The past week saw new young stars introduce themselves to the NHL in rather grand fashion. Starting with Tomas Hertl, who took the league by storm with a raucous 4 goal performance against the porous New York Rangers defense. Hertl displayed blazing speed, sublime finish, and an unbridled enthusiasm for hockey life. While some teammates may have found more creative ways to celebrate their 4th goal of the game, Hertl’s scoring skills caused a serious stir as he leads the NHL in goals. Here are some other players that caught our attention in week 2 of the 2013-2014 Regular Season.
- Sidney Crosby is back where he belongs, leading the NHL scoring race. Essentially a foregone conclusion if healthy, Sid has yet to go a game without a point and rode his 8th career hat trick to the top of the pack. Adding even more value in leagues that count it, Sid is on pace for a mind boggling 2,132 faceoffs taken this year and will win his fair share. Deploy the Croz as usual.
- Alex Steen was once a punching bag in hockey media hotbed, Toronto, but has blossomed into one of the most underrated forwards in all of hockey. With 8 points in just 4 games, Steen could be at the start of a long awaited breakout season for the offensive machine that is the St. Louis Blues.
- Joffrey Lupul suddenly discovered his potential when he joined the Maple Leafs a few years back, and he is proving it again this year. With 5 goals and 8 points in 6 games, Lupul is a point a game player if healthy, but that is a big if, so enjoy it while it lasts.
- Jeff Skinner seems to have regained his touch from his rookie season as he is finding himself on the score sheet nightly. Despite seeing time on the team’s third line, Skinner is using his elusive skating and sniping wrist shot to the tune of 7 points in 6 games.
- A pair of rookies, linked since a year before the 2013 NHL Draft, Nathan Mackinnon and Seth Jones each scored their first career goal on the same October 12, 2013 night. Both have assumed major roles on their respective clubs, and are already viable options in fantasy leagues with the sky not just being the limit for these two, but rather the view.
- Reliable point producers Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis, Daniel and Henrik Sedin each had strong weeks to get themselves into the thick of things in this early season.
- Brent Burns is the other line-mate flanking Jumbo Joe Thornton’s wing in San Jose, and has put up 6 points so far. Eligible as a defenseman in many leagues, Burns is among the elite fantasy players for this season as long as he isn’t classified solely as a winger.
- Continuing to stand atop the D Rankings, PK Subban has picked up where he left off with 7 points in 5 games and is currently the #2 ranked fantasy player. Integral to the Habs attack, Subban has formed strong chemistry with super sophomores Galchenyuk and Gallagher.
- Lost in the Rangers early season struggles is a resurgence from Brad Richards, who is in on 5 out of New York’s 9 goals and is on a point a game pace despite his lackluster teammates. Hope Rick Nash returns from his concussion sooner rather than later.
- Perhaps having learned a thing or two from head coach Patrick Roy, Semyon Varlamov and the Colorado Avalanche are rolling behind a 1.00 goals against average, and .970 save %. Varlamov has let in exactly 1 goal every game so far, highlighted by a 40 save performance against his former club, the Washington Capitals.
- Another netminder on an unbeaten team, Antti Niemi has quietly established himself as one of the game’s very best. Behind a seemingly juggernaut San Jose Sharks roster, Niemi is going to go for his first 40 win season, and is a serious threat to win the Vezina trophy.
- Across the continent, Henrik Lundqvist is off to his worst start ever and needs to adjust to the new goalie equipment rules in a hurry if the Rangers stand a chance this season. In just 228 minutes of action, Lundqvist has already let in 16 goals including a number of blowout losses. Stick with this once elite netminder as it should be a matter of time before he turns it around.
- Its still very early but Claude Giroux has registered a measly 1 assist in 6 games. The coaching change hasn’t yet seemed to make a difference, but he should start finding the back of the net soon. This may mean Giroux’s 2011 elite season was an aberration so lower your expectations a bit.
- Former first overall pick, Nail Yakupov has a big fat dohnut on the year and has found himself in the press box of late. Oilers fans hope head coach Dallas Eakins is simply working out the kinks, and that Yakupov will be back in the lineup with a renewed desire to deliver crushing checks and laser beam wrist shots.
- Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla are still finding their way on the Bruins, and should start scoring again. Monitor this situation closely, as you may want to deal them early if they don’t turn it around.
- Returning from an achilles injury, Erik Karlsson has been in the thick of things for the Ottawa Senators but his 2 points and -3 rating in 5 games is below his Norris trophy expectations. This smooth skating Swedish defenseman will pick it up again, so you may want to buy low as now is as good a time as any.
For Hockeyland Canada,