Fantasy Hockey: Ranking the 5 Best Sleepers at Each Position

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IOctober 21, 2012

Fantasy Hockey: Ranking the 5 Best Sleepers at Each Position

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    Fantasy hockey is something that every NHL fan loves. But sometimes owners don't know who to pick.

    Obviously, there are the favorites like Steven Stamkos and Evgeni Malkin who go in the first round, but where does a fantasy owner go from there? Who are the best sleepers at each position?

    Here are five players at each position who fit that description.

Left Wing

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    No. 5: Wayne Simmonds

    Simmonds is a physical scoring winger for the Philadelphia Flyers. He will help owners pick up points for categories like hits, points and goals. He is a player you should pick in the late rounds to boost your team's depth.


    No. 4: Patrik Elias

    It is easy to sleep on Elias, the aging New Jersey Devil winger, but he is a player who could boost your fantasy lineup. He is good for at least 60 points a season, and he is a low-risk pickup who could be a positive for your hockey club.


    No. 3: Matt Moulson

    Moulson is a winger for the New York Islanders who has scored 30 goals in each of his last three seasons. He is often forgotten in fantasy drafts, but don't sleep on him. With increased chemistry with John Tavares, Moulson is primed to have a career year.


    No. 2: Chris Kreider

    Chris Kreider is a player who could contend for the Calder Trophy, and he is another rookie who could be picked at the end of the draft. Kreider has immense talent, speed and maturity, so picking him could prove to be an amazing decision.


    No. 1: David Perron

    The St. Louis Blues' winger is finally healthy and primed for a huge year. After returning from a concussion injury, his 42 points in 57 games last season was five points fewer than the 47 he scored in an 82-game season in 2009-10.

    Look for Perron to threaten to score least 30 goals and 60 points this season. 


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    No. 5: Mikael Granlund

    Granlund is a top center prospect who has a big upside. He will suit up for the Houston Aeros during the lockout, and that will give him an edge once the NHL season starts. In a second-line role, Granlund could potentially tally 50 points.


    No. 4: Adam Henrique

    Henrique had an amazing rookie NHL campaign, and he was a big contributor for New Jersey throughout the playoffs. Look for him to come out of the gate with a lot of steam, so don't make the mistake of passing over this sleeper center.

    A fair prediction for him would be 50 to 60 points this season.


    No. 3: Derek Stepan

    Stepan is the New York Rangers' No. 2 center, and this season he will have either Rick Nash or Marian Gaborik on his right side, and Carl Hagelin or Chris Kreider on his left.

    He is coming off a strong sophomore season in which he tallied 51 points, so look for Stepan to be your ideal sleeper center.


    No. 2: Jonathan Huberdeau

    Jonathan Huberdeau was The Hockey News' pick for Rookie of the Year, and it is hard to disagree.

    Huberdeau has a lot of the tools required to be a top NHL center, and he could have a huge year in Florida. If Huberdeau scored 45 points or more, it will have been a good year for the rookie.


    No. 1: Cody Hodgson

    Hodgson is finally in a position where he will have quality top-line minutes, and that could really help him and fantasy owners this season. The Buffalo Sabres pivot sees the ice well and has the skill to be a top two-way playmaker.

Right Wing

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    No. 5: Matt Read

    The Philadelphia Flyers' winger had a solid season in 2011-12, and he should improve this season with more ice time and responsibility.

    Read is a talented player who possesses a great shot. It  is hard to believe that he was undrafted. Either way, he would be a great player to pick in your fantasy pool this season.


    No. 4: Jakub Voracek

    Voracek is going to get more ice time, as he is looked at as a replacement for Jaromir Jagr on the first line. Voracek had a ton of untapped potential with the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he should thrive this season alongside pivot Claude Giroux.


    No. 3: Dany Heatley

    Heatley is a former 100-point scorer in the NHL, but he has fallen down fantasy charts the past few seasons. The addition of Zach Parise to his line should spark Heatley and enable him to return to top form.


    No. 2: Jeff Skinner

    Skinner is one of the NHL's top young forwards, but injuries have limited his ability to make an impact.

    As an 18-year-old during his 2010-11 season, Skinner posted a modest 63-point season, scoring 31 goals. He also scored 44 points in a partial season in 2011-12. Now that he is healthy, expect Skinner to tear it up in 2012-13.


    No. 1: Nail Yakupov

    Yakupov is a player with tremendous skill. He has the potential to be the next big thing in hockey.

    He was the undisputed top pick of the 2012 draft, and his amazing tool-set should allow him to take the league by storm. Drafting him should be a priority. This sleeper has the potential to put up big numbers in 2012-13.


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    No. 5: Brendan Smith

    Smith is a promising defensive prospect slated to make his full-season debut in 2012-13.

    He is one of the NHL's top defensive prospects. He has impressed during his time in the AHL and during brief NHL stints. Smith is the future of the Detroit Red Wings' blue line, so don't miss out on drafting him.


    No. 4: Justin Schultz

    Schultz is a defenseman who appears to have the complete package.

    He was an excellent offensive defenseman in college, and the Edmonton Oilers hope that translates to the NHL. He is a player who had a lot of hype during the summer, but he should have no problem living up to it in 2012-13.


    No. 3: Ryan Ellis

    Ellis is one of the NHL's top defensive prospects who you shouldn't miss out on in fantasy hockey.

    Ellis had 18 points with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL last season and 11 points with the Predators once he was called up. With Ryan Suter gone, Ellis will have a larger role with Nashville, and by all accounts, he appears to be ready for that challenge.


    No. 2: Jake Gardiner

    Gardiner is a talented defenseman who put up 30 points in 75 games last season. He has a lot of offensive upside and should have more ice time after proving himself last season.

    Gardiner could turn out to be a true stud in 2012-13, so don't sleep on him.


    No. 1: Ryan McDonagh

    McDonagh tallied 32 points with virtually no power-play time in 2011-12. He is one of the league's elite shutdown defenders, and it is surprising that he has only 122 games of NHL experience.

    Don't forget to take McDonagh, one of the NHL's rising stars, during your upcoming fantasy draft.


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    No. 5: Sergei Bobrovsky

    Because of the success he has had in his limited NHL career, Bobrovsky could be the netminder to help turn around the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Russian netminder has a lot of upside and could surprise a lot of people during the upcoming season.


    No. 4: Anders Lindback

    The Tampa Bay Lightning needed a goalie this offseason, and Lindback was the man for the job. He will join a talented Tampa Bay team. His athletic ability and size should allow him to have a successful first season as an NHL starter.


    No. 3: Kari Lehtonen

    The Dallas Stars' netminder earned a fat new contract this summer, which was partially because of his 2011-12 success.

    He was one of the league's top netminders to start the season, but an injury helped derail his streak and mojo. The Stars are a sleeper team to make the playoffs this year, and Lehtonen is the netminder to lead them to success.


    No. 2: Braden Holtby

    Holtby went on an impressive run with the Washington Capitals during the 2011-12 Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was an enigma who appeared to be unbeatable at times, and that gave the Capitals a huge advantage.

    He showed poise, composure and maturity beyond his years. His play shook up the goalie dynamic in Washington, and there is no reason why he shouldn't be the team's starter in 2012-13.


    No. 1: Cory Schneider

    Schneider is entering his first season as the Vancouver Canucks starting goaltender. Up to this point, Schneider has had tremendous success as a backup goaltender, so there is no reason to think he won't be an effective starter.

    Schneider has the potential to win 30 or more games in 2012-13, so owners should feel confident drafting him.