Earlier this week, my Western counterpart covered some early season success stories and discussed whether or not they were likely to continue lighting the lamp or crash and burn. I’ll attempt to give you my take on the Eastern side of the house.
Mark Letestu – C – Penguins (7-4-3-7)
A little background is necessary for this guy. Letestu scored 46 points in 37 CCHA games and over the two most recent seasons in the AHL, he had 116 points in 136 games. Letestu is averaging over 15 minutes of ice time, including 2:36 on the power play. Even when Jordan Staal comes back and gets his 18-20 minutes per game, only the first four forward spots are spoken for. The Pens will round out their top six with whomever is holding the hot hand, so don’t automatically discount 25-year-old Letestu.
Alex Goligoski – D – Penguins (7-3-4-7)
Right now Goligoski is the only Pens defenseman getting top power play time while logging nearly 25 minutes total ice time per game. Goli led the Pens blueliners in points last season with 37 in 69 games (44 pro-rated) and he will repeat as lead dog.
Paul Martin – D – Penguins (7-1-6-7)
Prior to last year’s 11 points in 22 games, the former Canadian Prime Minister averaged 32 points over the previous four seasons. The Pens have been running with four forwards and a lone defenseman on their top power play unit, leaving Martin and Letang to mop up duty. Only two of his seven points have come via the man advantage, so he may not need significant power play time to finish with 45 points.
Kris Letang – D – Penguins (7-1-4-5)
While Paul Martin is easily the better overall defenseman, Letang has the superior offensive pedigree. Letang absolutely lit up the QMJHL to the tune of 120 points in 100 games over his last two seasons of major junior. I like Letang to finish slightly ahead of Martin in points, making all three of these Pens blueliners valuable to own in fantasy leagues.
Josh Bailey – C/LW – Islanders (6-3-4-7)
Here’s a guy who racked up 96 points in 67 games in his last go around in junior and then unexpectedly stepped right into the NHL, scoring 25 points on a bad Islanders team. In his sophomore season, he improved to 35 points and he's on his way to increase his point totals for a third straight season. The 21-year-old is seeing an increase in ice time of over three and a half minutes and his average power play time has doubled. The kid is only getting better.
Blake Comeau – LW – Islanders (6-3-3-6)
Comeau leads all forwards on his team in overall ice time, logging nearly 21 minutes per contest. He also receives top power play time. In 2008-09, Comeau split the year between the AHL (19 points in 19 games) and NHL (25 points in 53 games). Last season, he recorded 35 points in 61 games (47 pro-rated points). He has added motivation in that he is slated to become a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the season.
Doug Weight – C – Islanders (6-1-4-5)
At 39 years of age, this an