Unplucked Gems: Under the Radar 2010 Fantasy Hockey High Reward Picks
We over at Unplucked Sports enjoyed a well deserved summer away from fantasy sports, but as the NHL preseason action gets underway, there are more and more fantasy hockey drafts taking place each day. We all have our own approach to picking players and predicating breakout seasons.
As with considering all the options, some players tend to fall under the radar each draft year for numerous reasons.
Like the players in this feature, players are at risk of being ranked lower than normal based on conditions such as extended injury leave, Russian defection, or the player was involved with a trade or promotion raising their hockey capital.
Banking on a bounce back season under any circumstance is a crap shoot. Those with injuries may be prone to additional misfortune once the season kicks into gear. Unfortunately, we roll the dice on that upside and potential.
Good luck at the draft. Hopefully, you'll land once these picks as a difference maker during the regular season.
Ales Hemsky, RW: EDM
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Hemsky missed a good chuck of last season due to shoulder surgery stemming from a torn labrum in November. Prior to this injury, Hemsky scored 22 points in Edmonton's first 22 games, including 25 assists. The playmaker was also carried a +/- differential of +7.
After potting 158 points in 188 games since 2007, Hemsky was preparing for another productive season before being injured. He returns to a dismal Oiler offense, one yet to prove its effectiveness with their plethora of youngsters up front.
Hemsky entered training camp 10lbs lighter and, barring another injury, the 27-year old will likely reach between 70-80 points and average around a point per game for most of the season.
Milan Lucic BOS LW
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Lucic is a power forward still developing looking to bounce back from numerous injuries which forced him to miss total of 32 games. Lucic will be looked up to bring and edge to Boston's offense.
He's a great fantasy asset because along with the potential to put up 50 points and 150 PIM, making him a higher priority in any league format.
Lucic will likely land on a scoring line with the Bruins main acquisition this summer, Nate Horton, who also has a wealth of untapped scoring potential. He will also be tasked by playing the body in front of the next on the B's power play.
Kari Lehtonen G DAL
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Lehtonen started last season in Atlanta but the second overall draft pick in 2006 was sidelined by two back operations and effectively lost his job to Ondrej Pavelec.
Once he became expendable, Thrashers brass dealt him to the Stars, who promptly signed him to a $3 million deal. He is at the top of the goaltending depth chart and will likely start 50+ of Dallas' games.
He didn't have a great supporting cast in Atlanta and certainly Dallas isn’t much better, so throw caution to some of his peripherals as the season unfolds.
And the point of all points, Lehtonen's new mask features none other than Chuck Norris. I hear the throat protector hides the third fist...
Daniel Briere RW PHI
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Briere may be a little less under the radar of fantasy managers, but he may be worth a stronger look in earlier rounds. Another player bit with the injury bug, Briere posted only 53 points (26G, 27A).
He's one of those power forwards who also posted 71 PIM, making a similar number within reach this season.
Briere needs to stay healthy for a full season for fantasy leaguers to justify spending a high draft pick on the right-winger. His 95-point effort in 2006 is likely his ceiling, but after scoring a ridiculous 12 goals and adding 18 assists in 23 playoff games, he flashes the ability to run away with offensive stats when he finds his groove.
P.K. Subban D MON
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Subban played in only two of Les Canadiens games last season, but made a seriously strong impression on the Habs faithful during the playoffs. He posted eight points through the Habs 14-game magical run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
He has been with Hamilton Bulldogs the past few season and garnered plenty of praise from his play there. Thrust into the playoffs last year following an injury to fellow blueliner Andrei Markov, Subban has almost assured his spot on the Habs blueline when the season opens.
He's shown plenty of offensive potential (not to mention the coveted PIM contribution) and will see time on the power play, ripping his rocket of a shot.
P.K. is a must have on draft day in all deeper mixed league and, should he stay consistent throughout the rigorous NHL season as a rookie in the hockey mad hotbed that is Montreal, he'll likely find his name among early Calder Trophy conversations.