Gabriel Landeskog, LW, COL (5GP-2g-1a-3pts, with a +0 and 20 SOG)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, EDM (3GP-4g-0a-4pts, with a +2 and 2 PIMs)
Ladies and gentleman, your early Calder trophy favourites are…well, it’s definitely too early to say, but if there’s one thing that we’ve seen over the past few years, getting top-6 minutes right out of the gate is a huge advantage. Landeskog and Nugent-Hopkins still aren’t at the point where they are guaranteed a full season in the big league, but neither of them have a lot standing in their way either. Landeskog, on the LW, and Nugent-Hopkins at center, both find themselves in positions where their respective teams lack an offensive punch. To top it off, they are contributing already; both having scored last minute, game-tying goals this past week that led to overtime wins for their teams.
Martin Hanzal, C, PHO (4GP-0g-3a-3pts, with an -1 rating and 4 PIMs)
I can’t say I’m too high on the Coyotes’ offense this year, but there’s at least one player whose ability to fill out a scoresheet is on the rise. The Coyotes’ first-round pick in 2005, Hanzal isn’t likely to blow you away with his offensive output, but he’s worth a look in deeper fantasy leagues, due to his nice PIM totals. Look for an upside from Hanzal this year of 40-50 points, and 100 PIMs.
Ryan Malone, LW, TB (5GP-1g-2a-3pts, with a (-1) and 4 PIMs)
I could almost lump Malone in with Hanzal as you can probably expect fairly similar numbers from the two this year, but Malone has one major advantage working for him: teammates. While injuries have plagued Malone on a yearly basis, and for the most part kept him under the radar, he remains a legitimate threat in fantasy leagues. He continually sees powerplay time with the Lightning’s star players, and his role as a protector of those players, makes him a regular visitor of the sin bin.
Sami Salo, D, VAN (5GP-2g-2a-4pts, with a +4 and 13 SOG)
Salo is most widely known for being one of the biggest band-aids in the history of the game, but when he actually gets in the line-up he almost always starts working his way on to fantasy rosters. If you’re in need of defensive help, Salo offers the type of game that may not have a ton of upside, but will most certainly produce more consistently than anyone else you’ll find on the waiver wire. Plenty of powerplay time on a potent unit, and a strong veteran defensive game means points and pluses, and what more can you ask for off a waiver wire d-man?