Like Our Facebook Page
|Fantasy Hockey: Sleepers, rookies and buyer beware|
|Written by Blake Benzel|
|Tuesday, 11 September 2012 13:37|
Training camp is right around the corner, which means that your fantasy league’s draft likely is as well. Here is our guide to five sleepers, rookies and buyer beware picks that you should keep an eye on.
SleepersHere are five players to keep your eyes on in your draft. Their situations look to be right heading into this season and they could be poised for a big year.
1) R.J. Umberger, LW, Columbus Blue Jackets – Umberger might not be a sexy pick for many, but how can you pass up a guy who hasn’t played less than 73 games ina season in his career, has scored 20-plus goals in five of his seven seasons in the NHL and is going to give you a bump in the hit department and time on ice department, if you’re in a league that tracks those things. That’s not even mentioning the fact that Umberger seems poised to have a big season with the Blue Jackets because someone’s going to have to score for them.
2) Anders Lindback, G, Nashville Predators – Lindback had the misfortune of holding down the back up role behind workhorse Pekka Rinne in Nashville, so he didn’t get to see the ice much for the Predators last season. When he did see it, however, he was more than capable between the pipes. This season, he’s likely going to be splitting the starting role with Mathieu Garon, unless someone steps up and steals the job. He’s done a serviceable job in limited duty over the past two seasons in Nashville, showing some flashes that could earn him the job if he puts it together.
3) Mason Raymond, LW, Vancouver Canucks – After seeing his production slip to 20 points last season, mostly due to his recovery from a back injury suffered in the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Finals, expect Raymond to rebound this season. He’ll likely benefit from Kesler being out until December – meaning he’ll get to see some time in the top six. Throw in the fact that he’s finally fully healed from his back injury and has a new contract, he could have a bounce back season. With that being the case, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Raymond return to his 25-goal form from the 2009-10 season, giving you a solid middle of the road option for your forwards.
4) Peter Mueller, LW, Florida Panthers – If Mueller is healthy, and all signs point towards him being so, he’ll be a player you want to keep an eye on in your league. He backslid a bit after an impressive 54-point rookie campaign in 2007-08, but he caught everyone’s eye again after being moved to Colorado and tallying 20 points in 15 games in 2009-10. He missed the entire next season with a concussion, but managed to come back and play 32 games in 2011-12, tallying 16 points in those games. A healthy season this year should see him bounce back, maybe not to his point-per-game pace when he arrived in Colorado, but at least to the 50-60 point range, which would put him squarely in Florida’s top five for scoring based on last season’s stats.
5) Pierre-Marc Bouchard, C, Minnesota Wild – For a while, Bouchard was looking like he’d be a good fantasy bet – especially if you needed assists. Then came his head injury that knocked him out of over an entire season. When he returned in 2010-11, he started to look like he was returning to form and started taking off in 2011, until taking a hit from Winnipeg’s Zach Bogosian. Healthy once again and in a contract year, look for Bouchard to take a step back into that 50-60 point range once again.
RookiesYour league can be lost or won with shrewd rookie picks. Here are five that look to be surefire hits this season.
1) Chris Kreider, C, New York Rangers – If Kreider’s emergence in the playoffs of last season was any indication, he’s going to be a big player on Broadway this season. He tallied seven points in 18 playoff games and was a threat for the Rangers every game. Kreider looks to be slotted in to get top-six minutes and, with the addition of Rick Nash, should find himself playing with top-line talent if John Tortorella decides to mix up his lines. All of that translates into the potential for a successful rookie season.
2) Mikael Granlund, C, Minnesota Wild – Granlund could be the most highly anticipated rookie in the history of the Wild organization, and for good reason. He’s got all the tools to be a dynamic, impact player right away and, after playing at nearly a point-per-game rate for HIFK, he’s looking to bring his talents to the NHL this season. Even with the addition of Zach Parise up front, Granlund looks to be slotted in to the top six for the Wild, which means he’ll be getting more than his share of chances to participate in the Wild’s new, improved offensive attack.
3) Sven Baertschi, LW, Calgary Flames – After being called up on an emergency basis, Baertschi just went on to tally three goals in five games for the Flames and immediately became a big part of their offensive attack. Baertschi should have a spot waiting for him this season and, though he likely won’t produce at the rate he did last season, he’s still looking to be a productive member of a Flames squad that needs scoring.
4) Gustav Nyquist, RW, Detroit Red Wings – Nyquist has been a highly touted prospect for the Red Wings for a while now, and he’s likely going to get a solid shot in the NHL this season. He tallied seven points in 18 games last season, and there’s no reason why Nyquist won’t be just as productive this season. He’s got loads of talent, and he’s likely going to get a good look to fill some spots in the top six, with Jiri Hudler now moved on to Calgary. All of that equals a solid chance for a good season.
5) Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Florida Panthers – Depending on how camp plays out, Huberdeau may or may not make the opening day roster for the Panthers, but we’ll just say that there’s a pretty good chance he’ll be taking his talents to South Beach this season. If and when he does, expect him to be a major cog on a Florida team that could use a game breaker. What does that mean, exactly? That he’ll be playing in the top-six, and be given every opportunity to succeed.
Buyer BewareSome players are undervalued, but here are five that will likely be overvalued in your draft, that you should steer clear of early on.
1) Scott Hartnell, LW, Philadelphia Flyers – Look, Scott Hartnell is an intriguing pick. Potentially, he could get you 30-plus goals, 60-plus points and 100-plus penalty minutes. Now, he’s not a bad player, by any means. He can be a productive player in your league. The problem is, however, that many fantasy owners will overvalue him. Given that he’s had just two 30-plus goal scoring seasons and just two 50-plus point seasons, he’s a good value pick, but not necessarily a player to have near the top of your draft board. If you draft him expecting 20 goals and 100 penalty minutes, you’ll be happy. If you draft him expecting another season like last year, you’ll be sadly disappointed.
2) Devin Setoguchi, RW, Minnesota Wild – Granted, no one saw Setoguchi’s inexplicable drop off last season coming, but many fantasy owners still have stars in their eyes from his first full NHL season, that saw him tally 31 goals and 65 points. His real production, though, will likely be 20 goals and 40 points, give or take a few. He could be a solid sleeper pick, if he ever starts shooting the puck again, but until he shows that he’s going to do that on a consistent basis, he’s a player that you should let someone else be disappointed by.
3) Jason Garrison, D, Vancouver Canucks – Unless you’re lucky enough to get a Shea Weber or Erik Karlsson, you’re likely going to be looking for a big scorer on your blue line. On the surface, Garrison could be just that. He had a breakout season last year, tallying 16 goals and 33 points in 77 games, but the problem is that just six of those goals came after the halfway point in the season. Once teams figured out his game, they started clogging his shooting lanes and making life harder for him, and that’s only going to get worse this season. If you can snatch him up late he could be a steal, but there’s a good chance he won’t get to you if you wait until late.
4) Martin Brodeur, G, New Jersey Devils – Why is Marty on this list? Simple numbers. He’s getting older and older and his game is slowly starting to taper off. Is he still a quality goalie? For the most part, yes. He’ll give you good numbers here and there, and he’ll certainly give you wins, but he’s no longer the goalie that you can count on for league-winning stats. There are other goalies that you’ll be able to pick up in your draft that will be more useful than Brodeur, so save him for someone looking for a nostalgia kick.
5) Sergei Kostitsyn, LW, Nashville Predators – Hopefully by now, we don’t need to tell anyone to stay away from someone with the last name of Kostitsyn, but the flashes of brilliance that Sergei can sometimes show can be blinding. While Sergei can be good for 40-50 points per season, he’s so maddeningly inconsistent that he can ruin your season with that alone. Keep an eye on the waiver wire and pick him up when you think he’s getting hot, but stay away from him in your draft.
You can follow us on Twitter @HockeyPrimetime and Blake @HPTbcbenzel
Photos by Getty Images
|Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 15:16|