Matt Duchene – Duchene has been tearing up the NHL so far this season with a rare blend of blazing acceleration and high end skill to make plays at top speed. This former 3rd overall pick is poised for career highs in goals and points as he is above a point-per-game pace for the first time. Consider him a strong contender for Team Canada at the Sochi Olympics as one can only imagine the damage he could do on the larger ice. Next time you watch the Avs play, make sure not to blink because next thing you know, the puck will be in the back of the net.
Zach Parise – Parise’s first season in his native Minneapolis was a bit of a disappointment for him and the Wild. With an influx of youth into the top 6 including Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, and Mikael Granlund, Parise has stepped up his leadership and point production this season. He led his team with 5 points this past week, and looks like a sure bet to crack the 30 goal mark for the 5th time in his career.
Henrik Zetterberg – Reunited with the Datsyukian one on the top line, Zetterberg has 8 points over his most recent 5 game point streak. Quite possibly the greatest 7th round draft pick of all time, Zetterberg continues to play an elite two way game. As long as he stick with his mate Pavel, or even if not, Zetterberg should eclipse 80 points for the first time since 2010.
Kyle Turris – Once lambasted for holding out on the Phoenix Coyotes, Kyle Turris has the past now firmly behind him in Ottawa as he is finally living up to all that potential. This setup man has formed great chemistry with sniper Bobby Ryan, and finds himself tied for fourth in the NHL with 14 assists in this young season. He may not keep up this point-per-game pace, but now is not the time to doubt him, as he rides an 8 game point streak.
Jonathan Huberdeau – The dreaded sophomore slump seems to have bitten 2012-2013 Calder trophy winner, Jonathan Huberdeau, as he has recorded a measly 3 points in his past 9 games. You can’t blame this youngster for experiencing some culture shock after leaving a winning program in the Saint John Seadogs for perennial losers, the Florida Panthers. His talent is too great to not turn it around eventually, but with little support around him, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.
Thomas Vanek – Seemingly given a Get Out of Jail Free card with his trade from the lowly Buffalo Sabres to the up and coming New York Islanders, Vanek has struggled so far next to John Tavares. Now with an apparent wrist injury after taking a slash against the Blue Jackets, Vanek’s start to his Long Island career is likely not how he envisioned it. Chemistry does take time to develop, so Vanek should start producing sooner rather than later.
Matt Moulson – It hasn’t taken long for Matt Moulson to reach a career low with the Sabres after being benched for the second half of their game against the Anaheim Ducks. Described as “the most embarrassed” he has been in his career, Moulson has produced 6 points in 6 games with the Sabres, but has failed to score in his past 5 games. Moulson will have a tough time recording 30 goals this year with the defence focusing more attention on him, rather than pal John Tavares.
Free Agent Pickups
Marcus Johansson – Seeing time on the top power-play unit with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, Johansson has recorded nearly half of his 15 points on the man advantage. Widely available in many leagues, go and grab this guy purely for osmosis from his two elite teammates. Marcus has 5 points in his last three games, and a very useful 13 assists on the year, just don’t expect very many goals.
Dustin Penner – Penner is an enigmatic talent who can be a dominating force when his head is into it. Playing next to his buddies, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, Penner is on a 5 game point streak capped by a 4 point game against the Sabres. With his line-mates hot as ever, Penner is a must own as long as he stays on the top line.
Tyler Toffoli – An injury to Jeff Carter opened the door for Toffoli to get the big league shot he deserves. Next to Mike Richards, Toffoli is certainly making the most of it with 5 points in just 3 games. Toffoli has produced at every level of competition as he uses his smarts and wicked wrist shot to put points on the board. A preseason favourite for the Calder trophy, don’t sleep on Toffoli as he figures to stick around even when Carter returns.
Colin Wilson – On a Nashville franchise devoid of elite offensive talent, outside of a couple D men, the hopes for Wilson as their top line center are high. With a 4 point night against the suddenly elite Colorado Avalanche, Wilson flashed some of that potential. Last season, Wilson was on pace for a career year until it was cut short by injury, so keep an eye on this former 7th overall pick.
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