Poolies are jumping on the Tomas Hertl wagon faster than a Philadelphia Flyer coaching change. And for good reason. He's a first round pick, a skilled winger with size (and he'll only get bigger), and he's playing with Joe Thornton. He has also been, thanks in large part to a four-goal game, one of the best players to own in rotisserie hockey so far. Here is the Top 20 (after Tuesday's games), courtesy of Frozen Pool:
These fellas are wielding a hot stick. Take that into consideration when you go after them in trade talks...
Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks (Each with 6 points in 4 games, combined 24 shots and plus-6) – Daniel tallied six points in four games to start last season and each of them had seven in five to kick off 2011-12. Getting off to a fast start is their M.O. It's the months of January and February that could use a push.
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild (3-3-0-3, 4 PIM, plus-1, 2 PPG, 18 SOG) – Three goals in three games is nothing special, but what's impressive is that the Wild as a team have only scored seven times. And Parise has chipped in with the other stats, too. So far he's earned his salary. Well, no (/remembers contract figure).
P-A Parenteau, Colorado Avalanche (3-3-1-4, 0 PIM, plus-3, 8 SOG) – Poolies look at his being taken off the Matt Duchene line as a negative. But they shouldn't. Playing with Nathan MacKinnon has its perks, namely the premium situations. You know that MacKinnon will have his ice time babied early on. And sure enough, each member of that line (Jamie McGinn is the other winger) has an offensive zone start percentage of at least 78.3 - among the highest in the league. Put Parenteau in the offensive zone to start 80% of his shifts and his production will soar. And so far, it has.
Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks (3-0-0, 1.33 GAA, 0.938SV%) – Niemi also started last season hot, going 6-0-1 and allowing just 13 goals in that span. The guy comes out of training camp ready to play and as long as the Sharks avoid a tailspin like they had in every postseason February, Niemi will be a top goalie own.
Somebody wake these guys up – their fantasy owners are counting on them...
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers (4-0-0-0-0-0-0-can't-0-0-stop-0-0-0-pressing-0-0) – The Flyers were slumping but then they fired the coach. That should fix everything, right? Well it can't hurt. But Craig Berube falls more in line with the School of Sutter as opposed to the School of Boudreau. Giroux was a preseason candidate to top 90 points this year, but under Berube can he reach 80?
Mike Ribeiro, Phoenix Coyotes (3-0-0-0, 4 PIM, minus-2, 4 SOG) – The lanky 177-pounder is learning something. Being 'the guy' is harder than being "that guy who plays behind 'the guy'".
Steve Ott, Buffalo Sabres (4-0-0-0, even, 5 PIM, 4 SOG) – Ott is kind of a streaky player, so he'll get close to 40 points one way or another. But usually we can take solace in his slumps by basking in all the penalty minutes. But maybe he's meeker now, since being forced to wear that hideous yellow…thing during the summer unveiling of Buffalo's third jersey.
Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes (1-2-0, 3.40 GAA, 0.904 SV%) – These weak numbers are the result of just one bad game. But last year he allowed six goals in his second game and in 2011-12 he let in six goals in his first game. The guy just hits the snooze button one too many times, but he wakes up soon enough.
Mostly short-term grabs here, but as always some potential steals...
Jacob Markstrom, Florida Panthers (0-0-0, 1.66 GAA, 0.935 SV%) – Markstrom has come on in relief of Tim Thomas twice now, once because Thomas was injured and once because he just plain sucked was rusty. Markstrom has looked pretty good and with Thomas nursing a sore groin he'll probably get at least two starts in.
Josh Harding, Minnesota Wild (0-1-0, 1.26 GAA, 0.950 SV%) – Harding is a very good goaltender, but the problem is twofold. He only gets into games when Niklas Backstrom is sidelined, and Harding himself gets sidelined a lot. But this is one of those times when the stars align and both a Backstrom injury and a Harding clean bill of health are happening at once. I think you need special glasses in order to stare directly at this phenomenon.
Mason Raymond, Toronto Maple Leafs (4-2-2-4, even, 0 PIM, 10 SOG) – The speedy winger is another one of those "I want to show the world" cases where he plays on a new team with a chip on his shoulder and wills pucks into the net. His first half will be far better than his second half, as the adrenalin wears off, but pick him up and enjoy the next 10 or 15 games.
David Jones, Calgary Flames (4-2-2-4, plus-3, 2 PIM, 10 SOG) – Playing primarily on the third line with Curtis Glencross, as well as both special teams, Jones is already just one goal shy of last year's total. It's another one of those "new team" things, but he's only 5% owned in Yahoo!
Josh Bailey, New York Islanders (3-1-3-4, plus-3, 0 PIM, 2 SOG) – Just imagine what would happen if he started shooting the puck? Since Bailey took 76 shots on goal last season in 38 games, that number will climb. Bailey, owned in just 5% of leagues, has 14 points in his last 16 games going back to last season.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks (3-1-3-4, plus-4, 0 PIM, 1 SOG) – This is another short-term recommendation, because Vlasic's track record is pretty clear that he's a 20-point player with an upside that sits around where is career high is (36 points in 2008-09). A year ago he had three points in the first five games, but then just four points the rest of the way.
Matt Donovan, New York Islanders (3-1-1-2, plus-1, 2 PIM, 4 SOG) – Donovan is Torey Krugging his way into a full-time NHL job, but doesn't have half the recognition that Mr. Krug has. Both defensemen are in their early 20's, are former college stars, and they each had 45 points in the AHL last season. Donovan is not out of the woods yet, but put him on your roster and keep him there until he falters. Be pro-active, not reactive.
Here's where I'll fire off a few names of players who may be at the very beginning of a nice little run. Just a gut feeling, but worth looking into and/or taking a chance on:
Jamie McBain, Buffalo; Nathan Gerbe, Carolina; Artem Anisimov, Columbus; Valeri Nichushkin, Dallas; J-G Pageau, Ottawa; Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay; Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay; John Carlson, Washington.
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