For fantasy purposes, this means that neither Mason nor Emery merits a slot above the No. 3 goaltender spot in most standard fantasy leagues. Now, once one of them emerges as a regular starter -- and with a look to recent history, our money is on Emery -- it’s a whole new ballgame.
Remember, Emery finished in the No. 9 spot on ESPN's fantasy hockey player rater last season, despite playing in a timeshare with Corey Crawford in Chicago. And if this cap-strapped Philly team can play up to the level expected by that financial investment, there's certainly an opportunity for these netminders to do quite well for themselves in the win category.
• With Grant Clitsome on the injured shelf, Tobias Enstrom has reclaimed his position of old alongside blue-line buddy Dustin Byfuglien. To celebrate, the two combined for five assists in the Winnipeg Jets' opener, a 5-4 win over the Edmonton Oilers. However, young Jacob Trouba is attracting the most attention following the Jets’ first game of the season. Filling in as a top-four D-man alongside Zach Bogosian, Trouba scored a goal and an assist, while leading his team in ice-time (25 minutes). Not too shabby for a 19-year-old rookie in his NHL debut. Even once Clitsome is all healed up, coach Claude Noel may be tempted to leave his top blue-line quartet alone. In any case, it’s a situation worth monitoring.
Brad Richards needs to get off to a good start for Alain Vigneault.
• Shifted to the wing under new head coach Alain Vigneault, natural center Brad Richards becomes a fantasy wild card with the New York Rangers. If Richards can adapt to his new gig on a line with Rick Nash and Derek Stepan, he may be in store for a massive bounce-back campaign. If not, a much less prominent role lies in wait for the 33-year-old. As a fantasy owner, gamble as you see fit.
• Those in keeper leagues will be interested to know that center Aleksander Barkov stands a good chance of launching his NHL career on a line with Jonathan Huberdeau and Brad Boyes. Even if Coach Kevin Dineen decides to go in a different direction this week, the Panthers’ long-term plan is to skate Barkov -- this year’s second overall draft selection -- alongside the 2011 third overall draft pick. While Huberdeau demonstrated his scoring prowess as a rookie last season (31 points in 48 games), Dineen suggests Barkov has “unlimited potential.”
• If we’re to believe Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma, defenseman Kris Letang isn't in as bad of shape as initially anticipated. This serves as promising news for those who drafted the elite, offensive defenseman early before he fell victim to a lower body injury. In fact, there’s a case for cautious optimism that Letang could return within a couple of weeks. Until then, Paul Martin ascends to the position of No. 1 offensive defenseman with the Penguins.