A look at some short and long term sleepers from New Jersey, the two New York teams, Ottawa, and Phoenix.
This series has been published over the past few months, team-by-team, in the daily ramblings. In Part V, we look at a short (next season only) and long term (next three or four years) sleeper for New Jersey, the two New York teams, Ottawa, and Phoenix.
Since many of these write-ups were done over the past few months, 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.
New Jersey Devils
2013-14 sleeper pick: Jon Merrill
Merrill is a dynamic two-way defenseman with a ton of upside. Do the Devils go the patient route with him and leave him in the AHL for a year or two? I think he is NHL ready now, but I am not the coach (nor the GM) for New Jersey. He has top pairing upside – 10+ goals, 45+ points, and solid peripheral numbers. Even if he isn’t productive for a year or so, he will be worth the wait.
Long term sleeper pick: Reid Boucher
62 goals in 68 OHL games in 2012-13 for Boucher. Suffice to say… he’s a natural scorer. He had two goals in 11 AHL games after turning pro. He isn’t on the Devils radar for the immediate future – he has to improve many aspects of his game first. But he definitely has top six upside, and with the right development, he will be a go-to scorer at the NHL level, too.
2013-14 sleeper pick: Matt Donovan
Long term sleeper pick: Mike Halmo
The Islanders signed Halmo as a free agent out of the OHL last summer. He played his first season in pro hockey in the AHL in 2012-13, finishing with 14 points in 46 games. He’s small but pretty gritty (he loves to hit, and he’s quite good at it). He is also skilled and blessed with terrific hockey sense. He’s a long term sleeper if there ever was one, but he has NHL upside. Halmo was a linemate of Andrew Shaw’s in the OHL, and they are pretty similar players.
Great value in multi-cat leagues:
2013-14 sleeper pick: JT Miller
Stepan, Richards, Boyle, and Miller is a pretty decent 1-2-3-4 down the middle. Miller had four points in 26 NHL games in 2013, and eight goals and 23 points in 42 AHL games. He’s a top six talent but just needs some more pro experience before he starts to produce more. Good size, great skater, but how much ice time will he get at center? Does he move to the wing to play more?
Long term sleeper pick: Calle Andersson
A skilled two-way defenseman from Sweden – Andersson is a ’94 birthday and will probably spend another year or two in the SEL before coming to North America. He had two points in 34 SEL games as an 18-year-old – it is hard to really evaluate SEL rookies and youngsters based on their production, as they typically don’t play a whole lot. He has projectable upside, though, and that is what counts.
2013-14 sleeper pick: Mika Zibanejad
Zibanejad isn’t a household name outside of Ottawa or Sweden, but he is primed for a monster breakout season. He’s a terrific two-way forward, and he plays with an edge that reminds me of Henrik Zetterberg. Comparing players to country mates makes for an easy narrative, but the Zetterberg-Zibanejad comp has a lot of merit. He will force Kyle Turris down to line three (giving Ottawa three really balanced two-way units). And you can probably get him late in your one-year draft, as 20 points in 43 games doesn’t jump off the page to most poolies.
If you are in a keeper, he is a must-own.
Long term sleeper pick: Shane Prince/Matt Puempel
Two boom-or-bust prospects. Both Price and Puempel are very gifted offensive wingers, but both need to get bigger, stronger, and more consistent if they want to be NHLers. Price scored 18 goals as a rookie in the AHL in 2012-13 (solid), and Puempel had 35 goals in 53 OHL games (although only 12 helpers).
Ottawa has a very good and very deep prospect pool, and both of these guys are worth watching if you are in a keeper and need some future goal scorers.
2013-14 sleeper pick: Chris Brown
Brown is a power forward who spent two years at Michigan before turning pro. As a rookie in the AHL last season, he scored 30 goals (29 regular season, one postseason). Brown earned a call up to the Coyotes near the end of the season, but he didn’t play much. He’s big, has a nose for the net, and gets around the ice pretty well, too.
I’m going to give you a second 2013-14 sleeper instead: Michael Stone
I went to see the Coyotes and Canucks play live this past season, and I came away really impressed with Stone’s game. I admittedly didn’t’ know much about him before that game – only that he was a solid young defenseman who had been bumped up to play with OEL on occasion.
He had nine points in 40 NHL games in 2013, adding 29 points in the AHL during the lockout. He’s physical and has a booming shot, but just needs to find that next level of consistency.
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.
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Team-by-team projections, line combinations (even strength and power play), and comprehensive analysis from Dobber.
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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.
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