RW Jonathan Cheechoo, Ottawa Senators—Looks like he will line up with Mike Fisher and Alex Kovalev, who will give Cheechoo plenty of chances to score. A happy Bryan Murray is a healthy Jonathan Cheechoo. A healthy Cheechoo is a happier fantasy owner. A happier fantasy owner expects 25 goals.
LW Milan Michalek, Ottawa Senators—Not really a sleeper, but becomes Jason Spezza’s new toy on the left side, o he has the opportunity to improve on last year’s 23 goals. Based on their first game together, seems like a good fit for both players.
C Michael Frolik, Florida Panthers—Does not get much pub because he plays for the Panthers, but Frolik put together nice numbers last year. He only had 45 points (21 goals), but only score two points in his first 19 games! That works out to be 43 points in his next 60 games (0.72 ppg). Overshadowed by Giroux, who is heavily being hyped for a breakout season, Frolik could very well steal the show.
D Erik Johnson, St. Louis Blues—It is about time the former No. 1 overall pick justifies his place as one of the NHL’s elite young defensemen. Injuries have hampered him since he broke into the league, but if he can stay healthy this year, he can help the Blues to a second straight playoff berth. He is likely to man an impressive powerplay with the likes of Paul Kariya, Andy McDonald, and Brad Boyes. If healthy, a 50 point season is the minimum.
LW Ryane Clowe, San Jose Sharks—Another guy who has never put together a full season, but if he does, has the potential of putting up nice numbers. He had 52 points (22 goals) in 71 games last season and inherited a new linemate in Patrick Marleau his season. Along with Joe Pavelski, both of those playmakers will surely be setting up Clowe for goals all season, if he can play a whole season.
D Alex Goligoski, Pittsburgh Penguins—It seems like GO-GO is on this list every year. Could this finally be the year he earns valuable minutes? With Sergei Gonchar and Kristopher Letang already at the backend, it will be difficult for Goligoski to find opportunities. However, he is a very capable offensive player and was sometimes slotted on the wing last season.
LW Kristian Huselius, Columbus Blue Jackets—Huselius has always had the talent to put pucks in the net. He should be able to do a lot of that this season with Rick Nash and a healthy Derrick Brassard as linemates. Nash is poised to have a career year and Huselius should be right behind him riding his coat tails. Brassard should also not be forgotten about. He had a very impressive rookie campaign, but was shortened by injury. He has the best playmaking skills in Columbus, the key will be to stay healthy.
G Vesa Tosakala/Jonas Gustafsson, Toronto Maple Leafs—Both are very good goalies. One has proven himself in the NHL and the other in Sweden. Either way, the Maple Leafs have a improved defensive core—maybe the best in the league. They will be tough and limit the shots on goal. This is great news for both goalies as the decreased shots will surely lead to a minuscule GAA. Don’t be scared to take Leafs on draft night. They are much improved and with Phil Kessel, should contend.
C Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins—This season will be the ultimate bounce-back season for Bergeron. With David Krejci missing the first few weeks of the season to rehab a surgically repaired shoulder, Bergeron will get the opportunity to center the second line in Boston. Kessel is gone, but the Bruins still have a lot of capable skaters who can put the puck in the net. Slightly water down Bergeron’s 2005-2007 seasons and that’s what to expect this year. Just hope for him to stay healthy and you have yourself a steal in the later rounds.
LW Andrei Kostitsyn, Montreal Canadiens—There is more than one Andrei in Montreal. This Andrei is looking to bounce back after an off year and he will look to do it on the top line with Scott Gomez and Mike Cammalleri. This can be a pretty impressive line if they are able to click, and judging by the preseason, they have been. Going into his third full season in the NHL, plus paying with established line mates, Kostitsyn is begging you not to sleep on a possible 30 goal season.
LW James Neal, Dallas Stars—Neal came into the NHL as a tough guy; however, proved he has a decent set of hands when he scored 24 goals for the Stars last season. This type of production has earned him a spot in Dalas’ top six forward unit. According to the Dallas News, Neal will line up with Loui Eriksson and Brad Richards. Wow. What an opportunity for Neal. Richards is still one of the premier passers in the league and Eriksson has 40 goal potential (36 last year). Neal could benefit from both of those guys, whether its banging in rebounds or sliding in saucer passes.