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NHL Skinny: A fab debut for Fabian

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade

"Be patient, it's early" is the boiler-plate advice you'll get in a lot of fantasy communities, but not here. There's gold in them there hills, let's go and find some of it.

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Fabian Brunnstrom, LW, Stars: Head coach Dave Tippett didn't want to burden the 23-year-old Swede with too much early, and with that Dallas didn't let Brunnstrom see the ice until Wednesday's game with Nashville. But wow, what a debut - Brunnstrom lit the lamp three times and validated why the Stars spent so much on his rights in the first place, outbidding a handful of other clubs. He'll continue to see plenty of scoring chances if the Stars keep him on a line with Brad Richards.

Tom Preissing, D, Kings: His stat line from 2007-08 has fluke written all over it; since when does any power-play quarterback finish the year with more man-advantage goals than assists? Pressing has an excellent chance to bounce back to his established 40-point level, and his ownership number in Y! leagues right now is absolutely laughable. You won't get penalty minutes or plus-minus help with Preissing, but he can score for you.

Aaron Voros, LW, Rangers: Here's Tomas Holmstrom 2.0, a gritty forward who loves to park in the crease on the power play, mix it up, and score a few garbage goals. With the ice time the Rangers are ready to commit here, I'm fully expecting 20 goals and another 100-plus penalty minutes.

Mikael Samuelsson, W, Red Wings: Jiri Hudler couldn't stick with the big kids on Detroit's second line so Samuelsson, ever the reliable pro, is getting a shot. While he's not a special player by any means, we know Samuelsson will shoot the puck (249 attempts last year), and hanging around Henrik Zeterberg and Johan Franzen is good for anyone's bottom line.

Sergei Kostitsyn, LW, Canadiens: His brother got up to speed quicker in the NHL, but Sergei's game has taken a nifty step up in Year 2. He's getting time on the dangerous Montreal power play and making good, picking up three of his four points in that role (including both of his goals). Keep shooting the puck, Sergei.

Brandon Dubinsky, C, Rangers: He's getting a chance as New York's No. 2 center and justifying the love, with seven points and 19 shots through six games. His return last year was nothing to be that excited about (14-26-40), but he looks ready to climb a level this year.

Alex Burrows, LW, Canucks: In short, he's a tough guy who can score, another spot where we might land 20 goals and a bushel of penalty minutes. The Canucks are giving him more responsibility this year.

Devin Setoguchi, RW, Sharks: We've already talked about him plenty here and there, but some of you might have stumbled onto us for the first time. Setoguchi is a high-upside kid (eighth overall pick in 2005) who's now riding shotgun with Joe Thornton on San Jose's top line. In a lot of leagues, you can still make a move. (Not me, Matt Romig owns any talented Shark from embryo to retirement.)

Ron Hainsey, D, Thrashers: I don't care if he's on the first power-play unit or the second power-play unit, I just want him to keep scoring. Remember, it takes a while for taller defensemen to develop. I see a career year in the offing.

Downgrades

Alexander Frolov, LW, Kings: He's got two goals in three games, but they've come on just six shots and he's yet to record an assist. To further complicate matters, head coach Terry Murray has called Frolov out for his lack of checking. Keep an eye on this one.

Marek Svatos, RW, Avalanche: The Mile High Puck Hog (check out those career numbers) hasn't been firing the biscuit enough for Tony Granato; Svatos found himself on the healthy scratch list Tuesday. Sure, you might get 25-30 goals here if Svatos gets his head on straight, but what else can he really offer you? He's not a penalty grabber, he's allergic to passing the puck, you get the point. He'll have to show a lot to play his way onto my roster.

Steven Stamkos, C, Lightning: You can't score from the bench and that's where Stamkos has been more often than not over the first three games: he's averaging about 10 minutes a night. There's no denying what the kid has to offer long term, but I'll be stunned if he plays his way into fantasy value this year for anyone in a non-keeper league.

Brian Campbell, D, Blackhawks: The power play has been a mess in Chicago and a lot of the blame belongs on Campbell's shoulders, but I'm mainly putting him here to jump-start his game - my hometown keeper league roster desperately needs some point production, and we're heavily invested in Campbell. The Hawks swapped out coaches Thursday - goodbye Denis Savard, hello Joel Quenneville - and it won't surprise me if we see a short-term spike tied to that change. Campbell did have an even-strength goal in Wednesday's win, but four shots on goal in four games is not going to cut it. Let it fly, Soupy.

Jiri Hudler, LW, Red Wings: If you can't make it playing with Zetterberg and Franzen, I don't know what to tell you. Hudler is hockey's equivalent of a Four-A player - he's never going to be a big scorer at this level.

Goalie Watch

Philadelphia: Martin Biron came out of the chute with a couple of poor efforts, forcing Antero Niitymaki into the fray. I won't be surprised if this morphs into a 60-40 split at some point during the year.

Boston: I don't care about Tim Thomas's lack of pedigree, he's the best puck stopper here, darn it. Manny Fernandez hasn't done much to argue the case in the early going.

Long Island: Get the idea this long-term deal for Rick DiPietro wasn't such a great idea? He's dealing with a knee and hip problem and it's anyone's guess when he'll be right again. Joey MacDonald really isn't good enough to be a starter at this level.

Colorado: Peter Budaj looked terrible in his first three starts, but the Avalanche don't have a major threat in back of him - Andrew Raycroft is nothing special. Anyone in the Mile High area with cat-like reflexes and a set of pads, you might want to head over to the rink.

Chicago: Yep, Nikolai Khabibulin is still around, and he looked pretty sharp in Wednesday's much-needed win over the Coyotes. Looks like Cristobal Huet won't be playing as much as his owners originally expected.

Ottawa: Even when Martin Gerber has a strong game, he gets criticism: his 38-save effort against Detroit was sullied by a soft goal in the final minutes that cost the Senators the game. The club isn't going to make any sort of a knee-jerk change here, but keep tabs on Alex Auld just in case.

Detroit: Ty Conklin will probably play a third of the games here, and the wall of defense hasn't changed much in Detroit. Use those spot starts if you can, they'll be a nifty boost to your percentages.

Yahoo! Friends and Family League

Brandon Funston is the godfather of the F&F Leagues - he's in every one, and always a threat to raise a banner. He's gotten the jump on the ice this year, followed by Mark McLarney of Rotowire and Andrew O'Dea of Fantasy Hockey Café. Recent pickups in the F&F include Dubinsky, Daniel Girardi, Roman Hamrlik, Mattias Ohlund and Keith Tkachuk.

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