Fantasy Hockey: Grading the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Top Performers


The 2014-15 NHL season is in full swing now, which means that fantasy hockey leagues are rolling along as well. The Pittsburgh Penguins, as usual, have a cavalcade of reliable fantasy performers, and Pens Labyrinth has you covered on your best bets to pile up points via the Pens’ roster:

1. Sidney Crosby

Obviously no stranger to putting points on the board at a fair clip, the Wizard of Cros is up to his old tricks this season, having amassed 4 goals and 5 assists through the Penguins’ first 4 games. If you had the chance to draft Sidney Crosby and chose not to – congratulations. You are bad at fantasy hockey. Currently the 4th-highest point-getter among all players (per the TSN/ESPN Fantasy rankings), The Kid doesn’t show any signs of slowing down any time soon, and his production should just keep climbing and climbing as the season moves forward.

Grade: A

2. Patric Hornqvist

Named the No. 1 sleeper for this season by, Patric Hornqvist is asleep no more as the burly Swede has exploded for 4 goals, 4 assists and a million shots (okay, 28) through 4 games. That’s good for a top-15 ranking among players of all positions, and a 3rd-overall ranking among right wingers. It’s still early, but considering Hornqvist is lining up alongisde the game’s best player, and is doing all the right things on the ice, he should be a good bet to produce at a steady rate. The average draft position for Hornqvist this season was around the 100th-pick mark, in the 9th round, meaning the beastly winger could finish as the draft’s biggest steal by the season’s end.

Grade: A+

3. Evgeni Malkin

Currently languishing outside of the top 25 fantasy scorers thus far, Evgeni Malkin has still put up an excellent 2 goals and 5 assists through the team’s first 4 contests. As the season progresses and the majority of the league’s players stop scoring as often as they are at the moment, Geno should rocket up the rankings as he continues to do what he does best. Malkin has been getting better and better as the season continues, evidenced by his dominant performance last game against the Islanders, and should be able to ramp up his scoring pace even more as he gets more comfortable. Currently playing on the wing of Brandon Sutter, Malkin’s production could get even more of a bump once head coach Mike Johnston moves him back to the middle later this season.

Grade: A-

4. Chris Kunitz

Chris Kunitz may not be up near the top of the rankings either thus far, but the feisty winger has been solid through the first few games of the season, recording 2 goals, 3 assists, and a whopping 23 hits (good for 5th overall league-wide). As he continues to feed off the unreal chemistry he shares with Sidney Crosby, Kunitz should again be a reliable bet for consistent points throughout the season. Having a shooting machine like Hornqvist on his line should give his numbers even more of a boost this year, as he may be able to get a nice bump in assists on Hornqvist’s goals. His hits have been a bonus thus far, and if he can keep throwing the body around all year, he may rise back up into the top-10.

Grade: A

5. Kris Letang

Through 4 games, Kris Letang has posted 4 assists, 9 hits, and 7 blocks – certainly not lofty numbers, but not bad at all considering the defensive corps is still adjusting to their new system and new offensive responsibilities. The best news for Letang owners is that his 4 points were spread out among the last 3 games. He’s getting chances and, despite the adjustment period, is still racking up some points due to the quality of his teammates. Considering Letang is still set to quarterback a powerplay that will feature Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Chris Kunitz, and Patric Hornqvist, it’s safe to say the smooth-skating defender will have no problem getting points. There are a fair number of defensemen ranked above him right now, but none will have the offensive opportunities that he will, so you can bet Letang finishes in the top 5 by the season’s end.

Grade: B

Bonus Sleeper: Pascal Dupuis

Before a scary incident during the Pens’ game against Dallas, Pascal Dupuis looked to be a new man out of training camp after returning from a prolonged absence due to a nasty knee injury. He opened the season with a 4-point performance against the Anaheim Ducks (not exactly an easy team to roll through), and proved he has not lost any of his signature speed. While Dupuis may have been somewhat limited in the one game since his near-injury incident – he got a little less ice-time and was surely a bit shaken after what occurred – he is still a quick, determined player with a veteran understanding of the game and an elite linemate in Evgeni Malkin. If he can develop some solid chemistry with Geno, Dupuis may be a nice waiver-wire steal further into the season.