26 Oct 2016/17 Fantasy Hockey – Early Season Hot/Cold List
The NHL season is now two weeks old, and whether your team is off to a good start or not, I can speak for all hockey fans when saying its great to have hockey back. Young players are making an impact all around the league, from #1 overall pick Auston Matthews scoring 4 goals in his NHL debut, Connor McDavid leading the Oilers to a 5-1 start and much more. Additionally, it seems that the youth movement in the NHL has brought more goals as seen from this chart from Frank Seravalli on TSN:
With the return of hockey it also means fantasy hockey is back, and while the season is still very early there has been plenty to talk about. For a frame of reference the fantasy sports website I am basing this off of is Yahoo Sports, but it applies to other types of pools as well. This will be a new bi-weekly feature “Hot/Cold List” with updates on the fantasy hockey world, focusing on players that are making an impact (or lack of) during that time. Here’s a look at the first two weeks of the season:
Off to a Fast Start:
Brent Burns (7 GP: 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, +1, 35 shots, 1 PP point)
Beard Brother #1 picked up right where he left off last season and has been one of if not the best defenseman in the NHL to start the season. Burns has points in 5 of 7 games and tied for 2nd in the NHL with 9 points, while his 35 shots are 1st in the NHL. He’s logging a team-high 23:54 of icetime for the Sharks, a guy Pete DeBoer really leans on at both ends of the ice. He put up an impressive 75 points in 82 games last season, and with a potent Sharks offense he is capable of going over 80 points this season. In my season prediction I had Burns winning the Norris Trophy, and certainly the way he’s playing right now he’s an early candidate
Connor McDavid (6 GP: 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points, +6, 16 shots, 2 PP points)
Speaking of season prediction’s, you can read my piece on McDavid and why I believe he’s going to win the Art Ross this season: http://thesportscrew.com/connor-mcdavid-youngest-captain-in-nhl-history-future-art-ross-trophy-winner/. Through 6 games this season McDavid is 2nd in the NHL with 9 points, but perhaps more impressive is the fact that the new Oilers Captain has lead his team to a 5-1 start. As each game progresses for the Oilers the top line of McDavid with Jordan Eberle (6 points) and Milan Lucic (4 points) looks better and better and it’s no surprise they can score in bunches. As long as #97 remains healthy, I think he goes over 100 points this season.
Shea Weber (6 GP: 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, +10, 14 shots, 2 PP points, 17 hits)
The Shea Weber vs. PK Subban debate was the hottest topic of the summer following the massive blockbuster trade, and it’s one that will continue for years and years to come. Subban is off to a great start in Nashville (5 points in 5 games), but there’s no question how big of an impact Shea Weber has had with the 5-0-1 Canadiens who haven’t lost in regulation yet. Through 6 games this season Weber leads Montreal with 7 points, while being an NHL-best +10. Weber has a lot of value in multi-category leagues putting up 14 shots, 17 hits and 11 blocks so far to go along with his point production. The way Carey Price is playing with Shea Weber in front of him, the Habs are going to be a tough team to beat all season long.
Carey Price (3 GP: 3-0-0, 1.67 GAA, .939 SV%)
Continuing with the Habs theme here, Carey Price has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season. We all know how badly the Habs struggled last season when Price was hurt, and many wondered how he would play when he finally returned. Price quickly silenced those critics back-stopping Canada to Gold at the World Cup last month, allowing just 7 goals in 5 games in the tournament. A flu kept him out of the first 2 games of the season, but Price has since gone 3-0 allowing just 5 goals during that time. Assuming he stays healthy, Price is in prime position to win another Vezina Trophy this season.
Auston Matthews (6 GP: 6 goals, 4 assists, 10 points, +1, 26 shots, 4 PP points)
The #1 overall pick from this year’s draft had one of the best NHL debuts of all-time, scoring all 4 goals in the Leafs 5-4 OT loss to the Senators in their season opener. Everyone expected Matthews to make an impact right away, but he’s blown away expectations along with his fellow rookies William Nylander (9 points) and Mitch Marner (3 points). Matthews has an NHL-best 6 goals and 10 points through his first 6 NHL games, including 26 shots and 4 PP points. He is certainly the front-runner for the Calder Trophy, but it’s a very deep rookie class and it’s going to be an interesting race all season long. Either way, the Leafs new franchise center will continue to get better as each game goes on.
Brad Marchand (6 GP: 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, +9, 13 shots, 1 PP point)
Speaking of a dominant World Cup Performance, one of the breakout stars of the tournament was none other than the pesky Bruins F Brad Marchand. Playing on a line with Sidney Crosby and Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron, Marchand lead the tournament with 5 goals and finished 2nd to Crosby with 8 points in 6 games. He carried this momentum into the regular season putting up an impressive 9 points in 6 games, including a dazzling 5-point night in the Bruins season opener. Marchand is no longer just the agitator that get’s under opponent’s skin, he’s an elite goal scorer who’s looking to top his career-high of 37 goals from last season.
Patrick Kane (7 GP: 2 goals, 6 assists, 8 points, +7, 22 shots, 1 PP point)
The reigning Art Ross and Hart Trophy-winner is off to another fast start this season, with 2 goals and 8 points in 7 games. Kane is a team-best +7 on the early season and has 22 shots on goal, but perhaps the most impressive thing is Kane is logging 23:01 icetime per game the most of any forward in the NHL currently. There’s no question Kane can pile on the points with the best of them in the NHL, it will be interesting to see if he can build off of last year’s career season where lead the league with 106 points in 82 games.
Vladimir Tarasenko (7GP: 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, Even, 33 shots, 4 PP points)
The young Russian superstar is off to another fast start in St. Louis, with 4 goals and 8 points in 7 games so far this season. Tarasenko is 2nd in the NHL with 33 shots while also putting up 4 PP points, and he’s looked extremely dangerous on a line with Jaden Schwartz and David Perron. One of the best goal scorers in the NHL, Tarasenko has 77 goals over his last 2 seasons including scoring 40 last year. With his fantastic skating stride and elite release he has the ability to be a 50-goal scorer, time will tell if he is able to reach that total this season
Ryan Getzlaf (7 GP: 1 goal, 7 assists, 8 points, Even, 22 shots, 2 PP points)
The Randy Carlyle 2.0 era in Anaheim has gotten off to a rocky start, with the Ducks 2-3-2 and scoring just 15 goals in 7 games. However, one of the few bright spots for the Ducks during their early-season struggles has been the Captain Ryan Getzlaf, with 8 points in 7 games including an NHL-best 7 assists. Getzlaf is shooting the puck a lot more this season (22 shots in 7 games), and seems to really be benefiting from having his old coach back. The Ducks are eagerly awaiting the return of RFAs Rickard Rakell and Hampus Lindholm (see below) to help boost their offense, but for the meantime Getzlaf has been carrying the majority of the load for his team.
Joe Pavelski (7 GP: 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, +3, 26 shots, 3 PP points, 14 hits)
The Sharks Captain has cemented himself a spot with the NHL’s elite the past few seasons, and he’s off to a fast start again this year with 9 points in 7 games. Pavelski has 26 shots, 14 hits and 3 powerplay points while logging 19:18 of icetime a game. He has 116 goals over the past 3 seasons, and with a potent Sharks offense he looks well on his way to his 1st 40+ goal season since 2013/14. He was a huge part of the Sharks team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals last season, and another big season is in store for the Big Pavelski.
Erik Karlsson (6 GP: 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points, +7, 15 shots, 1 PP point)
The highest scoring defenseman in the NHL last season (82 points in 82 games) continued right where he left off with 2 goals and a team-high 7 points in 5 games. Karlsson is a team-high +7 with 15 shots, all while playing 26:11 icetime per game, the 7th most in the NHL. Many people argued that Karlsson should have won the Norris last season, and no doubt he’s on the hunt for his 3rd Norris Trophy this year. The Senators will go as far as #65 will take them, but he’s in for another massive offensive season in Ottawa.
Cam Talbot (6 GP: 5-1-0, 2.75 GAA, .919 SV%, 1 Shutout)
Perhaps the biggest surprise on this list is Oilers staring goaltender Cam Talbot, who’s off to a fantastic start at 5-1. His numbers aren’t dazzling, in fact his 2.75 GAA and .919 SV% are fairly average, but that’s also due to a young and inexperienced Oilers team that’s vulnerable defensively. Talbot has been calm and consistent for his team, a big reason Todd McLellan has started him every game so far this season. The Oilers were confident when they signed him a 3-year $12.5 million deal last year he would help fix their goaltending issues, and he’s been rock-solid so far this year. It will be interesting to see if he can keep this up for an entire season, but clearer skies ahead in Edmonton!
Off to a Slow Start:
Frederik Andersen (5 GP: 1-1-3, 4.29 GAA, .851 SV%)
The former Ducks goaltender was traded to Toronto this summer and quickly signed a 5-year $25 million deal, a sign of faith from his new management that he’s an important part of the rebuild for the Leafs. However things haven’t been all that smooth for Andersen, who has just 1 win in 5 starts with the Leafs while sporting a painful 4.26 goals against average and .851 save percentage. The Leafs have been an exciting team to watch and have been scoring in bunches, but it hasn’t made up for their dreadful defense which has definitely contributed to the 22 goals against in 5 games for Andersen. Either way, Leaf fans are anxiously awaiting for Andersen to play like the #1 goaltender they are expecting.
Jonathan Toews (7 GP: 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, +2, 19 shots, 1 PP point)
While he hasn’t particularly played bad, The Hawks Captain is still looking for his 1st goal of the season and has just 2 assists in 7 games this season. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line is off to a great start with 22 points combined, but Quenneville has had a hard time finding Toews consistent linemates besides Richard Panik (see below). Toews will eventually break out of this slump but he’s contributing in other ways, including winning an impressive 60.8% of his faceoffs and playing 21:32 of icetime a game. Don’t expect this to last for long with #19, he’s due for a hot streak.
Sean Monahan (8 GP: 3 goals, 0 assists, 3 points, -6, 17 shots, 1 PP point)
Speaking of #1 centers struggling, Monahan is off to a very slow start this season after signing a 7-year $44.625 million extension this summer. Monahan has just 3 goals and is a -6 in 8 games so far this season, part of the big reason the Flames have started slowly at 3-4-1. Monahan had 63 points last year and 62 points the year before, including 58 goals during that time, so his production is due to pick up eventually. Part of the problem is finding a permanent linemate to play with him and Johnny Gaudreau, it’s been a number of guys from Kris Versteeg, Alex Chiasson, Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik and Matthews Tkachuk. Like Toews, Monahan is bound to pick it up soon.
James Neal (5 GP: 0 goals, 1 assist, -4, 23 shots, 0 PP points)
With the acquisition of PK Subban the expectations were really high for the Predators coming into the season, touted as one of the best offensive teams in the NHL. However they have been far from perfect starting the season 2-3, and one of the guys really struggling is James Neal. The Predators sniper has 0 goals and just 1 assist in 5 games, while he does have 23 shots he’s also a -4. Neal scored 31 goals last year and has 144 goals over his past 5 seasons, so don’t expect this goalless streak to continue for long. Once the Predators powerplay get’s in sync it could be big trouble for opponents, but for now Neal needs to elevate his game.
John Klingberg (6 GP: 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points, Even, 7 shots, 2 PP points)
Klingberg has turned into one of the best offensive defenseman in the NHL the past few seasons, with 40 points in his rookie year and a career-high 58 last season for the Stars. However the young Swedish defenseman has gotten off to a very slow start this season, with just 2 assists in 6 games played. Klingberg needs to be more involved offensively, and his mere 7 shots on goals through 6 games are a perfect example of the lack of impact he’s had so far. We all know the Stars have offensive firepower, but Lindy Ruff is hoping his star defenseman will pick up his game and help improve the powerplay (4 goals in 6 games)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (5 GP: 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points, +3, 12 shots, 0 PP points)
The Caps are off to a strong start at 3-1-1, but they haven’t seemed to get their offense rolling yet scoring just 13 times in those 5 games. A guy that is certainly struggling is Evgeny Kuznetsov with just 3 points and 12 shots, and let’s not forget he lead the President Trophy-winning Caps with 77 points in 82 games last season. It’s still very early and this is a fantastic Capitals hockey team, but he’s not having the hot start he did last season (11 points in his first 7 games). Of all the guys on this slow start list, I expect Kuznetsov to pick it up the quickest and he’s currently riding a 3-game point streak.
Nicklas Backstrom (5 GP: 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, -1, 12 shots, 1 PP point)
Speaking of those Washington Capitals, another center that’s struggling is Nicklas Backstrom with no goals and just 3 assists in 5 games. Backstrom has already lost his spot on the Ovechkin line to Kuznetsov, and the Caps PP has just 2 goals so far, both big reasons for his early season struggles. Backstrom is too talented of a player to stay in this slump, he’s had 50+ assists each of the last 3 seasons including 70+ points and 30+ PP points each of those years. Once Barry Trotz can figure out his lines and get his team rolling, Backstrom will rarely find his name on this list again.
John Carlson (5 GP: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, +2, 17 shots, 0 PP points)
Another defenseman (and Capital) who’s had a rather slow start to the season is John Carlson, with just 1 assist and 17 shots in 5 games so far. As I mentioned above with Backstrom about the Caps PP struggling, Carlson is an important piece of the #1 unit and needs to pick it up. After a career year in 2014/15 with 55 points in 82 games, Carlson battled injuries last season and had 39 points in 56 games. Even though he’s not putting up points early on he’s still a great defenseman and is certainly bound to pick it up, for now he’s playing 23:57 icetime a game and in all situations for the Caps.
Corey Crawford (5GP: 1-3-1, 3.02 GAA, .897 SV%)
The Hawks have had an up-and-down start to the season going 3-3-1 in their first 7 games, and part of the team’s struggles have been #1 goaltender Corey Crawford. The “Crow” as they call him in Chicago has just 1 win in 5 games this season, while sporting a sub-par 3.02 goals against average and a .897 save percentage. The Hawks are far too talented of a team to continue playing inconsistently like this, and Crawford will be a big part of fixing things for Joel Quenneville’s group. Hard to forget he was one of the best goaltenders in the NHL last season with a career-high 35 wins and 7 shutouts, Crawford will be back to his usual self in no time.
Torey Krug (6 GP: 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points, -4, 17 shots, 0 PP points)
The last few years the Bruins defense have seen the likes of Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk depart from their team and a guy I expected to step up this year was the undrafted Krug. One of the smallest guys in the NHL at 5’9, Krug has 125 points in 241 NHL games through 3 seasons in his career and has been very productive for Claude Julien’s team. However it’s not been a great start for Torey this year, as he has no points, is a -4 and has just 17 shots in 6 games so far this season. The Bruins have just 2 PP goals in 6 games, part of the reason Krug has struggled to find the score-sheet (19 PP point last year). It will be interesting to see if and when Krug will elevate his game, the Bruins certainly need #47 to contribute.
Max Domi (6 GP: 0 goals, 3 assists, 3 points, -3, 15 shots, 0 PP points)
Last guy on this list I was expecting to have a breakout season this year, and it’s still very early for the 21-year old Domi. However the young Coyotes forward has struggled a ton early on this year, with no goals and just 3 assists in 6 games so far. Domi had an extremely impressive rookie season for the Coyotes last season with 18 goals and 52 points in 81 games, and he’s part of a young Coyotes team that could be very talented in a few years. I don’t expect Domi to struggle for the entire year, but it’s definitely not out of the ordinary for players to have the dreaded “Sophomore Slump.”
Andrew Ladd (6GP: 0 goals, 1 assist, 1 point, -3, 14 shots, 0 PP points)
The Islanders let go of 2 of their best offensive players this summer in Kyle Okposo (Buffalo) and Frans Nielsen (Detroit), and their biggest free agent haul was the two-time Stanley Cup winner Ladd who signed a 7-year $38.5 million deal. Many people expected him to thrive on a line with John Tavares, but it they haven’t been able to find good chemistry early on and his 1 point in 6 games shows that. Ladd is bound to pick it up and will eventually find his stride, sometimes it takes guys longer to adjust to new teams than others.
Thomas Vanek (7 GP: 4 goals, 4 assists, 8 points, +5, 13 shots, 4 PP points)
Red Wings took a gamble on Vanek with a 1-year, $2.6 million deal this summer and he’s paid immediate dividends for Jeff Blashill and the Red Wings with 4 goals and 8 points through 7 games this season. It’s not that it’s surprising that Vanek is playing well, but it’s how quickly he’s seemed to gel with his new Red Wings teammates after playing for his 5th team in 4 years.
Richard Panik (7 GP: 6 goals, 2 assist, 8 points, +4, 11 shots, 2 PP points, 17 hits)
Through two weeks of the NHL season the league-leader in goals is none other than Richard Panik, and he’s off to a fantastic start playing with Jonathan Toews early on. He has 6 goals and 8 points through 7 games, including 2 PP points and throwing 7 hits. The crazier part is Panik has never scored more than 11 goals in a season his career, he’s well on his way to career highs this year.
Chris Kreider (5 GP: 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, -1, 23 shots, 2 PP points, 17 hits)
Now Kreider isn’t on this list because he’s been a surprise, he’s been a gifted player for a few seasons now. He’s on this list because of how quickly he has seemed to gel with new teammate/linemate Mika Zibanejad. Kreider lead the Rangers with 3 goals and 7 points in 5 games, while Zibanejad is 2nd with 6 points. Kreider has a lot of value in multi-category leagues putting up 23 shots and 17 hits to go along with his 7 points. His career-high in points is 46, I expect him go 50+ if he stays healthy.
Mike Green (7 GP: 3 goals, 4 assists, 7 points, +3, 8 shots, 2 PP points)
Another Red Wing on this list, Mike Green has been off to a fantastic start this year with 3 goals (including his 1st NHL hat trick) and 7 points in 7 games so far. Green signed a 3-year $18 million deal last summer but struggled mightily last season with just 7 goals and 35 points in 74 games. The Red Wings are hoping that Green can turn into the offensive machine he was in Washington several years ago.
Jacob Markstrom (4 GP: 3-0-1, 1.95 GAA, .923 SV%) – 35% owned
One of the biggest surprises of the early season has been the Vancouver Canucks, a team most people (including myself) projected to be at the bottom of the NHL has started 4-2-1. A big part of that has been goaltender Jacob Markstrom, who has not lost in regulation and has 3 wins in 4 starts. Time will tell if the Canucks are able to keep this up, but the Swedish netminder has been a bright spot for them so far.
Lee Stempniak (6 GP: 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points, +1, 10 shots, 1 PP point) – 32% owned
Above I mentioned Vanek is playing for his 5th team in 4 years, but how about Lee Stempniak who’s playing for his 6th team in 4 years and 9th team overall. The NHL record for most teams played for is Mike Sillinger with 12, so Stempniak is close! He’s also been very productive in his start with the Hurricanes, scoring 4 goals and 6 points in 6 games. Stempniak is one of few veterans on a young and talented Hurricanes team, and he’s looking to build off his 51 points from last season.
Patrick Wiercioch (5 GP: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +3, 7 shots) – 3% owned
It’s been quite the homecoming for Patrick Wiercioch, the former University of Denver Pioneer signed a 1-year $800,000 deal with the Avalanche this summer to return to the city where he played college hockey. Wiercioch never played a full season in 4 years with the Senators, but he’s seemed to have found a permanent home on Colorado’s blueline tied for the team lead with 5 points in 5 games. It will be interesting to see if his minutes continue to go up with his strong play.
Brandon Sutter (7 GP: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +1, 18 shots, 1 PP point) – 7% owned
The Canucks acquired Sutter last summer in a trade for Nick Bonino and was expected to play big minutes last season, however sports-hernia surgery and a jaw injury limited him to just 20 games. He’s off to a fast start this season with 1 goal and 5 points in 7 games while putting 18 shots on net. He plays big minutes for Willie Desjardins averaging 19:07 icetime a game, while playing on both the PP and PK. His career-high is just 40 points, if he can stay healthy this year he might top that.
Jimmy Howard (2 GP: 2-0-0, .050 GAA, .984 SV%) – 39% owned
There’s no question that Petr Mrazek is the Red Wings starting goaltender, and Howard has been the subject of trade talk ever since he lost his job. But that doesn’t mean Howard has lost his confidence in playing for the Red Wings and the organization’s trust in him has paid off early this year where he’s allowed just 1 goal in 2 starts (both wins). With so much emphasis on having two good goaltenders in the NHL today, the Red Wings would be wise to keep on to Howard who could be in for a bounce back year.
Brandon Manning (7GP: 1 goal, 4 assists, 5 points, +6, 8 shots, 23 hits) – 11% owned
The Flyers have 2 of the most talented young defenseman in the NHL in Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, but a guy that has gone completely under the radar is the 23-year old Manning. He leads Flyers defenseman with 5 points in 7 games and is a team-best +6 while also putting up 23 hits. Manning had just 7 points in 56 games last season, but he seems to have played his way in top 4 minutes in Philly.
Matt Cullen (7 GP: 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, +2, 11 shots, 1 PP point) – 2% owned
With Sidney Crosby out to start the season the 39-year old Cullen was one of the centers bumped up in the lineup, and he looks like he’s 10 years younger tied for the team lead with 6 points in 7 games. Even with Crosby returning last night Cullen still picked up an assist, and he’s a guy that Mike Johnston trusts in all situations and who was a key part of the Stanley Cup team last season. Cullen has consistently been a 30-40 point scorer in his career and has value in deeper pools when the Penguins are dealing with injuries.
Darren Helm (7GP: 4 goal, 2 assists, 6 points, +9, 13 shots) – 11% owned
Another deep free-agent target is Darren Helm, who’s been off to a hot start with linemates Thomas Vanek and Andreas Athanasiou with 4 goals and 6 points in 7 games this season. His career-high is 33 points, if Helm continues this pace he’s in for a career year.
Free Agent Targets (owned less than 50%)
Victor Rask (6 GP: 4 goals, 3 assists, 7 points, Even, 15 shots, 2 PP points) – 18% owned
The Hurricanes are loaded with young talent and are poised to be a great team in a few years, but that hasn’t stopped some of their top players from playing great hockey to start the season. Leading the way is 23-year old Victor Rask, with 4 goals and 7 points in 6 games. He’s had 33 and 48 points in his first 2 NHL seasons, look for him to go 50+ this year.
Jonathan Marchessault (6 GP: 3 goals, 5 assists, 8 points, +4, 19 shots, 2 PP points) – 34% owned
With the longterm injury to Jonathan Huberdeau the Panthers needed a winger to play with Aleksander Barkov and Jaromir Jagr, early on it’s been the former Lightning Marchessault and he’s been nothing short of fantastic. He lead the team with 3 goals and 8 points in 6 games, while putting up 2 PP points and 19 shots as well. Considering he was signed to a 2-year deal $1.5 million deal and his career-high is 18 points, Marchessault looks like a huge steal for the Panthers. With Huberdeau out at least 3 months, he gets significant time with two elite players and is a must grab.
Tanner Pearson (4 GP: 4 goals, 2 assist, 6 points, +4, 11 shots, 1 PP point) – 21% owned
After missing the first 2 games of the season due to a suspension, Pearson has been on fire with 4 goals and 6 points in 4 games since. Pearson is a gifted goal scorer and looking to take the next step in his career, I expect him to go 20+ goals for the first time. If you need a goal-scoring boost, Pearson is a good person to target.
Travis Konecny (7 GP: 1 goal, 5 assists, 6 points, +3, 17 shots, 1 PP point) – 13% owned
I must take credit I’ve been following Konecny since his junior days, as a smaller guy myself I always take a liking to guys like him. I knew how talented he is and how good he could be in the near future, but he’s been even better than advertised for the Flyers and has shown he belongs in the NHL now. He has 1 goal and 6 points in 7 games this season, playing most of his time on the 2nd line with Jakub Voracek and Sean Couturier. He’s a darkhorse Calder Trophy candidate to watch out for.
Alex Killorn (6 GP: 5 goals, 1 assist, 6 points, +2, 13 shots, 2 PP points – 38% owned
As everyone expected the Lightning are off to another fantastic start at 5-1 this season, but one of the biggest surprises has been winger Alex Killorn who is tied for the team lead with 5 goals in 6 games. Killorn has consistently been a 15-goal 40-point player the past 3 seasons, but I think with a Lightning team that’s only getting better he’s in for a career season this year of 20+ goals and 50+ points. Like Pearson, if you are looking for a goal-scoring boost Killorn is a great option.
Hampus Lindholm (RFA unsigned) – 39% owned
This is where things get interesting, I’ve included Lindholm on this list despite the fact that he doesn’t have a contract and has yet to play a game for the Ducks this year. However, one only wonders with the Ducks (2-3-2) slow start how much longer they can possibly hold out, because it’s obvious Lindholm is their best defenseman when in the lineup. He had 10 goals and 28 points in 80 games last season while playing 22 minutes a night, sooner or later the team is going to budge. If you are playing on Yahoo Sports and have an NA (Not Active) spot, he’s worth the grab and stash for when he returns.
Rickard Rakell (RFA just signed, returning next week) – 12% owned
Speaking of unsigned Ducks, Rakell was in the same situation as Lindholm before signing a 6-year $22.8 million deal last week. He is supposed to join the Ducks sometime next week and look for him to make an impact right away, a guy who had 20 goals and 43 points last season and a key member of their offense. Rakell is listed as “out” on Yahoo Sports which is the equivalent to an injury, so if you have IR+ spots he’s worth the grab and stash like Lindholm.
Matt Read (7 GP: 5 goals, 0 assists, 5 points, -1, 19 shots, 1 PP point, 14 hits) – 13% owned
After scoring 20+ goals in 2 of his first 3 NHL seasons, Read has just 19 goals combined the last 2 years while never topping 30 points. However he’s off to a fast start this season with 5 goals in 7 games, even more impressive because he’s not playing top 6 minutes due to the emergence of Travis Konecny. Read has value in deeper pools with 19 shots and 14 hits, look for him to have a rebound year.
Troy Brouwer (8GP: 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points, +1, 13 shots, 2 PP points, 23 hits) – 20% owned
Brouwer has consistenly been around the 20-goal 40-point mark in his career, and he looks rejuvenated playing on a young Flames team as one of the few veterans. Brouwer has gotten time on the top line with Gaudreau and Monahan, and if he finds chemistry on that line he could be in for a career season.
Mikko Rantanen (returning from injury on Friday) – 5% owned
The 10th overall pick from last year’s draft spent 9 games (0 points -7) with the Avs last season before being sent down to the minors, but he really seemed to find his game in the AHL with 24 goals and 62 points in 52 games while taking rookie of the year honors. He makes the jump to the Avs at 19 years old this season, and despite an ankle injury that has kept him out of the first 5 games he’s been practicing on a line with Nathan MacKinnon. If you’re looking for a potential steal (5% owned) this is certainly one.
J.T. Miller (6 GP: 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points, Even, 17 shots, 1 PP point) – 15% owned
Miller became one of the Rangers best players last season tallying 22 goals and 43 points in 83 games, and he’s off to a fast start again this year with 4 points in 6 games. He’s currently playing top 6 minutes for the Rangers and looks to set new career-highs this season.
Brock Nelson (6 GP: 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points, Even, 10 shots, 1 PP point) – 13% owned
The last player on this list seems to have been a sleeper of mine for a few years now, but Nelson has been off to another fantastic start this year with 2 goals and 5 points in 6 games. Nelson had a career-high 26 goals last season, and when he get’s his opportunity to play on the top line with John Tavares it could be a big boost for Nelson this season.