NHL Fantasy: 5 Players You Need to Pick Up

Stephen KaczmarContributor IIOctober 26, 2011

NHL Fantasy: 5 Players You Need to Pick Up

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    It's only a couple weeks into the season, but the decisions a fantasy GM makes now will make lasting impressions on his team throughout the entire season. It's crucial to snatch up any players that could end up being fantasy gold.

    Whether it's a veteran blue-liner or young forward, anyone could be a diamond in the rough. Because of their hot starts, here are five players that you should consider adding.

Sami Salo

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    Stats: 3 goals, 4 assists; 7 points in 9 games


    Sami Salo averages about 20 minutes per game for the No. 1 power play unit in Vancouver. Despite the usual injury concerns that have hovered around him during his career, he's proven to be a valuable asset when healthy.

    He should set new career highs this year. All he would have to do is break the 37-point mark, which shouldn't be hard if he can stay healthy or at least play 70 games. Playing on one of the most offensively dynamic teams, Salo is worth adding.

Kris Versteeg

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    Stats: 4 goals, 5 assists; 9 points in 8 games


    I wouldn't trust many players on the Florida Panthers for my fantasy team, but Kris Versteeg is one of the few exceptions. He hasn't been quite the same since leaving Chicago, where he put up 53 and 44 points respectively in 2009 and 2010. 

    Finally out of the spotlight in Toronto and Philadelphia, he can just concentrate on his game in Florida. He's been given top line duties as well as a spot on the No. 1 power play unit. If he keeps this up he can set career highs this season.

Nikolai Khabibulin

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    Stats: .963 SV percentage, 0.97 GAA; 3 wins in 5 games


    Who would have predicted this at the start of the season? After stonewalling the Canucks last night, we can confirm that Nikolai Khabibulin is back. The injury concerns are always there, but right now he's hot and you can do a lot worse in the crease.

    He's still in a battle with fellow teammate Devan Dubnyk for playing time, but as of right now it's safe to say it's Khabibulin's job. He's only a couple seasons removed from recording a 25-8-7 season in Chicago while posting a respectable .919 SV percentage.

    The Oilers aren't that bad, he's worth a pick up.

Ryan McDonagh

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    Stats: 2 goals, 2 assists; 4 points in 8 games


    Playing a ton of minutes (25 per game to be exact) due to the absence of Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh cashed in on a great opportunity.

    Although never putting up big offensive numbers at any point in his career, he has shown flashes of brilliance this season while making the best of the opportunity given to him by coach Tortorella.

    He's been playing on the top pairing thus far this season alongside Dan Girardi and has not looked out of place in his first "full" NHL season. Once Marc Staal comes back, don't expect much change from his offensive production, a slight drop in minutes is more realistic.

Alex Burmistrov

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    Stats: 2 goals, 5 assists; 7 points in 8 games


    The slick playmaking Russian out of Kazan is off to a great start, and thus far the best story out of Winnipeg. After only recording 20 points in 74 games in Atlanta a season ago, there wasn't much hype coming into this season regarding Burmistrov.

    Playing on a line alongside Nik Antropov and Evander Kane, he's got some help to make room for the dynamic playmaker. He's also playing on the top power play unit, so the points should continue to come. His ceiling remains to be seen but 50 points is in his reach this season.