We're just a week into the regular season, but for some teams are already looking to tweak their rosters to adjust for injuries and draft picks whose prospects have soured since training camp. Of course, this is also a tricky time of year to pick up players. With such a small sample size, it can be hard to tell which players simply had a great game and which are on course to have strong seasons.
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The simple rule of thumb is to look at their projected role with the team moving forward as well as the reason they went undrafted in the first place. Some players get forgotten in the shuffle due to their injury history or factors that were previously working against them, but have since changed.
Of course, we're also going to highlight some ideal pickups for you below to make things simple.
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Steve Downie (COL) – LW, RW – Owned in 23% of Yahoo! leagues
People seem to have forgotten about Downie after he was limited to just two games last season, but he's a rare player in the vein of Sean Avery in his prime. In other words, Downie is capable of getting about 40 points and 150 penalty minutes this season. He's already off to a fast start and Avalanche coach Patrick Roy is singing his praises.
Lars Eller (Mon) – C – Owned in 39% of Yahoo! leagues
Eller took a big step forward last season with 30 points and 45 penalty minutes in 46 games, despite the fact that he was averaging just 14:50 minutes per contest. There were some initial concerns about him because he suffered a concussion during the 2013 playoffs, but he put those fears to rest by scoring two goals and an assist in Montreal's season opener and followed it up with a goal and an assist Saturday. Look for him to get 40-50 points and 60-80 penalty minutes in 2013-14.
Mikhail Grabovski (WAS) – C – Owned in 59% of Yahoo! leagues
Putting Grabovski on this list is a bit of a stretch because he's already owned in the majority of leagues, but he's still worth mentioning because of what's transpired lately. He picked up a hat trick and an assist in his first game after leaving the Toronto Maple Leafs on very unpleasant terms. Could this be an "I told you so" kind of campaign for him? Yes and no. He's not a star and the move to Washington doesn't change that, but he will certainly continue to cause people to ask if he was underutilized in Toronto. Look for him to barely surpass his career-highs of 29 goals and 58 points.
Marcus Johansson (WAS) – C – Owned in 19% of Yahoo! leagues
First off he has only center eligibility right now, but he's being used as a left winger and should eventually qualify for that position as well in Yahoo! leagues. That alone will give him a boost, but far more important is the fact that he's been getting playing time with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Johansson had 22 points in 34 games last season and is a strong candidate to breach the 50-point mark in 2013-14.
Mark Giordano (CAL) – D – Owned in 15% of Yahoo! leagues
The Calgary Flames are expected to have a terrible year and that will hurt all of their players from a plus/minus perspective. Still, we've seen great offensive defenseman excel on all-around bad teams before and Giordano is certainly a candidate to do just that. Don't get too worried about his mediocre 2013 campaign. If he can stay healthy, he should comfortably surpass the 30-point mark and might even reach 40.
Damien Brunner (NJD) – C – Owned in 24% of Yahoo! leagues
There's no question that Brunner is a risk. He was very streaky in his first NHL season and it remains to be seen if he can withstand the rigors of an 82-game campaign. At the same time, he has the capacity to be a solid top-six forward in this league and for the price of a waiver wire pickup, he seems to be worth the gamble. The upside for him is 50-60 points, with about half of them being goals.
Jacob Trouba (WPG) – D – Owned in 16% of Yahoo! leagues
Fellow rookie defensemen Seth Jones is owned in half the leagues, but it wouldn't be surprising if Trouba ends up having more fantasy value in 2013-14. Trouba is arguably further along in his development after playing with the University of Michigan for a season and Trouba could end up with 80-100 penalty minutes, which would far surpass Jones in that category. Trouba is also a candidate to flirt with the 30-point mark.
Semyon Varlamov (COL) – G – Owned in 64% of Yahoo! leagues
A starting goaltender with no threat from his backup who is only owned in less than two-thirds of fantasy leagues is pretty rare. Varlamov has endured some shaky seasons, which has caused some fantasy owners to sour on him and as a team, the Avalanche aren't expected to be great this season. At the same time, Varlamov has two ideal mentors to work under in head coach Patrick Roy and the guy that helped Roy become one of the greatest goaltenders of all-time, Francois Allaire. So far their influence seems to have been a positive on Varlamov and if he happens to be available in your league, he's well worth the risk.