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2013 Draft Prep: Sleepers

by | Rotowire.com
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Sleepers can fall into multiple categories, depending on your league. For purposes of this column, I focused on those who either through line placement or opportunity may have a chance to exceed their usual projections. In addition, I included several players who could be bounce bank candidates as well as some that will need a bit of help to out-produce their projections. The column includes three at center, left wing, right wing, defense and goalie.

Centers

Mikhail Grabovski, C, WAS: Grabovski saw the wheels come off last year. After tallying back-to-back 50+ point seasons, Grabovksi felt apart, scoring just 16 points with a minus-10 rating while playing all 48 games for Toronto. The Maple Leafs used their amnesty buyout to get rid of Grabo, who had four years left on his deal. After waiting a month and a half to land somewhere, Grabovski ended up in a nice situation, signing a one-year, $3 million deal to be the Capitals' second center. He should be a nice bounce back candidate.

Alexander Killorn, C, TB: Killorn was promoted in early-February last year and did not look out of place. His four years at Harvard provided him maturity, which he showed last year in Tampa Bay. Killorn did not look out of place when paired with Martin St. Louis, as well as with both Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. With Jonathan Drouin now there as well, Killorn likely won’t see top line duty, but he could replace Ryan Malone, who suffered through injuries last year, on the second line.

Andrew Shaw, C, CHI: The image of Shaw's face late in the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run was testament to what it takes to win the Silver Chalice. Similar to what Chicago did when they won the Cup a few years ago, key players, or in this case Dave Bolland, were dealt to open up cap room, which provided opportunities for others. In this case, it's Shaw who gets that chance to fill a key role, possibly as the second line center.

Left Wings

Beau Bennett, LW, PIT: Bennett bounced back and forth between Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre, but when he was in the NHL team's lineup, he showed why the Penguins are so high on him. With Jarome Iginla and Brenden Morrow no longer with the team, Bennett and his solid hockey sense has a very good shot at seeing top-six duty, possibly alongside Evgeni Malkin.

Scott Hartnell, LW, PHI: 2012-13 was a lost year for Hartnell, as a broken ankle sidelined him after the third game of the season. When he came back 16 games later, he was never able to recapture the form he showed in 2011-12, when he had a breakout campaign. So which is the real Hartnell? Even if it's somewhere between the two extremes, he should rebound nicely and right now is slated to line up with Giroux and Voracek on the Flyers' top grouping, providing scoring and PIM.

Jaden Schwartz, LW, STL: Schwartz, selected in the first round in 2010, played the whole season for the Blues after getting his feet wet with seven games the year before. He tallied just 13 points in 45 games, but that experience will prove very beneficial, possibly as early as this season. Schwartz, normally a center, has the deck stacked against him there following the acquisition of Derek Roy, but he impressed the Blues in the playoffs and may get a shot at top-line left wing duty.

Right Wings

Nino Niederreiter, RW, MIN: Nino and the Islanders clearly needed to part ways as there was too much animosity built up between the two sides. While Cal Clutterbuck brings some toughness and should fit in well playing with John Tavares, Minnesota made out well in the deal, adding the talented Niederreiter. Nino resurrected his career, earning AHL All-Star status and playing well in the World Championships. He should play on the second or third line for the Wild with upside for more.

Kyle Palmieri, RW, ANA: Palmieri had a breakthrough campaign last year, scoring 10 goals and 11 assists in 42 games. With Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne in Anaheim, sometimes supplemental pieces get lost in the milieu, which may be the case to a certain extent with Palmieri. With Selanne questionable to come back, and Bobby Ryan now in Ottawa, Palmieri and Jakob Silverberg, who came over for Ryan, will be counted on to pick up the scoring slack.

David Jones, RW, CGY: Jones scored 27 goals and 45 points in 77 games two years ago for Colorado, to earn a four-year extension with the Avalanche. Since then, he tallied only 46 points in 105 games to earn a ticket out of town, as he was sent to Calgary as part of a deal for Alex Tanguay. Jones gets a new lease in life with the Flames, who desperately need scoring and will give Jones every chance to fill the role as the team's top right winger.

Defensemen

Matt Donovan, D, NYI: There was strong speculation many times during last year that Donovan would be promoted. That never happened and Donovan used his time in the minors to improve his game seemingly nightly and make the AHL All-Star Team, leading the Bridgeport defensemen in scoring. With Mark Streit gone, there is an opening for an offensive d-man on the Island, even with Lubomir Visnovksy back, which could enable Donovan to break camp with the squad.

Victor Hedman, D, TB: Hedman, selected second overall in 2009, started his upward trajectory into an elite defender last year. While his overall numbers went stellar, he looked much more comfortable on the ice, blending size, speed and sense to begin that next step in his career. While he may not burst out this year, it's coming, and is just a matter of time before it happens.

Jake Muzzin, D, LA: All the focus on the growth by Slava Voynov and presence of Drew Doughty somewhat deflected attention away from Muzzin. He took advantage of injuries to open the year in the LA lineup and he never looked back. Muzzin showed that he can produce on the PP, using his hard short to notch 10 of his 16 points on the man-advantage. The upward swing looks to be in full motion for Muzzin, so jump onboard.

Goalies

Jake Allen, G, STL: Allen, the Blues goalie of the future, was the goalie of the present last year, filling in for an injured Jaroslav Halak and ineffective Brian Elliott. Allen posted a stellar 9-4 mark with a 2.46 GAA and .905 SV% after getting the call. He is still behind Halak and Elliot, but if you’re looking for a late-round flier who has a ton of upside, you could so much worse than Allen.

Ray Emery, G, PHI: Who says you can't go home again? Emery, who played in Philly in 2008-09 and looked as if his career was over when he had to have hip surgery, was a huge part of the Blackhawks' regular season success last year, going 17-1 and at times outplaying Corey Crawford. Crawford backstopped Chicago to the Cup and Emery decided to head back to Philly on a ridiculously cheap one-year deal following two good years in the Windy City. At a minimum, Emery will split time with Steve Mason, but if he is even close to what he showed last year, look for Emery to solve - at least during the regular season - the Flyers' goalie woes.

Karri Ramo, G, CGY: With Miikka Kiprusoff hanging up the skates, someone has to play good in Calgary. As of press time for this column, all signs point to Ramo assuming the banner of the Flames' netminder. Ramo struggled in his first stint in the NHL, last playing with Tampa Bay in 2008-09, but he excelled the past four years at Avangard Omsk to earn the shot at being the main man in Calgary.

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Player News
Sean Bergenheim
Wild's Bergenheim Unlikely To Play Saturday
Sean Bergenheim, LW, MIN
10:36 AM
News: Sean Bergenheim will likely be a healthy scratch Saturday against the Kings, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Sean Bergenheim will head to the bench with Ryan Carter back from a shoulder injury. It's not clear if Bergenheim is getting a night off amid back-to-back games or if he'll now regularly be a healthy scratch.

Ben Bishop
Bolts' Bishop Between Pipes Saturday
Ben Bishop, G, TB
10:35 AM
News: Ben Bishop will be in the net for Saturday's game against the Red Wings, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times reports.
Analysis: Ben Bishop will look to redeem himself after he was pulled early Thursday against the Predators upon allowing three goals on 11 shots. He could surrender the occasional start to Andrei Vasilevskiy before the season draws to a close, but Bishop is still clearly locked in as the Bolts' No. 1 netminder. With a win Saturday against the Red Wings, he'll tie the career-best total of 37 victories he notched a season ago.

Ryan Carter
Wild's Carter Returns Saturday
Ryan Carter, C, MIN
10:28 AM
News: Ryan Carter (shoulder) will return to the lineup Saturday against the Kings, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Ryan Carter had sat out the Wild's previous 24 games, though the last two came while he was a healthy scratch. Now far enough removed from the shoulder injury he suffered in early February, Carter will step back into the lineup for Sean Bergenheim on the Wild's fourth line. Carter has three goals and 13 points in 48 games this season.

Devan Dubnyk
Wild's Dubnyk Starting 34th Straight Saturday
Devan Dubnyk, G, MIN
10:22 AM
News: Devan Dubnyk will be between the pipes Saturday against the Kings, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: Coach Mike Yeo doesn't seem to be thinking twice these days about turning away from Devan Dubnyk, who will make a 34th consecutive start for the Wild. The massive workload has yet to break Dubnyk yet -- in fact, he might be getting even stronger. He's won his last four games while posting a .945 save percentage. Just as Yeo is doing, fantasy owners should continue to roll out Dubnyk every time the Wild play.

Jonathan Quick
Kings' Quick To Start Saturday
Jonathan Quick, G, LA
10:19 AM
News: Jonathan Quick will be in the net for Saturday's game against the Wild, Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports.
Analysis: With the Wild and Kings both fighting to secure playoff spots, it's no surprise that both teams will stick with their top netminders for Saturday's match, despite their excessive workloads. Jonathan Quick will start his 14th straight game Saturday, with the netminder picking up wins in eight of those preceding 13 contests. He owns a 1.88 GAA and .925 save percentage for the month.

Keith Kinkaid
Devils' Kinkaid In Net Saturday
Keith Kinkaid, G, NJ
10:14 AM
News: Keith Kinkaid will draw the start in goal Saturday against the Hurricanes, Rich Chere of the Newark Star-Ledger reports.
Analysis: With the Devils holding no aspirations of reaching the postseason at this point, oft-used starting goalie Cory Schneider will be rested for at least one half of the team's weekend back-to-back set, paving the way for Keith Kinkaid to make his 16th appearance of the season. He's acquitted himself well in spot duty this season, posting a 5-4-3 record, 2.42 GAA, and .919 save percentage. With the Hurricanes possessing one of the league's least-effective attacks, Kinkaid make for a decent streaming option Saturday.

Dan Girardi
Rangers' Girardi Will Play Saturday
Dan Girardi, D, NYR
10:05 AM
News: Dan Girardi (arm) will play Saturday against the Bruins, Steve Zipay of Newsday reports.
Analysis: Dan Girardi was forced out the Rangers' last game on Thursday against the Senators after suffering a gash to his arm when he was struck by a puck. He required stitches to patch up the wound, but it sounds as though it won't limit him at all in Saturday's game. He'll skate next to Ryan McDonagh on the Rangers' top defensive pairing.

Hampus Lindholm
Ducks Make Lindholm A Healthy Scratch
Hampus Lindholm, D, ANA
10:02 AM
News: Hampus Lindholm will be a healthy scratch for Saturday's game against the Islanders, Eric Stephens of the Orange County Register reports.
Analysis: With the Ducks boasting impressive depth on the blue line, coach Bruce Boudreau has been forced to sit useful defenseman in Cam Fowler, James Wisniewski, and now Hampus Lindholm in the team's last three games. Lindholm has remained an asset in mid-sized and deeper leagues this season with seven goals, 33 points, and a plus-22 rating over 73 games, and his healthy scratch shouldn't change that fact. Expect him to draw back in Sunday against the Devils.

Steve Mason
Flyers' Mason Gets The Start Saturday
Steve Mason, G, PHI
9:56 AM
News: Steve Mason will be between the pipes for Saturday's game against the Sharks, NHL.com's Adam Kimelman reports.
Analysis: Steve Mason is coming off a brilliant turn against the Blackhawks on Wednesday, during which he stopped 34 of 35 shots to steal a win for the Flyers. Though his record remains below the .500 mark for the season, Mason has done his best to keep the squad competitive, churning out a 2.25 GAA and .926 save percentage over his 45 outings. He'll be opposed by Sharks backup goalie Alex Stalock on Saturday.

Michael Grabner
Illness Keeps Isles' Grabner Out Saturday
Michael Grabner, RW, NYI
9:49 AM
News: Michael Grabner is nursing an illness and will not be available Saturday against the Ducks, Arthur Staple of Newsday reports.
Analysis: Michael Grabner was a candidate to get back in the lineup Saturday after a slew of healthy scratches, but it appears the illness cropped up at an inconvenient time. It's possible that he'll be able to play Sunday against the Red Wings if he notices enough improvement with his condition by the morning.

 
 
 
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