It's no secret that chemistry between two skaters can pay major dividends in fantasy hockey.
Having two players on your roster that work cohesively and regularly combine to account for team goals can compound normal statistical production in your favor. It's comparable to having a strong quarterback-wide receiver connection in fantasy football. Common success between two players can give your team a sizable boost.
But don't look now. He has someone in his rearview mirror making a legitimate push for playing time.
That goaltender is Anton Khudobin, a 27-year-old from Kazakhstan who is one of the few fantasy goalie options worth your time on the waiver wire market in deep leagues. He signed a one-year deal with Carolina after serving as the backup to Tuukka Rask with the Boston Bruins last season.
The Calgary Flames had one player in NHL.com's preseason top 200 rankings, making them the League's least represented team entering the season from a fantasy standpoint.
That player was Mike Cammalleri (C/LW, 38 percent owned), who has yet to play a game due to an upper-body injury. Only defenseman Dennis Wideman (average draft position: 129.1), left wing Sven Baertschi (156.1) and goalie Karri Ramo (173.3) have been drafted on average in Yahoo leagues.
But whether or not a player is selected in fantasy leagues should not always dictate his value moving forward. Therefore, rookie center Sean Monahan could end up boosting your team off the waiver wire if he continues to impress during his nine-game NHL tryout.
If you're a fantasy owner who witnessed Tomas Hertl's four-goal masterpiece for the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, chances are you scurried to the waiver wire to check his availability.
But with Hertl now owned in over 50 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues, your late bid for this single-game impact player was likely unsuccesful. Luckily, there's another readily-available player on a high-caliber line who can pay both immediate and long-term dividends.
Jussi Jokinen, owned in only 28 percent of leagues, notched his second hat trick in just over two weeks. The first came in a preseason game on Sept. 21, so this was the first to count in fantasy leagues.
Marc Staal's career was in jeopardy after he sustained a severe eye injury in March, but Thursday was a breath of fresh air in the defenseman's ongoing recovery.
The 26-year-old's confidence was on full display in his return to regular-season action in the New York Rangers opener -- and fantasy owners would be wise to take notice.
Staal was not drafted on average in Yahoo Fantasy leagues, largely because of the uncertainty surrounding his health. While he made a one-game comeback attempt during the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the Washington Capitals, there were still lingering effects of his career-threatening injury.
Operating on the team's top line with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly, Downie kicked off the season with a Gordie Howe hat trick (one goal, one assist, five PIMs), with both of his points coming on the power play. He also added four shots on goal and two hits in the win.
Colorado's depth up front, showcased by NHL.com leading up to the season with a League-leading nine forwards in its top 300 fantasy player pool, was evident all night long in a virtuoso offensive display. It was merely one game, but four of Downie's teammates -- MacKinnon, O'Reilly, Jamie McGinn and Alex Tanguay -- joined him in recording multi-point games on opening night.
When the Toronto Maple Leafs became the first team in NHL history to lose a Game 7 after leading by three goals in the third period, fantasy owners probably weren't expecting an endorsement of the team's goaltending only a few months later.
So, just about as suddenly as their lead slipped away in Game 7 against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, the case can be made that the Leafs sport the League's best timeshare fantasy goalie tandem.