Flying High or Destined to Fall

Ryan Ma




This week, I thought I'd take a look at 10 hot starters from the West and give my prediction/analysis on whether or not their production will be sustainable for the duration of the fantasy season. (Thanks to Mike Hess for suggesting this idea in the comments section of the daily ramblings Monday)


Matt Cullen – C – Minnesota Wild


Cullen was acquired via free agency, in the off-season, and has certainly paid dividends for the Wild with six points in four contests. He's pretty much stepped right into the second line C slot alongside a pretty good energy line of Martin Havlat and Cal Clutterbuck. What's also a big boost is that he's seeing 5:07 per contest on the Wild PP, (76.56 percent). Spending that much time with the man advantage and you're certainly going to put up some nice numbers. Cullen is a career 0.53 point, 0.15 PPP and 2.00 SOG per game player, so don't expect huge overall numbers from him. If you keep your expectations in check for a 55-point, 20 PPP, and 175 SOG season, that's still pretty fantasy worthy in many leagues.


Itch Factor: High Flier


T.J. Oshie – C – St. Louis Blues


Young Mr. Oshie is off to a flying start, with a point-per-game pace in his first five contests of the season. The bonus that also comes attached with Oshie is the seven hits and eight blocked shots, (if your league counts those stats), that he also contributes towards the peripheral stats. The downside is that if you're in need of FW, he won't give you very many, (three). For me the problem with Oshie is the distribution of ice-time in St. Louis. They have a top-six breakdown of 21:10, 19:40, 19:24, 19:09, 18:40, and 18:31, which isn't exactly ideal for fantasy purposes. According to my projections article, earlier this summer, his current stats, (18:40 and 2.00 SOG per contest), would pro-rate more towards a 55-point pace than a point-per-game pace.


Itch Factor: Faller


R.J. Umberger – C – Columbus Blue Jackets


With all the hype that has come attached with Nikita Filatov, it's actually Umberger that's really flown under the radar in Columbus. In four contests to start the season, he has four points, two of which have come short-handed, along with a plus four rating. The numbers this season, (17:40 and 1.5 SOG per contest average), aren't as good as last year's, (19:1