The 2015-16 NHL season is underway! Fantasy owners should still exercise some patience with their players because of how early it is, but that doesn't mean you should be afraid to take chances. Take New York Rangers rookie Oscar Lindberg as an example. He has netted four goals on seven shots in three games to start the year from the third line. That makes him an attractive option even if you believe his pace is unlikely to last. If you have the roster flexibility and he turns out to be a decent player then you have a real steal on your hands because you were quick to act. If you are looking for safer options or more gambles then I have some of both for your consideration:
David Krejci (BOS) - C - Owned in 34% of Yahoo leagues
Krejci was limited to 47 games last season because hip/groin and knee injuries and it seems like everyone forgot about him. When he played, he still managed to contribute seven goals and 31 points along with 70 shots. Krejci is healthy going into the 2015-16 season and he has picked up a point (one goal and one assist) in each of his first two games. He has averaged 3:39 of ice time on the power play and he has won 52.9 percent of his faceoffs. The Boston offense is better with him in it, as he often serves as a catalyst for the group. He has new linemates this year, with Matt Beleskey and David Pastrnak, but the trio has displayed instant chemistry. Krejci is a 60-plus point player, who should be owned in the majority of fantasy leagues.
David Pastrnak (BOS) - LW, RW - Owned in 46% of Yahoo leagues
Pastrnak made his presence felt on the Bruins last season after he was called up in January. He racked up 26 points in 36 games until the last month of the regular season when his ice time went down. This season it looks like he will be given a larger role as he is playing alongside David Krejci, who wasn't available for most of the 2014-15 campaign. In the first two games of this season, the 19-year-old winger leads the team with eight shots and three points (one goal, two assists). So far, he has averaged just 19 seconds on the power play, but he picked up an assist on a goal by Patrice Bergeron late in Saturday's loss against Montreal. Hopefully, the Bruins will allow him to use his speed and creativity more during man advantage situations soon because that will enhance his fantasy value.
Artemi Panarin (CHI) - LW - Owned in 25% of Yahoo leagues
Panarin excelled in the KHL last season with SKA St. Petersburg. He racked up 26 goals and 62 points in 54 games to lead a team that featured former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk in scoring. There was plenty to like about him going into his first NHL season, but still some concern that he would have trouble adjusting to the game in North America. Panarin has put those fears to rest in the early going. He has shown tremendous puck handling skills and a nose for the net, while playing alongside Patrick Kane. Kane's playmaking talents have made Panarin especially dangerous and he has come out of the gate in impressive fashion. Panarin has picked up two goals and four points in three games to start the year. He has averaged 17:19 of ice time, has eight shots and a plus-2 rating, He has also been skating on the second power-play unit. Coach Joel Quenneville likes to shake up his line combinations, but the duo of Kane and Panarin appears to be a keeper.
Dylan Larkin (DET) - Owned in 26% of Yahoo leagues
Larkin cracked Detroit's roster out of training camp as a 19-year-old. For an organization that typically waits a while on their prospects this is a rare decision. The Red Wings loved what they saw from Larkin last year when he made an impact everywhere he played. He had 47 points in 35 games with the University of Michigan; five goals and seven points in seven contests at the World Junior Championship; and five points in six matches with Grand Rapids in the AHL playoffs. Injuries to Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm probably helped him make the Wings as well, but Larkin has shown that he is ready to play in the NHL. He has posted one goal, two assists and 10 shots in his first two games. Larkin has been playing on the wing alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Justin Abdelkader. When Detroit returns to full health there will be tough choices to make, but fantasy owners should take advantage of Larkin's role with the team now.
Brandon Sutter (VAN) - C - Owned in 16% of Yahoo leagues
Sutter was acquired from Pittsburgh in the summer and promptly signed to a five-year contract extension. The Canucks were expected to use Sutter on the second line, but he has started the season on the wing alongside the Sedin twins. He potted the game-winning goal and added an assist in his first game. He has also topped 20 minutes of ice time in both of his appearances this year. Sutter may have been someone to watch as a second-liner, but playing with Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin makes him worthy of a flier right away. The experiment may not stick, but it gives him great value for the time being.
Justin Abdelkader (DET) - LW, RW - Owned in 49% of Yahoo leagues
Abdelkader broke out offensively last season with 23 goals and 44 points in 71 games. He also registered 153 hits and 72 penalty minutes to add some pretty good value. Abdelkader spent most of his 5v5 playing time alongside Henrik Zetterberg and the duo is back together for the start of the 2015-16 campaign. The 28-year-old winger has been firing on all cylinders two games into the year. He scored a hat trick on three shots against Toronto and he picked up a goal and an assist versus Carolina, while posting the game winner in both contests. Abdelkader has contributed a plus-4 rating, nine hits and four penalty minutes as well. Obviously this torrid pace won't continue, but he has come a long way and another 20-goal campaign should be within his grasp. Consistency issues may prevent him from being a 50-point player, but he could flirt with the mark if he can avoid the extended cold stretches that have plagued him in the past.
Jaromir Jagr (FLA) - RW - Owned in 40% of Yahoo leagues
Jagr has always been a tremendous talent and he is still getting the job done at the age of 43. He tallied a pair of goals in Florida's 7-1 devastation of Philadelphia on Saturday night. Aleksander Barkov, who I like to take big strides forward this season, assisted on both of Jagr's goals. The future Hall of Famer scored six goals and 18 points in 20 games after he joined the Panthers last season from New Jersey. He plays with young guns Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, which will be great for their development and it will keep him motivated because he wants to get back into the playoffs.
Mathieu Perreault (WPG) - C, LW - Owned in 10% of Yahoo leagues
Perreault recorded 18 goals and 41 points in 62 games in his first season with the Jets. He was a scoring machine in December and January when he racked up 15 goals and 25 points in 24 contests. Through two games with Winnipeg this season, he has two assists. He spends his 5v5 ice time alongside Mark Scheifele, who is off to a great start, and he plays on the first power play unit. This recommendation comes with a bit of a wait-and-see approach because I think he will catch fire again at some point.
Francois Beauchemin (COL) - D - Owned in 18% of Yahoo leagues
Beauchemin signed a three-year deal with the Avalanche in the summer and it didn't take him long to make an impact this season. He has collected five assists, including two on the power play, in his first two games. Beauchemin has also posted 12 blocks and a plus-3 rating, while averaging 23:15 of ice time. He is a strong real-time stat contributor and he scored 11 goals from the back end with Anaheim last season. There probably aren't many defenders worth taking on the waiver wire at this time, so Beauchemin stands out right now. I wouldn't expect him to reach 40 points because he has never done that in his career, but it wouldn't be surprising if he got close to the 30-point mark.
Tobias Rieder (ARI) - RW - Owned in 1% of Yahoo leagues
Rieder is flying under the radar right now, but he has been impressive out of the gate for a Coyotes team that has upset victories over Los Angeles and Pittsburgh to open the 2015-16 season. Rieder has contributed two goals on six shots and one assist in those matches after he registered 13 markers and 21 points in 72 games with Arizona last year. He is playing with Martin Hanzal and Anthony Duclair, while seeing minutes in all situations. Rieder has averaged 3:35 on the power play and 2:39 during shorthanded situations. He has great offensive upside and a 40-point campaign isn't out of the question.