This week's Waiver Wired examines a few players off to hot starts who could still be available for the taking in your fantasy leagues without the hassle of negotiating trades. We’ll also put forth a couple of quick picks who could end up blossoming into valuable contributors for your respected squads.
Joffrey Lupul - LW, RW - Toronto Maple Leafs Toronto's first line has enjoyed a sizzling start to the season and Lupul looks revitalized next to sniper Phil Kessel. He has recorded four goals and three assists in six contests. Lupul went through some hard times prior to this season with a bad back, but he finally looks healthy and back up to speed again. He is driving to the net hard and has already been credited with 20 shots. Look for Lupul to knock on the 60-point barrier in 2011-12 as he likely won't stray from Toronto's top-six forward group unless general manager Brian Burke manages to swing a deal for that impact forward he craves so much.
P.A. Parenteau - RW - New York Islanders Playing alongside excellent talent the likes of budding superstar John Tavares and two-time 30 goal scorer Matt Moulson has done wonders for Parenteau early into 2011-12. He has collected a team-leading six helpers and added one goal in five games thus far. He also has a solid plus-5 rating. Parenteau had a strong start last season as well and it resulted in him posting a 20-goal, 53-point year. He should come close to those numbers again this campaign, whether he sticks with Tavares and Moulson for the course of 2011-12 or not. However, if he does remain on the top line for the balance of the year then he could challenge the 60-point mark if he begins to shoot more often.
Marc-Andre Bergeron - D - Tampa Bay Lightning Bergeron's offensive gifts have never been a question mark. He can be a valuable source of offense from the back end, especially on the power play with his big shot, but his defensive work has left a lot to be desired during his professional career. With Mattias Ohlund sidelined following arthroscopic surgery on both knees, Bergeron has finally been given more ice time and he has shown that he can be a threat offensively at even strength as well. He is currently averaging 19:08 minutes per game, which is up the 14:19 minutes he saw in 23 contests last season when the Lightning frequently dressed seven defensemen. Bergeron leads all NHL blueliners with nine points in seven games heading into Friday night's action, but it may come as a surprise to see that he has contributed just three of them with the man advantage. He should be a 30-40 point rearguard this season if Tampa Bay continues to play him regularly.
Johan Hedberg - G - New Jersey Devils Hedberg was a successful handcuff for Martin Brodeur owners last season when the veteran netminder and future Hall of Famer ran into injury problems. Brodeur is presently out of action again, this time with a shoulder injury, and he is projected to miss at least a week and possibly more while he rehabs the ailment. Hedberg posted 15 wins to go with a .912 save percentage and a 2.38 goals-against average in 34 appearances during the 2010-11 campaign and he has a 3-0-0 record with a .945 save percentage and a 1.41 GAA in three contests this season. Grab him as insurance if you have Brodeur on your roster.
Matt Read - C, RW - Philadelphia Flyers It's still hard to tell early into his NHL career if Read will be an energy player who can pick up points on a regular basis or if he will be a third- or fourth-line forward who can, at the most, contribute in bunches. Still, he has to be considered a viable option in keeper formats or very deep leagues after an impressive start to his first year at the NHL level. Read is tied with Buffalo center Luke Adam for the rookie scoring lead with six points after six games. He has seen some time on the power play and has been utilized as a habitual part of the penalty kill unit for the rebuilt Philadelphia Flyers . Keep an eye on him.
Sami Salo - D - Vancouver Canucks Salo's injury woes have been well documented on Rotoworld for a long time, but no one can deny that he possesses an absolute bomb from the point. The Canucks' top power-play unit lost that aspect when Christian Ehrhoff decided he would test the market as a free agent and Salo may have reminded the team of what they were missing when he filled in for Mikael Samuelsson during Wednesday's win over Nashville. He picked up an assist on Ryan Kesler's first goal of the season to give him five points in six games. If Vancouver decides to make this change permanent and - knock on wood - Salo can stay healthy, then his fantasy value is dramatically boosted.