Early-season surprises in the NHL

Updated: October 25, 2013, 10:39 AM ET
By Craig Custance

Who are the most underrated and overrated players in the NHL this season? What would it take to land Thomas Vanek? Should the Penguins make a run at Ryan Miller? All this and more in the Friday mailbag this week. And remember, if you want to send in your question on anything hockey-related, send it in here, and you may find it published in a future column.

Who is the most surprising team to you this season? Obviously the Sharks, Leafs and Avalanche are up there with their great records, but the Coyotes and Hurricanes are also putting up solid numbers. And what about teams like the Rangers who are failing to meet expectations? Or is it Michigan State who lost two last weekend to UMass?
Greg, Amherst, Mass.

Greg, we're going to act like that last question wasn't included, although all of a sudden I have a reason to root for Maine in the next four games.

Let's break this down into two groups: Positive surprises and negative surprises. On the positive side, there's nothing more surprising than the start of the Colorado Avalanche. It's not just that they won eight of the first nine games they played; it's their goal differential in those games, which is plus-16. Before the season, you could have convinced me that Colorado would start hot and I would have assumed it was only on the backs of the high-end forwards. Instead, the Avalanche have allowed just 12 goals. By comparison, the Oilers have allowed 43. It's remarkable.

On the negative side, I'm going with the Flyers. I'm in the camp that believes the Rangers are going to emerge from a slow start that has been filled with a grueling schedule and injuries. The Flyers have just been bad, full stop. On an individual level, it's surprising that Claude Giroux has played nine games and hasn't scored a goal. His longest drought last season was seven games.

Who do you have on your all-NHL most underrated team? What about overrated?
Ananth, Cupertino, Calif.