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Islanders, Hedman among burning fantasy questions

by Matt Cubeta

It's been 10 days since the season began. Ten. Don't start panicking if your fantasy team isn't in first place as you expected them to be. Don't go dropping San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture because he has one point in four games. And no, New York Islanders sensation Brock Nelson isn't going to lead the NHL in points.

These are a couple samples of the many questions or concerns that have been raised to me on Twitter regarding fantasy hockey since the season started 10 days ago. It's a long season. Have some patience and give your team a little breathing room.

With that said, there have been storylines galore to start this season. Here's a look at five of the biggest questions in fantasy hockey right now.

1. What's the deal with Boychuk and Nelson?

Johnny Boychuk
Johnny Boychuk
Defense - NYI
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 7 | +/-: 5
The Islanders are off to a great start, and to no surprise John Tavares has been at the center of a lot of that success. But on the other hand, Nelson and newcomer Johnny Boychuk have been extremely pleasant surprises to fantasy owners to this point. Boychuk is currently the No. 4 overall fantasy player. He's second among defensemen with six points, he has a plus-5 rating and his five power-play points are tied for the lead among d-men. Boychuk has never had more than 23 points in any single season, so expecting him to keep at this pace is absurd. However, he is receiving a career-best 3:00 of power-play ice time per game on a unit that includes Tavares, so there's a chance he could post 30-40 points and carry solid fantasy value. As for Nelson, 23, he's been anchoring the team's second line and has four goals and seven points in four games. His ownership has soared up to 46 percent, but again, expecting him to continue to put up these kind of gaudy numbers is likely unrealistic. Nelson has four goals on five shots! Nelson is capable of a 20-goal, 50-point season, but both he and Boychuk make ideal sell-high candidates for fantasy owners right now.


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2. Can Hedman keep this up all season long?

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is currently the No. 5 fantasy player with three goals and four assists in four games. He's also sporting a plus-1 rating, four penalty minutes, five power-play points (tied for the NHL lead) and 10 shots on goal, proving his fantasy versatility. But to answer the question politely, no, Hedman cannot keep this going all season. He's not going to be putting up point-per-game numbers from the blue line. However, he does have the skill and potential to be a top-five fantasy defenseman, which I'm sure would be more than sufficient for his fantasy owners.

3. Is Kuemper this good?

In his first two starts of the season, Minnesota Wild goalie Darcy Kuemper has put up zeroes across the board, stopping all 46 shots he's faced in two games against the Colorado Avalanche. Kuemper has top-15 fantasy goalie potential, but he's not going to be the No. 1 fantasy goalie (or the No. 1 overall fantasy player) like he currently is. Expect Kuemper to make about 50-60 starts and finish with a goals-against average around 2.40 and save percentage near .920. That's not bad at all.

4. Can Nash lead the NHL in goals?

New York Rangers forward Rick Nash is playing like he's out to prove something this season, leading the NHL with six goals in five games. It's been a totally different result compared to what we saw Nash do during the Stanley Cup Playoffs a few months ago. In 25 playoff games, Nash had three goals on an NHL-high 83 shots. In five games this season, Nash has six goals on 17 shots, with an obviously unsustainable shooting percentage of 35.3. Nash may not finish the season at the very top of the goal-scoring charts, but he's a natural scorer capable of putting home at least 35 this season.

5. Who should you pick up?

The most common question I get on Twitter is whether a certain player should be added in their fantasy league. Here's a look at some players who are available in at least 70 percent of Yahoo leagues that I believe are worthy of a roster spot:

TJ Brodie
TJ Brodie
Defense - CGY
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 3 | PTS: 5
SOG: 11 | +/-: 4
TJ Brodie, Calgary Flames, D (owned in 29 percent of Yahoo leagues) -- The 24-year-old is playing alongside Mark Giordano on defense and has points in four straight games. He'll cool off, but he should be owned in far more leagues.

Mikkel Boedker, Arizona Coyotes, LW (19 percent) -- Boedker has scored in all three games he's played in (five total goals) and seems to be the go-to offensive option for the Coyotes.

Nick Foligno (15 percent) and Cam Atkinson (21 percent), Columbus Blue Jackets -- Skating on the team's top line with Ryan Johansen, they are getting solid power-play ice time and have gotten off to good starts. If you need penalty minutes, Foligno makes for a great addition. If you need shots, go with Atkinson.


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