Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Just like the NBA, the NHL has arrived at the halfway point of the 2008-09 season. So it's time to evaluate the preseason rankings and compare them to where they stand after 40+ games.
Centers - In a league where centers are everywhere and you can pick up a player performing at a top level off the waiver wire, the high draft pick of Jason Spezza (ADP 11) was a wasted selection. Spezza has 18 goals, 19 assists, a -5 plus/minus rating, 36 penalty minutes and 132 shots on goal. Currently available in one of my leagues is Travis Zajac (14G, 21A, +17 rating, 23 PIM, 113 SOG). So is Todd White (14G, 30A).
Left wingers - Alexander Ovechkin is exactly as advertised and his 31G, 28A, +13, 56 PIM, 299 SOG puts him at the top of the charts. but the second left winger drafted, Dany Heatley, has not performed to expectations. His 19G, 22A first half has him as only the 11th-best at his position. On the other hand, put Zach Parise near the top for "best bargains" after putting up a 27G, 26A, +18 plus/minus first half.
Right wingers - Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson could be tagged a bit of a disappointment after a 12G, 28A first half because expectations were so high. However, at least he still has a change to rebound in the second half whereas Marian Gaborik (ADP 40) will be out at least two more months and maybe the entire season after left hip surgery.
Defensemen - Both Nicklas Lidstrom and Dion Phaneuf were top-16 preseason selection who haven't quite lived up to their billing. On the other hand San Jose's Dan Boyle (13G, 25A, +11 plus/minus, 124 SOG) and Zdeno Chara (10G, 18A, +21 plus/minus, 124 SOG) have proven to be fantasy bargains.
Goalies - It's hard to argue with Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom as the best goalie to date. Twenty-two wins, five shutouts, a GAA (goals against average) of 2.15 and a .928 save percentage from a 52nd-draft pick. Pure gold.
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