The NHL season has begun, and with nearly two weeks in the books, it is a time where fantasy owners are still excited about the “perfect” team they think they have constructed. There aren't any heartbreaks just yet, only some surprising producers that may very well be winning you matchups early on. It is too early to categorize a player as a bust, and frankly, there shouldn't be anyone on a trade block yet, it is way too early to abandon ship on some of your highest draft picks. This early in the season it is tough to tell who is a bust, and who is breakout. On many teams, a 12th round draft pick may be outshining the 1st round superstar, in most cases, there isn't reason to worry, and there isn't reason to be excited. We see it every year; a player could go on a complete tear for the first month of the season, owners are begging you for the last round pick who is unbelievably leading the NHL in points, and as soon as they go and trade their superstar who is having a rough start for the guy who is lighting the lamp early on, the tides turn, that guys slows down to his projected numbers while your newly acquired player finally gets his shot right and is finally doing what they’ve done every single season. The best example is Sidney Crosby. Sid the Kid is regarded as the best player in the NHL, he does everything you need from a Fantasy star, and he has kicked the injury bug the past few seasons. Crosby disappointed Fantasy owners last year with only 5 points in October followed by 10 in November, that's only 15 points in 23 games, not what a first round superstar should be producing. The time to buy low was right there, it was only a matter of time until Sid exploded, he ended up leading Pittsburgh to a Stanley Cup after producing 70 Points in the 57 games following his October/November cold streak. I have the belief you should always buy a struggling star player low than to buy a surging average player high. Hockey is a game of hot and cold streaks, every hot player comes back down to earth at some point, and every cold superstar turns the jets on eventually and wins fantasy championships for his owners. While not always the case, most superstars come around at some point, and most breakouts cool down, some remain great but the majority are just a tease.

 

    Here’s a group of players that are off to hot starts in this young NHL season who I believe can stay hot, or cool down fast.

 

Remain Hot

Jakub Voracek, PHI, RW:

    Voracek has started the season with 3 goals and 5 assists in the Flyers first 6 games. His shot totals are above his career average while the rest of his stats are nearly on point. The uptick in shots can help Voracek produce more points out on the ice and help him stay involved on offense. His shooting percentage is not off the charts, but with most of his points coming off of assists, it isn't crazy to think he can keep this up, especially with a number of talented players around him on the powerplay and on 5 on 5 action. Voracek has a knack of producing every other year, he had nearly a point per game in the 2012-13 shortened season and in his 81 point 2014-15 campaign, while averaging around a mere 60 points each season after, if the trend continues, look for Voracek to approach 80 points in a rebound season.

 

William Nylander, TOR, RW/LW:

At the young age of 20 years old, and playing in his first full season in the NHL, Nylander is just starting to grow. Starting the season with 7 points in his first 5 games is a pleasant surprise to those who drafted him as a sleeper this year and helps show promise for those who own him in dynasty leagues. Actually going undrafted in most leagues, he still may be in free agency in your league. After seeing how well him and Auston Matthews play together, it signals a decent season for both players. Don't expect either player to keep up their current point totals, but to push 70 points on a sub-par team is a great value from where they were drafted, if they were drafted at all. Both are young, and the sky's the limit, but Nylander is not the flashy name, so try and get him before everyone else catches on.

 

Jordan Eberle, EDM, RW:

Playing with one of the most talented players in the league will help anyone have potential for a great season. Eberle comes into this season playing with the most talented center he has ever had in his career. Connor McDavid is a once in a decade type of player and will help this Edmonton top line score all season long, and Eberle should reap the benefits. He has reached 76 points before, and even though it has been a while owners should be able to call a 60 point total his floor. With such a high floor it is a good investment to go out and get Eberle, or make sure you keep him if you’re an owner. As long as McDavid is out there dishing him pucks, count on a great year from Eberle.

 

Paul Stastny, STL, C:

Stastny has started the season hot and has been a popular waiver wire pickup in many leagues. Averaging a great 21 minutes of ice time per game, he is currently producing just over a point per game. He hasn't had a great year in a while, and at 30 years old he is probably done improving his game, but just like Eberle, he is playing with an upcoming superstar in Vladimir Tarasenko on the Blues top line. Tarasenko projects to top 40 goals this season and he is going to be fed the puck by Stastny all season long, who has 3 goals of his own in the early going. If you're willing to trade for him, expect Stastny to push 70 points this season and be a solid anchor for the center position in your lineup.

 

Soon to Cool Off

 

Artem Anisimov, CHI, C:

A questionable pick for this section, seeing how Anisimov has 9 points in the Blackhawks first 7 games, and how he centers the best line on the team with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. Not that Anisimov is going to be a bust this year, but for what you could get for him or what you would have to give up to get him, it's just not worth it. There’s only so many points to go around on that second line, and Anisimov is the third mouth to feed when that line is on the ice. Not to mention, he does not play on the top power play unit with his super talented linemates. I can see him finishing the season in the 60 point range, which by the way would be by far his highest career total, Anisimov has never topped 44 points in his 9 year career. A decent season can come from this great opportunity, but you are going to have to overpay big time.

 

Brad Marchand, BOS, LW:

Writing this part of the article is by far easier than the last, it's easier to criticize players than praise them. A popular player especially among Bruins fans, Marchand can be a great real life player but he has always been very hot and cold, and that does not bode well for fantasy. Known for being more of a goal scorer than a passer, he did reach a career high 37 goals last year, which topped his previous high by nearly 10 goals. A major increase in shots can be the reason why the sudden increase in goals, as his shot percentage last year was on point with his career numbers, but Marchand is not averaging as many shots on goal this year, it is still slightly higher than his career mark but not by much. Expect Marchand to push for 30 goals, but unless you are desperate for a goal scorer don't overpay for a player who is what he is, a solid 50-60 point contributor.

 

Thomas Vanek, DET, LW:

Once a great player for the Sabres, the former stars’ point totals have been trending in the wrong direction for three straight seasons. Last year was his lowest point total of his career (41 points) by about 10 points. He will be 33 in January, is on the downward side of his career, and is playing with his 5th team in 4 years. Most of my lack of trust is not from his skills, I don't think his skills are gone completely, but anyone who knows a thing about hockey should realize that an average of 13 minutes of ice time per game makes it impossible to sustain his current 1.17 points per game. Time on ice is another number that has trended in the wrong direction for three years. Playing on an underwhelming 3rd line for the Red Wings is not promising for those who own Vanek, trade him while you can, if anyone is willing to look past some big negatives in his game.

 

Chris Kreider, NYR, LW:

An odd selection for this piece, seeing as he is my favorite player on my favorite team. Kreider is still a young player at 25 years old, with his best hockey “supposedly”  yet to come, but is a much better real life player than fantasy contributor. Coming into his 4th full NHL season, Kreider has never topped 46 points in a season, and is usually relied on to contribute PIM and a decent plus/minus rating, not points. A 60-70 point season is possible for this former 1st rounder, but the Rangers are not a team who is known for producing fantasy stars outside of goalie. The team wins game by letting all players contribute without having to rely on big name guys. Drafting Rangers are not something I do, I leave my heart at home and draft with my head, the odds of Kreider approaching 60-70 points are not in his favor judging by his physical style of play, but it is entirely possible with his time on ice and his power play time. Keep Kreider if you have him, but don't bother trading for someone who is going to let you down more likely than not.

Published by Collin Moran