The Easternce Conference now hosts the team with the most points, the league leader in scoring and best goaltender. One third of the way in, Just Fantasy Hockey examins the Booms and Busts so far in the East.
Atlanta – The Thrashers made great strides in the off-season to sign players and make a return to the playoffs. They are currently sitting in a play-off position, however the ongoing contract discussions between Kovalchuk and management aren’t progressing.
Boom – M Afinogenov – Second in team scoring, Max has found a new lease on life playing with countryman Kovalchuk. A steal of a signing, Afinogenov has played primarily on Atlanta’s top line all season.
Bust – B Little, T White & S Kozlov – It appears playing with super sniper Kovalchuk will elevate anyone’s stats. In this case all three players have played on the second and third lines and have struggled mightily. Don’t expect a turn around anytime soon, it’s time to look elsewhere if you own the players.
Boston – The Bruins are suffering from a relapse after a deep playoff run. With injuries taking a toll early on, they are finally turning it around and contending for a playoff spot. With the core of the team signed long-term, the Bruins should challenge for the division lead.
Boom – P Bergeron – With the large amount of injuries in Boston, Bergeron was thrust into a number one role at the start of the season. Leading the Bruins in scoring with 23 points, Bergeron has increased his fantasy value once again and looks to have fully recovered from his injury from years ago.
Bust – T Thomas – The defending Vezina winning goalie has fallen back down to mediocrity. Boasting a 7-7-3 record with a 2.48 GAA, back-up Rask has outplayed him this season.
Buffalo – The Sabres goal this year is to return to the playoffs. Ryan Miller leads all NHL goaltenders in GAA and Save % and is the catalyst of the team. Coach Ruff has the team playing a disciplined but low scoring brand of hockey which is hurting their fantasy values.
Boom – T Myers – The 6’8” rookie has made an immediate impact with the team. Constantly compared To Zdeno Chara, Myers is a less physical, more mobile d-man. With 15 points in 27 games, he is having an excellent start to the season.
Bust – T Vanek – The Austrain winger is a wizard with the puck.A traditional slow starter, Vanek has only 18 points in 25 games and has more assists than goals. Be patient fantasy owners, he should break-out sooner rather than later.
Carolina – The worst team in the league doesn’t have a lot going for it at the moment. With injuries to Staal and Ward, their complimentary players just aren’t enough to keep the team a float. The clock may be ticking on coach Maurice.
Boom – R Whitney – This ageless wonder is leading the struggling Hurricanes in scoring. With 20 points in 27 games, 37 year old is prime trade bait as he is a UFA in the off-season.
Bust – The rest of the team – The Hurricanes are the worst team in the league and things are not looking up. Staal and Ward are the leaders of the team and have both been injured for long periods of time. Fantasy owners should not expect an outpouring of offence in Carolina but a look for Staal to rebound from a slow start.
Florida – After a horrible start to the season, The Panthers have turned it around as of late and are now only 4 points out of a playoff spot.
Boom – N Horton – After a slow start to the season, Horton has has turned around his game. Leading the Panthers in scoring with 25 points in 30 games, he is finally rewarding fantasy owner with an all round effort.
Bust – D Booth – This season is a season that Booth will want to forget. After receiving a vicious hit from Mike Richards that left him with a concussion, Booth is still not able to skate and is suffering from post concussion syndrome. Fantasy owners that drafted Booth early know the skill he possesses but will have to wait until next year to get rue value from him.
Montreal – The Habs face pressure on a nightly basis from fans, press, coaches and themselves. Few players have shown up on a nightly basis and the Habs get outshot routinely. Goaltender Carey Price has elevated himself and has carried the club most nights, now if he could only score goals.
Boom – T Plekanec – Playing for a new contract, Plekanec is leading the Canadiens in scoring and has been one of the teams highlight players this year. Look for Plekanec to continue playing at a point per game basis as he is the top pivot in Montreal.
Bust – S Gomez – At 7.5 Million dollars a season, you would expect you would be getting a player that leads your team in scoring. In 27 games, Gomez has managed 15 points and continues to disappear on a routine basis. He should no longer be looked at as a number one centerman in any fantasy format.
New Jersey – Many thought with the addition of Jaques Lemaire as coach would end the Devils ability to score, the opposite is holding true. The Devils lead their division and have many players scoring at a point per game rate.
Boom – M Brodeur – It’s hard to argue that there is any better Devil than one of the greatest goaltenders of all time. Playing on a nightly basis, Brodeur is showing no signs of slowing at 37. Fantasy owners should not worry about him fading away or retiring until the ink is dry on his retirement papers.
Bust – D Zubrus – At 31, Zubrus has never had a season with over 60 points. He currently has 7 points in 20 games and is nursing an injury. With a lot of fellow Devils scoring at a point per game pace, Zubrus has once again fallen behind the pack.
NY Islanders – Rookie John Tavares and goaltender Dwayne Roloson have turned the Islanders into a legitimate NHL team again. Sitting 3 points out of a playoff spot, the Islander will continue to push all season to get back into the big dance.
Boom – M Moulson – Fantasy owners are still wondering where this kid came from. Second in team scoring, Moulson has a propensity for scoring goals and compliments Tavares nicely.
Bust – S Bergenheim – Lightning fast, Bergeheim is struggling to keep up with the other young Islanders. With 11 points in 29 games, he is top 5 on the team in shot but just can’t seem to find the back of the net.
NY Rangers – The Rangers are only as good as Marion Gaborik. The leading scorer in the league, Gaborik is dynamic and finally healthy. However, if Gaborik goes down, so does any hopes of the Rangers making the playoffs.
Boom – V Prospal – The good season, bad season trend continues for Prospal. He is having a amazing start to the season playing alongside Gaborik. With 26 points in 28 games, he is one of the few productive Rangers this season.
Bust – H Lundqvist – Still an elite goaltender in the league, Lundqvist started the season on a hot streak but has fallen on tough times lately. Still possessing a winning record, 12-11-1 2.64 GAA, he should be able to return to fine form as the the season grinds on.
Ottawa – The surprising Sens are a hard working club that are in the game most nights. Currently sitting in 7th in the East, Ottawa will have to find the secondary scoring to be able to stay there for the rest of the year.
Boom – M Fisher – The 29 year old centerman has never been a scoring force in the NHL. Second in team scoring, Fisher has 23 points in 29 games and is outplaying top pivot Jason Spezza. Fisher may not continue scoring but keep an eye on his progression as he may very well become Ottawa’s top center.
Bust – J Spezza, A Kovalev & J Cheechoo – The high priced talent just isn’t pulling their weight. With a combined total of 38 points in 82 games, this trio just aren’t getting it done. Fantasy owners should expect them to continue to struggle all season as the chemistry doesn’t seem to be prevalent in Ottawa.
Philadelphia – The Flyers were favourites heading into the league but their struggles with injuries and scoring have found them on the outside looking in. With so much talent on one team, it is only a matter of time before they get it together again.
Boom – J van Riemsdyk – A Calder candidate, JVR has fit in nicely on the Flyers top 2 lines. With 19 points in 25 games, JVR should continue putting up good numbers when Philly snaps out of their slump.
Bust –Coach J Stevens – The first coaching change of the season, Stevens was supposed to lead the Flyers straight into the Cup final, instead he lead them into a 5 game losing streak and 10 place in the Eastern Conference. Look for the Flyers to rebound now that Laviolette is in charge.
Pittsburgh – The Penguins got hit by the injury bug hard and were able to stay afloat thanks to Sid the Kid. Now that the majority of the Pens are healthy, they have returned to their championship form and are a force to be reckoned with.
Boom – A Goligoski – With all the injuries in Pittsburgh, Goligoski has quietly become the Penguins leading defensive scorer. With 16 points in 21 games, he has become yet another weapon for the potent Penguins.
Bust – K Letang – With the emergence of Goligoski, Letang has struggled statistically. Suffering an early injury, Letang has 10 points in 22 games after a stellar Stanley Cup run. Hold onto Letang as he may still put up points in the latter half of the season.
Tampa Bay – The Lightning are feeling better about where they are this year. With a young and competitive hockey team, Tampa sits 2 points out of a playoff spot and are getting production from sophomore Stamkos.
Boom – S Stamkos – In his second full year in the league, Stamkos is emerging as a force in Tampa. He is leading the for the Lightning in goals and points and has meshed well with Marty St. Louis. If this is a sign of how good he could be in the future, the Lightning have drafted a gem.
Bust – A Tanguay – After suffering a series of injuries in Montreal, Tanguay joined the Lightning late in the off-season. Tanguay may very well still be recovering from the injuries as he is playing as a shadow of his former self. With 17 points in 29 games, he should not be relied on as a top number 1 winger in fantasy pools.
Toronto – The Jekyll and Hyde Maple Leafs have looked impressive as of late. With sniper Kessel back in action and Kaberle making that all important first pass out of the zone, the Leafs are only as good as their goaltending.
Boom – T Kaberle – Second in defensive scoring in the league and leading the Leafs with 28 points in 29 games, Kaberle is having an outstanding season. With the ability to thread the eye of a needle with his passes, Kaberle will continue to post great numbers all season.
Bust – J Blake – A player that takes as many shots on goal as Blake does should result in far more goals. After taking 92 shots so far this season, he only has 4 goals. The aging winger has tremendous speed but lacks the finishing touch he had as an Islanders 4 seasons ago.
Washington –The flashy Capitals are deep in talent and are leading the league in scoring. With many questions surrounding their goaltending to start the season, Both Varlamov and Theodore own winning records and have helped the Caps lead the league in points.
Boom – B Laich, T Fleischmann & B Morrison – The Caps now have the ability to count on someone other than AO for scoring. With the emergence of these players, Washington is now deep, young and primed for a long playoff run.
Bust – M Nylander – The enigma that is Michael Nylander continues to haunt the Capitals. Not having played a game all season, and eating a cap hit of 4.875 Million, the Capitals cannot find a home for him.