HEADS UP... we updated our 2010/11 Fantasy Scouting Report Monday so if you have a late draft this weekend then this is some of the freshest fantasy hockey draft advice, projections & cheatsheets that you can find.
Dream debut for Rangers rookie Derek Stepan as he notched a hat-trick in his NHL debut... on his first three shots no less... and he almost had a fourth as he rang one off the post. Go grab him right now, he's likely to get a hat-job every game... (joke). Don't forget that Fabian Brunnstrom had a hat-trick in his first game as well and look where he his now. We think Stepan's going to be a good one but he doesn't project to be a big goal scorer so this has to be considered an anomaly but it's going to make it a lot harder for them to take him out of the lineup and send him down.
Over in the Czech Republic, Oliver Ekman-Larsson also got off to a strong start for the Coyotes as he led the team in ice-time (23:47 with 1:57 of PP time) and chipped in an assist. You know our feeling on 19-year old dmen (see: skeptical), especially those that have never even played in the SEL yet but it looks like Dave Tippett is going to give the kid a chance to show what he can do at the beginning of the season.
Still with the Coyotes, Eric Belanger starts the season centering the top line between Wolski & Doan. He had a PP goal yesterday and while seeing quality ice with good linemates should help, we doubt how long it will last as this guy has proven to be not much more than a 35 point scorer over his career. In a semi-related note, Kyle Turris was a healthy scratch yesterday.
Nice fantasy line for John Carlson as the Caps dman had 1+2=3, 3 shots & 12 PIMs last night... the points should be there this year but we don't think he'll be a big PIMs contributor but this is a nice bonus for poolies. The Caps-Devils game went a little bananas in the 3rd and for the second night in a row we had two stars fighting as Kovalchuk & Mike Green dropped the mitts and did a little swing dancing routine.
There was a lot of speculation in training camp about what line Steve Downie would play on but he started the year where he left off last season, in his prime spot with Stamkos & St.Louis. He did what he does last night with 1+1=2, plus-2, 4 shots & 2 PIMs. His PIMs could be a little down this year as new coach Guy Boucher might not be as accepting of his antics as Rick Tocchet was but he should still give you a nice points & PIMs combo.
Nikita Filatov only played 13 minutes yesterday but he is seeing a lot of time on the CBJs top PP unit (3:13 yesterday) and has PP assists in each of his first two games so far. The top unit was really moving the puck around well and Filatov looks to be a key cog, let's hope he holds down this role as that should really help his production this year.
The Ducks gave up the 2nd most shots in the league last year (33.4/gm) and that shows no signs of improving this year as Jonas Hiller has been crapped-on facing an average of 46 shots/gm over the first two games. The Ducks D-core is young and not that good really so it looks like it's going to be a tough year for Hiller. It's a shame really cause the kid is a solid goalie (.920 career sv%).