So it is that time of year again. Fantasy Football has already kicked off and your draft was probably a few weeks ago in anticipation of the season that narrowly escaped a fate that the NHL’s season did not a few years back. But the NHL season is right around the corner and you fantasy geeks are preparing for yet another draft. This column will outline who I think will be the top performers not only on the Blues but around the league this year.
It goes without saying that players like Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and the Sedin twins will be among the first picked this year. But the first is not going to make or break your team. It’s the middle rounds. The late rounds trying to draft that sleeper. Someone that will breakout this year and make a name for himself. Like Matt D’Agostini did for the Blues last year. Picking that one player is like playing the lottery but if you have followed your team last couple of years you should have an idea who that is.
This year for the St Louis Blues, my sleepers are based not only on who I think will break out but also who I think yahoo has under valued. First up we have Jaroslav Halak, yahoo does have him ranked in the top 100 players this season but he is ranked 19th among his position at goalie. My opinion is he wont go until maybe 4th rd depending on how your draft plays out. Halak is poised for a rebound season after his first full season of starting. The St Louis Blues will be relying on Halak to come through this year as the back up situation is a bit murky with an unproven Ben Bishop and Brian Elliot who was frankly not very good in Colorado last year.
The second sleeper for the Blues really is not a sleeper at all but someone that is ranked 174th by yahoo and someone that I mentioned in an earlier piece ready to just absolutely bust out this season. That player is the big Swede Patrik Berglund. Patrik who will be in his 4th season as a pro and 4th as a member of the Blues has shown the Blues coaching staff in Worlds he is ready to take on a more prominent role on this team. Possibly paired with Chris Stewart and TJ Oshie. Berglund could easily hit the 80 pt mark if he and his probably line mates stay healthy and do in fact get paired together. As stated by Randall Ritchey in a post earlier this week the Swede was not the same player without Oshie, and built some great chemistry with his new teammate last year. A lot of Berglund’s success will hinge on whether or not he keeps the maturity shown at the worlds tournament and whether his line mates can stay healthy.
Speaking of health my third sleeper is a probable line mate of Berglund’s, TJ Oshie. Oshie signed a 1 year prove your worth deal this summer and needs to prove that not only can he produce enough points but stay healthy enough to cash in the potential this guy has. No longer a kid maturity has always been an issue with him and he has publicly said it is time to get to work. Oshie can be an absolute steal in later rounds if he resolves those health concerns.
Your Blues ratings according yahoo are all over the place. The teams average rank is 413, do what you will with the number but the Blues still have some fantasy keepers that will be drafted and be an anchor for a winning team.
First keeper is your new captain, David Backes. The highest ranked Blues player comes in at 60. So far most mock drafts he does not make it out of the 2nd round. Backes coming off of a year where he led the team in +/-, hits, and points, should come into this year and hit another 60+pt campaign.
Second keeper on the team is the next highest ranked player on the Blues and that is Chris Stewart. Stewart who came over to the Blues last season in a trade with Colorado, proved why the Blues wanted him so much, and made Colorado regret the trade for the short term scoring 23 pts in 32 gms for the blues and posting 2 goals against his former club. A little more stability and a full healthy season from Stewart and we could easily see this Power Forward become a star in this league. A defensively responsible forward you will not have to worry about the plus minus stat with him. A powerplay stalwart like Backes they both get in the dirty areas and look for rebounds or tips.
The third keeper on this off of the Blues is a rising star defenseman names Alex Pietrangelo. Petro is ranked by yahoo at 107 and is the third highest rated player on the team. Petro coming into his 2nd full season should post better numbers then last year (43pts). As a two way defender Petro has a cannon from the point that reminds me of the days of MacInnis and Pronger. He should be the quarterback of a powerplay looking to improve upon last years dismal overall showing.
Picking sleepers around the league can be a bit dicey sometimes. Now this is all purely subjective, its my opinion. You can agree to disagree, or disagree altogether, or even say im taking the safe bets and not really putting anything on the line. You would be right, players on other teams I would look out for would be: Anaheim, Cam Fowler; Boston, Milan Lucic; Buffalo, Tyler Myers; Calgary, Rene Bourque; Carolina, Cam Ward; Chicago, Michael Frolik; Colorado, Peter Mueller; Colombus, Steve Mason; Dallas, Mike Ribeiro; Detroit, Jimmy Howard; Edmonton, Gilbert Brule; Florida, Kris Versteeg; Los Angeles, Jack Johnson; Minnesota, Devin Setoguchi; Montreal, Lars Eller; Nashville, Ryan Suter; New Jersey, Martin Brodeur; New York Isles, John Tavares; New York Rangers, Ryan Callahan; Ottawa, Daniel Alffredson; Philadelphia, James Van Riemsdyk; Pittsburgh, Jordan Staal; Phoenix, Kyle Turris; San Jose, Patrick Marleau; St Louis, Alex Steen; Tampa Bay, Vincent Lecavlier; Toronto, Nazem Kadri; Vancouver, Alex Burrows; Washington, John Carlson; Winnepeg, Evander Kane. These are some of my sleepers for each team in the NHL. Each player is coming back to prominence, or showing the world that it is their time to shine. Each player is someone that will ultimately help your fantasy team assuming they stay healthy.
Now outside of the top 100 ranked players this column should help you find your way through a season. These players should provide some punch in the playoffs and hopefully win you that all to important Fantasy League Title and bragging rights till next season starts. Hopefully this will give you some insight into the league and some young and exciting players to follow as well as some veterans that are looking for some strong numbers either before they retire or for the next big contract.
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