The NHL's Young and Restless
The following players could be the new stars of your fantasy hockey pool, if they keep up the pace.
Ladislav Nagy, forward, Phoenix Coyotes.
10 goals-10 assists in 16 games.
As mentioned at the start of the season, Nagy is the real deal, a lock to surpass last seasons 57 points.
Jason King, forward, Vancouver Canucks.
10 goals-2 assists in 17 games. Age: 22.
King is great at getting open and finishing plays, and helps the Sedin twins as much as they help him. But if you have plenty of scoring and need help elsewhere, he might be the perfect trade bait. Hes currently on a pace to score 48 goals! That isnt going to happen, so Kings trade value will never be higher than it is now. Hell cool off, but wont disappear.
Marc-Andre Fleury, goaltender, Pittsburgh Penguins.
11 games played. 3-5-2, 2.91 GAA, .920 SV PCT, 1 SO. Age: 18.
Fleury is the talk of the NHL, and deservedly so. But his situation is worrisome. The Penguins are awful, and their goalie gets pounded every night. For a teenager to hold up under such a barrage would be almost unprecedented. If Fleury stays in the NHL, even middle-of-the-pack goalie stats would make him a rookie of the year candidate.
Joni Pitkanen, defense, Philadelphia Flyers.
2 goals-7 assists in 15 games. Age: 20.
The best defenseman at last years World Junior Championship has made a near-seamless transition to the NHL, helping bring the Philadelphia power play back to life. He will be among the most vulnerable Flyers when the team hits a slump. But he should reach the 30, maybe 40-point mark
Trent Hunter, forward, New York Islanders.
6 goals-2 assists in 11 games. Age: 23.
Pretty good numbers for a third-line winger. Hunter will move up the Islanders' depth chart if, as rumoured, the team parts ways with Mark Parrish. He has plenty of points in the AHL the last two years, so with the roster in flux, hes definitely worth watching.
Matthew Lombardi, forward, Calgary Flames.
6 goals-4 assists in 15 games. Age: 21.
Lombardi is about the only Flame who can find the net these days. Subtract last weeks hat trick against Chicago and perhaps we get a better idea of what to expect this season. If the rest of the scorers get rolling, he could spend some time in the minors.
Josef Vasicek, forward, Carolina Hurricanes.
8 goals-3 assists in 17 games. Age: 23.
Vasicek switched from center to left wing this season, forming Carolinas new top line with Jeff ONeill and rookie center Eric Staal. He also gets plenty of power play time. Coach Paul Maurice says Vasicek is just scratching the surface of what he can do. But the Hurricanes don't score regularly, so line combinations might be fluid.
Rico Fata, forward, Pittsburgh Penguins.
7 goals-4 assists in 14 games. Age: 23.
Sidelined with a hamstring problem until the end of November. Fata showed little scoring touch in his previous stops in Calgary and Manhattan, though he could argue he was never given a chance to play on a top line. Hell continue to get that opportunity in Pittsburgh, and seems a good bet for 25-30 points.
Tyler Conklin, goaltender, Edmonton Oilers.
8 games played. 4-2-0, 1.88 GAA, .938 SV PCT, 1 SO. Age: 27.
Edmonton is playing much better since Tommy Salo withdrew with a hip injury. It will be interesting to see how the Oilers react if Salo returns and falters. Priority number-one is to get Tommy 100-per-cent healthy and then we'll make those calls at that time," coach Craig MacTavish told the Edmonton Journal. So the door is obviously open if Conklin can come close to maintaining his current numbers.
Eric Staal, forward, Carolina Hurricanes.
4 goals-7 assists in 17 games. Age: 19.
Staal arrived with a reputation as a complete player, and GM Jim Rutherford has called him the team's most consistent forward so far.The 'Canes struggle at times, so Staal will too. But he'll get every chance to continue his current scoring pace.
Patrice Bergeron, forward, Boston Bruins.
5 goals-6 assists in 17 games. Age: 18.
A teenager who wasnt supposed to make the team is a great story, and Bergeron has shown the skills and smarts to make up for his lack of size (6-0, 178 lbs.). But I wouldnt count on steady production from a player of his age and stature.
Taylor Pyatt, forward, Buffalo Sabres.
6 goals-4 assists in 18 games. Age: 22.
Pyatt had four goals in two games in October, and three assists one night in November. Hes a top-six forward, but does not look like a consistent scorer, especially on a team that seems determined to win every game 2-1.
Raffi Torres, forward, Edmonton Oilers.
7 goals-4 assists in 17 games. Age: 22.
No one anticipated this kind of scoring from Torres, who was projected as more of bang-and-hustle type. He has been rewarded with more ice time. But when they need a goal, the Oilers still turn to nominal top-line players like York and Smyth. A safe bet is that Torres will slow down.