|Written by Rich Dillon|
January 25, 2013
If you don't know him yet, you need to get to know who Mike Kostka is. The 27-year-old is a rookie, but too old to be a Calder candidate or technically a prospect, but I think he bears mention on this site. Koskta made the Maple Leafs after four (and a half) seasons in the AHL after going undrafted during his career at U-Mass. Kostka is a fantasy relevant player as a defenseman due to his poise and patience with the puck. He is very good on the power-play and his point totals in the AHL have ranged from 27 to 54 points. He is not a defensive liability either, which helps his chances of staying in the Leafs' top four. Kosta has started his NHL career with three points in his first four games, and I would advise grabbing him in your league if you need help on D. His plus-minus may not be very good, but I think he could reach close to 20 points this season, and be a 30-point guy with potential to hit 40 in the future.
Don't get too excited about Cody Eakins nice start in Dallas. With Jamie Benn signed, Eakin will likely get pushed down to the third line and won't get the benefit of playing with Ray Whitney and Michael Ryder. Eakin has shown what he can do when given the opportunity and is still a good prospect going forward.
Kyle Palmieri is skating on Anaheim's top line with Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, and is seeing PP time as well.
Mikhail Grigerenko, still looking for his first NHL point, is also seeing minutes with the man-advantage in Buffalo. He is no lock to remain with the team if he doesn't start showing results however.
Justin Schultz has been as good as advertised, recording three points in his first three NHL games. Two of those points have been recorded on the PP, and perhaps just as important, he is an even player on a team that has struggled defensively.
Jordan Schroeder made his NHL debut for Vancouver, skating with Mason Raymond and Dale Weise. Pointless in the game, he did receive a generous amount of PP time, so you will want to keep an eye on him.
Ottawa is all-in on Jakob Silfverberg, and with good reason. Despite having just one point in three games, Silfverberg has played very well and will continue to get offensive minutes.
Much the same case in Boston where Dougie Hamilton has played well in the infancy of his pro career. The Bruins seem to be taking the Seguin approach with him, breaking him in while exposing him to limited pressure.
Brandon Saad is slowly appearing more comfortable playing with Jonathon Toews and Marian Hossa. He is looking to create more himself rather than always seeming to be trying to get the puck to his linemates. Another thing in Saad's favor is Chicago really has no plan B for that top line. They would be reluctant, rightly so, to break up the second line of Dave Bolland, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. The Patrick's in particular have great chemistry so they will stay together. That leaves Viktor Stalberg as the next best option so I think Saad has a pretty long leash.
Good to see Gustav Nyquist get called up to Detroit, despite the unfortunate circumstances. I think he'll make it hard for the Wings to return him to Grand Rapids.
Still on the Wings, Brendan Smith has struggled out of the gate, with no points and a minus-two. The team as a whole has struggled, and I think both will improve.
Cristopher Nilstorp was very good in his first NHL game, stopping 31 of 32 shots in a Dallas victory.
Next in Line: Jason Zucker continues to produce in Houston, and may be in line for a call-up to Minnesota. Zucker has 35 points in 37 games and has peppered opposing goalies with 141 shots. He's still learning the defensive side of the game.
Thanks for reading.