Thursday, to me, really spotlighted the possibility that second-tier (or third-tier) picks have jumped a level this season. Now, maybe those leaps won’t be permanent, but it appears that these guys could be fixtures in 2013.
The three guys who stand out the most are Chris Kunitz (31 points), Jakub Voracek (29) and Mike Ribeiro (28) are all in the top 10 of NHL scorers. We all knew that these guys - even Voracek, who had plenty of doubters coming in - had potential to be nice mid-level guys, just not at this level. Drafting those guys must feel like reaching into your pocket for a single and finding a $20.
There are some nice Alexander Hamiltons out there too, though. Patrice Bergeron has been known as a strong two-way player, but ever since concussions changed his course, he hasn’t always been a hot fantasy commodity. His plus-17 rating isn't that big of a shock (he was plus-36 in 2011-12 and plus-20 in 2010-11), but a point-per-game is definitely a welcome surprise.
One other guy who comes to mind is Jaromir Jagr. He’s indeed benefiting from running shotgun with Jamie Benn, much like he did with Claude Giroux last season.
Obviously, there’s also Jeff Carter and Alexander Semin, but I think those two have been discussed at this point.
TRUST FOR PRUST?
I always like to keep my eyes on PIM guys who can score a little bit. Sometimes they can produce just enough points to be worth replacing a marginal scorer.
Brandon Prust is making an argument that he’s one of those guys. After a three-point game on Thursday, he now has nine points in 24 games, but that's not the cool part. The cool part is that he has 81 PIM (and surprisingly a plus-13 rating).
He's worth looking at because he already has one nice all-purpose season (2010-11) with 13 goals, 29 points, 160 PIM and 161 hits on his resume already. The 60 hits he’s piled up in 24 games so far, tying him for 26th in the NHL; I’d say hits might just be the tie-breaker.
It’s not a no-brainer, though. Keep in mind that 46 of his 81 PIM came in his first seven contests, during his “trying to impress his new teammates” phase.
INJURY NOTES (full list) and QUICK HITS
Quick note: Chris Pronger hasn’t technically retired. He even said he wants to come back. I’d also like to dunk on a regulation NBA net someday … Sounds like Patrick Sharp could miss as many three weeks. Uh oh … Big nights for Blues David Perron and Chris Stewart, while Patrik Berglund continues to distinguish himself as a nice goal-scorer. Maybe their netminders are a mess, but they’re out-scoring some of their problems … Matt Read shockingly returned a month early from his rib injury last night. I’m a little concerned about a setback, honestly … Valtteri Filppula is day-to-day with a shoulder injury ... Henrik Tallinder is day-to-day with a lower-body issue ... It sounds like Erik Johnson's been activated from the IR. Stay tuned for more on that at Rotoworld.