What a wild first six days of fantasy hockey. We had some big surprises like Mikhail Grabovski, who was only drafted in nine percent of Yahoo leagues, storming out of the season with five points in his first three games with the Washington Capitals. We had some big disappointments like Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who was picked on average at 13.7 overall in Yahoo leagues and is sporting an unsightly 4.35 goals-against average and .878 save percentage.
We are here to remind you that fantasy championships are not won or lost in the first week, but the right early waiver wire pick up can set you up nicely for a winning season.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Matt Frattin (owned in six percent of Yahoo leagues) -- Much was written about who would take Dustin Penner's position on the wing for the Los Angeles Kings with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, and a surprising name has emerged. As Jonathan Bernier steals headlines in Toronto, one of the players acquired for him is showing he belongs in the Kings' top six. The 25-year-old Frattin, with 30 career points in 84 NHL games, is also seeing time on the second power play unit. The Kings have a meaty schedule this week with four games against teams they did not play last season (NYR, OTT, @CAR, @FLA) and Frattin, who has Eastern Conference experience, should have a great week and see his ownership spike.
Mark Giordano (owned in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- The fantasy world kind of forgot about the rebuilding Calgary Flames, but the team has shown some offensive punch early with 12 goals in its first three games, and this is without last season's leading scorer Mike Cammalleri. Giordano, their new captain, is proving he is a viable fantasy option with points in each game played so far this season (one goal, three assists). We have yet to see the nasty streak come out from the 6-foot d-man, but his 366 career penalty minutes are worth noting as an added bonus. He is also playing in all situations for the Flames, with 6:55 power play time on ice and 7:04 shorthanded time on ice. Although the Flames have a light schedule this week (MTL, NJD), the underrated 30-year-old is a perfect option as your third or fourth defenseman.
Ben Bishop (owned in 41 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- In the offseason we broke down who we thought was going to be the starter in the Tampa Bay Lightning goalie tandem, (http://www.nhl.com/ice/blogpost.htm?id=19244) and very early returns show Bishop is the one to own going forward. Facing 39 shots playing at the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks and winning is a perfect way to earn trust from the coach and the team, even though one of those goals was one he will want back (http://video.nhl.com/videocenter/console?id=2013020026-292-h). The Lightning have three games this week (@BUF, FLA, PIT) and we expect the 6-7 goalie to start two or even three of them though his career numbers against the Pittsburgh Penguins, like most goalies, is not very good (6.04 GAA, .852 save percentage in two previous outings).
Youth movement -- This week we got to mention the great Ted Kennedy; no, not the senator from Massachusetts but the Hall of Fame Maple Leafs forward known as "Teeder" thanks to some great records for scoring as an 18-year-old. We saw Nathan MacKinnon, 18 years, 31 days, become the youngest player to register two points in a game since Kennedy and Aleksander Barkov, born one day after MacKinnon, become the youngest player to score a goal in the expansion era. Sean Monahan also scored a goal before his 19th birthday this week. One glance at the rookie scoring leaders -- Tomas Hertl, Alex Chiasson, Jacob Trouba to name a few -- and we see some players that are here to stay and help your fantasy team right away.
Instant chemistry -- We have already mentioned the rookie MacKinnon and how he has instant chemistry with his linemates Jamie McGinn and PA Parenteau, but other lines are clicking early and it is time to take advantage of the chemistry created. The hottest line in hockey right now is the Canadiens' trio of Lars Eller, Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. They have combined to score five of the team's seven goals and 12 of its 19 points. We will have more on another hot line to watch later in the prospect watch, but chemistry between linemates cannot be ignored and can help you have early success.
Back-to-back -- When teams play on back-to-back nights it either can be jubilation for fantasy goalie owners or frustration, or easy if you own both goalies in a tandem. So far this season we have seen 13 back-to-back instances and six teams have started the same goalie on consecutive nights. Next week we have 12 teams playing back-to-back games (NJD, NYR, MTL, CAR, FLA, PHX, WPG, CHI, DAL, PHI, PIT, OTT) so pay attention to those as you could steal a start from a backup not owned in your league.
Mark Scheifele -- This week there could have been tons of names to write about in the prospect section, but the Jets rookie is one to keep an eye on going forward. We already broke down the expectations for the seventh pick of the 2011 NHL Draft here (http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=682749). The 20-year-old has cemented himself as the second-line center playing with Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi and the line has combined for eight points in the Jets' first three games played. The 6-2 center is also playing on the second power play unit and finally playing the two-way game expected of him. Only owned in 10 percent of Yahoo leagues, he is a prospect to keep an eye on, especially in a keeper league format.
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