In case you weren’t already convinced that Alexander Ovechkin is the best player in the National Hockey League, consider this: the Washington Capitals lost Mike Green, their best defenseman, for a stretch of a dozen games in November and December. They were also without slick sniper Alex Semin for 18 games during that same period. However, they still managed to ascend up the Eastern Conference standings. Yes, Ovechkin is indeed that special, and the Caps are 17-1-1 this year when he scores.
Another Eastern Conference sniper who’s been bulging the twine with regularity is the Philadelphia Flyers’ Jeff Carter, who leads the NHL at the halfway point with 29 lamp-lighters. Carter’s been clutch for the Flyers who’ve been riddled with injuries thus far.
I had some trouble justifying a rookie’s inclusion on this list, and though some may disagree with his inclusion, you can’t argue with Steve Mason’s numbers. He leads 3 out of 4 of the major goaltending categories (GAA, SV%, and SO) and would probably be leading the wins category too had he started the season with the Columbus Blue Jackets, instead of their AHL affiliate. Steve Mason should be owned and played as a number one goaltender in ALL fantasy pools, yet is surprisingly available in approximately a quarter of all leagues.
|1.||(8)||Alexander Ovechkin||6.||(7)||Dan Boyle|
|2.||(-)||Jeff Carter||7.||(-)||Zach Parise|
|3.||(9)||Marc Savard||8.||(-)||Steve Mason|
|4.||(1)||Evgeni Malkin||9.||(-)||Pavel Datsyuk|
|5.||(-)||Nicklas Backstrom||10.||(-)||Jarome Iginla|
On an entirely unrelated note, Brendan Shanahan will be back in the NHL this season, playing for his former team the New Jersey Devils. He will begin training and will only play when he is physically game ready, much like Mats Sundin and the Canucks. Fantasy-wise, his return isn’t of the same significance as Sundin, and he shouldn’t be picked up unless you’re in the deepest of pools. He certainly won’t be expected to score highlight reel goals like rookie Bobby Ryan did Thursday night against the Kings, which is my pick for goal of the year so far.