Fantasy Hockey Youngsters: Million Dollar Babies and Penny Ante Busts

Greg CheckiContributor INovember 6, 2008

At the start of every hockey season, there are always a dozen or more young players who are surrounded by an intense buzz. Now a full month into the hockey season, it's time to see who's measuring up.

Pleasant Surprises

Cam Barker

Despite being constantly called up and then sent down by the Blackhawks, potential-filled defenseman Cam Barker may finally have seen his minor-league days end. He already has three points through four games and is spending time on the power play.

He put up 18 points in 45 games with the Hawks last season and appears to be a superb choice for any keeper league. However, make sure he sticks around the NHL for another few games before adding him.

Derick Brassard

Brassard won Rookie of the Month honors for his performance in October, posting 12 points through 12 games. He missed some time this week with the flu, but it was nothing serious and he has already returned. Brassard is a solid all-around player and appears to be the No. 2 center in Columbus. He will post a fair number of points, shots, and power-play points and is a legitimate No. 4/No. 5 fantasy forward.

Alex Burrows

Burrows has been a very pleasant surprise with 10 points through 13 games, including a shorthanded goal. He is most valuable in leagues that reward penalty minutes, as he is averaging two per game. He's also emerging as a scorer and is a nice addition at forward for owners who need to suddenly fill spots. But keep your expectations realistic and don't expect him to put up 60 or 70 points just yet.

Ryan Clowe

Not enough good things can be said about Clowe's performance thus far. The young left wing is amassing goals, power-play points, and penalty minutes galore. He is available as a free agent in a majority of Yahoo! and CBS leagues and should be gobbled up immediately. The same goes for his teammate, right wing Devin Setoguchi.

Jakub Voracek

This rookie has exceeded preseason predictions thus far with two goals and eight assists in 13 games. He also offers a nice boost in power-play points and has averaged more than a penalty minute per game. He's been on one of the Blue Jackets' top lines throughout the young season and is now their power-play quarterback, racking up the stats to prove it. If you need a solid RW, look no further.

Fantasy Busts

Drew Doughty

Despite two points in tonight's game against the lowly Panthers, he still has just three points. The Kings don't much intend to have him as their scoring leader this year and neither should you.

Cory Murphy

The inexperienced Panthers defenseman has just 1 point through 7 games and is injured yet again. While he definitely has a lot of potential, he won't be doing any favors for his fantasy owners anytime soon and should be off your team ASAP.

Kyle Okposo

Okposo has been very disappointing with three points through 12 games. The Isles haven't looked like much of a team this year nor has Okposo looked like much of a player. It's time to admit he's not yet ready to be a primetime fantasy player and move on.

Mason Raymond

Despite posting 10 points through his first 12 games and apparently having chemistry with the Sedin twins, the Canucks management decided to bring up former Lightning winger Michel Ouellet and immediately gave him Raymond's spot on the top line.

Despite being a big fan of this guy, he is little more than waiver-wire fodder when he's not on Vancouver's top line.

"Young Guns" to Keep an Eye on

Nicklas Backstrom

Alexander Ovechkin has only two goals so far and that hasn't hurt anyone more than Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom. With just four assists through 12 games, now is an excellent time to buy him on the cheap. He will probably end up with around 60 points and a ton of power-play assists.

Anze Kopitar

Kopitar signed a huge contract after his superb season last year and appears to be feeling the pressure. He has posted merely a single goal with six assists and is minus-3 through 11 games. Look for Kopitar to break out soon, though. Some owners may be willing to part with him for very little, so consider making a trade and buying low.

Jonathan Toews

Toews (pronounced Taves) was drafted by most owners as a No. 2 fantasy center and is capable of putting up big numbers in many categories but has surely disappointed in the early going. He has yet to record a goal and has just seven assists in 12 games.

Despite the poor numbers, he's still owned in over 90 percent of leagues. If you have Toews, put him on the pine for a while, but have faith that he will soon turn it around.

Kari Lehtonen

Atlanta has again tried to make Lehtonen its starting goalie, but each new season brings only more disappointment and another injury for the 25-year-old Finn. Lehtonen has been fighting a back injury for over a week now and starting in his place is star prospect Ondrej Pavelec.

Giving your potential replacement starting time is not something that will ever help your fantasy numbers. Mix in the fact that Atlanta has no concept of team defense and Lehtonen is nothing more than a low-end No. 2 or high-end No. 3 fantasy goalie when healthy.


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