Tampa Bay Lightning
Goaltender Anders Lindback has been instrumental in the team's success, as he is 4-1-0 with a 2.80 GA and .914 save percentage over his first five games. He isn't quite must-start status in fantasy leagues, but he has emerged as a decent low-end No. 1 netminder because Tampa Bay has been winning regularly. Center Cory Conacher continues to surprise, as he posted three goals with six assists and a plus-5 rating through the first six games. Defenseman Sami Salo has surprised early on, going for five assists with a whopping plus-10 rating in the first six contests.
Must start: Cory Conacher, Vincent Lecavalier, Anders Lindback, Teddy Purcell, Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos
Toronto Maple Leafs
Center Nazem Kadri is living up to immense expectations, currently producing a point-per-game pace (3 G, 3 A, plus-1) through six games. Right wing Matt Frattin has filled the shoes of injured left wing Joffrey Lupul (forearm) rather admirably. Frattin was fluid Tuesday in Buffalo, roofing a game-winner in overtime with less than a second remaining in the extra session. It was his second goal of the game and third in three games since being recalled from the minors. Fantasy owners are starting to pay attention. Meanwhile, right wing Phil Kessel has no goals and three assists with a minus-2 through six games. He is topped only by defenseman Dion Phaneuf as a fantasy disappointment. The captain Phaneuf has only one helper with a minus-7 and no PIM in six games.
Must start: Mikhail Grabovski, Nazem Kadri
In other news
Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (ankle) might be sidelined two or three more weeks due to a high ankle sprain. He had just one goal in three games as it stands, and his loss is way more valuable to his real team than to fantasy owners.
The Montreal Canadiens agreed to terms with defenseman P.K. Subban, ending a contract impasse. He is a great addition to most lineups, especially if you need help in the PIM category. He'll spend plenty of time in the sin bin, but he is offensively gifted, too.
New Jersey Devils center Adam Henrique (thumb) can be added and activated in all fantasy leagues once he makes it through his second full game without any setbacks. That second full game should come Saturday in Pittsburgh.
New York Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan (shoulder) will be on the shelf 10 to 14 days after suffering a left shoulder injury in a dust-up with Philadelphia Flyers forward Maxime Talbot Tuesday night. It appears Callahan will need to be reserved for at least the next two scoring periods, but he should definitely be held onto as a reserve. With a surplus of rearguards, bench boss John Tortorella might elect to bump defenseman Stu Bickel or Matt Gilroy up to a forward position, but their fantasy appeal would still be rather minimal.
Ottawa Senators center Jason Spezza (back) is reportedly out indefinitely, and he will undergo back surgery Friday in Toronto. It's terrible news for fantasy owners, who will be left scrambling for replacements. Center Kyle Turris has posted four goals with three assists through the first seven games, and he is an in-house replacement. Center Mika Zibanejad picked up his first NHL goal Wednesday, and he has the talent to be a top-six forward. Will the Senators trust the 19-year-old in such a high-profile spot right off the bat? We'll see.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo is doing his best to muddle the goalie picture in the Pacific Northwest. He made his second straight start Wednesday and blanked the Colorado Avalanche. So far, Luongo is 1-0-2 (one shutout) with a sparkling 1.61 GAA and .938 save percentage in four games (three starts). Meanwhile, goaltender Cory Schneider is 2-2-0 (one shutout) with a 3.13 GAA and less-than-stellar .897 save percentage. If you rolled the dice on Luongo midway through your draft, good for you.
About Daniel Dobish
Daniel is a Hot Off the Wire Analyst who joined the KFFL staff in 2010. He is a veteran of the fantasy industry dating back to 1999, with stops at CBSSports.com, The Sports Forecaster, OPENSports.com and RotoExperts.com. His work has also appeared on NFL.com and Yahoo.com. Daniel was named the 2011 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, 2011 Fantasy Racing Writer of the Year, and he was nominated for the 2011 Fantasy Hockey Writer of the Year. Daniel lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.