NHL players and teams are going to have to get their feet under them very quickly in 2013, basically needing to hit the ground running if they want hope of making it to the Stanley Cup playoffs. With that being said, here are some players who have gotten off to hot starts over the opening weekend of the season. Their fantasy values should be going up quite rapidly in this shortened season.
Thomas Vanek (LW, Buffalo Sabres)
The Buffalo Sabres are one of the sleeper teams who could be looking at a Stanley Cup run and Vanek is a huge reason why. The left winger currently leads the NHL with six points in just two games, including an enormous five-point effort against the Flyers in the season opener. Grab this guy off of fantasy waivers – if he’s even available.
Daniel Winnik (C, Anaheim Ducks)
Anaheim’s offense has definitely been on a roll to start 2013 as they have scored 12 goals in their first two games. Winnik has played a huge role thus far as he leads the NHL early in goals (4) and is tied for the NHL lead in plus-minus at +5. Right now, it seems that when Winnik is on the ice the Ducks are scoring.
Teddy Purcell (RW, Tampa Bay Lightning)
This young winger for the Lightning seems to be improving with each season recently as he looks to have another solid campaign in 2013. Although Purcell failed to score a point in Monday night’s loss to the Islanders, he did put up three helpers in the season opening win over the Capitals and should be looked at seriously as an undervalued fantasy player. Get him while he is still affordable.
Vladimir Tarasenko (RW, St Louis Blues)
This rookie sniper was highly regarded before the season started and he’s immediately proving why over his first couple of games in the NHL. The young Russian winger already leads his club in goals scored (3) and total points (5) through the opening weekend of the season and should continue to put up huge numbers in the shortened season.
Craig Anderson (G, Ottawa Senators)
Anderson was thought of as a solid goaltender option to begin the year, but no one could have expected the hot start which he has gotten off to. Anderson has been the backbone of what once again looks to be an overachieving, rugged Senators squad. Through the first couple of games in 2013 he has stopped 58 of 59 shots with one shutout.
Kevin Shattenkirk (D, St Louis Blues)
The young defender for the Blues showed us all what he was capable of last year and what a pure passer he was, racking up 34 assists. Shattenkirk is already looking even better this season and has four assists in his first two games (three of those coming on the power play). Alex Pietrangelo is usually thought of as the better option of the two fantasy-wise, but Shattenkirk is the better value at this point, no question.
Antti Niemi (G, San Jose Sharks)
This veteran Finnish-born goaltender is somewhat considered a has-been, but is still capable of putting up great numbers. He is still just 29 years of age, let’s not forget. The sample size for 2013 is obviously very small thus far, but Niemi looked great in the Sharks season opening win over the Flames, stopping 31 of 32 shots. Get him as a solid backup fantasy goaltender option now before he is swooped up in short order.
Jaromir Jagr (RW, Dallas Stars)
The ageless Czech wonder is back this season in yet another NHL uniform, playing for the Dallas Stars. And don’t let Jagr’s age (40) fool you either. He is more than capable of putting up enormous numbers, especially in such a short season where his body won’t wear down as much. Jagr was staggering in Saturday’s season opening win over the Coyotes, putting up four points (2 goals, 2 assists) and looked as dynamic as ever. Look for him to continue to put up solid fantasy numbers throughout the rest of the season as well.