Alex Ovechkin – The Great Eight Alex Ovechkin is on an absolute tear through the National Hockey League dating back to last season. Maintaining a mind-boggling, near goal-a-game pace, Ovechkin has 20 goals in 22 games so far this season. Even with defences collapsing on him, it takes just a split second for Ovy to find the back of the net. Enjoy the nightly goal highlights because we may be witnessing a historic mesh rippling season from Ovechkin.
Evgeni Malkin – Meanwhile, 2004 2nd overall pick behind Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin is once again galloping through defenders to set up his pal James Neal, who recently returned from injury. Tied with Jumbo Joe Thornton for the league lead in assists, its only a matter of time before Geno starts scoring some goals of his own and truly takes off in the scoring race. With points in 10 of his last 11 games for 16 points over that span, Malkin is as hot as anybody right now.
Dustin Byfuglien – After opening the year with no goals in his first 18 games, big Buff has broken out with 6 goals in his last 7. As usual, the Winnipeg Jets best D man is blasting pucks at the net on a regular basis with 86 shots on goal, which leads NHL defenceman. His plus minus may be a drain to fantasy rosters, but he more than makes up for it with plenty of hits and valuable penalty minutes. With the honeymoon over in Winnipeg, Jets fans will expect Dustin to continue his torrid hot streak.
Scott Hartnell – A career year in 2011 playing next to Claude Giroux suggested Hartnell would be fantasy gold with his combination of goal scoring and penalty minutes. As his line-mate Giroux has struggled, so has Hartnell, as he put up a paltry 11 points in 32 games last year. So far this year, things haven’t got much better as he has only registered 6 points in his first 18 games. Thankfully for Hartnell owners, those points have come recently and he seems to be on the cusp of turning it around.
Sergei Gonchar – Brought in to shore up the power-play, expectations for a strong year from Gonchar were high, what with the addition of Tyler Seguin in the offseason. The writing was on the wall with declining numbers over the past few seasons, but a team boasting offensive dynamos in Benn, Seguin, and Nichushkin should have created enough chances for Gonchar to see the scoresheet. Now demoted from the top PP unit, don’t expect a resurgence from this 39 year old Russian D man.
Sergei Bobrovsky – Coming into the year, officer Bobrovsky talked the good talk, claiming he wanted to repeat his strong year and even had aspirations to challenge for the Hart trophy. The story has been quite the opposite so far as he sports a 2.95 GAA and 0.904 save %, with a 7-10-2 record. The Blue Jackets have been missing Marian Gaborik and Nathan Horton, so Bobrovsky may have a chance to turn it around once those key pieces return.
Free Agent Pickups
Mikko Koivu – The Minnesota Wild’s Captain and first line center isn’t getting enough love from poolies this year with a whopping 32% of Yahoo leagues where he is unowned. If that is one of your leagues, drop everything and go grab him now as he has 13 points in his last 9 games. Leading a red hot Wild team with Zach Parise on his wing, Mikko should continue his strong play for a potentially career year.
David Perron – Traded for once top prospect Magnus Paajarvi and a 2014 2nd round pick, this former St Louis Blue is paying early returns for Edmonton GM Craig MacTavish. Despite lining up on the Oilers’ third line, Perron is getting power-play time on the all forwards first unit and is making the most of it. Perron has 3 goals and 6 points over the Oilers’ recent three game win streak and is near point-per-game with 18 points in his first 20 games. Available in over half of Yahoo leagues, go grab Perron as the Young Oilers may be turning it around.
Reilly Smith – A forgotten piece in the Tyler Seguin deal, Reilly Smith is turning heads with 15 points already, as he has formed solid chemistry with former Swedish Elite League sniper Carl Soderberg. Widely available in leagues, Smith is a good bet to keep up his so far consistent production. He doesn’t offer much in the way of hits or shots, but could be a difference maker in deep leagues.
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