Some random thoughts from the first few weeks of the season...also, the Angus Prime Cut for the past two weeks, something you definitely don't want to miss!
If Monday is any indication, Devin Setoguchi is making the most of his opportunity in San Jose. He is one of the most dangerous prospects in the NHL and if he can stick on one of the top lines in San Jose (with Joe Thornton in particular) – then get ready to see him pile up the goals. Both Cheechoo and Marleau have struggled this season, so Setoguchi is in a perfect situation to grab a prominent offensive role. He potted two goals tonight against the Stars and will be given every opportunity to succeed while the other top Sharks try and round into form. Grab him on a short-term basis; he will be productive for the next few weeks minimum.
Jason LaBarbera is starting to show signs that he is ready to be a legitimate starting goalie in this league. After struggling early on this season, his play last week warranted him the #1 star league wide. The Kings are a tough team to get a read on; they have a very deep offensive core, strong defense on paper, and adequate goaltending. The defense has definitely been the weakness so far. If they can shore that up, expect the Kings to begin to make some noise in the Pacific Division. As for LaBarbera, if he can keep up a consistent level of play, he will become a solid fantasy option for a second goalie.
There is a player in the Western Conference currently on pace for a whopping 73 goals. Gaborik? Nope. Iginla? Nope. Zetterberg? Nope, he is on pace for a measly 61 goals. The mystery player is none other than ex-Boston Bruin and current Blue, Brad Boyes. Boyes has had a phenomenal start this season, potting eight goals in nine games. He is clearly the chief beneficiary of the slick-passing Paul Kariya. Boyes is seeing top line minutes both at even strength and on the power play. While I’d wager he doesn’t make it to the 70-goal mark, he definitely has a shot at 40. Before the seasons started, I figured that Lee Stempniak would be the one to get the majority of the top minutes on the right side with Kariya and Tkachuk. It looks like that is going to be Boyes, and he is a definitely candidate for breakout player of the year. Dennis Wideman, the defenseman who Boston acquired for Boyes, has one goal (and point) through the first nine games this season. Ouch.
Angus’ Prime Cut in the West from October 16th to October 30th, 2007.
I had a few choices for my prime cut for the past two weeks. There have been numerous impressive veterans, as well as a few youngsters stealing the show around the West. I decided to give the second Prime Cut Award to the Blackhawks rookie sensation. Got an idea who it may be? Both of the Hawks star rookies will be winning a lot of awards throughout their respective careers, but this one goes to the pint-size dynamo from Buffalo.
Patrick Kane has been flat out dominant this season for the Hawks. Most pundits expected him to struggle with the strength of the pro game, but he has shrugged it off with ease. Kane is already one of the slickest players in the league, and is the type of player you need to see a lot to really appreciate what he can bring to a team. His on-ice awareness has enabled him to maneuver easily through traffic, and he has shown no fear thus far in his NHL career. While he may be hard pressed to keep up his 100-point pace, it is not out of the question. He has the talent and drive to be the best American forward ever, even better than the likes of the greatest (Pat LaFontaine), and the second greatest (Mike Modano). Chicago is going to struggle to keep the puck out of their own net this season, but with the likes of Kane and Toews up front (as well as resident band-aid boy Martin Havlat), they will have no problem lighting the lamp.
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