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Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Open Ice: Top 200 Rankings

By Sean Allen
Special to ESPN.com

Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Malone
Brandon Dubinsky and Ryan Malone can provide help in penalty minutes and other statistics.

The news that Steve Downie could have a broken bone in his face -- in addition to a concussion -- is a big blow to fantasy owners. Certainly, it was probably not taken as good news that Downie was moving from the hottest team in the NHL to possibly the team with the worst start to the season (given its roster on paper), when he was traded from the Colorado Avalanche to the Philadelphia Flyers last week. But, while his point potential would certainly be reduced, it doesn't matter which team you play for to earn penalty minutes. And PIM are the true fantasy value of Downie.

Downie's ability to pile up minutes in the sin bin, without hurting your team in other fantasy categories, is what makes him so attractive. Since he is out for the foreseeable future, it seems like a good time to break down who else in the NHL is providing PIM at a fantasy-relevant pace.

The following are players are among -- or have the potential to be among -- the top 150 skaters on the ESPN Player Rater. The Player Rater is the perfect tool for this exercise, as it looks at all fantasy stats.

The Top 200

Note: Sean Allen's top 200 players 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 for skaters, and wins, goals-against average and save percentage for goalies. Last week's ranking is indicated in parentheses.

1. Sidney Crosby, F, Pit (1)
2. Steven Stamkos, F, TB (2)
3. Alex Ovechkin, F, Was (3)
4. Tuukka Rask, G, Bos (4)
5. John Tavares, F, NYI (5)
6. Henrik Zetterberg, F, Det (6)
7. Phil Kessel, F, Tor (7)
8. Corey Perry, F, Ana (8)
9. Evgeni Malkin, F, Pit (9)
10. P.K. Subban, D, Mon (10)
11. Anze Kopitar, F, LA (11)
12. Pavel Datsyuk, F, Det (12)
13. Daniel Sedin, F, Van (19)
14. Henrik Sedin, F, Van (14)
15. Patrick Kane, F, Chi (13)
16. Erik Karlsson, D, Ott (17)
17. Jonathan Toews, F, Chi (18)
18. Antti Niemi, G, SJ (16)
19. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pit (22)
20. Dustin Byfuglien, D, Win (15)
21. Carey Price, G, Mon (20)
22. Chris Kunitz, F, Pit (21)
23. Tyler Seguin, F, Dal (23)
24. Ryan Getzlaf, F, Ana (25)
25. Martin St. Louis, F, TB (26)
26. Logan Couture, F, SJ (31)
27. Henrik Lundqvist, G, NYR (28)
28. Zach Parise, F, Min (30)
29. Kris Letang, D, Pit (32)
30. Evander Kane, F, Wpg (33)
31. Nicklas Backstrom, F, Was (34)
32. Jonathan Quick, G, LA (35)
33. Taylor Hall, F, Edm (87)
34. Corey Crawford, G, Chi (37)
35. Matt Duchene, F, Col (38)
36. Ryan Suter, D, Min (24)
37. Jason Spezza, F, Ott (39)
38. Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Cls (41)
39. Shea Weber, D, Nsh (42)
40. David Backes, F, StL (49)
41. Patrick Marleau, F, SJ (43)
42. James van Riemsdyk, F, Tor (59)
43. Claude Giroux, F, Phi (40)
44. Eric Staal, F, Car (27)
45. Roberto Luongo, G, Van (47)
46. Drew Doughty, D, LA (46)
47. Craig Anderson, G, Ott (29)
48. Jamie Benn, F, Dal (48)
49. Joe Thornton, F, SJ (45)
50. Patrick Sharp, F, Chi (50)
51. Marian Hossa, F, Chi (51)
52. Jimmy Howard, G, Det (52)
53. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Pho (60)
54. Thomas Vanek, F, NYI (57)
55. Jaroslav Halak, G, StL (55)
56. Alex Pietrangelo, D, StL (61)
57. Bobby Ryan, F, Ott (69)
58. Niklas Kronwall, D, Det (56)
59. Alexander Semin, F, Car (44)
60. Semyon Varlamov, G, Col (36)
61. Andrei Markov, D, Mon (53)
62. Mike Green, D, Was (62)
63. Alexander Steen, F, StL (79)
64. Jonathan Bernier, G, Tor (64)
65. Ryan Kesler, F, Van (71)
66. Dustin Brown, F, LA (63)
67. Marian Gaborik, F, Cls (54)
68. Nazem Kadri, F, Tor (78)
69. Max Pacioretty, F, Mon (133)
70. Matt Moulson, F, Buf (68)
71. Joffrey Lupul, F, Tor (58)
72. Duncan Keith, D, Chi (72)
73. Joe Pavelski, F, SJ (82)
74. Jordan Eberle, F, Edm (75)
75. Mike Ribeiro, F, Pho (67)
76. Mikko Koivu, F, Min (74)
77. Dion Phaneuf, D, Tor (70)
78. Radim Vrbata, F, Pho (80)
79. Kyle Okposo, F, NYI (112)
80. Justin Williams, F, LA (81)
81. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, F, Edm (83)
82. Gabriel Landeskog, F, Col (84)
83. Jason Pominville, F, Min (85)
84. Dennis Wideman, D, Cgy (86)
85. Tobias Enstrom, D, Win (65)
86. Zdeno Chara, D, Bos (77)
87. Josh Harding, G, Min (172)
88. Jarome Iginla, F, Bos (90)
89. David Krejci, F, Bos (102)
90. Patrice Bergeron, F, Bos (73)
91. Brad Richards, F, NYR (92)
92. Milan Lucic, F, Bos (93)
93. Mike Smith, G, Pho (94)
94. Pascal Dupuis, F, Pit (91)
95. Cody Franson, D, Tor (99)
96. Andrew Ladd, F, Wpg (89)
97. Jeff Carter, F, LA (76)
98. Keith Yandle, D, Pho (113)
99. Sam Gagner, F, Edm (103)
100. Johan Franzen, F, Det (66)
101. Brian Campbell, D, Fla (104)
102. T.J. Oshie, F, StL (124)
103. Jeff Skinner, F, Car (96)
104. Kyle Turris, F, Ott (138)
105. Mike Richards, F, LA (109)
106. Ryan O'Reilly, F, Col (110)
107. Tomas Fleischmann, F, Fla (97)
108. Blake Wheeler, F, Wpg (100)
109. Braden Holtby, G, Was (116)
110. Jakub Voracek, F, Phi (107)
111. Tomas Hertl, F, SJ (108)
112. Dan Boyle, D, SJ (NR)
113. Cory Schneider, G, NJ (88)
114. Derek Stepan, F, NYR (132)
115. Brent Burns, F, SJ (114)
116. Patrik Elias, F, NJ (95)
117. Brandon Dubinsky, F, Cls (105)
118. Jonas Hiller, G, Ana (111)
119. Torey Krug, D, Bos (117)
120. Tomas Plekanec, F, Mon (119)
121. Kari Lehtonen, G, Dal (131)
122. James Wisniewski, D, Cls (120)
123. Frans Nielsen, F, NYI (134)
124. Loui Eriksson, F, Dal (144)
125. P.A. Parenteau, F, Col (157)
126. Ben Bishop, G, TB (170)
127. Scott Hartnell, F, Phi (123)
128. Brendan Gallagher, F, Mon (143)
129. Alex Burrows, F, Van (125)
130. Daniel Alfredsson, F, Det (130)
131. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, StL (126)
132. Justin Schultz, D, Edm (127)
133. Brandon Saad, F, Chi (128)
134. Alexander Edler, D, Van (147)
135. Jaromir Jagr, F, NJ (129)
136. Alex Galchenyuk, F, Mon (141)
137. Teddy Purcell, F, TB (101)
138. David Perron, F, Edm (118)
139. Pekka Rinne, G, Nsh (115)
140. Rick Nash, F, NYR (122)
141. David Clarkson, F, Tor (121)
142. Jiri Hudler, F, Cgy (140)
143. Cody Hodgson, F, Buf (151)
144. Jiri Tlusty, F, Car (136)
145. Jason Garrison, D, Van (137)
146. Mikhail Grabovski, F, Was (156)
147. Bryan Little, F, Wpg (153)
148. Jussi Jokinen, F, Pit (177)
149. Sean Monahan, F, Cgy (142)
150. Jack Johnson, D, Cls (135)
151. Steve Downie, F, Col (98)
152. Matt Carle, D, TB (146)
153. Nathan MacKinnon, F, Col (150)
154. Brad Marchand, F, Bos (154)
155. Jonathan Huberdeau, F, Fla (139)
156. Marek Zidlicky, D, NJ (158)
157. Evgeni Nabokov, G, NYI (159)
158. Wayne Simmonds, F, Phi (145)
159. Lars Eller, F, Mon (152)
160. Alex Killorn, F, TB (NR)
161. Paul Stastny, F, Col (183)
162. Milan Michalek, F, Ott (164)
163. Marcus Johansson, F, Was (165)
164. Seth Jones, D, Nsh (173)
165. Mikkel Boedker, F, Pho (166)
166. Ray Whitney, F, Dal (167)
167. Andre Benoit, D, Col (160)
168. Mark Streit, D, Phi (106)
169. Vincent Lecavalier, F, Phi (168)
170. Vladimir Tarasenko, F, StL (162)
171. Shane Doan, F, Pho (169)
172. Justin Faulk, D, Car (161)
173. Matt Niskanen, D, Pit (171)
174. Mike Cammalleri, F, Cgy (176)
175. Jay Bouwmeester, D, StL (199)
176. Erik Johnson, D, Col (180)
177. Nail Yakupov, F, Edm (181)
178. Michael Grabner, F, NYI (182)
179. Cam Ward, G, Car (190)
180. Brenden Dillon, D, Dal (185)
181. Damien Brunner, F, NJ (179)
182. Brent Seabrook, D, Chi (NR)
183. Niklas Backstrom, G, Min (186)
184. Martin Hanzal, F, Pho (187)
185. Nathan Gerbe, F, Car (184)
186. Kris Russell, D, Cgy (188)
187. Jean-Sebastien Giguere, G, Col (NR)
188. Steve Mason, G, Phi (189)
189. Ryan Malone, F, TB (175)
190. Radko Gudas, D, TB (200)
191. Alex Chiasson, F, Dal (192)
192. Travis Hamonic, D, NYI (NR)
193. Francois Beauchemin, D, Ana (197)
194. Antoine Vermette, F, Pho (NR)
195. Nino Niederreiter, F, Min (NR)
196. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, D, SJ (198)
197. Mikael Granlund, F, Min (NR)
198. James Reimer, G, Tor (NR)
199. Clarke MacArthur, F, Ott (NR)
200. Robin Lehner, G, Ott (NR)

Brandon Dubinsky, C/LW, Columbus Blue Jackets: While there is reason to discount Dubinsky because the Blue Jackets' top line is not scoring as advertised, don't overlook his value in the PIM department. No stranger to collecting a nice mix of penalty minutes and points, Dubinsky has managed the impressive feat of collecting 32 penalty minutes while also playing almost 19:30 per game. While his other contributions for fantasy are more subtle, Dubinsky offers positive Player Rater value in all seven standard categories and, thanks to his role on the top line, his shots on goal are well above average. Dubinsky will be owned in every league, but if his owner isn't looking at the big picture, they could very well be frustrated with his eight points in 13 games. You can point out that even Nick Bonino or Brad Richardson have eight points as you pry away Dubinsky for his PIM.

Radko Gudas, D, Tampa Bay Lightning: It's always nice when you can find a defenseman to contribute to your penalty minutes, because they already have a leg up on forwards for average ice time. Gudas fits the bill, playing just shy of 20 minutes a night on the blue line for the Bolts. While Gudas' numbers are buoyed by an incident against the Florida Panthers that saw him ejected (with 22 PIM on the night), he still has more penalty minutes than Dubinsky if you remove that game. We also know that Gudas finished sixth in the AHL last season with 207 PIM in only 57 games (because of duty in the NHL). Factor in that Gudas' power-play time is increasing, and you have a player who should be on your radar anyway. The PIM are just a bonus.

Ryan Malone, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning: The prospects of owning Malone became a little bit dimmer this past week, since Alex Killorn has been killing it on the top line after a depth chart shuffle. But Malone is still playing on the top power-play unit with Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, so there is still potential for some extra points. Don't overlook Malone's 30 penalty minutes, either. Always a threat for more than 100 PIM in a healthy season, Malone is off to a good start. Rotisserie leagues should especially take notice, because Malone has a tendency to be streaky. But over the course of a season, if he stays healthy, Malone's stats will be worth having in your lineup.

Chris Stewart, RW, St. Louis Blues: There is no better example of a player that can get red hot, only to cool off just as quickly. You may recall Stewart's insane month of March last season, in which he scored eight goals and collected eight assists in 14 games. He is off the radar this season, and with good reason. Coach Ken Hitchcock hasn't been asking Stewart for much offense this season, burying him on the depth chart. But with 38 penalty minutes and an increasing shots on goal total, Stewart really only hurts you in the ice time department. If you are searching for some PIM for the back end of your roster, you could do a lot worse than a player that led the NHL in scoring for a month last season. Even if he doesn't explode offensively, you know you can quietly collect those PIM.

Forwards Rising and Falling

Bobby Ryan, RW, Ottawa Senators (up 12 spots to No. 57): Ryan has found a perfect role on a line with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur. While Turris continues to blossom into an elite center, MacArthur provides just the right amount of possession skills and grit. Ryan is there to close the deal. How much has the balance of power swung to this line? Well, it's Jason Spezza joining the three players to form the first power-play unit, not the other way around. Of course, this trio taking over as the top line isn't good news for everybody. Cory Conacher can be dropped in all leagues, Milan Michalek is on the bubble thanks to his minus-7 and Mika Zibanejad isn't getting enough premium ice time to crack anything but deep leagues. It could only be a matter of time before other teams turn their focus to Ryan and Turris, which could mean some cold spells. For now, though, this is the only Senators line that matters to fantasy owners.

Eric Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes (down 17 spots to No. 44): What's most concerning about Staal is that he is looking more like the 0.85 points per game and minus-20 player from 2011-12 than the 1.10 points per game and plus-5 player of last season. His line is the same most nights, with Alexander Semin and Jiri Tlusty, and although the power play is struggling for the Hurricanes, it wasn't a huge factor last season, either. So what gives? The answer is depth and support. Take away the games in which the Hurricanes have been without Jeff Skinner to anchor the second line, and Staal is actually back in business. Overall, he has eight points in 14 games with a minus-10. With Skinner in the lineup, Staal has eight points in 10 games with a minus-5. Not a huge improvement, but much better. We have no timetable for Skinner to return, but he is traveling with the team. Let's hope, for Staal's sake, he is back sooner than later.

Defensemen Rising and Falling

Kimmo Timonen, D, Philadelphia Flyers and Sergei Gonchar, D, Dallas Stars (dropped out of rankings): If there is anything worse than Gonchar's one assist and minus-5 in 14 games, it's Timonen's zero points and minus-2 in 13 games. Both players are losing their power-play time. Gonchar's grip on the man advantage is gone now that Alex Goligoski has collected a goal on the power play. Mark Streit has done no better than Timonen for the Flyers, so the Finn still gets the most power-play time. But that won't last forever. The former high-scoring defensemen are both approaching 40 years of age, and are already looking like non-factors for this season.

Goaltenders Rising and Falling

Josh Harding, G, Minnesota Wild (up 85 spots to No. 87): That sound you heard this past week was the breaking point for when Harding transformed from a sell-high player to a hold (or possibly even buy). We just couldn't go all-in on Harding earlier because he has teased us so many times in the past, only to have Niklas Backstrom take the job back. Harding has long been a top prospect who has shed his prospect label in recent seasons after too many seasons of being a backup goaltender. But there was a time when he was considered the top future talent in the crease. That is to say, Harding's combination of skill and opportunity have finally collided, and can no longer be ignored by the Wild brass or fantasy owners. So don't trade him and think you are ditching an asset before Backstrom inevitably takes back his job. That will not be the case. Of course, there is always the cautionary reminder that Harding does have multiple sclerosis and, while he has clearly found the right method to manage the disease, it is always a possibility that it can impact his play unpredictably. Do you want to buy into Harding if you are already having a pretty good season in goal for your fantasy team? Not at all. But if you have been struggling to find consistency between the pipes, trading for Harding is just the right kind of gamble you should consider making.

Craig Anderson, G, Ottawa Senators (down 18 spots to No. 47): Already giving up enough goals for Robin Lehner's name to be tossed around for more work, Anderson is now day to day with a neck strain after a collision against the Dallas Stars on Sunday. Lehner put in a Herculean effort in the previous game, stopping 53 of 57 shots that the Senators allowed to pepper the net. It's the third time this season Lehner has made 45 or more saves in a game, and he has only started four contests. It should say something that Anderson has not made more than 40 saves in a game this season. Are the Sens more confident letting Lehner face some rubber? He has certainly handled the pressure more than adequately, sporting a .938 save percentage. Anderson's stiff neck may be enough of an opening for Lehner to pick up his workload going forward.

Quick Hits

• It looks like Max Pacioretty is returning to a great line assignment for fantasy owners. He took over for Lars Eller with Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher late in the game on Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche, and will apparently stay there. This would be a boost for all three players, and could mean an extension for Michael Bournival on the line with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta.

• While things looked terribly troubling for Joffrey Lupul over the weekend, as he found himself on the third line, things are looking up again. With the extended absence of Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk will do his best impression of a centerman and allow Lupul back onto the top line with Phil Kessel. This is bad news for Nazem Kadri, who is back on a line with David Clarkson and Mason Raymond.

Dustin Penner is back from a concussion, skating with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and sporting a three-game assist streak.

Loui Eriksson could be back on the Boston Bruins' second line this week. It's probably still not enough to save Patrice Bergeron's struggling stats, but it might be enough to knock Brad Marchand back off a scoring line.

• The continued consolidation of the Avalanche lines could mean a boost coming for Nathan MacKinnon. The rookie has slowed down after a hot start, but could pick things back up with the injury to Alex Tanguay. Instead of skating on the third line, MacKinnon should replace Tanguay on the second line with Paul Stastny and Gabriel Landeskog.

Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin were split up by the Dallas Stars, and the team won. Beneficiaries of this potential continued deployment are Valeri Nichushkin, who played with Benn, and Alex Chiasson, who played with Seguin.

Taylor Hall is reported to be making an earlier-than-expected comeback from his injury. Keep an eye out for him as early as this week, and feel safe in marching out Jordan Eberle again once Hall is back.

Jeff Carter's injury is a chance for Tyler Toffoli to establish himself enough to play with Carter once he returns.

• Don't trouble yourself too much with the New York Rangers, despite some success by the trio of Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider and Mats Zuccarello this week. They potted some points against the New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres and Carolina Hurricanes, with most of the success coming against the Hurricanes, who are on their third-string goalie. Unless Rick Nash returns, only consider using them when the schedule is soft.

• Martin Havlat is back with the San Jose Sharks, and playing on a line with Patrick Marleau and Logan Couture. Invest at your own risk.

• Who is Jayson Megna? Who cares. He could be a plaid ottoman for all we care, so long as he is playing with Evgeni Malkin. Megna has three points in four games as a scoring line winger for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

• As mentioned in the notes on Malone above, Alex Killorn is now the top-line winger for the Lightning, and should be picked up everywhere he is available. He could stick with Stamkos and St. Louis.

Alex Ovechkin is expected back on Tuesday. While this does likely end Eric Fehr's top-line duties for now, he filled in admirably and could get a look again soon. He is much more talented than his stats in the NHL have ever shown.