Anyone who has played fantasy hockey in the past can attest to how drastically the landscape can change in a short timeframe.
Injuries, holdouts, line changes, signings and tryout contracts, suspensions and preseason performance need to be taken into account leading up to fantasy drafts. If you have already drafted a team at this point, these factors can give you a reason to take an early dive into the waiver wire pool.
NHL.com fantasy insiders take a look at the latest upward and downward trends over the past few weeks and determine the potential fantasy impact of these developments -- for better or worse.
MATT SITKOFF'S FIVE UP
GAA: 0.38 | SVP: 0.986
- Jussi Jokinen: The fantasy world wondered who would get that spot in the Pittsburgh Penguins' top six playing with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. In steps the 30-year-old veteran, who had a hat trick against the Columbus Blue Jackets where two goals were assisted by Malkin and the other by Neal. Jokinen did have a career-high 30 goals and 65 points in 2009-10 with the Hurricanes, so he has the talent. His stock is skyrocketing while the stock of Beau Bennett, who lost on out the coveted top-six spot, is dropping.
- Mikhail Grabovski: Just missing out on the NHL.com's top 200 rankings because he was unsigned at the time, he is now a must draft in all leagues. In his first preseason action as the Washington Capitals' second-line center he chipped in with two assists, three shots, won 50 percent of his faceoffs and saw 19:15 of ice time. The 29-year-old will flourish in an offensive role with Washington and could be a real sleeper in your draft board.
Shots: 10 | +/-: 3
- Tim Thomas: We have yet to see him in preseason action, which could come as early as Thursday, but a two-time Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy winner cannot be ignored in fantasy hockey. The 39-year-old has proclaimed himself "energized" after taking a year off and could very well end up the Florida Panthers starter when it is all over. Jacob Markstrom, the supposed No. 1 goalie, is 0-0-2 giving up eight goals on 80 shots this preseason. Watch Thomas' first start closely; if he looks like himself, scoop him up late rounds and reap the benefits.
PETE JENSEN'S FIVE DOWN
- Marc-Andre Fleury: Tomas Vokoun is out indefinitely due to a blood clot, meaning fantasy owners who selected the Pittsburgh Penguins tandem are in a bind. Fleury has more wins than any other goalie since 2010-11 (101) and warrants top-15 consideration among goalies with such a high-scoring offense in front of him. But while he's in position to start a ton of games, there's no fallback option if his playoff and preseason struggles carry over to the regular season.
SOG: 108 | +/-: 25
- Oilers centers: Edmonton's depth down the middle has been decimated by injury, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (shoulder) is expected to miss the first month of the season and Sam Gagner (broken jaw) could miss six to eight weeks. Nugent-Hopkins' rookie numbers in 2011-12 (52 points, 23 PPP, 134 SOG) are still fresh in everyone's minds despite a down year last season, but he still shouldn't be targeted before the 10th round. Gagner, on the other hand, suddenly has very low draft stock and is likely to go undrafted in standard Yahoo! leagues.
SOG: 180 | PIMs: 78
- Jeff Skinner: Skinner's spot in the Carolina Hurricanes' lineup looks to be on the third line with rookie Elias Lindholm and offseason addition Nathan Gerbe. While this combination could eventually pay dividends, the former Calder Trophy winner is only being drafted in the 11th round on average in Yahoo! leagues. Skinner has only one point this preseason and has totaled a minus-29 rating over last two campaigns. If Carolina's offensive production doesn't go beyond its explosive top line again in 2013-14, Skinner's plus-minus could again overshadow strong point and shot totals.