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Early Season Surprises

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It must be very early in the hockey season... how else can you explain that Penguins' defenseman Kris Letang is ranked No.1 as of October 13th. The 24-year-old has a goal on 13 shots, five assists, three power play points and six penalty minutes.

Which puts him ahead of the guys you would normally expect at the top of the list like Daniel Sedin, Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos or Sidney Crosby.

While Letang is already owned in 99% of all leagues, Ottawa winger Milan Michalek in only owned in about 35% of all leagues and he's currently over-performing, putting up three goals and two assists on 15 shots in his first four games. The five points is already 15% of his entire 2010-11 total (18 G, 15 A). Will it last? Probably not, but why not ride the streak while you can?

Phoenix winger Shane Doan is another early overachiever with three goals and two assists in his team's first three games.

In the nets, both Semyon Varlamov (Colorado) and Kari Lehtonen (Dallas) are off to hot starts after being ignored for the first portion of your fantasy draft. Varlamov probably didn't go until round 14, but has opened his 2011-12 campaign like a Vezina Trophy contender. He's yet to give up more than two goals in a game and has won two of his first three starts. His goals against average (GAA) is 1.30 and his save percentage (SV%) is 0.960. He had his best year in the NHL in 2010-11, going 27-25 with a GAA of 2.23 and a SV% of 0.924, so maybe this is simply the next step in the process. If it is, you want to be part of it and he's available for the low cost of a waiver claim in one out of every three leagues.

Lehtonen, is owned in about 80% of all leagues, so he's less likely to be a free agent, but he's playing just as well as Varlamov. Lehtonen is 3-0 with a goals against of 1.30 and a save percentage of 0.966.

At the other end of the spectrum is Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry, a top- five choice on Draft Day, who has yet to put a point on the board. OK, it's only two games into the season and nobody is worrying, but it doesn't look good when they flash your name on the big screen and it shows zero goals and zero assists. Teammate Bobby Ryan is in the same "boat" without a point in the first two games. I don't recommend trading either player, they're superstars and will get you all the points you are expecting from them.

And of course, the previously mentioned Crosby, who has yet to get the go ahead to play will require patience from his fantasy owner as well as Penguins fans. You knew when you drafted him around the second round that he wouldn't be ready for Opening Day and he wasn't. The good news is that just yesterday he was given clearance to resume contact. "It's a big step but we'll see how things go," said Crosby. "I've got to get hit in practice."

There is still no publicly talked about timetable for his return, but this a big step forward. Crosby hasn't played since January 5th. Show patience, he should be worth the wait.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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