Patric Hornqvist, RW NSH (10GP-4g-0a-2pts, with a (-2) and 24 SOG)
I had Hornqvist pegged as a solid sleeper this year because of his ability to get the puck on net at a higher rate than anyone on his team. After a slow start, possibly due to an injury he was playing through, his minutes have picked up over the last week, and it’s led to a nice little 3-game (4 goal) scoring streak. Hornqvist has averaged 270 shots over his past two seasons playing just around 15:45 minutes a game. This puts him in the higher echelon of shot rates in the league, and at the age of 24, he’s about to enter the prime of his career.
Nik Antropov, C WPG (10GP-3g-6a-9pts, with a (-1) and 3 pp points)
It’s hard to believe that this is actually Antropov’s 12th season in the NHL. Maybe it’s because most of us are still waiting for that breakout season from the former 10th overall pick. It looked like he was on his way after the ’09-’10 season, his first with the Atlanta “Winnipeg Jets” Thrashers, when he posted a career high 67 points (24g-43a) in 76 games; but a fall back down to earth last season saw his minutes cut significantly and his point totals plummet to just 41 (16-25).
A hot start in 2011 is just what Antropov needed to right the ship, and with 9 points through his first 10 contests, that’s exactly where he stands. If he can stay healthy all year, he could easily post 60-65 points.
Nick Leddy, D CHI (11GP-2g-5a-7pts, with a +6 and 8 SOG)
Leddy sure hasn’t got much pub in the early going considering how many factors he has going for him. He’s a former 1st round pick, he plays on a team with a high powered offence, and…. he’s actually playing, averaging about 20:30 a game. In fact, he’s currently the top d-man on the ‘Hawks in terms of points, and with Duncan Keith nursing a hand injury expect him to see a little more time with the man-advantage in the next week or so.
Jason Garrison, D FLO (11GP-5g-1a-6pts, with an even rating and 3 pp points)
Here’s one you didn’t see coming. Garrison looked primed for a nice career as a 5-6 d-man but apparently the Panthers have seen something in him worth exploring further. Despite a back-end loaded with powerplay options, Garrison has emerged as true scoring threat with the man-advantage, and as a result, the first d-man to reach 5 goals this year. Obviously, that pace isn’t likely to keep up, but with results come opportunity.
Josh Harding, G MIN (3GP, 2-0-1, with a 1.30 GAA and .965 SV%)
In certainly appears as though were seeing the end of an era in Minnesota. By no means is Niklas Backstrom washed up, but with his contract coming to an end next year, and Harding waiting in the wings, you have to expect the Wild are going to look to Harding a lot this year to see what he can handle. With the Wild struggling to score goals, and in desperate need of a legitimate NHL d-man, I would think the Wild are willing to listen to offers for Backstrom, which could mean true number one status for Harding sooner rather than later.