Welcome back to The Waiver Wire! If you're in a fantasy league like I am, then the first "week" is really the first week and a half of the NHL season. That means that if your team got off to a slow start, you still have a whole week to catch up. We are going to look at some players that are struggling, followed by pleasant surprises, elite players being elite and then we will wrap it up with my shot in the dark player of the week.
The Colorado Avalanche
The Colorado Avalanche have only scored two goals in their first three games. This leaves many fantasy owners (such as myself) extremely frustrated with their offense and possibly pulling their hair out. Duchene, MacKinnon, Hejda and Barrie each just picked up an assist while McGinn and Briere each picked up goals. This still leaves Tanguay, Iginla, O'Reilly and Landeskog pointless in the first three games. Iginla isn't actively hurting your team, with a +1 rating and although O'Reilly is -3, his 10 shots are most likely helping your team. Tanguay and Landeskog both have a -2 rating with only 3 shots. That just won't get the job done. Hopefully the scoring picks up sooner rather than later, and your Avalanche-stacked team doesn't suffer too much.
The Stars' top line
So far this year, after two games, the Dallas Stars' top line of Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and Valeri Nichushkin are a combined 0-0-0 and -7. Last year, Seguin put up 37-47-84, Benn put up 34-45-79 and Nichushkin, in his rookie year, put up a respectable 14-20-34. The duo of Seguin and Benn was one of the most dynamic duos in the league last year so it was a reasonable expectation that they would pick up where they left off. Knowing that Nichushkin would be on this line, many of you may have drafted him hoping that his numbers are inflated a bit by being paired with Benn and Seguin. Their scoring will come back eventually. I think it's reasonable to not expect Trevor Daley, Antoine Roussel and Ryan Garbutt to lead the Stars in points (2) for the entire year.
Steven Stamkos - TBL - C - 100% owned
Steven Stamkos is arguably the best goal scorer in the National Hockey League. He is at the very least, in the top 3. Over his career, he has averaged more than a point per game, and averages .57 goals per game. So far this year, in two games, he has 0 goals, 1 assist and is -1, however that 1 assist, was a power play assist. The good news is that he has taken 7 shots in those two games, which is right on par with his career average, so it isn't for his lack of trying. I fully expect him to start scoring soon. Stamkos may be anxiously waiting for Drouin to return from injury. EDIT: Hey look, he just scored a hat trick. Nailed it.
The Pleasant Surprises
Brock Nelson - NYI - C - 31% owned
Who? He's still a free agent in my league, so he may be available in your league as well. Brock Nelson has been playing on a line with Mikhail Grabovski and Ryan Strome and it seems like he's having the time of his life. He has 1 goal and 2 assists at even strength and 2 goals and 1 assist on the power play. Nelson could be a great pick up in your league to add to your center depth. Even though his scoring most likely will regress, expect it to still be at a good rate with the talent that he is playing with.
Jiri Tlusty - CAR - LW - 8% owned
Last year, Jiri Tlusty had a stat line of 16-14-30 in 68 games. That is less than overwhelming, to say the least. This year, he is off to a great start with 3 goals and 1 assist in two games. This doesn't seem to be a fluke either. The biggest part of his stat line, is that in those two games, he was averaging twenty minutes per night. He's been given a huge opportunity and is making the best out of it. Unless he gets injured (which the rest of the Hurricanes seem to be suffering doing), I expect Tlusty to continue to see about twenty minutes per night. The bad news, is that Eric Staal just got injured, so that may negatively affect Tlusty's production.
Cam Atkinson - CBJ - RW - 15% owned
Cam Atkinson was one of my choices for players that could surprise, and boy did he ever. In two games last week, Atkinson had 3 goals on 8 shots in two games. He's taking a lot of shots and continues to play hard. He's only seeing slightly more than 15 minutes per game, but is playing with Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen. Those of you who know me, know how highly I think of Johansen (he's really freaking awesome), so it's a great sign that they are giving Atkinson time with the best center on the team. If Atkinson establishes some chemistry with this line, then he may continue to stay with them, regardless of who comes back from injury.
Tomas Plekanec - MON - C - 49% owned
This year, Tomas Plekanec has split even strength time playing between PA Parenteau and Alex Galchenyuk, and at other times, playing between the Alex Galchenyuk and the love-child of Jari Kurri and Joe Sakic, Jiri Sekac. Regardless of his line mates, Plekanec has put up 4 goals and 1 assists in three games, all coming at even strength. Because of that, he's also sporting a savvy +4. He's averaging one hit and one blocked shot per game but he's only winning 45.4% of his faceoffs. For a 31 year old who's numbers seemed to be in a steady decline, it's quite the surprise to see Plekanec playing this well.
Elite Players Being Elite
Sidney Crosby - PIT - C - 100% owned
Sidney Crosby is the definition of elite. He is currently averaging 1.4 points per game over the course of his career. In this era of hockey, that is absolutely ridiculous. He seems to be very happy playing with Patric Hornqvist (who is also probably really happy) and longtime line mate Chris Kunitz. Right now, Crosby has 3 goals and 3 assists, and is tied with Brock Nelson (yeah, that guy up there) for the league lead in points. One surprising area of his game that is usually elite but is subpar right now are his faceoff numbers. By subpar, I mean he is doing terribly, only winning 44.2% of his faceoffs. To put that into perspective, that's lower than Marc-Andre Cliche's 44.7%. Crosby has been above 50% in the past three years and above 52.5% in the past two, so expect his faceoff percentage rise.
John Tavares - NYI - C - 100% owned
John Tavares continues to prove that the Isles were right to choose him over Hedman and Duchene in the 2009 draft. At even strength, he has been playing with Kyle Okposo and Cory Conacher. He currently has 1 goal and 4 assists in two games. His lone goal and 2 assists came on the power play while the other two assists were at even strength. Tavares is also struggling in the faceoff dot, only winning 46.7% of his faceoffs, but has only taken 15 total faceoffs in two games. Expect at least a point per game performance from Tavares as the Isles most likely make the playoffs.
Shot In The Dark
Every week, I will give one player who is 5% owned or less in Yahoo! leagues and name them my shot in the dark player of the week.
Alex Chiasson - OTT - C - 3% owned
I was a bit surprised to see that Alex Chiasson was only 3% owned. His rookie campaign ended with 13-22-35 with a very bad -21. Then he was traded to Ottawa in the Jason Spezza deal, and I have a feeling that being on Ottawa ,may be what is scaring some fantasy owners away. So far he has 1 goal and 1 assists in two games while playing beside quality line mates in Milan Michalek and Mika Zibanejad. Chiasson is also averaging 16:17 per game so it seems like he will continue to see some ice time. He is low risk high reward if you decide to pick him up.
What fantasy players are frustrating you? Who is saving your team? Who do you have an eye on? Let me know what you want to see next week on The Waiver Wire.