Commentary

Fron Line: All-Star break all-stars

Updated: March 14, 2011, 2:29 PM ET
By Sean Allen | Special to ESPN.com

A lot of playing fantasy hockey revolves not around evaluation of what a player has done, but what a player has done for you lately. A blind look at any ranking system is never enough to make a judgment. If one were to look at the ESPN Player Rater as a way to decide whom they should own, they could easily be deceived. Sidney Crosby is a perfect example: A concussion has kept Sid the Kid out since before the All-Star break, yet he still ranks 15th overall for the season.

Some teams have played as many as 21 games since the All-Star break, so those numbers actually give us a pretty good sample size. Let's have a look at some players that have been leading the pack since the league broke for the All-Star celebration.

David Booth, Florida Panthers: He may not have a lot to show for it so far, but Booth is firing the puck like it's going out of style. Tied for fifth in the league in shots on goal since the All-Star break, Booth relies on his high frequency shooting to score. While he only has seven goals and 11 points in 20 games since the break, his 76 shots suggest that he could finish the season strong if he can settle his old patterns. With four goals in his past five games, he is heating up.

David Krejci, Boston Bruins: With 21 points in 18 games since the All-Star break, Krejci's points per game are tied for seventh best in the league. After watching as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi stole headlines during the month of January, Krejci has reassumed his position as the team's top centerman once he, Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic began heating up. It's been a so-so season overall for Krejci but he looks to be finishing with the top-30 potential he has.

Martin Erat
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesMartin Erat has been a top-10 points scorer since the all-star break

Martin Erat, Nashville Predators: Also with 21 points since the All-Star break, Erat is tied for eighth in total points since then. Seven goals and 14 assists in 19 games is a nice balance between scoring and playmaking for any fantasy club. Widely available in 80 percent of ESPN leagues, Erat has kept his pace up despite less-than-stellar linemates in David Legwand and Joel Ward. With six points in his past three games, his pace is not slipping either.

Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders: Part of what is probably the most underrated line in the NHL in recent weeks, Nielsen trails only Jonathan Toews for plus/minus since the All-Star break. With 17 points and a plus-14 in 21 games, Nielsen is keeping the pace set by Michael Grabner and Kyle Okposo, but while his linemates have earned their way onto a majority of ESPN league rosters, Nielsen remains owned in just 6 percent of leagues.

Phil Kessel and Mikhail Grabovski, Toronto Maple Leafs: There is certainly something to be said when these Leafs have managed to claim a spot tied for fifth and tied for eighth, respectively, in shots on goal since the break. Kessel has fired 76 in 20 games, while Grabovski is right behind him with 72. Both players have held on near the top of the ESPN Player Rater in the second half, and both players look to finish strong. All this despite rarely sharing the ice together.

Derek MacKenzie, Columbus Blue Jackets: A lot of the focus was on Matt Calvert's play as a member of the Jackets top six, but MacKenzie has been quietly gaining more value in the background. While his 13 points in 19 games since the All-Star break is impressive, MacKenzie's plus-11 is even more interesting to fantasy owners. No one has caught on yet, as MacKenzie is literally owned in 0.0 percent of ESPN leagues. The veteran depth center has found a groove and it is worth exploiting as long as he remains hot.

Vincent Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning: Finally being treated properly as a member of the top power-play unit, Lecavalier has more power-play goals (seven) than anyone else since the All-Star break. Partly thanks to the ailments and slow play of Steve Downie in recent weeks, Lecavalier has reclaimed his rightful spot on the top unit with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis. His overall performance this season has left us somewhat wanting, but Lecavalier appears intent on finishing strong.

Top 100 Forwards

Note: Sean Allen's top 100 forwards are ranked for their expected performance in ESPN standard leagues from this point on, not on the statistics that have already been accrued. ESPN standard stats include goals, assists, power-play points, shots on goal, plus/minus, penalty minutes and average time on ice. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Alex Ovechkin, Was (2)
2. Daniel Sedin, Van (1)
3. Steven Stamkos, TB (3)
4. Henrik Sedin, Van (4)
5. Jonathan Toews, Chi (7)
6. Pavel Datsyuk, Det (5)
7. Corey Perry, Ana (6)
8. Martin St. Louis, TB (8)
9. Anze Kopitar, LA (9)
10. Alexander Semin, Was (11)
11. Patrick Kane, Chi (12)
12. Jarome Iginla, Cgy (17)
13. Ilya Kovalchuk, NJ (18)
14. Rick Nash, Cls (16)
15. Jeff Carter, Phi (13)
16. Nicklas Backstrom, Was (10)
17. Dany Heatley, SJ (14)
18. Eric Staal, Car (15)
19. Henrik Zetterberg, Det (19)
20. John Tavares, NYI (21)
21. Claude Giroux, Phi (20)
22. Ryan Getzlaf, Ana (24)
23. Tomas Plekanec, Mon (25)
24. Brad Richards, Dal (26)
25. Andy McDonald, StL (43)
26. Joe Thornton, SJ (27)
27. Bobby Ryan, Ana (28)
28. Alex Burrows, Van (23)
29. David Backes, StL (32)
30. Teemu Selanne, Ana (29)
31. Milan Lucic, Bos (30)
32. Phil Kessel, Tor (34)
33. Patrick Sharp, Chi (31)
34. Ryan Kesler, Van (22)
35. Vincent Lecavalier, TB (40)
36. Johan Franzen, Det (35)
37. Marian Gaborik, NYR (44)
38. Danny Briere, Phi (36)
39. Scott Hartnell, Phi (37)
40. Chris Stewart, StL (39)
41. Marian Hossa, Chi (46)
42. Mike Richards, Phi (33)
43. Logan Couture, SJ (41)
44. David Krejci, Bos (42)
45. Andrew Ladd, Atl (59)
46. Loui Eriksson, Dal (38)
47. Drew Stafford, Buf (45)
48. Alex Tanguay, Cgy (49)
49. Nathan Horton, Bos (50)
50. Michael Grabner, NYI (67)
51. Patrick Marleau, SJ (51)
52. Martin Havlat, Min (53)
53. Shane Doan, Pho (60)
54. Thomas Vanek, Buf (54)
55. R.J. Umberger, Cls (56)
56. Jason Spezza, Ott (80)
57. Blake Wheeler, Atl (88)
58. Brad Boyes, StL (75)
59. Justin Williams, LA (61)
60. Devin Setoguchi, SJ (63)
61. Dustin Penner, Edm (64)
62. Ryan Callahan, NYR (79)
63. Patrik Berglund, StL (81)
64. Curtis Glencross, Cgy (NR)
65. Olli Jokinen, Cgy (66)
66. Mikhail Grabovski, Tor (71)
67. Dustin Brown, LA (52)
68. Brenden Morrow, Dal (55)
69. Joe Pavelski, SJ (68)
70. Patrik Elias, NJ (69)
71. Mikael Samuelsson, Van (57)
72. Brian Rolston, NJ (86)
73. Dave Bolland, Chi (62)
74. Jamie Benn, Dal (NR)
75. Jordan Staal, Pit (48)
76. Jason Arnott, NJ (72)
77. Vaclav Prospal, NYR (90)
78. Mike Ribeiro, Dal (74)
79. Ryan Smyth, LA (58)
80. Daniel Cleary, Det (77)
81. Martin Erat, Nsh (100)
82. Shawn Horcoff, Edm (94)
83. Ryane Clowe, SJ (91)
84. Frans Nielsen, NYI (NR)
85. Matt Moulson, NYI (89)
86. Patrice Bergeron, Bos (47)
87. Stephen Weiss, Fla (83)
88. Mike Cammalleri, Mon (84)
89. Jakub Voracek, Cls (NR)
90. Ray Whitney, Pho (87)
91. Kyle Okposo, NYI (NR)
92. Rene Bourque, Cgy (NR)
93. Antoine Vermette, Cls (92)
94. Brian Gionta, Mon (70)
95. Tim Connolly, Buf (NR)
96. T.J. Oshie, StL (96)
97. Nikolai Kulemin, Tor (78)
98. Radim Vrbata, Pho (82)
99. Mikko Koivu, Min (NR)
100. Teddy Purcell, TB (NR)

Rising and Falling

Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators (up 24 spots): I should have listened to myself. I've been suggesting that Spezza was saving up for a strong finish all season long, yet I still went as far as to even remove him from the top-100 at one point. You can't really blame me, as his stats were bottomed out, he was hurt and the Senators were falling apart. Still, even as I lowered his rank, I referenced last season's strong finish and said he might do it again. Here we are and Spezza has been a maniac in recent weeks. Since returning from injury in early February, he has 19 points in 17 games. It doesn't matter who he is playing with, as Spezza is carrying himself right now, but it wouldn't hurt to have a look at Bobby Butler or Colin Greening at this point.

Andy McDonald, St. Louis Blues (up 18 spots): I'm being bold and bumping McDonald into the top 25. He certainly has earned that value during recent weeks, but I feel it's still not universally accepted that he has been dominating so well lately. Certainly none of us expected to see McDonald ranked as a top-25 player at any point this season. Still, looking at the ESPN Player Rater for the past month, McDonald is ranked No. 5. Hard to believe he is still available in some leagues (almost 20 percent of them).

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (down 39 spots): As mentioned in the opening when I was talking about Krejci, Bergeron has ceded a hot January on offense to play the defensive hockey he has been better known for in recent seasons. There is no need for his line to lead an offensive charge when the Bruins top line is scoring enough goals for everyone. I still envision a burst of offense or two from Bergeron, which is why he isn't right out of the top-100, but expecting the high-level of production we saw earlier is false hope.

Ryan Smyth, Los Angeles Kings (down 21 spots): A physical winger that plays a power-forward game and used to play for the Edmonton Oilers; it appears as though Smyth has been replaced by Dustin Penner when it comes to value on the Kings offense. Since Penner was acquired at the trade deadline, Smyth has one assist and a minus-6 in six games. While Penner has settled next to Anze Kopitar, the duo has also stolen Justin Williams away from Smyth's line in recent games. The way Kopitar and Penner click together, there is little doubt most of the Kings offense will now flow through the top line. Smyth has even been bumped from significant power-play duty lately.

Scoring Lines

Tyler Ennis, Buffalo Sabres: The arrival of Brad Boyes has breathed life into the rookie season of Ennis. While putting up respectable numbers all season, since Boyes arrival at the trade deadline, Ennis has gone to a whole new level. With eight points in eight games, Ennis is getting along perfectly with Boyes and Tim Connolly as linemates. If you had given up on Ennis earlier this season, it is time for another look. He is available in 30 percent of ESPN leagues.

Cory Stillman, Carolina Hurricanes: The rest of his Hurricanes teammates haven't been on any kind of tear lately, but Stillman is retaining plenty of value since coming over in a trade deadline deal with the Florida Panthers. After notching just 23 points in 44 games with the Panthers, Stillman has six points in eight games with the Canes and has upped his shooting percentage from 8.6 percent to 15.4 percent. He is still glued to the hip of catalyst Eric Staal both on and off the power play.

Power Plays

Vaclav Prospal, New York Rangers: While Bryan McCabe himself may not be benefiting from his move to the Rangers from a fantasy perspective, the other Rangers are feeling the trickle down. Prospal has four power-play points in the seven games with McCabe at the helm. Now that Marian Gaborik is back in action from concussion symptoms, expect this power play to get even better.

Simon Gagne, Tampa Bay Lightning: While I mentioned Lecavalier's power-play presence earlier, it should be noted that Gagne is taking advantage of increased ice time on the man-advantage as well. Still buried on the third line at even strength, Gagne is getting second power-play unit time. To that end, three of his four points in his past three games have come on the power play.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He is the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Hockey Writer of the Year. You can e-mail him here.

Sean Allen is a fantasy analyst for ESPN.com. He was the 2008 and 2009 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Hockey Writer of the Year. You can tweet him @seanard.

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