As an aside, it was remiss of me not to note in yesterday’s post that we were very saddened by the loss of Rick Wright, the long-time member of Pink Floyd. Okay…back to our regular programming.
We’ve finished the cheat sheets for the 2008-09 RotoRob NHL Draft Kit, and now we’re into a series of lists. Today, Mike pipes in with his Sleeper picks for the upcoming season.
Once the big guns are drafted, things get a little muddy — and depending on how many people are in your fantasy league, you might be stretching to find diamonds in the third-line rough. Here’s a list of ten guys to keep an eye on when you’re filling your mid- and late-round holes. Keep in mind that they cover various positions and areas of depth; however, they all share one thing: they’ll probably be overlooked by a lot of people.
Jason Williams, Atlanta Thrashers: Before getting injured last season, Williams was a ppivotal part of the Chicago power play. However, it’s not too surprising he was allowed to walk with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and the Hawks’ young defense needing new contracts in the next few seasons. In Atlanta, he’ll be scoring option No. 2 next to Ilya Kovalchuk — that means plenty of power play time to try to push the Thrashers
over the hump.
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks: By the time Pavelski’s season came to a close, he’d worked his way on to a permanent second-line spot and power play time — and he responded by scoring big goals at clutch times. A smart player with tenacity and great vision, Pavelski could quietly break the 25-goal mark this season.
Brendan Morrison, Anaheim Ducks: With whispers of Teemu Selanne’s imminent return, the world suddenly became much brighter for Morrison. Hard to believe that just a few years ago he centred the best line in hockey with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. Since then, injuries and a defensive system have hampered Morrison. Still, he’s a skilled passer who should rediscover his touch feeding Selanne.
Kyle Turris, Phoenix Coyotes: Last year, Phoenix rookie Peter Mueller had people talking about the Coyotes’ bright future. Turris, a former first rounder, will step into the lineup with less pressure than Mueller (the addition of Olli Jokinen helps), but with every opportunity to succeed. Talented and shifty, Turris is an early Calder candidate and a 60-point campaign is a reasonable projection.
David Booth, Florida Panthers: Booth came out of nowhere last season to be one of the few bright spots in a very up-and-down season in the land of 4 p.m. dinner specials. With Jokinen gone, 23-year-old Booth will be given more ice time and special teams time. Someone’s gotta score in Florida, and if it’s not Nathan Horton or Stephen Weiss, it’ll probably be Booth.
R.J. Umberger, Columbus Blue Jackets: Is Umberger a top-line centre? We’re about to find out. In Philadelphia, Umberger showed flashes of great play (especially in the playoffs against the Habs) while being lost in a wash of forward talent. In Columbus, he’ll centre Rick Nash with the hopes that he provides some scoring balance and has a career season.
Pascal Dupuis, Pittsburgh Penguins: The other deadline acquisition in Pittsburgh, Dupuis found great chemistry with Sidney Crosby. If you play well with the league’s best player, why change a thing? Despite his third-line skillset, Dupuis will be given every opportunity to thrive alongside Sid the Kid.
Chris Mason, St. Louis Blues: Last year, Manny Legace played his way on to the all-star team. Will this season be any different? Mason’s arrival in St. Louis gives the No. 1 goalie position some healthy competition. After being left for dead by Nashville, Mason should be given a chance to reclaim a starting role.
Ruslan Fedotenko, Pittsburgh Penguins: Consider Fedotenko to be Ryan Malone-light. Fedotenko has had some great seasons and some awful seasons, but he was at his best when used alongside Tampa’s top wingers. Fedotenko will most likely ride shotgun to Evgeni Malkin, so he’ll get his share of points by default.
Olaf Kolzig, Tampa Bay Lightning: While Tampa’s crazy management is giving Mike Smith every opportunity to shine, Kolzig’s role is to be goalie 1B/mentor/backup. That means that if Smith caves under the pressure — as has happened in Tampa Bay lately — Kolzig will be given the reins to be a No. 1 goalie again. At his best, Kolzig will get in 40 to 50 games.