Week Two of the 2008’09 NHL Regular Season is complete. Fantasy owners were left pounding their keyboards this weekend as names like Ryan Getzlaf, Nicklas Backstrom and Marian Gaborik frustrated while forwards Alexander Semin, Thomas Vanek and Mikko Koivu stole all the headlines with their multi-point performances.
For this week’s Fantasy Hockey Six-Pack, we look at six players: three players who are flying under-the-radar and three players who have fallen off-the-radar.
Three Players Who Are Flying Under-The-Radar
F Kris Versteeg, Chicago Blackhawks- I mentioned him during the Illegal Curve Weekly Podcast on Sunday morning, and he immediately made me look good. Versteeg registered two assists in Chicago’s 4-2 victory over Vancouver Sunday night and now has six points in six games so far this season. Versteeg is playing with the two Patricks (Kane and Sharp) and is flourishing on an energized Hawks team.
F Rich Peverley, Nashville Predators- Peverley is getting his first taste of full-time NHL duty this season with the Preds and has clicked playing alongside J.P Dumont. The 26-year-old was a force with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals last season (54 points in 45 games) and has impressed head coach Barry Trotz with his work ethic. Somebody had to replace Alexander Radulov’s offense, and Peverley is doing a fine job.
F Petr Vrana, New Jersey Devils- Vrana was recently called up when veteran center Brian Rolston went down with a right ankle injury and he wasted no time by scoring a goal on Saturday in his first National Hockey League game. The former 2002’2003 QMJHL rookie of the year is a great stickhandler with a nose for the net. Pick up Vrana in pools that allow daily or weekly pick-ups because he has the potential to put up some big numbers playing alongside Patrick Elias.
Three Players Who Have Fallen Off-The-Radar
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning- Stamkos was on last week’s list of players who are off to a bad start and he has given me no reason to recant my previous statement. Look, Stamkos is 18 years old and has all the talent in the world. He will simply need more time to adjust to playing in the National Hockey League, where players are stronger and more experienced than him. This unfortunately means that Stamkos won’t be putting up big fantasy numbers this year. Stamkos will start to produce at some point this year but that might not be until December.
F Chris Kunitz, Anaheim Ducks- Hey Chris, the season has started. Hello? Chris? Kunitz has yet to register a single point this season in five games and is apparently unaware that he is playing on Anaheim’s top line with proven goal scorers Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Kunitz is an effective playmaker but he has been awful so far this year.
F Kyle Wellwood, Vancouver Canucks- Wellwood was scooped up off the free-agent market by Canucks General Manager Mike Gillis during the off-season but he has since been placed on waivers and sent down to the American Hockey League’s Manitoba Moose. Wellwood’s future in the National Hockey League is uncertain as he continues to try to get back to the player who registered 42 points in 48 games for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2006’07 season.
For Illegal Curve, I’m Ezra Ginsburg.