Fantasy Hockey: Not jumping to conclusions

With most NHL teams only a couple of games into the season, it's much too early to break out any wild conclusions, but in this week's Fantasy Hockey Face-Off we look at some potential bargains and disappointments.
Devin Setoguchi, left, seen with travel mate Dany Heatley, should get plenty of opportunities to thrive offensively on the Minnesota Wild. Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press )

Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of statistics can tell you that sample size is everything. The more information (or "data points" as the smart guys might say) you have, the more accurate your conclusions are likely to be. Less information generally equals less accuracy.

Keep that in mind when reading this week's Fantasy Hockey Face-off. With most NHL teams only a couple of games into the season, it's much too early to break out the "Jump To Conclusions" mat. But that doesn't mean we can't share which players we think are off to encouraging starts and which we're worried about. Besides, this is a weekly column, so we've got to give you something.

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On to this week's topics:

1. Who's off to an encouraging start?

Jordan: Devin Setoguchi has fit in nicely in Minnesota through three games. For those that don’t recall, he was shipped out of San Jose (later joined by Sharks teammate Dany Heatley) in the off-season, but it doesn’t seem like he’s needed any time to adjust. Playing alongside the familiar Heatley and star centre Mikko Koivu, "Seto" has a pair of goals with one coming on the power-play. He wasn’t exactly the go-to guy for the Sharks, but he’s at the top of the class with the Wild. So far, he’s averaging almost 20 minutes of ice-time per game and 3:30 per game with the man advantage. That’s much higher than last season with San Jose. Not bad for a guy drafted on average 167th overall in Yahoo! drafts, which was after the likes of Joffrey Lupul, Tomas Kopecky and Cal Clutterbuck.

Jesse: I like what I'm seeing from Boston's Tyler Seguin. Through three games (sample size alert!) the second-year forward (and the No. 2 pick in the 2010 "Taylor or Tyler?" draft) is among Boston's leaders in total ice time and power-play time. And he's got one goal and three assists. With the Cup champs desperate for a top-notch playmaker, Seguin should continue to get plenty of opportunities to score. In fact, he's getting a shot to centre the top line right now with David Krejci banged up. Not bad for a guy picked No. 162 overall in the average Yahoo! draft. I think at the end of the season we'll consider him one of the great bargains.

2. Who are you worried about?

Jesse: Hate to say I told you so (actually, I kinda like it) but Evgeni Malkin has missed Pittsburgh's last two games with "soreness" in his "lower body." Think this may be related to the major knee surgery he had last February to repair a torn ACL and MCL? That's the one about which I wrote in one of our season previews, "the rule of thumb in football is two years for a full recovery from [this] kind of knee surgery"? I never bought all the talk about Malkin looking "great" in the pre-season, nor the glowing reports about his new commitment to training. He may prove me wrong, but Malkin (who's got two points and four minor penalties in two games played this season) looks like the same tantalizing but undisciplined player he's been his whole career.

Jordan: Former sixth overall pick Derick Brassard has improved his stats every year since joining Columbus. Last year he scored 17 goals and added 30 assists. He averaged 17 minutes of ice-time per game and three minutes on the PP. Though it’s early, this year he’s down under 14 minutes of ice-time per game and has no points in three games. All the additions to the Jackets over the summer may prove to hinder Brassard’s growth in 2011-12. 

3. What's your move of the week?

Jordan: How about Vinny Prospal? I mentioned him before the season started and he’s come out of the gate just as I expected. Playing alongside Jeff Carter and Rick Nash would help any player, but Prospal is a proven producer. Last season he tallied 23 points in just 29 total games with the Rangers. This year, he’s already notched two goals and an assist but remains just 30 per cent owned. He’s averaging about 19 minutes of ice-time per game and is right with team-leaders Carter and Nash in power-play ice-time per game at nearly five minutes.

Jesse: Milan Michalek is unowned in better than 70 per cent of Yahoo! leagues, and he's off to a great start. The Sens winger is tied for the team lead with two goals through three games, and he's added a pair of assists. He also tops Ottawa in shots on goal (13) and ranks second among forwards in average power-play time (3:46). Oh, and he's skating on the top line with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson.