Pittsburgh prospect Alex Goligoski’s stock has risen within the organization over the past two years, but it has taken a shoulder injury to Sergei Gonchar and Ryan Whitney’s foot surgery for fantasy owners to start paying attention.
The highly talented – and very smart – defenseman was a second-round pick (61st overall) in 2004. He put up impressive college numbers playing for the University of Minnesota.
With teammates such as Erik Johnson, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Okposo, it is easy to see how the Minnesota native can fall through the cracks in the fantasy world. After all, his numbers could be attributed to the talent around him. Besides, with Gonchar, Whitney and Kris Letang, how could Goligoski ever get onto the top power play?
Goligoski must not have received that memo as he has done nothing but improve his game since he turned pro last summer. His American League numbers were decent in the regular season last year with 38 points in 70 games, not to mention two points in three games with the big club, but he exploded in the post-season, setting an AHL record for defensemen with 28 playoff points.
With five points in four pre-season games, while logging more than 20 minutes of ice time, Goligoski has earned a spot on a roster that will kick off the NHL season in Europe.
He is very much in Pittsburgh’s plans – both short- and long-term – and has the ability to put up big numbers in the first month. As for what will happen when Gonchar returns, that will depend on Goligoski. If the youngster starts off with 14 points in 18 games, would the Pens pull him from the top power play?
The feasibility the team could face such a decision shows the kind of strides this 23-year-old has made…
Patrick Eaves and Sergei Samsonov have seen time on Carolina’s top line with Eric Staal. Rod Brind’Amour’s return would certainly shake things up as far as line combos go, but if these two players can put points on the board early they could stick. Samsonov is most assuredly a top-six player on the Canes now that Justin Williams is sidelined, but Eaves will need to fight to hold on to his spot…
With Nikolai Khabibulin seemingly done in Chicago, Cristobal Huet’s value rises dramatically. That happens when your potential starts jump from 50 to 65. However, don’t forget about Corey Crawford, who will be Huet’s backup as soon as the Bulin Wall goes to a new team. Given Huet’s history of missing a few weeks of the season with various lower body injuries, Crawford will see his fair share of action.
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