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Staying patient, Drouin among hot fantasy topics

by Matt Cubeta / NHL.com

Last week I advised owners to stay patient with some players that were struggling early on. At that time, San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture had one point in four games. Fans were asking if they should look to trade or drop him (crazy, but true). I advised his owners to stay patient with the 25-year-old forward. In his next four games he went on to record four goals and three assists.

With players of Couture's caliber, you must stay patient. I typically use four weeks as my benchmark in fantasy hockey. If a player is still really struggling after four weeks, I might start considering my options. You can either sell them at their lowest point and just take anything back you can get, or you can drop them outright.

On the other hand, the same goes for a player that's exceeding expectations. If they've been a pleasant surprise for four-plus weeks, I tend to start believing in that player and think he can carry the hot start for at least most of the season. Of course it doesn't always work out, but four weeks usually gives a player about 12-15 games to prove himself.

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With teams approaching the seven-to-eight game mark, you must remain patient for a couple more weeks. After that, we can start talking about dropping some known commodities that are still struggling.

These are the standards I created for myself to follow. You can do the same or come up with something similar. Either way, you have to decide when you draw the line on a player, and then figure out what to do with that player.

Now, let's have a look at five of the hottest topics in fantasy hockey right now:

1. What will Drouin produce?

The most popular player asked about on Twitter over the past week was Tampa Bay Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin. In two games, Drouin has one assist, a plus-1 rating and two shots on goal while averaging 18:03 of ice time per game. According to dobbersports.com, 86.44 percent of Drouin's ice time on Tuesday night against the Flames was spent on the same line with Steven Stamkos and Valtteri Filppula. Although Drouin has seen minimal power-play action (averaging 31 seconds per game), if he can spend his even-strength ice time alongside Stamkos, the sky is the limit for this 19-year-old. I believe he's capable of scoring 20-25 goals this season with approximately 50 points. Drouin is owned in 72 percent of Yahoo leagues.

2. What are Muzzin's expectations?

The second most popular player on Twitter was Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin. Should owners add him off waivers, is he more valuable than so-and-so, will he tally 40-plus points, etc. I'm going to make this easy for you: read Pete Jensen's fantasy spin on Muzzin.

3. Should you sell high on Kreider and Hornqvist?

Chris Kreider
Chris Kreider
Left Wing - NYR
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 6
SOG: 20 | PIMs: 23 | +/-: 5
We're starting to see some rankings take shape in Yahoo leagues. Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks) is the No. 1 fantasy skater, while Ryan Getzlaf (Ducks), John Tavares (New York Islanders), Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars), Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers) and Stamkos (Lightning) aren't too far behind. However, a couple of unlikely names are floating near the top of the charts: Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers and the Penguins' Patric Hornqvist. Kreider's versatility makes him so valuable. He has two goals, four assists, a plus-5 rating and 23 penalty minutes in seven games. Hornqvist has fit in flawlessly alongside Crosby and Chris Kunitz with four goals, four assists, five power-play points and 30 shots on goal in five games. While both forwards might not end up as top-10 fantasy players at the end of the season, they do have the potential to be top-30 players. These are two guys I believe in and wouldn't be selling high on.

4. Should Mason be dropped?

Flyers goaltender Steve Mason has been dropped as much as anyone in recent days in Yahoo leagues, including 129 times already Friday. His ownership has plummeted to 76 percent. Mason was one of the biggest surprises in hockey last season, but in his first five starts in 2014-15 he is 0-3-1 with a 3.83 goals-against average and .878 save percentage. I had pegged Mason as a regression candidate prior to this season, but he is still capable of bouncing back. I wouldn't drop him just yet, but monitor his next five games very closely and check in to see how often his backup, Ray Emery, gets the start. If Emery starts taking playing time away from Mason, I'd be concerned and look to dump him.

Alex Galchenyuk
Alex Galchenyuk
Center - MTL
GOALS: 3 | ASST: 4 | PTS: 7
SOG: 17 | PIMs: 4 | +/-: 4
5. Is Galchenyuk the next NHL superstar?

Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk has been tearing it up through seven games. The 20-year-old has helped fantasy owners in all categories, yet somehow he's owned in just 56 percent of leagues. Galchenyuk is skating on a line with Tomas Plekanec and Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau and has been seeing 16:33 of ice time per game, including 1:52 on the power play. He seems to make at least one unbelievable play per game and appears to be headed for a breakout season. The center- and left wing-eligible forward has all the makings to be a superstar and could finish the season with 30-plus goals and 60-plus points.

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