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2013 Draft Prep: Draft Day sleepers

by | Rotowire.com
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Even though the season is set to kick off next Saturday, compiling mini team reviews isn't a feasible or useful activity. Without any training camp or exhibition action on which to base analysis, we can assume certain forward lines or project player trends, but that's a process as easy to predict as the winning lottery numbers. But since the business of Fantasy often forecasts based on statistics and other facts, then there's no reason to stop this business from running.

Jan Levine has already posted a nice piece detailing busts for 2013, so the following will act as its complement. And as this column has already handled sophomore surges, let's focus on more experienced skaters who could be considered sleepers either due to an off season, significant injury, people forgetting about them, or providing them an opportunity to shine. Don't expect any of these guys to post huge numbers but look for some sort of boost:

Forwards

Mikkel Boedker, Coyotes: The regular season didn't really catch his fancy (24 points in all 82 games) but when it came to postseason magic, Boedker didn't disappoint. Back-to-back overtime winners versus Chicago (and eight points overall) placed him back on the map. But the Great Dane really shined during the lockout when he tore apart the Finnish first division (33 in 29). Success overseas is not necessarily a precursor for NHL success, but still positive news.

Simon Gagne, Kings: You may remember Gagne from such shows as "The Philadelphia Story" and "Trouble in Tampa", but his latest production -- "Away in LA" -- has the critics baffled. After a serious concussion limited his appearances (17 in 34 and nothing in four during the playoffs), can the now-32-year-old reclaim past Philly glory (peaking at 79 in 2005-06)? Or will Gagne drop out of the top-six forward core? [Cue suspenseful music, with a slightly upbeat tune considering he's healthy now.]

Jamie McGinn, Avalanche: After coming over from San Jose in March, McGinn immediately developed some chemistry with Paul Stastny -- and also a surprise scoring touch (13 goals in 17 games). With RFA Ryan O'Reilly sans-contract and remaining in Russia and with Milan Hejduk a smidge on the older side, the fifth-year pro may be able to climb the ladder to a more favorable forward foothold.

Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jets: The Poni impressed after moving from Carolina to Jersey (18 in 33 combined with nine in 24 during their extended playoff run), enough so that Winnipeg came calling during free agency. And now he is set to reunite with former Toronto teammate Nik Antropov, which should help the Ukrainian winger ease into the lineup. Look for at least 35 to 40 points. Anything additional is gravy (or whatever they call gravy in the Ukraine).

Brandon Sutter, Penguins: Sutter has never served as a flashy scorer at any level (topped out at 57 in juniors six years ago) but his tour in Carolina was marked by consistency (between 30 and 40 points) and dependability (only missed a few due to injury). Now in Pittsburgh, The Son of Brent will basically inherit the vacant third-line center role, a job Jordan Staal eventually turned into mega millions.

Travis Zajac, Devils: You can never really overcome the loss of Zach Parise. You can only try to contain the sorrow. Ilya Kovalchuk is threatening to finish his season in the KHL before returning stateside, so there's that. The Ponikarovsky defection counts as a minimal blow but Adam Henrique's thumb surgery may sting a bit more. Petr Sykora is 36 and unsigned, translating into another missing body. That leaves Zajac to lead the veteran charge. He missed 67 contests in the regular season but starred in the postseason (14 in 24). You can count on him for something in the 40 to 50 range but not a lot higher.

Defensemen

Roman Josi, Predators: There's a gaping hole on the point left behind by Ryan Suter and somebody needs to fill it. And looking through the Predators' roster, there's no better candidate than Josi. He may only be 22 years old, but the Swiss blue-liner has already competed in professional hockey for five years. The power-play statistics aren't there yet (only four power-play points in 52 last season) but the inevitable step up should considerably increase those totals.

Andrew MacDonald, Islanders: With Travis Hamonic recovering from a concussion and Lubomir Visnovsky wanting no part of the Island, MacDonald should once again have the opportunity to earn additional minutes. In fact, if you recall the 2010-11 season (and who doesn't?), you'll discover MacDonald notched significant man-advantage stats (12 power-play points).

Brendan Smith, Red Wings: Nicklas Lidstrom has finally sailed off into the sunset. And while no one will ever replace the seven-time Norris Trophy winner, there's hope someone can at least fill some of the offensive void. Carlo Colaiacovo was brought in via free agency to add some attacking punch but Smith has more than proved his offensive mettle. The NHL sample size (seven in 14) may not be relevant but the historical resume (86 in 152 from the AHL and 87 in 95 from the NCAA) says a lot about this kid's potential.

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk, Oilers: One wouldn't normally classify a majority starter as a sleeper, but it would be easy to overlook Dubnyk (20-20-3, 2.67 GAA, .914 save percentage). After all, there was Nikolai Khabibulin's hot start (seven wins in nine) followed by a steady decline (five wins the rest of the way). The Oilers stubbornly sticking to the basement of the Western Conference didn't help matters. But if you believe a squad of young studs can overcome poor expectations and improve significantly, then Dubnyk might be the Tier Two goalie for you.

Anders Lindback, Lightning: The Swedish giant (all 6-foot-6 of him) would have been the No. 1 guy in Nashville had it not been for some Finnish pipsqueak (at 6-foot-5) named Pekka Rinne. The Bolts, with a well-past-expired Dwayne Roloson and a shaky reserve in Mathieu Garon, went out and acquired Lindback (with only 38 games in two seasons under his belt) for a few draft picks. That's quite an investment. If Tampa's time is now, then you might want to tie your hopes to their behemoth backstopper.

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Player News
Jori Lehtera
Blues' Lehtera Poised To Return
Jori Lehtera, C, STL
4/27/2015
News: Jori Lehtera (lower body) was on the ice for warmups in advance of Sunday's Game 6 against the Wild, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports.
Analysis: Based on warmups, look for Jori Lehtera to work Sunday on a trio with Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. Lehtera -- who was was held out of Friday's Game 5 -- checks back into the Blues' lineup with two helpers in four playoff games to date.

Jannik Hansen
Canucks' Hansen Registers Two Points In Game 6
Jannik Hansen, RW, VAN
12:38 PM
News: Jannik Hansen scored his second goal of the playoffs and had an assist in Saturday's series-ending Game 6 loss to the Flames.
Analysis: Jannik Hansen did alright in these playoffs, registering four points in six games. While the 29-year-old skated on the top line with the Sedin twins in the final few games, he remains a bottom-six player who can contribute 10-20 goals in the regular season.

Ryan Miller
Canucks' Miller Disappoints In Series-Ending Loss
Ryan Miller, G, VAN
12:31 PM
News: Ryan Miller allowed five goals on 31 shots in Saturday's series-ending Game 6 loss to Calgary.
Analysis: This marks the second straight year Ryan Miller has been acquired by a new team but that team has failed to make it out of the first round of the playoffs. It was an awful night for Miller, who had played very well in Games 4 and 5. While it's easy to point the finger at the goalie, the Canucks blew a 3-0 lead in the game and left the 34-year-old out to dry on a few of the goals. Eddie Lack proved his worth in the regular season and at times in the playoffs, but Miller still remains the starting goaltender in Vancouver as the Canucks enter the 2015 offseason.

Patrick Kane
Blackhawks' Kane Notches Two Points In Game 6 Win
Patrick Kane, RW, CHI
12:19 PM
News: Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the playoffs and added an assist in Saturday's series-clinching Game 6 win over the Predators.
Analysis: That's a three-game point streak for Patrick Kane, who has racked up seven points in six playoff games. Skating on the second line, the 26-year-old has been a factor every game, firing 19 shots on goal and registering a steady plus-3 rating. With 39 goals and 98 points in 99 career NHL playoff games, you expect more of Kane's magic in Round 2 and beyond.

Jonathan Toews
Toews' Three Points Help Blackhawks Clinch Series
Jonathan Toews, C, CHI
12:13 PM
News: Jonathan Toews scored his third goal of the playoffs and added two assists in Saturday's series-clinching Game 6 win over the Predators.
Analysis: Jonathan Toews has been a monster these playoffs, notching eight points in six games. He's got 89 points in 100 career NHL playoff games and once again if proving to be one of the best postseason performers in the NHL. The Blackhawks will play the winner of the Wild and Blues series, so expect Toews to continue to pile up points as chicago continues to go deeper into the playoffs.

Patrick Sharp
Hawks' Sharp Contributes Two Points In Game 6 Win
Patrick Sharp, LW, CHI
12:07 PM
News: Patrick Sharp scored his third goal of the playoffs and added an assist in Saturday's series-clinching Game 6 win over the Predators.
Analysis: Patrick Sharp is having a great postseason, notching five points in six games to help Chicago advance on to the second round. He may be skating on the third line, but he's seeing quality power-play time and has fired 24 shots on goal -- fourth most in the NHL. With 41 goals in 112 career NHL playoff games, look for the postseason performer to continue to light it up in the second round.

Duncan Keith
Hawks' Keith Notches Three Points In Game 6 Win
Duncan Keith, D, CHI
12:02 PM
News: Duncan Keith scored the game-winning goal and had two assists Saturday against Nashville in Game 6 of their first-round series. The Blackhawks eliminated the Predators with a 4-3 victory.
Analysis: A marvelous outing from Duncan Keith, who has been on fire in these playoffs. He sits second in NHL playoff scoring with seven points and has already scored two game-winning goals for the Blackhawks. With a whopping 15 shots on goal in his last three outings, look for the surging Keith to continue his excellent play into the second round.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau
Sens' Pageau Set To Play Sunday
Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C, OTT
11:50 AM
News: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who received treatment on his knee Sunday morning, is good to go for the Sens' evening contest against Montreal, according to Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports.
Analysis: Jean-Gabriel Pageau, who left Friday's Game 5 with what was called a lower-body injury, is thus slated to remain in the Sens' lineup for Sunday's Game 6. Through the first five games of the series, Pageau has yet to notch a point, but he had recorded 23 hits and 14 blocked shots in that span.

P.A. Parenteau
Habs' Parenteau Returns To Lineup
P.A. Parenteau, RW, MON
10:58 AM
News: P.A. Parenteau is slated to play Sunday against the Senators.
Analysis: P.A. Parenteau, who suffered an an upper body injury in Game 1 of the Habs' series against Ottawa, will return to the team's forward mix Sunday after being a healthy scratch for Games 4 and 5. Parenteau -- who notched 22 points and 30 PIM in 56 game for Montreal this past season -- could see power play action Sunday, with the Habs looking for a boost on that front, having converted just once in 19 man-advantage opportunities in the series thus far.

Dale Weise
Habs' Weise Misses Sunday Morning Skate
Dale Weise, RW, MON
10:48 AM
News: Dale Weise (maintenance) did not take part in Sunday's morning skate, Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette reports.
Analysis: Per coach Michel Therrien, Dale Weise -- whose absence Sunday morning was characterized by the team as a therapy day -- should be available for Sunday night's game against Ottawa, but such an outcome may not be solidified until pre-game warmups. Weise has scored two goals through the first five games of the Habs' series against Ottawa, with both of his tallies having come in Game 3's overtime win.

 
 
 
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