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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
Teuvo Teravainen
Hawks' Teravainen Back In Lineup For Game 4
Teuvo Teravainen, LW, CHI
5/23/2015
News: Teuvo Teravainen, who was a healthy scratch for Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals, will be in the lineup for Game 4 against the Duck, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Both Teuvo Teravainen and Antoine Vermette were healthy scratches for Game 3. The lack of offense in the 2-1 loss in Game 3 gave Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville a change of mind for Game 4. Teravainen and Vermette rejoined Patrick Sharp on the Blackhawks' third line during the team's morning skate at the United Center on Saturday.

Antoine Vermette
Hawks' Vermette Back In Lineup For Game 4
Antoine Vermette, C, CHI
5/23/2015
News: Antoine Vermette, who was a healthy scratch for Game 3 in the Stanley Cup Western Conference Finals, will be in the lineup for Game 4 on Saturday night against the Ducks, ESPN Chicago reports.
Analysis: Both Antoine Vermette and Teuvo Teravainen were healthy scratches for Game 3. The lack of offense in the 2-1 loss in Game 3 gave Hawks' coach Joel Quenneville a change of mind for Game 4. Teravainen and Vermette rejoined Patrick Sharp on the Blackhawks' third line during the team's morning skate at the United Center on Saturday.

Derick Brassard
Rangers' Brassard Earns Power-Play Assist
Derick Brassard, C, NYR
5/23/2015
News: Derick Brassard picked up a power-play assist in Friday's Game 4 victory over the Lightning.
Analysis: Derick Brassard has been a steady producer for the Rangers throughout their playoff run, never going more than one game without recording a point. Collectively, he's accrued six goals and five assists across 16 contests and three rounds, which has made him a serviceable selection for those in postseason pools.

Carl Hagelin
Rangers' Hagelin Gathers Assist In Game 4
Carl Hagelin, LW, NYR
5/23/2015
News: Carl Hagelin was credited with an assist on Rick Nash's first-period goal in Friday's 5-1 triumph over the Lightning.
Analysis: Carl Hagelin had been held off the score sheet in the Rangers' previous nine games before collecting the helper Friday. The elusive winger can occasionally present matchup problems for the opposition, but that likely won't be the case often against the Lightning, who don't count team speed as one of their weaknesses.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Coach: Benching Bishop Would Be
Ben Bishop, G, TB
5/23/2015
News: Lightning coach Jon Cooper said it would be "asinine" to bench Ben Bishop for Sunday's Game 5 against the Rangers, Tom Gulitti of The Record reports.
Analysis: Giving up five goals in Friday's loss qualified as a disappointment for Ben Bishop, but there was little chance the Lightning would turn to the untested Andrei Vasilevskiy with the series knotted at 2-2. This should be all the confirmation anyone needs that Bishop will be between the pipes Sunday.

Oscar Dansk
Jackets Sending Dansk Back To Sweden
Oscar Dansk, G, CLB
5/23/2015
News: Oscar Dansk will play for newly promoted Rogle in the SHL next season rather than returning to the AHL, the Columbus Dispatch reports. "We wanted to make sure he gets to a place where he can play and get his career back on track," Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen said.
Analysis: The young goaltender struggled in his first season in North America, posting a 3.57 GAA and .880 save percentage in 21 games for AHL Springfield and a 3.73 GAA and .889 save percentage in 11 games for ECHL Kalamazoo. Oscar Dansk still has a potentially bright future, but he'll need to rebuild his confidence back at home before the Jackets give him another shot on their side of the pond.

Steven Stamkos
Bolts' Stamkos Stays Hot In Game 4 Loss
Steven Stamkos, C, TB
5/23/2015
News: Steven Stamkos stayed hot Friday, scoring for the third straight game in a Game 4 loss to the Rangers.
Analysis: While it was another strong performance from Steven Stamkos, the Bolts fell 5-1 to the Rangers in the game, bringing their best-of-seven series to a 2-2 tie. The 25-year-old has now scored in five of his last six games and is up to 15 points in the playoffs -- fifth most in the NHL. He's fired four shots on goal in back-to-back outings and is the first Lightning player to score in 3 straight playoff games since Sean Bergenheim did so in 2011. While Stammer had a slow start to the postseason, he's in full throttle now and will play a key part in determining whether Tampa Bay can advance onto the Stanley Cup Final.

Michael Keranen
Wild, Keranen Agree To One-Year Deal
Michael Keranen, LW, MIN
5/23/2015
News: Karanen agreed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Wild on Friday, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Michael Keranen appeared in 70 games for AHL Iowa this season, registering 10 goals and 27 assists to go with a minus-12 rating. He'll look to crack the Wild's roster at some point in 2015-16.

Kevin Klein
Rangers' Klein Assists Twice In Game 4 Win
Kevin Klein, D, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Kevin Klein dished out two helpers, went plus-2, collected two PIM, blocked two shots and laid four hits in Friday's Game 4 victory over the Lightning.
Analysis: That's a lot of work for just 17:43 on the ice. It's Kevin Klein's first multi-point game of these playoffs, which started on a delay for him due to a broken arm. We've yet to see Klein find twine in the postseason after he did so nine times in 65 regular-season games, but he's been getting involved with the offense regularly, so it wouldn't be a surprise if the veteran were to find his way onto the scoresheet again soon.

Kevin Hayes
Rangers' Hayes Providing Steady Offense
Kevin Hayes, RW, NYR
5/22/2015
News: Kevin Hayes assisted on both of Rick Nash's goals -- one on the power play -- Friday as the Rangers took Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final from the Lightning by a 5-1 tally.
Analysis: Kevin Hayes has been providing consistent offense since Game 7 against Washington -- he scored a goal in that one, keying a run of five points in five games. The young forward has looked lost at times in these playoffs, but he generates takeaways and offense brilliantly, and the fact that he was able to help Nash wake up Friday is quite promising.

 
 
 
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