Fantasy Update: Studs, Duds and Trade Targets

Heading into the second weekend of the new NHL season, plenty of players are making their presence felt in fantasy — for better or worse.

Here’s a quick-hitter to bring you up to speed on all that has transpired so far.

Who’s Hot?

Carey Price, G Montreal — Backstopping undefeated Canadiens with four wins, including a shutout over the Rangers on Thursday. Boasting .957 save percentage and 1.25 goals-against average.

John Tavares, C New York Islanders — Of the projected Art Ross candidates, he’s off to the best start with three goals and six points through four games. That’s a healthy lead on some of the other superstars.

Patrick Kane, RW Chicago — Matched Tavares’ stat-line so far, albeit in five games. Seems unfazed by the ongoing-but-fizzling rape investigation surrounding him.

Zach Parise, LW Minnesota — Scored his league-leading fifth goal on Thursday night and also has six points in three games. Really clicking with Mikael Granlund.

Max Pacioretty, LW Montreal — Captain, oh captain, he’s led the Habs to a franchise-record 5-0 start and has produced four goals and six points.

Erik Karlsson, D Ottawa — Tied for the league lead in scoring with seven points, albeit all assists. Established a career-high with four helpers in Wednesday’s win.

Who’s Cold?

Sidney Crosby, C Pittsburgh — Pointless through four games and was somehow shotless through two. Not showing instant chemistry with prized acquisition Phil Kessel, who only has an unassisted goal to show for his efforts.

Anze Kopitar, C Los Angeles — Pointless in three games with a minus-3 rating. In a contract year as a pending unrestricted free agent, he should be motivated to pick up the pace.

Corey Perry, RW Anaheim — Also pointless after three games with only two shots on goal. Coach Bruce Boudreau was experimenting with Perry and Ryan Getzlaf on different lines to start the season, which has failed miserably so far. Getzlaf is also pointless, but at least has nine shots. Expect them to be reunited as early as tonight.

Edmonton Oilers — Leading scorers all tied with one point after four games. That includes all four No. 1 overall picks in Connor McDavid, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, each with a goal, and Nail Yakupov, with an assist.

Sergei Bobrovsky, G Columbus — Blue Jackets are 0-4 and he’s sporting an .830 Save % and 5.05 GAA. That’s just F-ugly, especially for a former Vezina winner.

Jonathan Quick, G Los Angeles — Kings are 0-3 and his stat-line is just marginally better than Bobrovsky’s at .861 Save % and 3.71 GAA. The word ‘overrated’ is starting to get attached to Quick.

Breaking Out

Jonathan Drouin, LW Tampa Bay — Six points in five games on the top line with Steven Stamkos. This kid has mad skills and may not slow down any time soon.

Mikael Granlund, C Minnesota — Scored his first goal Thursday, a shorthanded marker, and has four points through three games. Can he be a point-per-game player? It’s possible.

Sasha Barkov, C Florida — Five points in four games playing with the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr. Barkov is a big body with real big upside.

Mark Scheifele, C Winnipeg — Three goals in four games and has shown off a great release on his shot. He could score 30.

Rasmus Ristolainen, D Buffalo — Three points in four games, including a goal. The former top-10 pick should be good for 30-plus points.

Martin Jones, G San Jose — First-time starter has been stellar so far, with a perfect 3-0 record, including two shutouts. The rest of his stat-line reads: .987 Save % and 0.33 GAA. In a word, wow.

Bouncing Back

Nathan MacKinnon, C Colorado — Five points in three games, he’s put that sophomore slump behind him and is looking more like the Calder winner from his rookie season. MacKinnon could be a top-20 point-getter at season’s end.

Jaromir Jagr, RW Florida — Four goals in as many games and six points overall. The 43-year-old with more than 1,800 career points dating back to 1990 appears rejuvenated with the youthful Panthers. That resurgence started last season as soon as he was traded to Florida, but for a while there it looked like Jagr was losing a step in New Jersey. Turns out, Father Time can’t slow this legend down.

Paul Stastny, C St. Louis — Four points in as many games, he’s centering the Blues’ top line with Vladimir Tarasenko and Alex Steen. Stastny seems to have found his fit in St. Louis after a disappointing (46-point) first season there.

Ales Hemsky, RW Dallas — It’s amazing what a new hip can do for a guy, eh? Hemsky is flying out there for the Stars and has six points through four games. If he can stay healthy, this could be a career year. That’s a big “if” with him though.

Dion Phaneuf, D Toronto — Three points in as many games, all assists, but more importantly a plus-1 rating for the Leafs’ captain. He played more than 24 minutes the other night and looked good doing it. Sounds like Mike Babcock is a fan so far.

Mike Smith, G Arizona — Brilliant through three games, but got lit up and pulled after four goals against in a back-to-back situation on Thursday. Prior to that stinker, Smith was undefeated with a .959 Save % and 1.45 GAA. This, after finishing last season at .904 and 3.16.

Selling High

Justin Abdelkader, LW Detroit — With four goals and five points in just three games, he’s currently overachieving. Enjoy that hot streak while it lasts, but consider shopping Abdelkader for somebody with a more proven track record of sustainability.

Martin Hanzal, C Arizona — Tied for the league lead with seven points, albeit all assists. Flanked by rookie sensations Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, that trio is going to hit the wall at some point. Unload Hanzal before it’s too late.

Francois Beauchemin, D Colorado — Second to only Karlsson in defence scoring, with five assists in three games, Beauchemin is going to tail off in a hurry. He hasn’t topped 30 points in a decade and might not be top-three on his own team in defence scoring by season’s end, behind Tyson Barrie, Erik Johnson and perhaps either Brandon Gormley or Nikita Zadorov.

Buying Low

See Who’s Cold — Any of those guys, even the Oilers named above, would be smart targets at this stage of the season. They can only get better going forward and rival GMs may already be growing frustrated. It wouldn’t hurt to put out a feeler, even if it’s a low-ball offer.

Look To IR — Injured guys can make for timely buys too. Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom will be making his season debut any day now. Detroit’s Pavel Datsyuk, Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle and Calgary’s T.J. Brodie could be back within a couple weeks and should make positive impacts upon returning. If they come cheap, the short-term pain might turn into long-term gain.

Larry Fisher is a sports reporter for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.