The puck has dropped! REAL games are being played. Lots to assimilate. Who is getting coveted PP time? Who made their team out of camp? Who is seeing an increased role due to an injury? Who has a favorable D pairing or line assignment?
You're a savvy owner. You took advantage of Cam and Jay's insights, pored over the FHS Draft Kit, and SMOKED the competition at your draft. Congrats. That's a great first step. To ensure ultimate victory, however, your in-season roster management is equally critical. If you want to win the title you cannot rest on your laurels. Check in here each Sunday night for suggestions on improving your roster.
Let's check out who is available in Week 1...
Commonly owned LWs worth adding: Evander Kane, Jets; Nikolai Kulemin, Maple Leafs.
Vaclav Prospal, Blue Jackets - Vinny is the playmaking winger that Columbus envisions making Rick Nash and Jeff Carter go. Rick Nash. Jeff Carter. Doesn't get much better than that. He's also on the #1 PP unit. Prospal posted 23 points in just 29 games with the Rangers last year. He missed the early part of the season recovering from a knee injury, but has demonstrated that he's back to full strength. Prospal put up 80 points, albeit several years ago, when he was with Tampa Bay which is indicative of the talent he possesses. Linemates + opportunity = an excellent add.
Availability: Owned in 31% of leagues.
Forecast: Prospal has 2 points in 2 games so far this season (1+1). He's not a point per game player anymore, but could register 60 points given his outstanding situation. Add or trade for him now--he won't remain under the radar for long.
Max Pacioretty, Canadiens - A former 1st round pick, Max was off to a great start 24 points (14+10) in just 37 games (a 53 point pace) before Chara trainwrecked him into the stanchion and ended his season. Max is back, amazingly, and has a secure spot in Montreal's Top 6. In the Habs first game, Max was on the #2 PP unit. He had 7 PPGs last season, and his effectiveness with the man advantage means he will continue to receive opportunities.
Availability: Owned in 8% of leagues.
Forecast: Pacioretty should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues.
Deep league specials (owned in fewer than 5% of leagues): None, although Ryan Malone is close (6%).
Commonly owned Cs worth adding: Tyler Seguin, Bruins (who is really a RW! - at least at this point in his career)
Jordan Staal, Penguins - It is easy to forget that Jordan is just 23 years old. Although he has typically been asked to man the 3C role and focus on defence, any missed time by Crosby (head) or Malkin (knee) will ensure he plays in the Top 6. Staal may play in the Top 6 in any case given the Penguins depth down the middle: Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Letestu, Jeffrey, and Vitale. With Crosby and Malkin on IR last season, Staal upped his production to a career best 0.71 ppg (a 58 point pace), and that was with him drawing the opposition's best defensive coverage. Look for a modest bump up from there to say 0.75 ppg which would have "Big Gronk" sporting >60 points at season's end.
Availability: Owned in 58% of leagues.
Forecast: Staal should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues. He has 3 points (2+1) in his first 2 games this season. The Penguins have improved their F corps, and that bodes well for all their centres this season.
Mikhail Grabovski, Maple Leafs - Grabovski produced 58 points (29+29) and 10 PPGs playing in all 82 games as he broke out last season. For most of the year he lined up with Kulemin and MacArthur and is expected to do so again this season. Not sure why his ownership is dropping. He did take a puck off the foot, but has not missed any time and scored just last night. The Leafs are much improved, especially on the PP, where the addition of Liles and the re-emergence of Phaneuf should result in a higher conversion rate. That will also be a plus for Grabovski.
Availability: Owned in 47% of leagues.
Forecast: Grabovski should be owned in virtually all formats. Look for him to equal or better last year's output.
Jason Pominville, Sabres - Recently named Captain. Concussion put a damper on last season--the first one in five that he did not appear in all 82 games. Pommer posted just 52 points in 73 games whereas his average over the prior four season was 69 points. Look for him to get back to right around that number again plus about 240 SOGs. Off to a flying start so far with 4 points (1+3) in Buffalo's first two games.
Availability: Owned in 66% of leagues.
Forecast: Pomminville should be owned in all but the shallowest of leagues. On paper, the Sabres are one of the most improved teams in the NHL. Only two games in, but 8 GF seems to indicate they will fill the net.
Guillaume Latendresse, Wild - Gui missed most of last season (hip) but was producing at a 37-goal pace the season before after being acquired from Montreal in an early season trade (25 goals in just 55 games). The Wild have a vastly improved F corps, and that will benefit Latendresse, too. The 6'2' 240 pound winger has had some difficulty staying fit and trim, but apparently has worked with a nutritionist and is in great shape. The Wild have only played one game so far, but Gui did pick up a point and see time on the #2 PP.
Availability: Owned in 29% of leagues.
Forecast: Latendresse should be owned in virtually all formats. I'm not predicting 37 goals this year, but you could see 30--and 30-goal wingers should not be left unclaimed in your pool.
Ian White, Red Wings - The other half of Detroit's #1 pairing with Nicklas Lidstrom. Is there a more fortunate D pairing possible? Ian White made an immediate impact, scoring a 3rd period goal in the first game with his new team. He had 3 SOG, a +1, and 4 PIMs. White's career best season was 2009-2010 when he scored 38 points (13+25) splitting time between Calgary and Toronto. On a better team, paired with one of the greatest blueliners ever, look for White to improve on those numbers this season--perhaps significantly.
Availability: Owned in 59% of leagues.
Forecast: Do not walk, run to your wire. White should be owned in all leagues.
Adam Larsson, Devils - Immensely talented. Considered a viable #1 overall pick in this year's draft he fell to New Jersey at 4 and into one of the best situations imaginable. Larsson is expected to see significant time on the PP, and was on the #1 unit in New Jersey's season opener. Playing with the likes of Parise and Kovalchuk, Larsson has excellent upside.
Availability: Owned in 11% of leagues.
Forecast: Larsson should be owned in virtually all formats.
Commonly owned Gs worth adding: Ondrej Pavelec, Jets
Jonathan Bernier, Kings - Widely considered the #1 goaltending prospect the past few years, many have expected he would overtake Jonathan Quick as top dog in LA, however, Quick has proven to be resilient and capable. Last year, LA had G starts scheduled fairly strictly--with Quick getting the lion's share. This year, they want more of an open competition. Quick was excellent in his start and Bernier faltered, but don't let that deter you. This kid is talented, and the competition will continue. With a great team in front of him, Bernier represents solid value as your #3.
Availability: Owned in 15% of leagues.
Forecast: It is a long season, and no one knows how this will turn out. With an opportunity to earn upwards of 50% of the starts on a Cup contender like the Kings, JB is worthy of an add in virtually all formats.
Devan Dubnyk, Oilers - Our friends over at Copper & Blue have been unwavering in their support of Dubnyk over Khabibulin for the #1 gig in Edmonton. DD posted a stout .916 save percentage on the NHL's worst team last season. The Oilers have a ways to go, but the talent they are stockpiling is undeniable. The 6' 6" Dubnyk is a former 1st round pick and the future of the Oilers in net. That future begins now. If you believe that Edmonton will be improved this year, Dubnyk makes an intriguing breakout candidate.
Availability: Owned in 3% of leagues.
Forecast: Dubnyk should be owned in all 12-team leagues (or larger). In deeper leagues, he makes an outstanding trade target as he can likely be acquired at a reasonable price.
Deep league specials (owned in fewer than 5% of leagues): Jacob Markstrom (0.4%)
Now check your wire, good luck, and enjoy the games!
*Availability data from ESPN leagues.
**Player analyses are based on their projected value in standard scoring categories: Goals, Assists, Power Play Points, Shots on Goal, Plus/Minus, Penalty Minutes, and Average Time on Ice.