With four to five games in the books for most teams, we have seen some relatively disturbing trends around the League. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Dallas Stars are undefeated and would win the President’s Trophy through four. The Colorado Avalanche, Nashville Predators, New York Islanders and Stars lead their divisions, respectively. Having said that, let’s look at some of the players around the League and if they will continue to score in the long run.
Josh Bailey – Filling in for John Tavares has been an opportunistic experience for Bailey, who has three goals and four assists through his first five games. Playing on the top line alongside the talented Blake Comeau has improved his all-around game. Now that Tavares has returned, Bailey could have the opportunity to play on his left side and gain even more value if he plays there long enough. During the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the New York Islanders decided to continually trade down just to take him. They clearly decided he was a special player then and now it looks like we are seeing what they knew all along.
DF Prognosis: Buy
Kari Lehtonen – Just like the Leafs in the Eastern Conference, the Dallas Stars remains undefeated at 4-0. Lehtonen’s latest victory, a 3-2 shootout win against the St. Louis Blues, was particularly impressive as he stopped 41 of 43 shots taken and led this young and inspiring team to yet another win. With two solid waves of scoring and this monster of a goalie, the Stars look like a better bet to continue their success as the season wears on despite their ownership crisis.
DF Prognosis: Buy
Nikolai Khabibulin – The Bulin Wall is starting to come back to earth with his second poor start in a row. He seemed almost perfect in his first two wins, allowing only two goals over 120 minutes. However, in his second set of 120 minutes he has allowed a paltry eight markers– bringing his GAA up to 2.53 and his SV% down to .925. At this point those statistics still look reasonable and the promising scoring of Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberles might just be enough to convince someone to take Khabibulin at this higher value. His five year average has him at 2.67 so expect his end of the season totals to be around or slightly above that marker.
DF Prognosis: Sell
Todd Bertuzzi – Big Bert has played mostly on the second line in this young season, alongside the budding Valtteri Filppula and now injured Johan Franzen. At times last season he showed signs of his old dominant self with the tendency to try and dish the puck instead of driving to the net. Through his first five games he has one goal and five assists, helping his linemates score at a rate that seems more appropriate for a first line. However, his linemate Franzen now appears to be sidelined with a concussion, which broke his previous four game points streak. The Wings were unable to fill that void with Dan Cleary last night so Bertuzzi’s luck may have run out until The Mule returns.
DF Prognosis: Hold
Ryan Smyth – The Los Angeles Kings have struggled to find the appropriate left wing for Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar. Smyth has filled that role before but comfortably lines up on the second line with Justin Williams and Jarret Stoll. As the catalyst of that line the former Captain Canada has produced five points in his last two games adding 9 SOG over that span and a +6. Something tells us it is only a matter of time before he stays on the first line all season and helps the most talented group of Kings produce at a higher level.
DF Prognosis: Buy
We hope you enjoyed our most recent feature, be sure to check out the second part of the article posted tomorrow and plenty more of new material moving forward. You can follow us on twitter @dailyfaceoff as we continue to bring you information on starting goalies and major injury updates as well as provide in-depth injury updates and line combinations in the future.