Things are just getting started in the NHL season with fantasy owners searching for those hidden gems. This week, we’ll examine some players who should see extended time on the ice during the next few upcoming weeks. If your team is hurting from an injury, or if you’re just looking for a “hot” player at the moment, be sure to check on these players in your league.
Tomas Kopecky – RW, Chicago Blackhawks (28% Yahoo! / 47% CBS)
Kopecky has made the best out of his situation thus far. With the Blackhawks losing so many players from their Stanley Cup team of last season, they’ve had to rely on some unsung heroes in the early going. Over his first eight games this season, he’s failed to record a point in just one game, while averaging at least an assist over his last five games. Kopecky has even found himself on the first power play unit this season, averaging around 3:30 of PP time on ice per game. Even with Kopecky taking advantage of his PP time, his even strength strength time on ice numbers are where his real numbers are coming from. Just keep thinking about this number when debating over whether or not to add Kopecky from waivers – Over 80% of Kopecky’s even strength ice time this season has been paired with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews.
Josh Bailey – C/LW, New York Islanders (29% Yahoo! / 37% CBS)
With the Isles dealing with injuries to their start players to start the season, they’ve had to rely on some youngsters to keep them on pace in the Atlantic Division. This two-way forward has already collected seven points over his first six games and is averaging about 20 minutes of ice time per game. While most of this playing time has come via the John Tavares injury, it’s hard to not notice this production early on. Along with a lot of ice time to start the season, Bailey is second on the Islanders team in PP ice time. After scoring just 23 goals combined the past two seasons, the 21-year old Bailey looks more comfortable on the ice this season. Even with Tavares back, Bailey should still find regular playing time along the top line.
Tomas Fleischman – C/LW, Washington Capitals (30% Yahoo! / 67% CBS)
First and foremost, this guy shouldn’t be on your waiver wire if you play in a league with more than eight teams. “Flash” has been used by Coach Bruce Boudreau during many situations to start the season, and has even tinkered with having him play on the top line between wingers Alex Ovechkin and Mike Knuble. While I think this experiment was short lived, Flash will still see plenty of solid time on the power play unit and could see somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 points this season.
Matt Taormina – D, New Jersey Devils (3% Yahoo! / 17% CBS)
The Devils haven’t played particularly well to start the season, and Coach John MacLean has seen enough. Andy Greene was slated to be a major contributor this season, but because of his poor production, Taormina has been give a shot on the top defensive line along with time on the power play unit. This rookie is fourth on the team in total power play ice time with 18:19 and has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time over his first six games. For the Lowell Devils last season, Taormina tallied 50 points, including 10 goals, 8 of which were power play goals.
Tim Thomas – G, Boston Bruins (57% Yahoo! / 50% CBS)
While the Bruins may have “named” Tuukka Rask their number one starter prior to the season, Tim Thomas has other things in mind. Rask has made just one start this season, allowing four goals in, and hasn’t seen another start. Now the Bruins have had a crazy schedule due to the trip overseas, but Thomas has filled in nicely. After posting a shutout against the Yotes overseas, Thomas got the call once again against the Devils over the week and allowed just one goal against on 32 shots.
Derek Stepan – C, New York Rangers (14% Yahoo! / 40% CBS)
This rookie was on the “Others to Monitor” list last week after scoring three goals in first NHL game due to the uncertainty of the Rangers’ production. With the team losing Marian Gaborik and Chris Drury in one night, Stepan will now get a good chunk of ice team from here on out. While Stepan has scored just one point since his historic first night, he’ll have plenty more chances going forward and is now paired with Alexander Frolov. Look for this Ranger to be on the top power play line and see extended minutes until the team gets healthy.