New Jersey Devils
For whatever reason, fantasy owners and the so-called experts were all dropping right wing Ilya Kovalchuk down on their cheat sheets and rankings. It is hard to believe, as it seems like he has been around forever, but he is still just 29 years old. He posted a goal, three points and a plus-three rating in his first two games, and that one marker came on a short-handed situation. He is dangerous, still has plenty of pep, and so far has outproduced his average draft position by a mile.
Must start: Martin Brodeur, David Clarkson, Ilya Kovalchuk
Sens defenseman Erik Karlsson has been everything as advertised during the early going, popping in two goals to go along with a pair of helpers and a plus-five rating. If you're in a pool that rewards shots on goal (SOG), the rearguard rarely sees a shot he doesn't like, and isn't afraid to squeeze one off. He has 14 SOG through the first three games. Defenseman Marc Methot has three assists and a plus-six rating through the first three games, emerging as a pleasant surprise. He also had the tools to be useful in Columbus, but his awful plus/minus rating dissolved any fantasy appeal. Goalie Craig Anderson already has three wins and a shutout under his belt.
Must start: Craig Anderson, Erik Karlsson, Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Kyle Turris
It is funny to see the tweets and e-mails asking about left wing Steve Sullivan and the players suggested as drops. Yes, Sully is worth adding to most rosters, especially after posting four goals and an assist in his first four games. But, keep in mind he has a minus-three rating during the span, too. Playing with the Coyotes will do that. Should he be added, though? Yes. Should you drop someone you drafted like Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar, Anaheim Ducks left wing Bobby Ryan or Carolina Hurricanes left wing Alexander Semin? Well, no.
Must start: Mike Smith, Steve Sullivan, Radim Vrbata
Fantasy owners of center Evgeni Malkin expected big things, but they didn't bargain for the 12 penalty minutes (PIM) he has amassed through the first three games. For owners in pools which reward bad behavior, it has been a bonus. For those leagues which discourage PIM, the time in the sin bin has been a curse. Center Sidney Crosby is healthy and producing, which pleases fans and fantasy owners alike.
Must start: Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury, Kris Letang, Evgeni Malkin, Paul Martin, James Neal
The Capitals have to be concerned about their 0-3 start, especially during a 48-game shortened season. More concerning is the play of left wing Alex Ovechkin, who has yet to light the lamp while posting just one assist and a minus-one rating. That's the same offensive production defenseman Tom Poti has, and he last played in the NHL in 2010. Not good. As far as goaltending, Braden Holtby (0-2-0, 5.04 GAA, .863 save percentage) has been atrocious, and goaltender Michal Neuvirth wasn't much better in his only appearance.
Must start: Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Ribeiro
The Flames have only two games, but at least they're at home. That's the good news. The bad news is that both of the games are against high-powered offenses from Colorado and Chicago. It will be a bad week to start goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff, and you might want to shy away from most of the Calgary offensive players, too.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues have posted some pretty impressive offensive totals, especially with rookie Vladimir Tarasenko posting four goals, six points and a plus-four rating through the first four games. However, even Tarasenko should be reserved in the upcoming week in cumulative formats. Now, if you're in a pool with average points-per-game in a scoring period, Tarasenko, center Andy McDonald, right wing T.J. Oshie, left wing Alexander Steen and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo should remain in your plans.
About Daniel Dobish
Daniel is a Hot Off the Wire Analyst who joined the KFFL staff in 2010. He is a veteran of the fantasy industry dating back to 1999, with stops at CBSSports.com, The Sports Forecaster, OPENSports.com and RotoExperts.com. His work has also appeared on NFL.com and Yahoo.com. Daniel was named the 2011 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, 2011 Fantasy Racing Writer of the Year, and he was nominated for the 2011 Fantasy Hockey Writer of the Year. Daniel lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.