Scott Cullen looks at Patrick Kane's dramatic turnaround from last season, the Leafs and Flyers have early returns on their offseason trade, Kovalchuk's crazy ice time, notable healthy scratches and more.
Coming off a 2011-2012 season in which he scored a career-low, yet still respectable, 66 points, Blackhawks RW Patrick Kane made matters worse when offseason partying brought him notoriety for all the wrong reasons.
Resisting any urges to trade Kane appears to have been the right move for the Blackhawks, as the 24-year-old is off to a phenomenal start (9 G, 10 A, +7, 12 GP). While Kane does have an unsustainable 27.3% shooting percentage (shoooting 11.2% for his career) and his on-ice shooting percentage (5-on-5) is 18.57%, the highest among top-six forwards throughout the league, according to www.behindthenet.ca.
What the percentages suggest is that Kane is getting some good fortune, along with improved production on the power play (six of his 19 points have come on the power play this year, compared to 12 of 66 points last season).
Kane is averaging 2.75 shots on goal per game this season, which is decent, but actually his lowest per-game average since his rookie season (2007-2008), so unless his shots on goal start increasing, Kane is due for some regression. That's pretty much the case with any player on pace for 129 points over an 82-game season, but it's worth noting how the percentages have played in Kane's favour early in the season.
EARLY TRADE RETURNS
Maple Leafs LF James van Riemsdyk started his Maple Leafs career on the third line, playing under 14 minutes in the first two games of the season. Throw in a Joffrey Lupul injury and, since those first couple gamees, van Riemsdyk has tallied seven goals and nine points in 10 games, playing closer to 19 minutes per game.
Though it's unlikely that van Riemsdyk will continue to score on 17.1% of his shots, it is encouraging that he's averaging 3.42 shots on goal per game. His previous career-best was 2.81 per game last season.
On the other side of the deal, Luke Schenn has two points and is plus-3 after playing more than 20 minutes through his first dozen games with the Flyers. Schenn has been better than he was in his Toronto years, but remains on the wrong side of the possession numbers and has benefitted from strong Flyers goaltending thus far (who would have guessed?).
Sticking with the Schenn family for a moment, Brayden Schenn was an appealing breakthrough option at the start of the season when there was a chance that he would play on a line with Claude Giroux.
After starting the year with two points in six games, Schenn has picked up the pace, scoring six points in his last five games, though he's only put five shots on goal in those five games. Most recently, he's had Jakub Voracek and Zac Rinaldo, of all people, on his wings at even strength (per www.leftwinglock.com).
It looks like the Devils are trying to get their money's worth out of LW Ilya Kovalchuk, who is playing a career-high 26:00 per game (more than last year's 24:26, which was a career-high then).
Sidney Crosby ranks second among forwards in ice time per game at 20:49.
Since the NHL started tracking individual ice time (1997-1998), here are the top 20 forwards in terms of ice time per game for a single season:
Devils RW David Clarkson scored two goals against Pittsburgh Sunday, giving him nine goals and 15 points in 12 games this season. Clarkson broke through as a 30-goal scorer in 2011-2012, but he's taking his game to another level this year, playing more than ever (17:36) and while it's not likely that he'll score on 18.0% of his shots over the long haul, Clarkson has a career-best 4.17 shots on goal per game. If he's getting that many chances, the offensive production is legit.
Clarkson will be an unrestricted free agent this summer, so if it turns out that he's on his way to a career-best season, there will be a significant pay raise on a long-term deal in his future.
The Sharks got D Brent Burns back in the lineup, after he missed the first 10 games of the season due to recovery from sports hernia surgery. Over the past two seasons, Burns ranks fourth among all defencemen with 28 goals.
With Burns back in the fold, the Sharks sent Matt Irwin back to Worecester of the AHL. Irwin, 25, had two points, was even and acquitted himself well in 18:43 per game with the Sharks.
Already tied for seventh in goals per game, the New York Islanders added some talent to the lineup over the weekend, getting LW Josh Bailey and D Lubomir Visnovsky into their first games of the season.
Bailey skated with Casey Cizikas and Matt Martin at even strength and saw second-unit power play time in his first game after knee surgery. If there's something positive to be taken from such a small sample as a single game, it bears noting that Bailey had seven shots on goal against Buffalo on Saturday in 12:48 of ice time. His previous career-high for shots, in his previous 291 NHL games, was five.
At 36-year-old, Visnovsky may have been reluctant to join the Islanders and last season's 27 points was his lowest total since 2002-2003, but he was plus-2, had three shots on goal and played more than 20 minutes against Buffalo. The Islanders can use his puck-moving ability in their top four and on the top power play unit.
POWER IN D.C.
Playing a career-high 18:43 per game for Washington, RW Troy Brouwer has a point per game (3 G, 2 A) in the last five games. The power forward also contributes hits and penalty minutes (for leagues that worry about such things), giving him value, especially as long as he remains on Washington's top power play unit.
ON THE BOARD
Canucks C Jordan Schroeder has been skating with Mason Raymond and Jannik Hansen on what is effectively the Canucks' second line and Schroeder tallied the first two goals of his NHL career against Calgary Saturday.
A first-round pick in 2009, Schroeder hasn't produced enough at the AHL level (100 points in 178 career games) to believe that he's destined to be an NHL scorer, but if Schroeder can contribute a little offensively, he could improve the Canucks' depth even after Ryan Kesler returns to the lineup.
BREAKTHROUGH FOR BLUESHIRT
Rangers sophomore LW Carl Hagelin had scored one goal on 26 shots through his first 10 games of the season before scoring two goals and an assist, registering six shots on goal, against Tampa Bay Sunday.
Skating on a line with Derek Stepan and Rick Nash, Hagelin finally got some results but, as a player who tends to have good possession numbers saddled with bad luck (3.57% 5-on-5, on-ice SH%) he's due for improved luck.
HE'S A KILLER
The Tampa Bay Lightning called up Alex Killorn from Syracuse of the AHL, where he had 38 points and a plus-6 rating in 44 games.
The 23-year-old was a third-round pick in 2007 and played at Harvard, scoring 46 points in 34 games as a senior last season before heading to the AHL for a late-season trial.
LW Ryan Malone is day-to-day with a lower body injury, so Killorn moved right into a top-six spot with Tampa Bay, skating with Vincent Lecavalier and Teddy Purcell, playing 13:17 and picking up an assist in his NHL debut.
NOTABLE HEALTHY SCRATCHES
(through the first three weeks of the season) Adam Larsson, D, New Jersey; Tyler Myers, D, Buffalo; Alex Goligoski, D, Dallas; Marcus Johansson, RW, Washington; Jamie McBain, D, Carolina; Lars Eller, C, Montreal; Henrik Tallinder, D, New Jersey; Ryan Whitney, D, Edmonton; Cody Franson, D, Toronto; Brian Boyle, C, N.Y. Rangers; Kris Russell, D, St. Louis; Roman Hamrlik, D, Washington; Simon Gagne, LW, Los Angeles; Shane O'Brien, D, Colorado; Douglas Murray, D, San Jose; Chris Butler, D, Calgary; Joe Corvo, D, Carolina; Matt D'Agostini, RW, St. Louis; Dustin Penner, LW, Los Angeles; Mike Komisarek, D, Toronto; T.J. Galiardi, LW, San Jose; Mathieu Perrault, C, Washington; Cory Sarich, D, Calgary; Alex Kovalev, RW, Florida.
FANTASY HOCKEY CHALLENGE
MOST ADDED PLAYERS
Kari Lehtonen, G, Dallas (+8.3 to 9.7% ownership) - The Stars have four games this week and Lehtonen, with a .928 save percentage, has a firm hold on the number one job in Big D.
Kevin Shattenkirk, D, St. Louis (+10.3 to 33.4% ownership)
Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis (+11.7 to 42.4% ownership) - The Blues have four games this week, along with the second and third-highest scoring defencemen.
Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago (+9.6 to 24.2% ownership) - The second-leading scorer in the league, with 19 points in 12 games, is re-establishing his credentials as an elite scorer.
Zach Parise, LW, Minnesota (+4.6 to 17.6% ownership) - He could use more help from his teammates, but Parise has six goals and ten points in 11 games, so with the Wild playing four times this week, it's understandable that Parise still holds a lot of appeal.
Jamie Benn, C, Dallas (+4.6 to 5.3% ownership) - Four games for the Stars this week, combined with Benn scoring six points in the last three, makes for a popular addition.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.