We all know you can’t win or lose your fantasy pool based on the first night of the NHL season, but you can definitely gain an edge on your fellow owners by paying close attention to who hit the score sheet in the early going.
Here’s an early look at some of the players who stood out on opening night in the NHL. Hopefully some of these players will be available in your league.
Forward Vladimir Tarasenko – Blues: Owned in 18 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 29.1 percent of ESPN Leagues.
The 2010 first round pick impressed in his debut, scoring two goals, including the game-winner. His early achievements have already made fantasy owners that drafted him look like geniuses. Even his teammates were impressed.
From Chris Stewart:
”You look at Tarasenko and he did some special things,” Stewart said. ”You can tell he’s going to be a special player in this league for a long time.”
If he’s still on your waiver wire, get him NOW! The Calder Trophy candidate is already worth trading for, especially in a keeper league.
Forward Nazem Kadri – Maple Leafs: Owned in 2 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 5.4 percent of ESPN Leagues.
Kadri made the team after the Leafs sent Tim Connolly to the minors and shipped Matthew Lombardi to the Coyotes. For anyone who took a chance on him in the final rounds of your pool, you were rewarded early.
Kadri played only nine minutes and 53 seconds against the Habs, but he scored, and that’s all that matters in fantasy. Coach Randy Carlyle said after the game he hopes to get him more playing time in the upcoming games, so with that, it’s time to go grab him from the wire. He’s available!
Forward Cory Conacher – Lightning: Owned in 0.5 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 3.6 percent of ESPN Leagues.
The Lightning rookie scored a goal and added an assist in his debut, while receiving time on the Lightning power-play as well. It might be a stretch to call him a super sleeper, but considering he’s basically available in all leagues, he’s worth the pick up now. Don’t forget, last year he was the AHL MVP scoring 39 goals in 75 games.
Jonathan Huberdeau – Panthers: Owned in 52 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 98 percent of ESPN Leagues.
The Panthers rookie recorded three points in his debut, and looked good on a line with the surprise player of the night Alex Kovalev. If you were waiting for a game or two to see if this kids for real, don’t wait any longer. For keeper leagues, he’s a player you have on your roster for as long as the commissioner allows.
As for Kovalev (owned in 3.2 of ESPN Leagues) a three point night makes you wonder what’s to come. Can the Panthers forward go from surprise try-out to fantasy sleeper? Pick him up!
Last but not least, two of the oldest players in the league had incredible nights.
Forward Teemu Selanne – Ducks: Owned in 82 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 99.9 percent of ESPN Leagues.
The oldest player in the league at age 42 recorded two goals and two assists against the Vancouver Canucks. He had 15:08 of ice time and showed no signs of rust from the lockout. If you don’t have him, trading for him may be a wise idea.
Forward Jaromir Jagr – Stars: Owned in 53 percent of Yahoo Leagues / 99.9 percent of ESPN Leagues.
After one night, Jagr is already ranked first in ESPN Leagues thanks to his two goal, two assist night against the Coyotes. His average draft position heading into the night was 143rd, so it’s safe to say he’s the early steal of your draft.
Top 5 players added to rosters on Yahoo!
1. Vladimir Tarasenko
2. Jaromir Jagr – Stars
3. Ben Scrivens – Maple Leafs
4. Jonathan Huberdeau – Panthers
5. Mikko Koivu – Wild
Don’t panic if you own goalies Cory Schneider, Jimmy Howard, Jonathan Quick, Cam Ward or Braden Holtby. All five struggled Saturday, with Schneider and Howard being pulled for Roberto Luongo and Jonas Gustavsson respectively. All five will likely rebound, so trading away one of these guys should be out of the question.
Have a fantasy question? Let me know in the comment section throughout the season.