Every season, a handful of players jump out of the gate and exceed expectations in the first few weeks of the season, leading to a mad run on the waiver wire. But how many of these players will still be valuable fantasy contributors two months from now? Years ago, Brian Savage was infamous for having huge numbers in October, only to crash and burn and disappear by Christmas. This season is no different. Through the first few weeks of this season, here are some players that have over-performed to date, and my thoughts on whether or not they can keep it up, or whether you should consider selling high and trading them while they're hot.
John-Michael Liles (D-COL)
Sell high. Period. Don’t get me wrong, Liles is a fine fantasy defenseman. However, his value will never in his life be higher on the trade front than it is at this exact moment. 11 points in 9 games is beyond belief here. It's also worth noting that he still has yet to score a goal, which somewhat tempers his impressive start. I would be shocked to see him finish in the top 10 for defensemen at the end of the season.
Alex Goligoski (D-PIT)
Goligoski has been on an upward trend for a couple seasons now, but his fantastic start (7 points in 9 games) is a bit better than most expected at this point. He has begun to answer the questions on who will ultimately replace Gonchar as the puck-mover for the Pens. This is one player I would definitely hold on to. His point totals are actually lower than what his level of play has shown. Don't be surprised to see him keep up the pace and stay in the top 10 for a few months, if not the entire season. If you drafted him late, pat yourself on the back.
Michal Rozsival (D-NYR)
Every once in awhile, Rozsival has a point burst that tricks someone into thinking he's going to do it again. Well I'm not falling for it. It just so happens he had his first such spike of the season to start the year, scoring twice and adding 4 assists through 7 games. If you can find a willing partner, take the deal and run.
Jordan Leopold (D-BUF)
Leopold has some respectable numbers with 2 goals and 3 assists through 10 games. It's worth noting, however, that most of that came in the first 3 games of the season. After his initial bang, he went completely dry for 5 games and came up empty again last night. If you jumped on him after week 1, it's time to come to terms with reality. Leopold is not a long-term solution for your fantasy roster.
James Wisniewski (D-NYI)
Gestures aside, Wisniewski has been a find for many fantasy players, starting the year with 11 points in 7 games. The Islanders are a theme in this article, as they've scored far more goals than anyone saw coming. So what about Wisniewski? Well, this isn't the first time he's gone on a hot stretch. In fact, when he's been healthy, he's been a consistently good fantasy defenseman in the past few years. Health is more the concern here. If he's on my roster, he's staying there.
Ryan Whitney (D-EDM)
Can we get some consistent behavior here? It's hard to know what to expect going forward from Whitney. He once ran away with 59 points with the Pens, but has been significantly lower than that since. So far this season, he's racked up 8 points in 7 games. If you can find a willing partner, I'd make a deal. Otherwise, ride the wave until his next injury or frustrating dry spell.
Brent Johnson (G-PIT)
The obvious name on this list. What to do about Fleury/Johnson in Pittsburgh. Clearly, Johnson is the hot hand right now, so if you're worried about the short term, expect the Pens to keep giving Johnson his starts. Johnson has been a good goalie throughout his career, so his hot start may be noteworthy, but not shocking. Through the past 10 seasons, his GAA has dipped below .900 just once. But how about the long-term? It's hard to see the Pens entering the playoffs without Fleury as their starting man. Unless he continues to soil the bed, Coach Bylsma will give him every opportunity to redeem himself. Sooner or later he'll get on track and Johnson will return to being a very good fill in option.
Kari Lehtonen (G-DAL)
Lehtonen played out of his mind for the first couple of weeks, winning the first 4 games of the season. He's leveled out a bit so far, but fantasy owners can't help but be pleased with his numbers to date. He's definitely got the talent to keep it going. For him, it comes down to injuries and the team around him. If you don't have the stomach for risking the inevitable injured spell, deal him for value now.
Carey Price (G-MON)
Sell now. I repeat. Sell now. Price currently leads the NHL in wins and has outstanding numbers across the board. I can't see this lasting 'til Christmas. If you get a decent offer, take it.
Tim Thomas (G-BOS)
With Thomas, it's all about setting your expectations. Surely, he won't go the entire season as the undisputed #1, the way it's played out so far. On the other hand, you can't deny what he's done in the past and what he's done this season. Plan for a 50/50 split over the season and you won't be disappointed when it happens.
Clarke MacArthur (F-TOR)
Through 8 games, he's sitting on 6 goals and 2 assists. That's significantly better than anyone projected at this point. MacArthur's role with the Leafs is obviously growing. Last season, he loitered in the 14 minute range. His playing time has steadily increased with each game this year, culminating in nearly 20 minutes against the Panthers on Tuesday. While it's ridiculous to imagine him maintaining a point-per-game pace, it's obvious he will set career highs this season and should remain a serviceable forward this season.
Brandon Dubinsky (F-NYR)
Dubinsky is riding at a point-a-game pace, with 8 points in 8 games, including 4 goals and 4 assists. He's one of the best players the Rangers have to offer, but in the fantasy world, that's not much. Dubinsky is not cut out to score at this pace over the long haul. Sell high.
Blake Comeau and P.A. Parenteau (F-NYI)
Both Islander forwards have 8 points in 9 games. Do not expect this madness to continue.
Todd Bertuzzi (F-DET)
Bertuzzi has a whopping 9 points in 7 games played thus far. He hasn't played at a such a pace since before the lockout and it would be quite surprising to see him keep this up over the course of the season. That said, he's got the talent, if he continues to get the opportunity. The Wings are deep, so he won't log much more than 16 minutes on a regular basis. Expect his best numbers in years, but don't get too excited.
Milan Hejduk (F-COL)
It's been a while since Hejduk produced a point-per-game, but he's doing it so far this season, with 9 in 9. Don't expect 80 points from Hejduk, but he should continue to be a steady producer throughout the season.
Patrick Sharp (F-CHI)
It's not overly shocking to see Sharp out there with 12 points in 10 games, but 9 goals in 10 games is a bit silly. Sharp is out in front of the early Rocket Richard race, accompanied by some of the more usual suspects. So can he hold on and stay in the race all season long? I'm having a hard time believing it. For one, it will always be a battle for power play time in Chicago. With Toews, Kane, and Hossa out there, he won't always get prime minutes with the man advantage. 3 of his 9 tallies have come on the power play so far. While you can feel good about getting him as a bit of a steal, don't bank on him finishing with 50+ goals, the way his early pace might trick you into believing. That said, don't move him.
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