Fantasy Hockey Hot Sauce: Vol. 1

Dan BentonCorrespondent IDecember 20, 2008

This fantasy hockey assignment is quite a switch, crossing over from this year's fantasy football season. The National Hockey league is about 30-some games into its season, or about a third of the way in, and there are some new kids on the block, both team-wise in the NHL standings, and individual-wise in fantasy hockey points and production.

Fantasy hockey leagues, whether they are pay-as-you-play random drafts, keeper, dynasty, or regular live free draft leagues, are in full swing now.

As in the past, the scoring-forward categories are divided into the three positions; center, left wing, and right wings. Defensemen have their own rankings and production charts, as do goaltenders.

Throughout the season, we will keep looking at the players that are leaders in fantasy production, so that fantasy players can stay up to date on who to play, who to rest, and who to dump for new players by waiver wire.

Better knowledge of the current statistics will also help fantasy owners better evaluate and set up trades with other players without giving up too much for too little in return.

Centermen lead the stats departments usually, as they are the primary playmakers. This season, though, yet young, is led by some fantastic names that should stay in the upper elite categories for the majority of the season.  First and foremost, at this time, is Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Malkin has played 31 games at the time of this writing. To date, he has 14 goals and 39 assists and has caused opponents' net minders more nightmares than bad food selections at team meals have.

Just as importantly, Malkin is a plus-20 to go with his scoring points. The only other players in the NHL's top 20 rankings close to him in the plus/minus category are the Washington Capitols' Alexander Semin and Marc Savard of the Boston Bruins, both also at plus-20. Neither one is close to Malkin in goals and assists scored. Savard is seventh with 10 goals and 29 assists and Semin stands at 20th with 14 goals and 18 assists.

The next closest player to Malkin in points is teammate and captain of the Penguins, Sidney Crosby. Crosby has 13 goals and 33 assists for a total 46 points, scored within the same number of games played, 31.

With the two leading scorers in the league, sometimes playing on the same power play and/or line, one wonders how the Penguins stand at fourth, or next to last, in the Atlantic Division with 38 points. They trail the New York Rangers (46 points in 35 games played), the Philadelphia Flyers (42 points in 32 games played), and the New Jersey Devils (39 points in 30 games).

The next four leading scorers translate specifically by their positions as to their rankings. At third in scoring, left wing Alexander Ovechkin, the Big"O", has totalled 43 points on 20 goals and 23 assists in 32 games played for the Washington Capitals this season.

After Ovechkin comes another left wing, the New Jersey Devils' Zach Parise, with 39 points, 18 goals, and 21 assists.


Read moreFantasy Hockey Hot Sauce Vol. 1