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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
Michael Bournival
Habs' Bournival Reassigned To AHL Hamilton
Michael Bournival, LW, MON
3/3/2015
News: Michael Bournival was reassigned to AHL Hamilton on Monday, TSN's John Lu reports.
Analysis: Forward P.A. Parenteau (concussion) will finally rejoin the lineup, and defenseman Jeff Petry was recently acquired in a trade. The Habs will thus reassign both Michael Bournival and Greg Pateryn, freeing up room for a pair of proven veterans. Bournival only has five points through 29 NHL appearances this season, but he does have eight points in just seven AHL games.

Maxime Talbot
Talbot Traded To Bruins
Maxime Talbot, C, COL
3/3/2015
News: The Avalanche traded Maxime Talbot to the Bruins on Monday in exchange for Jordan Caron, TSN.ca reports.
Analysis: Maxime Talbot, who has notched five goals and 10 assists in 63 games with the Avs this season, gives the Bruins some added depth and experience up front, something that will come in handy, with centers Gregory Campbell and David Krejci currently sidelined.

P.A. Parenteau
Canadiens' Parenteau To Rejoin Lineup Monday
P.A. Parenteau, RW, MON
3/3/2015
News: P.A. Parenteau will rejoin the lineup for Monday's game against San Jose, NHL.com's Arpon Basu
Analysis: After missing six weeks of action due to a concussion, P.A. Parenteau was a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the Maple Leafs. He may be limited to a spot on the fourth line in his first game since Jan. 15.

Jordan Caron
Caron Traded To Avs
Jordan Caron, LW, BOS
3/3/2015
News: The Bruins traded Jordan Caron to the Avs on Monday in exchange for Maxime Talbot, TSN.ca reports.
Analysis: Jordan Caron, who has been held without a point in 11 games with the Bruins this season, was a first-round draft pick (25th overall) in 2009. After having recorded just 28 points in 134 career NHL contests with Boston, however, a change of scenery will probably do the 24-year-old winger some good, though a wait-and see approach is in order from a fantasy perspective.

James Wisniewski
Ducks Acquire Wisniewski In Late Deadline Deal
James Wisniewski, D, CLB
3/3/2015
News: James Wisniewski was traded to the Ducks on Monday along with a 2015 third-round draft pick in exchange for forwards William Karlsson and Rene Bourque and a 2015 second-round draft pick, Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reports.
Analysis: James Wisniewski will likely assume a top-four role on defense with his new organization, giving the Ducks an added dose of puck-moving ability on the blue line. The 31-year-old has predictably been unable to replicate last season's 51-point scoring outburst in 2014-15, but he's still been an above-average source of goals and assists for a defenseman. Assuming the foot injury he suffered in Saturday's game against the Penguins doesn't prove too problematic, Wisniewski's fantasy value figures to notice a small uptick with the move, as his placement on a superior Ducks squad should allow his plus/minus mark to recover from its current minus-10 standing.

Alexei Marchenko
Wings' Marchenko Sidelined
Alexei Marchenko, D, DET
3/3/2015
News: Alexei Marchenko is dealing with an oblique strain, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports.
Analysis: The report suggests that Alexei Marchenko will be out for a week or so. The 23-year-old blueliner has two points in 12 games with the Wings to date, including a goal in his last outing, Saturday against the Preds.

Darren Helm
Wings' Helm Dealing With Oblique Injury
Darren Helm, C, DET
3/3/2015
News: Darren Helm is dealing with an oblique strain, Ansar Khan of MLive.com reports.
Analysis: Per the report, GM Ken Holland indicated that Darren Helm's injury is not considered serious, but it looks like the forward will be out a week or so.

Sven Baertschi
Flames Deal Baertschi To Canucks For Pick
Sven Baertschi, LW, CGY
3/3/2015
News: Sven Baertschi was traded to the Canucks on Monday in exchange for a future second-round pick, TSN's Bob McKenzie reports.
Analysis: A former first-round selection by the Flames in 2011, Sven Baertschi made the NHL squad out of training camp in 2013-14 but wasn't able to maintain a spot after tallying 11 points over 26 games. He failed to break camp with the Flames this season and didn't make much of his opportunity when injuries resulted in his promotion to the big club. His pedigree still made him intriguing to many organizations, so the Flames decided to part with him before his value completely bottomed out. Still only 22 years old, Baertschi could unlock his full potential with the move to the Canucks, though he'll likely have to prove himself at AHL Utica first.

Simon Despres
Pens Deal Despres To Ducks
Simon Despres, D, PIT
3/3/2015
News: Simon Despres (head) was traded to the Ducks on Monday in exchange for defenseman Ben Lovejoy, Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports.
Analysis: The Penguins indicated the head injury that Simon Despres suffered in Sunday's win over the Blue Jackets appears to be minor, but that didn't prevent the team from seeking a veteran blueliner on deadline day. While Lovejoy possesses more NHL experience and might offer more present-day value than Despres, it appears the Ducks have added yet another intriguing young blueliner to a corps that also includes three under-25 talents in Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, and Sami Vatanen. At 6-foot-4 with a willingness to hit and the ability to score, Despres could become a mainstay on the defense for the Ducks over the next several seasons.

Chris Stewart
Stewart Moves To Playoff Contender With Wild
Chris Stewart, RW, BUF
3/3/2015
News: Chris Stewart has been traded to the Wild in exchange for what is expected to be a 2017 second-rounder, WGR550.com reports.
Analysis: Even though this deal was snuck in just ahead of the deadline, Chris Stewart was as good of a bet as any player in hockey to get dealt Monday. He'll head to a playoff contender, which should immediately boost his plus-minus prospects. And Minnesota might start to be considered Buffalo West, with four former Sabres on the roster once Stewart gets settled. Stewart has a disappointing 25 points in 61 games this season, but he's been playing better lately with the potential to do more with better talent around him. Keep an eye on his line assignment, though it's worth noting that inconsistency has always been a part of his game.

 
 
 
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