Here are some players that have really taken the next step this season through 8-10 games…
- Steven Stamkos, 18 points in 9 games Stamkos is on pace for 164 points. In all seriousness, I think it’s time to consider him as one of the best players in the game. Is he up there with Crosby, Ovechkin, and Malkin? He will be soon enough. - Chris Stewart, 14 points in 10 games A seven-game point streak (including last night’s hat trick) has lifted Stewart to second in the league in points. The power winger for Colorado impressed with 64 points last year, but will easily exceed that total at this current rate. - Patrick Sharp, 9 goals (12 pts) in 10 games Sharp is certainly one Blackhawk that has benefitted from the summer cap purge. He has scored nine goals (and three game-winners) thus far. Could he eclipse his previous career high of 36 goals in a season? - Andrew Ladd, 10 points in 9 games Ladd has been a great addition to the Thrashers lineup. He is finally showing his two-way potential, something we all knew the fourth overall pick in 2004 had in him. Ladd’s 10 points leads the way for Atlanta. - James Wisniewski, 11 points in 7 games The summer acquisition for the Isles has paid off in the early going. Two-way blueliner Wisniewski has meshed well on Long Island, racking up 11 points (10 on the power play). Who is Mark Streit? - Nathan Horton, 9 points in 7 games Horton may have found his home with the Bruins. Alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic, the B’s top line has been formidable early on. If he keeps this up, safe to say they have found their replacement for Kessel? - Justin Williams, 9 points in 10 games Injuries have haunted Williams in the past, but he has nine points skating on the second line. If Williams can (finally) stay healthy and produce at this rate, it will go a long way in helping the Kings claim the Pacific crown. - Kris Letang, 9 points in 10 games It seems like the whole Penguins blueline is producing at a high rate, Letang included. He is third in points for defensemen with nine (only two on the power play)… which explains his stellar plus-7 rating. - Jaroslav Halak, 5-1-1 and 1.55 GAA I think we knew it when the deal went down, but Lars Eller and Ian Schultz for Halak is looking like a complete steal right now. After last night, Halak has a shutout streak of over 210 minutes going right now. - Jonathan Quick, 6-1-0 and 1.96 GAA With Jonathan Bernier nipping at his heels, Quick has taken his game to the next level in October. He started the year with three straight games of giving up just one goal, and has looked Vezina-caliber at times.
On the contrary, here are some players that are struggling out of the gates…
- Tyler Myers, 4 points (-9) in 10 games
Last year’s Calder winner has struggled mightily in Year Two. His minus-9 rating is glaring, considering he was a plus-13 a year ago. If this does not improve, can you say ‘Sophomore Slump’?
- Nik Antropov, 1 point in 8 games Antropov led the Thrashers with 67 points last year. If he wishes to do that again, he has some work to do. Antropov has been bumped down to the third line already.
- Kimmo Timonen, 0 points in 9 games
I did a double-take yesterday while looking at the Flyers stats… Timonen with zero points? The steady 12-year veteran has never started a year with such a slump.
- Simon Gagne, 0 points (-8) in 6 games
Gagne was one of my money-to-the-bank fantasy picks, especially since he was a bargain. Well, despite sustaining a neck injury, I have as many points as he do. He also has a minus-8 rating. Ouch.
- Marc-Andre Fleury, 1-4-0 and 3.41 GAA
The ‘Flower’ has been soft thus far, opening the door for Brent Johnson to make some starts in Pittsburgh. Not mentioned above is Fleury’s save percentage of .861; that’s not going to get it done.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.