Thankfully, we're in the home stretch to the regular season, starting all the pre-season games. Since I was away for the weekend, I only had a brief look at some of the pre-season results and I thought I would go over some of the key players that have jumped out and could very well deserve some consideration for your fantasy pool team.
On Saturday, the pre-season kicked off and it didn't take long for number one overall pick, Steven Stamkos, make a name for himself for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Stamkos didn't record a point in the game, but he did become clutch in the shootout, scoring the winning goal past Marc-Andre Fleury of the Pens. The highlight reel goal automatically put the kid on the map and it was only the first game of the pre-season.
Also on the Saturday, the Rangers ended up losing to the Senators, 3-2, but the Rangers did have a bright spot, as Brandon Dubinsky scored the two goals for New York. Dubinsky had 40 points for the Rangers last season and there's a good chance that the youngster is going to improve on those totals with a little more ice-time and some more dynamic linemates.
The Bruins opened up their pre-season campaign on Monday against the Habs in Halifax. The biggest story of the game was the return of Patrice Bergeron from his awful concussion he suffered 10 games into the season last year. Bergeron has claimed to be fit going into this season, so there is very little reason to not take him on his word. His career-high in points is 73, but it may be a season too early to think he'll be aces to start the year, but he could put a reasonable season together of 45-50 points.
The Flyers beat up on the Devils, 4-1, on Monday night and it was Steve Downie handing out a good portion of the punishment. Surprisingly, it was Downie's two goals that sunk the Devils, instead of his two fists, so his hockey skills may be on the way back to the forefront, leaving a bit of his rocky past behind. Downie will likely still be a good producer of penalty minutes this season, but his scoring may improve as well, which could be a small sleeper in a pool.
An outside shot of making the Rangers this season, Petr Nedved, showed off why he should be considered for making a comeback with the Rangers on Monday night, as he scored two goals in the Rangers' 2-1 win over Ottawa. Nedved, if signed for cheap, could be the last piece of the puzzle, since it doesn't look like Mats Sundin is going to make a decision quite yet. If Nedved doesn't make the Rangers, he will head back to Europe to play there once again.
The re-building Leafs will need players like Dominic Moore to produce on a regular basis for any sort of success this season. Moore opened up the Bud's pre-season schedule with a pair of goals against the Buffalo Sabres. Moore, known to be a depth player, will likely see some second-line action this year, which could improve his production on a low scoring team. It may not be wise to put too much stock in him, but he could surprise some.
The Penguins got a little revenge on Monday night, as they beat the Lightning, 2-1, in Tampa Bay. The most notable player for the Penguins was Kristopher Letang, who may assume some more minutes to start the season as injuries to Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney have put some question marks on the blueline. Last season, Letang had 17 points in 63 games, including 3 game winners. The Pens are high on Letang and now they'll practically have to give him more responsibility to start the year. Big things could be on the horizon here.
The Oilers lost in the shootout to the Canucks on Monday night, but newcomer Erik Cole made himself known with a goal and assist in the 4-3 loss. Cole, acquired from the Hurricanes, looked to be a good fit for the team on paper and his immediate impact in the pre-season suggests that the on-ice product could be very similar. In a free-wheeling system like Edmonton, Cole could do a lot of damage with his size and speed. His stock is rising quite quickly at the moment.
It was a battle of youth in Los Angeles last night, as the Kings hosted the Coyotes. The Kings topped the desert dogs, 6-4. For the Kings, prospect centre Oscar Moller had a goal and two assists for the squad, while David Meckler had a pair of goals and an assist. Moller, a second round pick in 2007, comes with a little more hype and he could find himself a good spot on the team if he continues to impress in this pre-season. Keep an eye on this quick little centre, he could find himself in a very beneficial spot this year.