October 6, 2008

Early Season Fantasy Players To Watch

Well the 2008-09 NHL regular season is officially off and running, but it won't really feel that way until things really get going Thursday night. In the meantime I want to take advantage of this lull in the action to point out a few names worth keeping an eye on here in the early going.
  • Andy McDonald (C-STL) I generally tend to not put too much stock into pre-season stats, but there is no getting past the numbers McDonald has put up in all those games that don't count. McDonald led the NHL in pre-season scoring with 13 points (4g-9a) and has been on fire since the drop of the first puck. Keep in mind that this is a guy who is less that 18 months removed from being the number one center on a Stanley Cup champion. Grab him if you can.
  • Lee Stempniak (RW-STL) Stempniak gets to play with McDonald and Brad Boyes in St. Louis and that translated into 12 points (5g-7a) in the pre-season. If Lee stays on this line he should put up good numbers. I would not rush out and grab him just yet (I can't imagine he was drafted in many leagues), but he is definitely worth keeping an eye on.
  • Filip Kuba (D-OTT) Kuba could turn out to be a big-time pick up for a lot of fantasy owners. Kuba was seeing a lot of time on the Ottawa power play in the opening games this weekend and responded with three assists, including two with the extra man. This is also the guy who scored 15 goals for Tampa back in 2006-07. That is a number he could approach again as he looks to be one of the anchors of the Senators attack.
  • Brandon Dubinsky (C-NYR) Brandon Dubinsky is one of the young players the Rangers will be looking for to provide offense this season. He picked up the game winning goal in the Rangers opener against the Lightning to get his season off to a good start. I was really impressed by Dubinsky in the recent playoffs and I think he is capable of developing into a consistent scorer at the NHL level. It may not happen right away, but he should start to put up good all around numbers soon. Anyone playing in a keeper league should take a long, hard look at Dubinsky.
  • Michael Nylander (C-WSH) A lot of people think of Michael Nylander as nothing more than a third line center in Washington, but the fact is that he has been a nearly point-per-game player since the lockout and he could realistically find himself on a line with Alexander Ovechkin for long stretches this season. After all, that is why the Capitals signed him in the summer of 2005. Nylander is another one of those guys who I would not waste a roster spot on right now, but he is a player worth tracking as the season begins.
That is all for now, but things will really get into gear with a full slate of games on tap for Thursday night. Then we can finally start to find out just how well/poorly we drafted in recent weeks. Good luck everyone!

Chris Yarbrough is the GFH Fantasy Guru for the 2008-09 season. You can read more from Chris on his own blogs, Taking One for the Team and The Flower Shop.

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