The top of the fantasy world is alright as Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has started the season with a career-best eight-game point streak to start the season. He'll square off against fellow Cole Harbour native and No. 1 pick Nathan MacKinnon on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN2, RDS2). MacKinnon has seven points in his first eight NHL games played. To compare that to Crosby, in his draft year of 2005 he had 11 points in his first eight NHL games, showing it is good to be at the top, where we hope your fantasy team is right now.
WAIVER WIRE WATCH
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders (owned in 37 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- The fantasy world has seen what John Tavares can do for others' fantasy value; see Matt Moulson, Brad Boyes and PA Parenteau. The most recent success story is the seventh pick of the 2006 draft, as Okposo has started the season with three goals and five assists while playing on the wing with Tavares. The 6-foot right wing showed his potential to be a dominant player during the Stanley Cup Playoffs with four points in a six-game series against the Penguins. The Islanders play three games this week (VAN, @PIT, PHI), with a back-to-back on Friday and Saturday, and we expect big things for the Minnesota native.
Denis Grebeshkov, Edmonton Oilers (owned in less than 1 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- The Oilers summoned the defenseman from the American Hockey League after a conditioning assignment that lasted three games. The 30-year-old played the last three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League, but had a career-high 39 points back in 2008 for the Oilers. A team desperate for production from the blue line other than Justin Schultz, they got solid early returns from Grebeshkov, who played only 6:55 in his first game but was a plus-2 and even picked up two penalty minutes. Edmonton has a very friendly fantasy schedule this week (@MTL, WSH, @PHX, @LAK) that includes a back-to-back on Saturday and Sunday which should help you in some categories in a late push this week.
Steve Mason, Philadelphia Flyers (owned in 36 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- It is time to declare a winner in the Flyers goalie battle, as Mason has started six of the first eight games. Yes, the wins have not been flowing toward your team, but look at the other statistics and it is hard to not own the 2009 Calder Trophy winner as a third goalie option on your team. In 354 minutes played this season, the 6-4 netminder has stopped 169 of 183 shots faced, giving up no more than three goals in any of his starts. The Flyers have a light schedule this week (NYR, NYI) making it a perfect time to snatch Mason off the waiver wire or trade for him to complete your goalie rotation.
Coming back shortly -- The Oilers' Sam Gagner was drafted in 100 percent of Yahoo leagues but is currently owned in only 53 percent. The talented center, who has right wing eligibility, is getting very close to returning from a broken jaw. If he is available in your league and you have an open IR spot, pick him up quickly as look at the success Mark Arcobello is having in his place right now. Another player set to make his season debut this week is David Clarkson. The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to play their 11th game this season on Friday, which is when the right wing is back from his 10-game suspension. Clarkson is only owned in 28 percent of Yahoo leagues but is worth the risk if your fantasy team is struggling to win the goals and penalty minute categories.
The one and only starting goalie -- We closely monitor who is the starting goalie for each NHL team, alerting you to who is the projected starter each night in our Spin Blog (link). With Curtis McElhinney starting for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Carter Hutton for the Nashville Predators on Sunday, that leaves only two goalies to start all of their team's games this season. In the Eastern Conference, Tuukka Rask has started the first seven games of the season for the Boston Bruins with a 5-2-0 record, 1.29 goals-against average and .954 save percentage. Over in the Western Conference, Antti Niemi is following his Vezina finalist season for the San Jose Sharks by starting their first eight games and posting a spectacular 7-0-1 record with a 1.86 GAA and .921 save percentage. At a time when a starting goalie is hard to find, if you have one of these two outstanding netminders enjoy it and keep an eye on the number of starts they receive.
Brandon Pirri, Chicago Blackhawks -- The NHL.com fantasy experts were all very high on Pirri coming into the season, and now after a three-game stint in the AHL the 2009 second-round pick (No. 59) is back in the NHL and contributing to the Blackhawks. The center led the AHL in scoring last season with 75 points and now has three points in three games with the Blackhawks this season. Playing on the fourth line with Joakim Nordstrom (who was sent to the minors Sunday) and Brandon Bollig, the 6-foot, left-handed shot is also playing on the second power play unit and could see his role expanded as he gains confidence playing at the next level.
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