Heading into this season all eyes were on rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov (1 A, 1 SOG) of the Caps and why not? The big Russian seems to have all the tools he needs to be an offensive powerhouse in the NHL. He showed some serious chops in his time with the KHL, but we all know that has to be taken with a grain of salt. Still, I fully expect he’ll break the 40-point mark this season, however, Kuz isn’t the only rookie worth knowing about in D.C. this year. Lost in all that Kuz hype is a dynamic Swede on the verge of a breakout and his name is Andre Burakovsky (1 G, 2 SOG, +1). I blame myself for not mentioning him earlier, I should have, but he slipped my mind so I’ll do it now. Well I already did it. In fact I’m in the middle of the mention at this very moment, and so are you! Trippy, man. I digress, Burakovsky is an offensively gifted pivot in the mold of Henrik Zetterberg, who coach Barry Trotz compared the kid to just the other day. The comparison might seem pretty lofty, but when you break down the kid’s bona fides it starts to seem pretty accurate. Last season Burakovsky lit the OHL up in his first go at North American hockey scoring a gaudy 87 points in 57 games for the Erie Otters. He followed that up by posting seven points in seven games in the World Junior Classic-20 division and then 14 points in 14 games in the U20 (all) International Juniors. Damn, that’s sexy. Do I sense a new mancrush coming on? Mayhaps! There’s plenty of room in my hockey heart for another and this young man is a leading candidate. He’s a strong skater with a remarkably high hockey IQ that will serve him well as he adjusts this season. Couple that with a sick wrister and the top six minutes he’s going to be getting and what does it all add up to? Me adding him in every keeper league, that’s for sure. He’s worth owning in standard leagues while he’s scoring too, and with five points in five games so far he’s doing just that. Anyway, here’s what else I saw in the world o’ fantasy hockey last night:
Marcus Johansson (1 G, 2 SOG) – At just 23-years-old there’s some intriguing upside here and a potential breakout coming in the next few years. It could be as early as this year, but I’m not holding my breath. He’s spending his time on a line with Brooks Laich and flashy rookie Andre Burakovsky and it looks like there’s some chemistry there, so it could stick. Burakovsky is slated to move up into the top-six soon, so that might limit Johansson who is more of a helper than a scorer, but after hitting 44 points last game he could take another step forward this year and break the 50-point marker.
Braden Holtby (W, 26 SV, 2 GA, .929 SV%) – A quick return to top form for Holtby and that’s a great sign. After lasting less than 10 minutes and coughing up three goals on seven shots he pushes 26 Devils shots away for a 6-2 victory. I’ve always been a big fan of Holtby and I have to say, I think he’s finally arrived.
Cory Schneider (L, 21 SV, 5 GA, .808 SV%) – This was just a minor bump in the road for Schneids, worry not.
Alex Ovechkin (1 G, 5 SOG, +1) – 45 more to go!
Nicklas Backstrom (1 G, 4 SOG, +1) – A nice change of pace game for Backs with no helpers but goals are always welcome. He could end up with 20 goals and 80+ points by season’s end.
Henrik Lundqvist (W, 29 SV, 1 GA, .967 SV%) – Hank rights the ship against a Canes team that looked surprisingly good last night. I’m not sure if the Canes looked that good or the Rangers looked that bad, or if it was a little from column A and a little from column B. The only goal that got by Lundqvist was a crazy, unintentional redirect that no goalie would have stopped unless they were extremely lucky, and Hank wasn’t. Otherwise he was rock solid all game. You can expect more of this moving forward.
Anton Khudobin (L, 33 SV, 1 GA, .971 SV%) – Dobby looked great in his second start of the season and he looked far, far better than Cam Ward has looked in any of his starts so far. Other than the money issue, I have no idea why the Canes keep rolling Ward out there like it’s 2010.
Derick Brassard (1 G, 3 SOG) – Brass now has goals in three straight. I think he’s going to end up just shy of 20 goals, but he’s worth owning in deep leagues for his upside. It’s not huge, but it’s there while he’s getting top six minutes.
Carey Price (W, 25 SV, 4 GA, .862 SV%) – The 3-1-0 record Price carries sure conflicts with his awful peripherals (3.75/.874%) but it’s not all his fault. Not only has Price opened the season against three powerful offensive teams in a row (Tampa, Philly and Boston), the Habs are 9th overall in shots against averaging 31.8 per game. Their D has to tighten up to take some of the pressure off of Price and fast, so hang in there for now Price owners. This too shall pass. We hope.
Tuukka Rask (L, 18 SV, 5 GA, .783 SV%) – Wow, what’s wrong with Tuukka? Nothing. It’s the Bruins that are the problem. Unlike Carey Price and the issues he’s facing with the D in front of him, the Boston D has been beastly sitting at 4th in the league allowing just 23.5 shots per game while taking an average of 31. The problem is they aren’t scoring; Boston sits at 28th in the league in goals per game with just 1.67. The only teams worse are the Avs at 1.40 per game and the Cats at 1 lousy goal per game. Boston and Colorado should rise and once they start scoring and Tuukka’s numbers are going to look a better when they do. That all being said, it’s a bit troubling that he can’t push away 23 shots a night without coughing up 3 goals. Like with Price there’s nothing you can do but what and see, but I think he’ll be fine.
Loui Eriksson (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Loui returns after missing a game and notched a goal and an assist on two shots, which isn’t great, but you’ll take the two points. Lots of folks seem to have forgotten that it wasn’t long ago that Eriksson was consistently putting up 70 points a season. The skill is there, the room to work is there and he’s in a groove with Carl Soderberg. There’s no reason not to like Loui right now.
Carl Soderberg (1 G, 1 SOG, +2) – I get scared when I see guys scoring to start the season but doing so on one or two shots. Enter Soderberg. Like I said just a smidge above when talking about Loui Eriksson, the two are developing some serious chemistry and it’s showing on the score board, but one SOG and one goal coming from it is not sustainable. Soderberg’s goal scoring just can’t continue like this and there’s no telling when it will stop, but it will. If you want to move him in a trade I’d do so early in the season and hedge your bets. He’s only going to end up with 50 points on the high end anyway.
Zdeno Chara (1 G, 3 SOG, -3) – Like most of the B’s he’s not scoring yet, but he tallied a goal in this one. His plus/minus hurts but that’s going to come up when Boston gets going. Considering I’ve listed three B’s in a row with a goal, I’d say they’ve started, eh?
Simon Gagne (1 G, 2 SOG) – Yes, it’s that Simon Gagne. And speak of the devil, here’s another Bruin putting the biscuit in the basket. Lets hope this game sparks their offense to life despite the loss. I honestly have no idea what Gagne can give you. I didn’t see him get drafted in even the deepest leagues and there’s no telling how much ice time he’ll get or if he can stay healthy at all, so if you’re really, really dying for offense you can go grab him, but there’s no promise of getting much from him if you take the gamble. Anything you get is a bonus.
Max Pacioretty (1 G, 2 A, 4 SOG) – Well, well! Max must read this blog and all my whining about how he doesn’t dish the puck enough. And of course he adds a goal in for good measure. He’s always seemed like a guy right on the lip of the cup of greatness, I hope he keeps this up, but I have few hopes that he will. The 35-40 goals are basically guaranteed though.
Jiri Sekac (1 G, 1 SOG) – Ah yes, Jiri Sekac and his first NHL point. It took him five games and he scored his one goal on one shot. You know how I feel about that. If you missed it I wrote a post about Jiri this summer (Who Is Jiri Sekac?) where I basically say bleh to him and his prospects this season. I don’t think there’s much here for fantasy owners.
P.A. Parenteau (2 G, 5 SOG, -1) – Here’s a guy that slipped under many a radar so far this season and I think there’s a solid 50 points to be had from P.A. He’s playing top six minutes on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Alex Galchenyuk and you’ve seen how well that’s been working out. He should be owned everywhere.
Brendan Gallagher (2 G, 1 A, 4 SOG) – He’ll give you 20 goals this year, you can count on that. Last year his TOI dwindled to almost nothing after the Habs picked up Thomas Vanek, but Vanek is gone now and Gallagher is playing on the top line with Max Pacioretty and David Desharnais (2 A, 2 SOG, +2). That’s a good place to be. He rocked it in the playoffs last year and he’s started this season hot with goals in back-to-back games and five points in his last three. He’s not a point-per-game guy, but he has the potential to grow into one over the next few years.
Craig Anderson (W, 28 SV, 3 GA, .903 SV%) – So Anderson is looking halfway decent so far, or is he?! You can toss out that shutout of his which is boosting his overall numbers because it came against the Cats, the team currently averaging averaging a single goal per game. Colorado has been struggling to score as well and they’re also mired in the bottom of the league in goals per game, so lets see what happens when Anderson faces stiffer competition. Hint: It won’t be pretty.
Calvin Pickard (L, 23 SV, 4 GA, .852 SV%) – It’s a tall order to ask a 23-year-old to come in to one of the loudest arenas in the game and hold fort for a team struggling to score, allowing tons of shots, so this isn’t a good indication of what he can do. Captain Pickard here isn’t exactly a top prospect, and consider that he only got the start because the Avs inexplicably lost both starter Semyon Varlamov to a groin injury and backup Reto Berra to an undisclosed injury just minutes into the game on the same bloody day. Pickard is worth a flier in deep leagues as he’ll get the Cats next week, but I wouldn’t start him otherwise. Say, do you think they can get special dispensation to allow Roy to suit up next game? I’d add him.
Nathan MacKinnon (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) – Only assists? You should trade him! Quick! (Don’t)
Gabriel Landeskog (1 G, 2 SOG, -1) – He finally lands his first goal of the season after five games. Like the rest of the Avs top six he’s slow to start but he’ll get going sooner than later. Hopefully this is the beginning.
Alex Tanguay (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – He must have received a blood transfusion from Patrick Marleau. How old is Tanger now, anyway? 53? We got Gordie Howe over here.
Clarke MacArthur (1 G, 3 SOG) – Mac keeps sniping away and now has goals in back-to-back games. He’s spending most of his time with pivot Kyle Turris and that bodes well for MacArthur returning to 25-goal form again this season. That’s the ceiling though.
Bobby Ryan (1 G, 5 SOG) – Once upon a time Ryan was supposed to be the next big thing. I bought in wholesale and drafted him everywhere thinking I’d stolen the best keeper in the last five years. He scored 30 goals a year like clockwork but it seemed like he never really cared to kick in that extra gear that everyone knew was there. Nothing has really changed since then other than the fact that he doesn’t score 30 goals anymore and the supporting cast around him isn’t nearly as good now as it was back in Cali. 25 goals is pretty much a lock, but that’s all I’m willing to predict for Ryan.
David Legwand (1 G, 1 A, 1 SOG) – Legs is mostly a third line guy now, so no more top six minutes. Even when he was getting those minutes he didn’t do a whole lot with them in recent years. Now that he plays for the Sens, on their third line, I’m not exactly optimistic about what he can offer. In fact, I wouldn’t own him with your team unless I lost a bet.
Alex Stalock (L, 42 SV, 3 GA, .933 SV%) – He might have lost this one but looked solid doing it. Also, to be fair, the Isles look pretty damn deadly this year so Stalock held up well under fire pushing away 42 of 45 but ultimately losing to John Tavares (2 A, 3 SOG) in the shootout. Antti Niemi will likely get the next start, but this is clearly a 1A/1B situation so far.
Jaroslav Halak (W, 20 SV, 3 GA, .870 SV%) – Halak really hasn’t been that great so far despite his 3-0-0 record. He’s giving up 3 goals a game basically no matter what and that’s no good. The Isles offense looks incredibly strong so far and he’s getting by on that, but his peripherals are pretty bleh (2.92/.900%). If the Isles offensive onslaught slows, which inevitably it will for at least a stretch or two, Halak’s only redeeming quality this season (Dem wins) will be lost.
Kyle Okposo (1 G, 1 A, 7 SOG) – Another two point game. Another goal. Seven points in four games and he’s taking more and more shots every game. I love Okie this season. I own him everywhere and you should too.
Brent Burns (1 G, 1 A, 3 SOG) – Finally, a goal. It took him six games, but in the meantime he keeps racking up the helpers to the tune of five in four games so far. Last night gives him six points in four games with six PIM, a plus-3 rating and one magnificent beard.
Tomas Hertl (1 G, 1 SOG, +1) – Hurt plays most of his time on the top line with Joe Pavelski and Jumbo Joe Thornton, so that bodes well for his prospects this season but he hasn’t really cashed in yet. He’s young, though, so he needs some time. 25 goals is totally within reach.
Nick Leddy (1 G, 1 A, 2 SOG) – Last night gives Leddy four points in five games and while I don’t think he’ll score more than 35 points, it’s possible that the change of scenery and freedom to step into a larger role are doing well by the graceful rearguard. If you need help on your blue line you could do worse than adding Leddy, especially while the Isles are crushing it like they are.
Patrick Marleau (1 G, 1 SOG) – Game on, Mighty Cortez!
Kari Lehtonen (W, 27 SV, 2 GA, .931 SV%) – While Jaroslav Halak seems content to allow three goals a game, Kari here decided two was more than enough and I couldn’t agree more. There was a concussion scare in the pre-sesaon but Kari seems to be just fine holding the Pens, Hawks and Blue Jackets to just six goals in three games. When healthy, he’s elite.
Marc-Andre Fleury (L, 25 SV, 3 GA, .893 SV%) – It hasn’t been the best start to the season for MAF, but I figure he rights the ship sooner than later and finishes around his usual 30 wins, 2.35, .915% numbers.
Tyler Seguin (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – Four goals in four games, but all four came in the last two games he played. No assists so far, but who needs assists? We don’t need no freakin’ assists! Actually we kind of do if Seguin is going to hit 90+ this season, but he only started the engine two games ago.
Antoine Roussel (1 G, 2 SOG, +1) – He’s not going to get you a lot of points, but hits and PIM, you betcha! I kind of love most of the Stars this year…
Alex Goligoski (2 A, 2 SOG, +1) – …except Goligoski. I know he hit 42 points last year and he’s at least going to hit 35 this year, but there’s something I just don’t like about him. Maybe it’s his face. Stop looking at me with your face!
Brian Elliot (L, 18 SV, 1.000%, 18 SA) – Only in the era of the shootout can a goalie post a shutout and lose, but here we are. Elliot looks every bit as good as he did last year, but we’ll see what happens when he hits 30+ starts. Until then Jake Allen isn’t going to see much time.