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New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

"What (Fasth) has done is amazing, and I don't like using that word a lot because I think it is way overused," Boudreau said. "Unbelievable is Nike Cap Tumblr Style

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

Salo's acquisition has stabilized Tampa's blue line. At 38, he is as savvy a defensive player as anyone in the game. He was plus 10 over his first 12 games. He is a very solid, dependable player who gives his forwards confidence to push the attack. They trust in his ability to defend.

At one point this season, the Ducks will play 26 games in 45 days.

"I thought we were getting a solid third line guy who would be good on the checking unit," Boudreau said. "What I found was he is a really good skater, a knowledgeable player, a responsible player who will score the odd goal for you. He can kill penalties. He can play any role."

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

Not many rookies have the kind of impact Schultz is enjoying. The Oilers' power play already flows through him on the point. Even though he hasn't played 20 NHL games, he seems to have one of the quickest shot releases in the game. He seems like a missing link acquisition.

One of the first observations Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau made about goalie Viktor Fasth was that there was a dead zone in front of him where scoring chances became disconnected.

signed him away from the Swedish Elite League last summer.

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

"The puck hits him, but it doesn't bounce off," Boudreau said. "The puck deadens when it hits his body."

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

"It seems like he always comes up big in the clutch when we need it," Oilers winger Taylor Hall said. "For a rookie defenseman to do that is pretty special."

Fasth's ability to prevent rebounds and second chance opportunities allowed him to win his first five NHL decisions and make the Ducks one of the NHL's biggest surprises.

10 offseason NHL acquisitions that are paying dividends

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

"We were looking for a backup that could make it through the year," Boudreau said. "(Jonas) Hiller played 73 games. We weren't expecting someone who would come in and play 50% of our games."

Over the first three weeks of the NHL season, Fasth might be the best offseason acquisition. Here's a look at the rest of the top 10:

Story HighlightsDucks benefit from newcomers Viktor Fasth, Sheldon Souray and Daniel WinnikSami Salo and Matt Carle give Lightning a legitimate top four defenseJustin Schultz make Oilers glad they won recruiting battle

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

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another word that is overused, but that's what he's been."

2. Justin Schultz (Edmonton Oilers): Edmonton essentially out recruited almost every team in the NHL to land the University of Wisconsin defenseman, who became an unrestricted free agent when he opted not to sign New Era Tennessee Titanswashington with Anaheim, the team that drafted him. Imagine how good the Ducks' start would be if he had stayed and they also had him on their blue line.

While Hiller owns a goals against average of 3.69, Fasth is at 1.74.

3. Sami Salo (Tampa Bay Lightning): The Lightning had the offense necessary to compete last season, but they did not have the defense and goaltending.

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

"If you don't have two goalies going, it will be a struggle," Boudreau said.

The Ducks weren't anticipating Fasth playing a major role when they Adidas Cap Tumblr Boy

back up Jonas Hiller, Viktor Fasth is challenging him for the No. 1 position.(Photo: Rob Grabowski, USA TODAY Sports)

Fasth, 30, has played well enough to challenge the No. 1 status of Hiller, who suffered a minor lower body injury Feb. 8.

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

"Nothing seems to rattle him," Boudreau said. "He stands in there and squares up to the puck. There are so many times when I'm looking from the bench, (wondering) how can he see the puck to make that save."

4. Daniel Winnik (Anaheim): Signed for $1.8 million a season for two seasons, Winnik, 27, might be the best bargain free agent signee. He has never produced more than 26 points in a season. But he registered five goals and nine points in his first 11 games this season. He had a plus 9 rating in that period.

ROOKIE RACE: Schultz provides wow factor

New Era Tennessee Titanswashington

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