If you are stuck in the middle of the pack in your fantasy pool, this is the article for you.  The leaders have pulled away and this year is over in terms of you winning, so the only logical step is to look ahead to next season.  You may begin to ask yourself a bunch of questions.  Who are some guys to keep an eye on?  Who are some players to avoid after a big year?  Why didn’t I buy Dobber’s Guide like the guy in first place did? 

 

 

sakic

I’m going to cover a division per week for the next three weeks, starting with the Northwest.  Many of the players will seem obscure, but doing a little out of the box thinking can be key in getting an early start on the rest of your pool.

Calgary:


No-brainer:
If anyone doubts Kristian Huselius and his fantastic production, stop.  He will approach 100 points next season.  No, you didn’t misread that.  100 points.  He is on his way to being one of the elite wingers in this league.  Try and trade a more known commodity on the downside of his career for him.  


Sleeper:
David Moss.  He has fit perfectly on the second line in Calgary, and the versatile rookie appears to have a solid upside of 25-30 goals, which he may even hit next season.  Calgary is relatively thin at wing compared to center, so he will see his share of ice-time.  

Edmonton:


No-brainer:
Um… Ryan Smyth?  No one in the Oilers lineup screams STUD to me.  Ales Hemsky has tantalizing skill but takes too many games off to rely on as a key fantasy player.  I’d say Shawn Horcoff, just because he is a more consistent option.  Won’t put up a ton of points but in general you know what you are getting.  He is having a relatively poor year like the other Oilers; so if you want a stabilizing center for next season, look into acquiring him.


Sleeper:
Marc Pouliot.
Pouliot has really impressed in his recent stint with the big club.  The Oilers are hoping that he can earn a starting job with the team next season.  He is known as the guy who fed Crosby the puck in the Q, but he does have a solid upside and appears very NHL ready.  Seems like a worthwhile gamble considering the downside is pretty low.

Colorado:


No-brainer:
I would say Joe Sakic, but he is such a sure thing it isn’t even worth mentioning.  Paul Stastny has been the BEST rookie in the NHL this season.  He keeps surpassing all expectations set for him, and already is a very consistent, productive player.  If you have him, don’t even consider moving him.  A player with his consistency and upside at that age is extremely rare.


Sleeper:
In terms of upside, this has to be Milan Hejduk.  A few seasons removed from a 50-goal season, Hejduk has shown amazing chemistry with Stastny and will hit 45 goals next season.  He has been counted on as the defensive member of many lines this season due to inexperience in the Avalanche top six, and that has hurt his numbers.  Hejduk is well on his way to elite status again.

Minnesota:


No-brainer:
Marian Gaborik.  He has shown us time and time again why he is so highly regarded.  Unarguably the fastest skater in the league, he rivals only Alex Ovechkin as the most explosive.  Gaborik has been nagged by groin injuries this season but will shake the injury bug and approach 60 goals next year.

 
Sleeper:
Mikko Koivu.  He will get a more offensive role next season and will put up very good numbers.  Shown huge improvements in his game this season.  For a few years down the line, keep an eye on Benoit Pouliot.  He has likened himself to Vincent Lecavalier, but unfortunately that comes with the maddeningly inconsistent play (well, not counting this years’ freakishly good Lecavalier).

Vancouver:


No-brainer:
Sedins.  Henrik Sedin is in the top 40 for NHL scorers with a measly nine goals.  The guy can pass the puck like few in the league, and twin Daniel has picked up the scoring bulk.  Really keep an eye on after next season when the Canucks have some cap money to play with.  If the Sedins’ could ever get a right-winger like Dany Heatley (who, coincidentally, is a free agent and lives in Kelowna, BC during the off season), I would expect at least 100 points out of each of them.


Sleeper:
Brent Sopel.  While he is a free agent, look for Sopel to re-sign in Vancouver.  He has transitioned in fairly well to the new system and looks to be a natural fit to replace Sami Salo should the Canucks fail to lock him up.  


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