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Sleeper picks for Edmonton, Dallas, Detroit, and Florida.
This series has been published over the past few months, team-by-team, in the daily ramblings. In Part III, we look at a short (next season) and long term sleeper for Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, and Florida.
Since many of these write-ups were done last month (or before), not everything will be completely up-to-date from a timing perspective. I went back and changed what I could, and hopefully nothing slipped through the cracks.
2013-14 sleeper pick: Matt Fraser
A natural goal scorer in every sense of the term. Fraser is big, and he loves to shoot the puck. He has been arguably the most prolific scorer in the AHL over the past few seasons. His shot is hard, heavy, and accurate. The rest of his game is rounding into form, too. He isn't a great skater, but he has improved immensely since turning pro a few years ago. And his defensive play is a lot better, too. If he earns a top six spot in Dallas this fall, he could flirt with 20-25 goals and a lot of SOG.
(Update: Fraser has since been traded to Boston. For the sake of simplicity, take what I wrote about him and apply it to Brett Ritchie. Ritchie is as good a goal scorer as Fraser, but he's probably a better overall player, too).
Long term sleeper pick: Matej Stransky
Big, rangy winger with great puck protection abilities. Stransky has top six upside, but needs a few more years of seasoning. He scored 40 this season for the Saskatoon Blades, and will likely turn pro and join the Texas Stars next season.
Detroit Red Wings
2013-14 sleeper pick: Brendan Smith
As I wrote on Thursday, I was a year early predicting Smith’s breakout. He averaged 18:24 per game in 2013, and that number will be closer to 20 next season. He finished with only eight points in 34 games, but seven of those points came in the last 15 games. That, my friends, is called a trend.
Smith is an aggressive two-way defenseman with great puck skills and a booming shot. His opportunity will come – Ian White is a UFA and likely won’t be back, and Carlo Colaiacovo is rarely healthy.
Long term sleeper pick: Xavier Ouellet
Ouellet is a part of a very underrated prospect group on the back end. In addition to Smith and Kindl with the big club, the Wings also have Danny DeKeyser, Nick Jensen, Adam Almqvist, and Ryan Sproul.
His best attribute is his hockey sense – he isn’t the biggest or fastest guy on the back end. He also makes a great first pass and will fit in nicely with Detroit’s puck possession game. It will be interesting to follow the battle for ice time in Grand Rapids next season with the young talent Detroit has quietly amassed on the back end.
2013-14 sleeper pick: Justin Schultz
Schultz was hyped last season, and for good reason – he dominated the AHL as a rookie, and was an instant impact player in the NHL, too. He hit a rookie wall and struggled defensively, as the Oilers did a poor job insulating him with veteran defensemen. That will change with MacT at the helm, and Schultz could be had later in drafts this year relative to last season (thanks to the “what have you done for me lately” thought process). I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him break the 40-point mark next season. Provided Edmonton brings in a few veteran defensemen, of course.
Long term sleeper pick: Martin Gernat
At 6-5 and 200 pounds, Gernat isn’t a prototypical offensive defenseman. He’s big and rangy, and he loves to jump into the rush. He could stand to play with a more physical edge, but that isn’t his game. He will turn pro after this season (his second in the WHL with the Edmonton Oil Kings) and needs a few years in the AHL before making the jump.
He has a ton of upside, and hopefully the Oilers are patient with him. He could be worth the wait.
2013-14 sleeper pick: Drew Shore
Shore had three goals and 13 points as a rookie in 2013. Most importantly, though, is the fact that the coaching staff trusted him to play regular minutes (he averaged just shy of 16 minutes per contest). Florida will try to re-sign Stephen Weiss, and his future will have a huge impact on what happens with Shore and Nick Bjugstad next season. At the high end of projections, Shore could center the second line and put up 40-50 points. He is a do-it-all player. Gritty, smart, a good skater, and very skilled.
The production wasn’t there as a rookie, but the rest of his game was. And that is a great sign for both next season and the long term future. He is ideally the perfect second line center, but that may be selling his upside a bit short.
Long term sleeper pick: Alex Petrovic
I nabbed Petrovic in my keeper league a few months ago, and he is currently taking up one of my eight farm spots. The TJ Brennan acquisition from Buffalo created more of a log jam on the back end in Florida, but Petrovic plays a very different game than Brennan.
Petrovic is a two-way defenseman with a lot to give both offensively and from a physicality perspective.
He had 17 points and 102 PIM in 55 games as a pro rookie in the AHL in 2012-13. He played six games with Florida, as well. He will probably spend next season shutting between the AHL and NHL before becoming a full-time NHL player in 2014-15.
Florida has Campbell, Jovanovski, Kuba, Gudbranson, Kulikov, Weaver, and Petrovic under contract for next season. Brennan is an RFA who will likely be retained.
Jovanovski is very injury prone at this point of his career, which could open up some minutes for Petrovic.
The 2013-14 DobberHockey Fantasy Guide will be released on August 1st.
The beauty of an online (PDF) release, and what separates us from the competition, is that we are able to update the DobberHockey Guide throughout the rest of the summer and right up to puck drop in early October. Other guides released in magazine format have to be written and submitted for publishing in late June with quick updates on free agency in early July.
As we all know, a lot can still happen in August and September. How about a strong training camp from a bubble player or a rookie? How about a late summer trade or signing? The fantasy impact(s) of these moves can be significant, and we will have you covered.
What the Fantasy Guide contains:
Team-by-team projections, line combinations (even strength and power play), and comprehensive analysis from Dobber.
A look at advanced stats and how they can help you become a better poolie.
A free and fully customizable spreadsheet to get you armed and ready for draft day.
Contributions from the DobberHockey crew, including Angus, Laidlaw, and Amato.
Sleepers, buy low and sell high targets, salary cap bargains, goaltenders galore, draft strategies, projected hits, and much, much more.
Support the website and win your pool. I’d call that a win-win.