10 Sleepers to Know for Your Fantasy Hockey Draft

Isaac SmithAnalyst IAugust 4, 2013

10 Sleepers to Know for Your Fantasy Hockey Draft

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    Sleeper picks can make or break a fantasy hockey season, and with the NHL season just two months away, now is the time to start gearing up for that annual fantasy hockey draft.

    With the 48-game lockout-shortened season, it was difficult to predict exact point totals for a lot of players. But the resulting point totals now give way to some predictions for the 2013-14 NHL season.

    Although superstars are almost "guaranteed" to put up a certain number of points, it is the sleeper picks that will change the course of a fantasy hockey season for better or worse.

    Here are 10 sleeper picks to put on your watch list for the 2013-14 fantasy hockey season.

LW David Perron, Edmonton Oilers

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    David Perron might see his career take a big jump forward in terms of production next season.

    The former first-round pick has spent his entire career in St. Louis, a team that demands excellence in the defensive zone. If the Oilers allow Perron to pursue more of his style of play in the offensive zone, he could exceed 60 points next season.

    In 2011-12, Perron put up 42 points in just 57 games, a 60-point average in an 82-game season.

    In addition to offense, Perron had 44 PIMs, 84 SOGs and six power-play points. For deeper leagues, Perron also had 48 hits and 11 blocked shots in 48 games this season.

C Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

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    Tyler Seguin was traded to the Dallas Stars during the 2013 offseason in a multi-player trade.

    Now, the former second-overall draft pick must rise to the occasion among a weak class of forwards in Dallas. He can cement his place as a top-six forward (or even top-line forward) in the NHL.

    Seguin had an underachieving season last year, but most of that underperforming came in the playoffs, where he had just eight points in 22 games.

    Seguin finished with 32 points in 48 games during the regular season with a plus-23 rating as well. Don't expect that plus-minus number to stay the same while he plays in Dallas. This is because Stars are much more defensively unsound than his former team in the Bruins.

    The former Plymouth Whaler should get a much-needed boost in ice time, as he was often playing as low as the third line in Boston.

    Seguin still managed to be ninth in shots for the regular season with 161 and fourth in the playoffs with 70 shots in 22 games.

    Although he couldn't find his scoring touch in the playoffs, Seguin should find some better puck luck next season if he keeps up his torrid shooting pace.

RW Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia Flyers

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    When strictly looking at points for right wingers, Wayne Simmonds is all the way down the list at 22nd in last season's scoring race.

    Don't be fooled by his "lack" of offensive production. Simmonds put up 32 points in 45 games this season, but he can help fantasy owners out in a variety of ways.

    Simmonds had 82 PIMs in the lockout-shortened season, and he also contributed 16 power-play goals. With 110 shots on goal in those 45 games, Simmonds is the real deal as far as a complete fantasy hockey player.

    Feel free to keep an eye on Simmonds and pick him up as a depth addition if the more prominent right wingers are taken off the board early in the draft.

D Mike Green, Washington Capitals

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    Mike Green led all defensemen with 12 goals last season and put up 26 points in just 35 games. If Green can duplicate his offensive output next season, he could top 60 points for just the second time in his career.

    Most hockey pundits and fans know that Mike Green has been advertised as an offensive defenseman. Put this theory to rest, as Green can contribute in all areas of fantasy hockey.

    Green had 20 PIMs last season but has 202 PIMs in his last 259 games.

    The former first-round pick also had 14 power-play points last season, with 38 power-play points in his 73-point season in 2008-09.

    Yes, he wasn't a top-10 player in points last season, but Green will go sooner rather than later despite being a "sleeper" in this slideshow.

    Keep an eye on him.

G Ray Emery, Philadelphia Flyers

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    Most backup goaltenders on Stanley Cup champion teams offer little more than moral support to their team over the course of a season.

    Despite not playing in the postseason, Ray Emery found his groove in the regular season and helped his team in a massive way in their quest for the President's Trophy.

    Emery went 17-1 as a backup goaltender.

    Fans may be tempted to put most of his record to the stellar Blackhawks team that played in front of him. But Emery was able to back up his extremely impressive win-loss record with a 1.94 GAA (third in the NHL) and a 92.2 save percentage (11th in the NHL).

    Don't expect him to get that kind of offensive support in Philadelphia next season, where Emery would be the likely starter over Steve Mason.

    But Emery will be playing more games, further benefiting whatever fantasy team he is playing on as a more reliable option for starting night in and night out.

    Because of his status as a backup goalie last season and the fact that he didn't place in the top-10 in wins, fantasy owners might be able to pick him up as a sleeper pick.

LW Cory Conacher, Ottawa Senators

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    The reason Cory Conacher makes the list of sleeper fantasy picks is because of the bipolar season that he had last year. Conacher had an explosive start with the Tampa Bay Lightning but cooled off down the stretch.

    The X-factor with Conacher is whether he can help the offensively limited Ottawa Senators conjure up some scoring next season.

    He is definitely worth being picked as a sleeper pick later in a fantasy draft and could pay handsome rewards, as he could end up playing as high as the second line with the departures of Daniel Alfredsson and Jakob Silfverberg.

    Conacher was also a rookie last season, so it will be interesting to see how he progresses in other areas of his fantasy game, such as generating more shots and penalty minutes in a full season.

C Kyle Turris, Ottawa Senators

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    Kyle Turris is another player who showed that he can be not necessarily a great player, but definitely a good player.

    The center for the Ottawa Senators put up 29 points in 48 games while going plus-six over that time. Turris will reap the benefits of the Sens' offseason moves if he can stay on the top line, as he would be playing with the newly acquired Bobby Ryan.

    If Turris doesn't start the season on the first line and is replaced by Jason Spezza, Turris will be playing against lesser opponents on the second line and still have chances to create offense.

    The 23-year-old center has had identical statistics (12 goals and 17 assists) in back-to-back seasons with the Senators, playing an almost identical number of games each season.

    Turris won't be selected as either of a fantasy team's top-two center positions, but he would make for a serviceable depth player. Turris' draft stock increases exponentially if he manages to be on the same line as Ryan.

RW/LW Johan Franzen, Detroit Red Wings

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    Johan Franzen may not seem like the power forward that he was in 2008 or 2009.

    In fact, in each of the past three seasons in which he has played 71 games or more, Franzen has put up 55 or more points.

    "The Mule" is extremely helpful to fantasy owners in that he's a big factor on the Red Wings' power-play unit. Franzen has 10 power-play goals in the last four seasons in which he has played at least 71 games.

    The 33-year-old has also never been a "minus" player in his career, going a combined plus-36 in the past two seasons.

    Franzen has a temper, and this leads him to pick up the occasional penalty minutes as well. Although not among the league leaders in PIMs, Franzen had 41 PIMs in 41 games played last season.

    The Swede has a reputation for being inconsistent over a full season in terms of scoring goals in bunches and then going goalless for games on end. But at the end of the season, his point totals usually speak for themselves.

    Fantasy owners might find that he is that extra "pick me up" needed to get over the hill in their fantasy leagues.

    The final reason to pick up Franzen is that he is normally a dual-position player in Yahoo leagues, listed as playing both right wing and left wing.

D Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues

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    Jay Bouwmeester has a reputation for being an overpaid, underachieving defenseman. Bouwmeester was the "No. 1" defenseman in Calgary for a long time and as such, he was paid like a No. 1 defenseman.

    CapGeek.com showed his last contract valued at $6.68 million per season. The former third-overall selection signed a five-year extension to remain in St. Louis past the upcoming season for a much more reasonable $5.4 million a season.

    But Bouwmeester brings a lot to the table for fantasy owners who are playing in non-cap leagues.

    Now that he is playing on a better team in the St. Louis Blues, expect Bouwmeester's point totals to rise once again. His normally abhorrent plus-minus numbers should get better as well with a more defensively sound squad.

    Now that Bouwmeester doesn't have to play that No. 1 role, he will not be getting matched up against top lines. His numbers overall should improve from this.

    This means he will actually have a chance to do something that he didn't really have the chance to do in Florida or Calgary. He can be himself and play his game the way he is able to: at his own pace.

    Keep an eye on Bouwmeester, as he is a sleeper pick and could be a steal this season in the 10th round or later of a fantasy draft.

G Devan Dubnyk, Edmonton Oilers

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    All right, Oilers fans, it is about time that Edmonton finally takes a step forward into the playoffs this season. As such, there is one player who must rise above the rest and give the team a chance to win night in and night out, and that is Devan Dubnyk.

    Dubnyk was only 14-16-6 as a starting goaltender and allowed the 10th most goals of any goaltender last season. So why is he a sleeper pick to do well this season?

    Well, the former first-round selection also faced the sixth-most short and made the fifth-most saves out of goalies in the NHL last season. His save percentage of 92.0 ranks him 14th in the NHL, so if the Oilers can get him some offense this season, he's got a chance to rebound nicely.

    All things considered, with the number of first-overall selections and top-five picks over the past half decade, it is utterly surprising that the Oilers have not turned the corner as a franchise as of yet.

    Expect that to finally change this season. Dubnyk will be the beneficiary of that change.

    If Dubnyk makes the saves he is supposed to and the Oilers can tighten up defensively, they've got the talent to finally push for a playoff spot. Can they finish the job?

    Keep an eye on Dubnyk as a possible second goalie in fantasy leagues.

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