Fantasy Hockey: 5 Most Under-the-Radar Forwards in the League

Stephen KaczmarContributor IIOctober 8, 2011

Fantasy Hockey: 5 Most Under-the-Radar Forwards in the League

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    Every season a forward comes out of nowhere to become fantasy relevant. It could be a veteran resurrecting his career or a younger player finding his way. Maybe a change of scenery is all a player needed to truly reach his potential. 

    Fantasy junkies, you should consider adding the next five forwards to your lineup, they could still be on your waiver wire so snatch them up while they last. They could be the difference between winning and losing your league.

Steve Sullivan

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    Steve Sullivan signed a one-year deal with the Penguins in the offseason with coach Dan Bylsma intending to use him as a top six forward. To start the season he is lining up with bounce-back candidate Evgeni Malkin and up-start James Neal.

    The veteran is in a great situation for him to succeed. He's only played over 70 games once in the past seven seasons, so health could be an issue. Steve has proven to be a solid fantasy commodity, when healthy, amassing 682 points over his 891 game NHL career.

    Surrounded by a ton of offensive talent and a great game plan in Pittsburgh, Steve Sullivan could flirt with a 45-50 point total this season.

Michael Ryder

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    Michael Ryder has taken a lot of heat the last few seasons for being inconsistent, and at times accused of not having his head in the game. Previously playing in two huge hockey markets in Montreal and Boston, he was the media's punching bag. He's escaped all that now, in Dallas, he can just concentrate on his game.

    Reunited with his former Habs teammate Mike Ribeiro, Ryder is comfortable again and ready to put up respectable numbers in the Lone Star State. His best season was his very first NHL season when he put up 63 points as a Hab in 2003/04. Playing first line minutes alongside Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro should lift Michael Ryder to career highs.

Dustin Penner

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    Dustin has the potential to be a consistent 30-goal scorer, but his fitness has never been up to par...until this season. The big man has rededicated himself in the gym after his GM Dean Lombardi called him out on his fitness. The former Oiler and Duck struggled to acclimate himself in the Kings lineup after accumulating only six points in 19 games after the trade deadline, and two points in the six King playoff games. 

    The Kings will give Dustin ample opportunity as their trade deadline acquisition from a season ago. He'll be playing a top six forward role, and should stick on one of the top two, talented lines in Los Angeles. Fantasy owners can expect anywhere from 50 to 55 points, with upside for more.

Valterri Filppula

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    Valtteri Filppula has never surpassed the 40 point plateau in his NHL career. Many thought he would reach that mark by now after being on pace to surpass it in 2009/10 when he racked up 35 points in only 55 games but last season he disappointed with 39 in 71. So why is this the year?

    He’s playing alongside with Henrik Zetterberg and Johan Franzen. They clicked well during the preseason and now they’re a unit in the regular season. The Red Wings core is not getting any younger and they need Valtteri to step up. He’s also centering the second line power-play unit, which only adds to his fantasy value. Expect Valtteri Filppula to finally get over the 40 point hump this season.

Wojtek Wolski

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    The Ranger forward has had a rough go of things ever since leaving Colorado, not coming close to what was expected of him when wearing an Avalanche uniform. He put 18 points in 18 games after being traded to Phoenix in 2009/10 but since then it’s been downhill.

    Wojtek Wolski has the talent to put up 50 points, but injuries and lackadaisical play has seen him find a regular spot in coach John Tortorella’s dog house. He’s even off to a bad start this season as his groin has put him out day-to-day and is sitting out game two of the regular season. Use this pick with discretion, but something has to give. If given a chance to play a top two line role, scoop him up.