Look at your fantasy hockey pool standings after five weeks. How is the first-place GM behaving? Is he or she bragging about having the title won already?
Bad first-place GMs count chickens and don't see regression coming. Good ones stay calm, realize it's a long season and begin identifying which of their players off to sizzling starts will cool down based on career trends.
With that, here are my top five early-season studs to sell high.
5. Nick Foligno, Columbus Blue Jackets
Foligno was always a handy fantasy player in deeper leagues, especially those that count hits and/or penalty minutes. Rugged guys who can chip in 40 points are great back-end roster fillers in those formats. But that's just it: Foligno is a perennial 40-point guy, yet he's on pace for more than 90 points. Foligno is not going to doublehis career high in points. He's 27 and he averages 38 points per 82 games.
4. Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets
Poor Pavelec. I'm so hard on the guy that I'll harp on him even when he's having a fantastic season. Find the outlier stat here: .905, .880, .906, .914, .906, . 905, .901, . 928. Goalies are more likely than skaters to randomly break out deep into their careers – Tim Thomas comes to mind – but we have a huge sample size with Pavelec. He's been one of the league's most peppered goalies. In the past five seasons, only Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price and Antti Niemi have appeared in more games. We've seen enough to know that Pavelec isn't an elite NHL puck-stopper. If you can flip him for a stud off to a rocky start – say, Cory Schneider – don't hesitate.
3. Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Johnson is a tricky one. He's had quite the NHL career so far, amassing 50 points as a rookie and 18 points in his first 15 games this season. What's especially intriguing this season: he's lighting up the scoreboard in Tampa Bay despite not playing on Steven Stamkos' line. Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov have formed a dynamite second unit. I therefore wouldn't trip over myself selling Johnson. The kid can create offense on his own. He's on this list because he represents an opportunity. Johnson simply can't keep up this pace. He's not a superstar. If you can trade him for a superstar right now, do it.
2. Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames
Giordano is a stud blueliner in real life and fantasy. He was actually third among D-men in points per game last season, so it's no fluke to see him posting big point totals again. That said, Giordano will not finish 2014-15 as a top-10 scorer in the NHL. He has 18 points in 16 games, and 35 points in his next 64 games would still make him a Norris Trophy contender. His best stretch of the season is behind him, so it's time to cash him in, as good as he is.
1. Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers
Voracek is legit. He always was. There's a reason why the Flyers wanted him in the Jeff Carter trade. Columbus drafted him seventh overall in 2007. He's a talented, well-rounded player who has 130 points in his past 144 games since the start of 2012-13. So why include him on this list when I'm telling you he's not a fluke at all? Because he's just too hot. He's on pace for 129 friggin' points. Only Sidney Crosby has more. If you're a Voracek owner, you owe it to yourself to offer him up for a guy drafted in your league's first round. Can you get Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares or even Voracek's teammate, Claude Giroux, for Voracek? You have to try.
THE HOLD LIST
The following hot starters are guys I wouldn't sell high yet. Their prospect pedigree suggested they were supposed to blossom into scorers, so they may simply be doing what they were always projected to do. That list includes:
- Vladimir Tarasenko
- Tyler Toffoli
- Filip Forsberg
- Jake Allen
- Dougie Hamilton
Another name you may be wondering about: Patric Hornqvist. I'd hold. He's clicked so nicely with Sidney Crosby that Mike Johnston won't be breaking up that line anytime soon. Hornqvist scored 30 in a popgun Nashville Predators attack, so the massive breakout in Pittsburgh's high-octane system was to be expected.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin