Sure, we're only one or two games in, but you can still pick up on some early trends developing. Pay no attention to the points. A player's points total will average out over enough games (sorry Vanek owners, he won't finish with 240 points in 48 games).
What you can do, instead, is put together a list of bubble fantasy players. These are the players who, depending on how things go early on, will have fantasy value if they perform, but none if they don't. Take your list of players you are curious about and then look at their ice time and linemates. Here are some initial thoughts.
(Important note: We're very early in the season, so every "guess" needs to be taken accordingly.)
1. Tyler Ennis was on the top power play unit for Buffalo, not Cody Hodgson who was put on the penalty kill. Guess: Ennis is looked upon more for offense and Hodgson will sometimes be too tired from killing penalties to be sent right back out on the power play.
2. Take a look at the ice time (per game) of the rookies: Rickard Rakell (Anaheim) - 9:49; Nail Yakupov (Edmonton) - 16:20; Mikhail Grigorenko (Buffalo) - 11:13; Scott Laughton (Philadelphia) - 11:13; Stefan Matteau (New Jersey) - 7:26; Mathew Dumba (Minnesota) - scratched; Alex Galchenyuk (Montreal) - 13:06. Guess: It's clear which players are just with the NHL team for the experience and their respective organizations will send them back to junior before burning a year off their contract. At this point, only Yakupov and Galchenyuk have been given the ice time of an NHL regular. Look for the rest (with the possible exception of Grigorenko) to be returned to junior.
3. Alexander Semin saw a team-high (among forwards) 23:03 of ice time and led the entire roster in power play time on ice with 7:28. Guess: Semin is going to be given more opportunities to produce than anyone else. He brings one thing to the table – offense. So while the Staal brothers kill penalties and have other responsibilities, Semin has but one. If he fails in his new home, it will be nobody's fault but his own.
4. Chicago is trying to turn their Ferrari into a snowplow. All right, perhaps I shouldn't call Michael Frolik a Ferrari, but the point is he's one dimensional: he scores goals. Yet the Hawks have him killing penalties (3:39 per game on the penalty kill) and not on the power play (0:07 per game). Guess: Unless he's traded to a new team, this thoroughbred will continue to pull a buggy at the state fair.
5. Cody Eakin has seen just 9:43 of ice time per game for Dallas after two games, despite Jamie Benn not yet playing. Guess: He's also been killing penalties. It looks like he'll be the first to go back to the American League when Benn returns. Either that or he'll be a fourth-line checker. Regardless, it won't be his year.
6. Detroit's Damien Brunner saw 18:50 of ice time in Saturday's whitewash at the hands of St. Louis. He also led the team with 4:45 of power play ice time. Guess: Brunner is on a long leash and can start his NHL career pointless in five games, yet still have enough backing from the coach to turn things around. It will be hard for him to fail under those conditions.
7. Craig Smith saw 10:41 of ice time while Colin Wilson had 19:32. This is the opposite of the way training camp was going, when it looked as though Smith would start the season on the second line. Guess: Barry Trotz bounces his line combinations around often and unless Wilson starts putting points on the board, this situation will reverse by the end of the week.
8. Chris Kreider saw just 10:22 per game over the weekend for the Rangers. He was also a minus-2, not to mention he got caught with his head down late in the game Sunday and remained on the ice for a minute before skating off on his own. Guess: Combine this with his poor start in the AHL this season and it doesn't look good. Expect him back in Connecticut within two weeks.
9. Mikkel Boedker leads all Phoenix forwards in ice time at 18:38 per game. Guess: Boedker's playoff performance last spring hinted that he was coming into his own. The coach obviously feels that way and now Boedker is set up to succeed. Look for a big year.
10. Matt D'Agostini was a healthy scratch Saturday in favor of a prospect who posted a minus-14 in 33 AHL games. Jaden Schwartz ranks 1001st in plus-minus in the AHL, yet he got into the lineup over the serviceable D'Agostini. Guess: I knew D'Agostini wouldn't catch many breaks in terms of ice time this year, but this is a little worse than expected. Look for a terrible year, or a trade.
11. Michael Kostka was second on the Maple Leafs in ice time at 22:59 Saturday. Granted, the team was on the power play a lot and he was on the first unit, but it still speaks volumes as to how he is regarded by the coach. When Jake Gardiner returns (no timetable), there will be some tough decisions. Guess: Kostka will stick for the duration and become a solid depth option in many fantasy leagues. Welcome to the NHL!
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the first of every month in THN’s Fantasy section. Do you have a question about fantasy hockey? Send it to the Fantasy Mailbag.
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