Earlier this week, my Western counterpart covered some early season success stories and discussed whether or not they were likely to continue lighting the lamp or crash and burn. I'll attempt to give you my take on the Eastern side of the house.
Mark Letestu - C - Penguins (7-4-3-7)
A little background is necessary for this guy. Letestu scored 46 points in 37 CCHA games and over the two most recent seasons in the AHL, he had 116 points in 136 games. Letestu is averaging over 15 minutes of ice time, including 2:36 on the power play. Even when Jordan Staal comes back and gets his 18-20 minutes per game, only the first four forward spots are spoken for. The Pens will round out their top six with whomever is holding the hot hand, so don't automatically discount 25-year-old Letestu.
Alex Goligoski - D - Penguins (7-3-4-7)
Right now Goligoski is the only Pens defenseman getting top power play time while logging nearly 25 minutes total ice time per game. Goli led the Pens blueliners in points last season with 37 in 69 games (44 pro-rated) and he will repeat as lead dog.
Paul Martin - D - Penguins (7-1-6-7)
Prior to last year's 11 points in 22 games, the former Canadian Prime Minister averaged 32 points over the previous four seasons. The Pens have been running with four forwards and a lone defenseman on their top power play unit, leaving Martin and Letang to mop up duty. Only two of his seven points have come via the man advantage, so he may not need significant power play time to finish with 45 points.
Kris Letang - D - Penguins (7-1-4-5)
While Paul Martin is easily the better overall defenseman, Letang has the superior offensive pedigree. Letang absolutely lit up the QMJHL to the tune of 120 points in 100 games over his last two seasons of major junior. I like Letang to finish slightly ahead of Martin in points, making all three of these Pens blueliners valuable to own in fantasy leagues.
Josh Bailey - C/LW - Islanders (6-3-4-7)
Here's a guy who racked up 96 points in 67 games in his last go around in junior and then unexpectedly stepped right into the NHL, scoring 25 points on a bad Islanders team. In his sophomore season, he improved to 35 points and he’s on his way to increase his point totals for a third straight season. The 21-year-old is seeing an increase in ice time of over three and a half minutes and his average power play time has doubled. The kid is only getting better.
Blake Comeau - LW - Islanders (6-3-3-6)
Comeau leads all forwards on his team in overall ice time, logging nearly 21 minutes per contest. He also receives top power play time. In 2008-09, Comeau split the year between the AHL (19 points in 19 games) and NHL (25 points in 53 games). Last season, he recorded 35 points in 61 games (47 pro-rated points). He has added motivation in that he is slated to become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.
Doug Weight - C - Islanders (6-1-4-5)
At 39 years of age, this ancient Islander is a bad bet to continue his near point-per-game pace. If he can manage to stay healthy, he could have a nice sleeper season left in him, but that is one very large IF.
James Wisniewski - D - Islanders (4-1-4-5)
I was very surprised to find that the Wiz was named the Major Junior Defenseman of the Year in 2003-04, after he recorded 70 points in 50 games. His career high in the NHL is only 30 points, but with Streit out, Wisniewski is getting all the time he can handle, both PP (5:50) and overall (22:29). He has an outside chance at 45 points this season.
Matt Moulson - LW - Islanders (6-3-2-5)
Moulson spent a full four years at Cornell, scoring at a point-per-game pace and then in three AHL seasons, he recorded 160 points in 188 games. Prior to last season, Moulson signed a one year deal with the Islanders thinking he'd have a fair shot at some decent playing time. He was a revelation, potting 30 goals and 48 points while spending over 58 per cent of his time on a line with John Tavares. The 26-year-old gets over 20 minutes of ice time and secondary power play time. He is a good bet to repeat last year's breakout numbers.
P.A. Parenteau - RW - Islanders (6-1-4-5)
The majority of Parenteau's shifts have been with Blake Comeau and Josh Bailey. The 27-year-old averages 16:30 minutes of ice time, including over four minutes with the man advantage. In his last four AHL seasons, he scored 283 points in 252 games. The offensive ability is there, but can he bring it consistently at the NHL level? Parenteau's production will take a hit when Kyle Okposo returns from his injury.
Steve Downie - RW - Lightning (5-2-4-6)
Last year's 22 goals, 46 points and 208 penalty minutes made Downie one of the more valuable roto players to own. Over 75 per cent of Downie's even strength ice time is spent with Martin St. Louis and Steven Stamkos. Downie has an uncanny ability to protect the puck and has underrated passing skills. Set-up Steve is a great fit with Sniper Steve.
Dominic Moore - C - Lightning (5-4-1-5)
He has bounced around different lines quite a bit this year, but he is definitely is not part of the top six and he spends twice as much time on the penalty kill than power play. Moore is a versatile and an important team player, but his role does not lend itself to piling up offensive statistics. Stay away.
Teddy Purcell - RW - Lightning (5-0-4-4)
In 2007-08, Purcell won the AHL Rookie of the Year trophy after recording 83 points in 67 games. However, he is on the outside looking in for ice time with the big boys in Tampa. He does get the occasional shift with the man advantage, but unless there is an injury to one of the top six, Purcell won't get the ice time to help your fantasy team.
Rostislav Olesz - LW - Panthers (4-2-3-5)
Rusty receives the seventh most ice time per game amongst Florida's forwards. That's a bad sign on an offensively challenged team. He does catch some second unit power play opportunities, but on the Panthers, it's virtually pointless (pun intended).
Marty Reasoner - C - Panthers (4-2-2-4)
A player averaging even less ice time than Olesz, should not be on your fantasy roster. Stephen Weiss and Michael Frolik won't have one point between them for long. After all is said and done, Reasoner will end up with his customary 25-30 points.
Andrew Ladd - LW - Thrashers (6-2-4-6)
This Ladd is thriving while getting the second most ice time amongst Atlanta forwards (after only Evander Kane) as well as a decent amount of time with the man advantage. The fourth overall pick from the 2004 entry draft had 38 points last year after hitting for a career high 49 points the season before that with the Hawks. Worth taking a chance on.
Jordan Leopold - D - Sabres (7-2-2-4)
He has battled various health issues earlier in his career, but he may have conquered that problem. Leopold played 81 and 83 games for four different teams over the last two seasons. The 30-year-old defenseman recorded 48 and 49 points in his last two years of college hockey. His NHL high mark is 33 points. He'll better that this year, but will have to be a little lucky to top 40 in Buffalo.
Drew Stafford - RW - Sabres (7-2-4-6)
Stafford is getting the opportunity to play on the top line with Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek as well as the number one power play unit. In his fifth NHL season (2008-09), Stafford posted a career high 45 points. He will surpass 50 points on his way to restricted free agency at the end of the season.
Clarke MacArthur - LW - Maple Leafs (5-5-1-6)
Very close to a point-per-game player over his AHL career (158 points in 163 games), MacArthur posted his NHL career best 35 points last season. He is averaging about 1:20 minutes more overall ice time per game from last season and doesn't receive top power play time. He's scored five goals on only 13 shots and that ratio (38.5 per cent) won't last.
John Carlson - D - Capitals (5-1-5-6)
When you compare the numbers between Mike Green and Carlson at the same points in their young careers, they make for interesting benchmarks. In Carlson's last year of junior hockey, he scored 76 points in 59 games; Green had 66 points in 67 games. In Green's first AHL season, he had 43 points in 56 games; Carlson had 39 points in 48 games. It looks like Carlson will easily better Green's first full NHL season, where he only mustered 12 points in 70 games. A more recent comparable might be the Rangers Michael Del Zotto. He had 12 points in his first 12 NHL games last year and then recorded only 14 points over his next 49 matches. Carlson is for real, but he’s not going to hit 60 points this year.