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Off and Running

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - The NHL fantasy season is less than a week old, but already there are a few surprises in the early going which could give an owner an opportunity to get a head start on the field.

While Alex Ovechkin getting off to a hot start is not unexpected, there are a few "longshots," likely free agents, who have gotten out of the gate rather quickly.

Perhaps one of them can help you out until the rest of your star-laden team gets going. Or possibly you could be "getting in on the ground floor" of a player ready to bring his game to the next level.

Nikolai Khabibulin, G, Edmonton - - The Edmonton goaltender had a year to forget in 2009-10 due to a back injury and off-ice issues, but in the season's first two games, he's been a rock. Khabibulin is 2-0 with a .969 save percentage and a 1.00 goals against average. The 37-year-old, four-time All- Star, seems ready to be a workhorse once again. In their 3-2 win against Florida on Sunday, the Oilers were out-shot 28-13, but Khabibulin was the difference. He is only owned in 58% of all leagues.

Sergei Bobrovsky, G, Philadelphia - Many Philadelphians didn't even know who Bobrovsky was until Flyers head coach Peter Laviolette announced him as the 2010-11 opening game starter, replacing Michael Leighton. He responded with a 3-2 victory at Pittsburgh and on Monday night helped the Flyers win their home opener. While his "shelf life" may be limited to the two months recover time for Leighton, he could make a huge difference for your goaltending depth. Bobrovsky is owned in just 38% of all leagues, but that number is rising quickly, so don't hesitate to make a waiver claim.

Blake Comeau, LW, New York Islanders - Comeau was a 2004 second-round draft pick of the Islanders, but has largely been ignored by fantasy owners. Last year he posted 35 points (17 G, 18 A) in 61 games. He's gotten more ice time in the first two contests this season and the increase can be seen in his statistics. Comeau has three goals, an assist and eight shots while averaging almost 21 minutes per game on ice. He's a true longshot to play at this level for an entire season, but why not ride his hot streak for a while. Comeau is owned in less than 10% of all leagues.

Josh Bailey, C, New York Islanders - Bailey was the Islanders' first round selection in 2008 (ninth overall). He had already played two full seasons with New York, but like Comeau, hadn't produced enough statistically to be "fantasy-worthy." On the line with Comeau and Pierre Parenteau, Bailey has started well in 2010-11 with a goal and three assists on 10 shots.

Jordan Leopold, D, Buffalo - Leopold has done very little over his eight-year career to warrant fantasy consideration. He's good for about 20-25 points a season, a plus/minus rating of -2 and he's not a fighter so his penalty minutes are low. But in his first three games this season, he has two goals and two assists on 10 shots. I don't think he's the next Mike Green, but is your bench so deep that you can't take a flier on him?



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