been himself this season, putting up an amazing 52 points through 47 games this season and is on pace for a career-high 91 points. If he can keep up this pace, he will be the first defenceman since Ray Bourque in the 93-94 season to score more than 90 points. Burns is a fantasy all-star because of his points and his shot quantity, leading all defenceman in both categories. The Sharks’ power play is among the leagues’ best at 24.9% and second in the league since December 1st. In that same time span, the Sharks have the second-best record in the NHL, amassing 32 points across those 21 games. He really seems to have his two-play figured out this season, producing a +11 compared to the -16 from the 17-18 season.

Top Fantasy Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK

Stats: 26W, 2.49GAA, .911SV%, 6SHO

Fleury is the league leader in Wins and Shutouts, the most talked about categories in fantasy hockey. He also has a respectable 2.49 goals against average and a .911 save percentage. He has easily been the Golden Knights’ MVP so far, this season, carrying them to the third-best record since December 1st (14-4-3). The Golden Knights are clear in the top three of the Pacific Division, competing with San Jose and Calgary for the division crown. All three teams have been outstanding recently, and the race down the stretch will be a fun one to follow. Fleury was the main reason early on that the Golden Knights were able to stay within striking distance of the playoffs.

Biggest Draft Steal: Mikko Rantanen, COL

Average Draft Position: 61.5 | Current Ranking: 4

Stats: 45GP, 20G, 48A, +16, 23PPP, 116SOG, 33HITS

Rantanen is the obvious choice here as he is the 4th ranked player in Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey standard leagues and is 2nd in league scoring with 68 points. Playing with a guy like Nathan MacKinnon can completely change your career. Although Rantanen was also a top ranked prospect, drafted at #10 in 2015 by the Avalanche. Playing on a line in with MacKinnon the past two seasons has him with 152 points in his past 125 games. This line is considered to be one of the top lines in the NHL, along with the Bruins and Lightning top lines.

Runner Up: Elias Lindholm, CGY

Average Draft Position: | Current Ranking: 11

Stats: 21G, 31A, +25, 19PPP, 112SOG, 43HITS

Lindholm has definitely been a huge draft steal this season, but has really benefitted by playing on the big Calgary line with Gaudreau and Monohan. Lindholm was considered to be one of the top prospects in his draft class and was awarded by being drafted 5th overall in the 2013 draft. Lindholm is proving to be living up the top 5 draft hype with 1.13 points per game and is on pace to have more than 90 points this season.

Biggest Draft Bust: Anze Kopitar, LAK

Average Draft Position: | Current Ranking: 130

Stats: 13G, 18A, +2, 7PPP, 95SOG, 32HITS

Kopitar had a huge season last year, but just like his team, he has not lived up to last season’s hype. From Hart Trophy candidate last season, to one of the biggest busts in Fantasy leagues this season. There is still time for Kopitar to turn it around this season, however the Kings could be in for a big rebuild and start trading some big pieces before the trade deadline. Fantasy owners should make a decision on Kopitar, whether they want to keep him and bet on him or trade him for low value.

Top Fantasy Team: Tampa Bay Lightning

From a strong and deep forward group, to a very solid D core and a very good, young goaltender in Andrei Vasilevsky. They are the best team in the league and have shown their power since December 1st with a 17-1-1 record. They have three players with over 50 points and another six players with over 20 points. Vasilevsky has an 18-4-2 record and has shown no signs of nagging after missing some games due to injury. Kucherov has absolutely dominated the league in the past couple months and has brought Stamkos and Point up along with him. We will see if the Lightning can keep up this torrid pace heading into the playoffs, as I have them winning the Stanley Cup and finally breaking through their barrier. Although, come next season, it will be tough to keep all their pieces together.

Top 3 Fantasy Team Names

1. Eichel Tower

A play on the famous Eifel Tower in Paris, France fits well with the amazing season Jack Eichel is having.

2. Phaneuf Said

Phaneuf said... enough said...

3. Bettman Returns

As much as Bettman is a villain in most arenas, he has done a fantastic job in the NHL since taking over in 1993. Mix him in with one of the best superheroes of all time, “Batman Returns”, makes this a truly great fantasy hockey name.

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