Travis Zajac, C NJ (1GO-0g-0a-0pts, with a (-2) and 3 SOG)
He may have been a bit rusty in his first game back from a torn Achilles, but there’s no doubt that Zajac is at least worth a trial period if he’s still available in your league. Zajac was expected to center a line with Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk at the beginning of last year but never really got a chance due to Parise’s season ending injury just 12 games in. He probably isn’t going to find his way back on to the top line too quickly, thanks to the explosive breakout play of rookie Adam Henrique, but the Devils still have some intriguing line options in a secondary roll for Zajac, and if the top line struggles at all, you can expect Zajac to at least get a look with one of the Devils’ top guns.
Colin Greening, C, LW OTT (33GP-8g-8a-16pts, with a (-7) and 5 pp points)
The recent slew of injuries to top line players taking place in the NHL means were likely to see some breakout performances from a number of secondary players. Colin Greening looks to take advantage of the concussion suffered by the Senators’ top scorer Milan Michalek as he joins Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson on the top line. Greening was riding a 4 game point streak already, and is looking like he’s up to the challenge of the top line after posting a goal and a +3 against Pittsburgh on Friday night.
Jared Cowen, D OTT (33GP-4g-6a-10pts, with a +1 and 19 PIMs)
The Senators have to be considered one of the big surprises through the first half of the season. A preseason favourite to finish in the basement in the East, the Senators have found moderate success thanks to the strong play from a number of their youngsters. Among them, Jared Cowen is beginning to show why the Senators selected him with the 9th overall pick in 2009. After posting just 2g-0a and a (-6) through October and November, Cowen has picked up his play big time in December with 8 points (2g-6a) and a +7 through 9 games.
Jared Spurgeon, D MIN (32GP-2g-11a-13pts, with a +2 and 8 pp points)
The Minnesota Wild are undoubtedly one of the biggest surprises of the season thus far. Tied for 1st place in the entire NHL with the Chicago Blackhawks, the Wild’s Achilles’ heel entering the season appeared to be their lack of big name talent on the backend. For the Wild to have the success they’ve been having they needed to have a youngster step up on the blueline and it looks like Spurgeon is the man for the job. The diminutive d-man may just be the most offensively talented rearguard on the Wild roster, and his confidence is growing. With the teams most experienced defenseman Marek Zidlicky sidelined with a concussion since mid-November, Spurgeon stepped up his game posting 10 points (1g-9a) over his last 16 contests. Zidlicky returned this past week and is also worth keeping an eye on, but don’t expect him to hurt Spurgeon’s value. The Wild need both of these guys to produce and they will both see a lot of ice.