Every NHL season begins with uncertainty, and there are always opportunities for new players to emerge.
This is particularly important to all fantasy hockey players.
The New Jersey Devils were considered a fantasy juggernaut to start the season. So far, though, they have not met expectations. With Zach Parise recently suffering a potentially serious knee injury and Ilya Kovalchuck’s slow start, the Devils look like they're headed to hell in a hand basket.
At the other end, a team that almost everyone wrote off this preseason was the Atlanta Thrashers. They were written off as cellar dwellers with little fantasy relevance.
Because the team lost Kovalchuck, most fantasy players overlooked the Thrashers' roster at the start of the season. But the team was able to rebound by plucking some talent from the champion Chicago Blackhawks.
These two guys are why the Thrashers are worth a fantasy look early on this season:
- Dustin Byfuglien– 4 G, 6 A, 10 P, +/- -4, 23 PIM
Chicago's fire sale allowed some fantasy points to get spread around the league. Byfuglien, known for his offensive talents on the wing during Chicago’s cup run, has taken his talents to the blue line. He has actually always been a defenseman at heart.
The move to the blue line, along with the increased role, has had Byfuglien flourishing in Hot-lanta. Fantasy value for this guy as a D-man makes him one of the hottest players in the NHL. I have heard he is a sell-high fantasy candidate, but if you scooped him up early, I like the fit in Atlanta. Hold on to him. He is looking to shatter his previous point total of 38.
- Andrew Ladd– 4 G, 4 A, 8 P, +/- 12, 2 PIM
Byfuglien wasn't the only piece of fantasy talent the Thrashers snagged from the defending champs. Andrew Ladd looks to be showing why he was picked in the first round, fourth overall, in 2004.
Fantasy-wise, Ladd's increased production could not be predicted. He is responding well to the situation in Atlanta, but it's too early to tell if he will transform into a top-notch fantasy option. Stay tuned. This guy could be worth snatching in the coming weeks.
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