FHL: 10 Quick Starts to Watch
Alex Auld, G, Panthers: He didn't step into the easiest of situations this year, replacing a franchise goaltender in Roberto Luongo, coincidentally a player he had been traded for in the offseason (he came to Florida along with Todd Bertuzzi and Bryan Allen). Then again, Auld faced a similarly challenging task last season, forced to stand in as the Canucks' starting goaltender after Dan Cloutier succumbed to knee surgery in December. Auld was up to the task then, posting a 20-13 record, 2.99 goals-against average and .906 save percentage in 56 games between the time Cloutier was hurt and the Olympic break, but he wore down after that, with an 8-10 record, 3.13 GAA and .893 save percentage in his final 21 games, perhaps costing Vancouver a shot at the playoffs. The experience helped Auld, though, and while he's not in the best of situations for a goaltender, the Panthers aren't the clawless creature they were a half-decade or so ago. He should receive enough support to win 30 games, making him a useful No. 2 fantasy option, particularly when exploiting matchups. Don't worry about Ed Belfour; he's backup material at this stage of his career.
Mike Commodore, D, Hurricanes: He's a tough guy with 150-penalty minute potential, and in today's game of lower PIM totals -- only three players topped 200 last season! -- that's awfully valuable from your defenseman if your league counts the category. Plus, Commodore's only beginning to develop as a scorer, with one goal and three assists so far, and if he can squeak out 25-30 points, that's going to make him one of the more complete defensemen in fantasy. Carolina still doesn't regard him as a power-play factor, but Commodore does provide enough to a fantasy team to be a smart fourth or fifth defenseman, so long as your other D-men can score and you need a bit of a PIM push.
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