Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
With teams at or near the halfway point of the 2011-12 NHL season, its time to look at some of those bargains and not so good selections we made last fall.
Below you will find eight players who have played well above expectations. Tomorrow, we will explore the overpriced, underachievers.
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles (ADP 36) - Quick was the 12th goaltender off the board last fall, but he's playing better than anyone and has to be a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy. Eighteen wins, a goals-against-average of 1.93 and a save-percentage of 0.934 make his a top-five performer. His numbers say he should have a better record than 18-11-6, but then again it's a team sport and this team has scored just 93 goals (second worst in the NHL ahead of only the New York Islanders).
Patrick Sharp, Chicago (ADP 44) - Sharp was a third-round pick who is playing like a first rounder. He's already hit the 20 goal and 20 assist mark on 158 shots and has a solid +18 plus/minus rating. The bad news is that he'll miss the next 3-4 weeks due to injury suffered on Sunday.
Marian Hossa, Chicago (ADP 89) - Hossa's 44 points (17G, 27A) have him on pace for his best season since 2006 when he hit the century mark for Winnipeg. He's also got a solid +20 rating. Not bad for a eighth-round selection.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa (ADP 103) - Defensemen simply aren't supposed to put up offensive numbers this good. After 43 games, he's got 41 points (6G, 35A) on 152 shots. Just as important is his improving plus/minus rating. From a -30 rating last year that brought him much criticism to a respectable +7 rating this season, the 21-year-old, third-year star should continue to improve and the sky's the limit.
James Neal, Pittsburgh (ADP 115) - Neal is having a breakout year with 36 points (21G, 15A) through 40 games. Someone had to pick up the scoring slack in Pittsburgh and Neal is the one. There's still a one-in-10 chance that he's available as a free agent in your league.
Tyler Seguin, Boston (ADP 215) - Seguin is putting up solid numbers in just his second season and playing on the defensive-minded Bruins helps with a stellar +32 plus/minus rating. He's already destroyed his rookie scoring stats (11G, 11A) with 16 goals and 21 assists in 37 games played. Beware, however, that he's been cold of late with just one goal and three assists in his last nine games. "He's now a focus of other teams' defenders," said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. It might be time to "sell high."
Joffrey Lupul, Toronto (ADP 241) - It's hard to imagine a last-round pick or a free agent playing this well. Playing on the Leaf's first line, Lupul has accumulated 19 goals and 28 assists in 41 games. He's just six points away from his career high and we're still in early January. In many situations like this we would make a "sell-high" recommendation, but it's looking like the 28- year-old could keep this pace up all season. Maybe he is just a late-bloomer.
Brian Elliott, St. Louis (ADP 250) - I have yet to meet an "expert" who predicted that Elliott would play anywhere near the level he's currently at. With Saturday night's 4-0 shutout, his fifth of the year, Elliott's record rose to 15-5 with a superior 1.62 GAA and a 0.940 save-percentage. It's an interesting situation in St. Louis, despite Elliott's great play, the other netminder, Jaroslav Halak has seen more time in goal because he's playing great too. Halak hasn't lost since November 22nd, going 6-0-3. If you can live with a limit to his games played then don't make a change, but if you need a 70-game goaltender, Elliott isn't going to be that guy.