A look at some short and long term fantasy hockey sleepers from Toronto, Vancouver, Washington, and Winnipeg.
2013-14 sleeper pick - Joe Colborne
I try not to make evaluations/decisions based on really small sample sizes, but Colborne’s strong play against the Bruins in Round 1 this year has be considering him as a legitimate NHL prospect once again.
He seemed to stall a bit over the past two years in the AHL, but the Leafs have to be encouraged with his performance this spring. He was overmatched at times physically (for a tall guy he needs to add some muscle), but he made great plays with the puck and played with a lot of confidence.
The Leafs could use Colborne as the fourth center next year, assuming Kadri re-signs. The production won't come right away if he starts on the fourth line with the likes of Orr and McLaren, but Colborne's future lies in Toronto's top-six.
Long term sleeper pick - Tyler Biggs
This pick applies more to leagues that count hits and PIM. Biggs won’t be a big-time point producer in the NHL, but he’s gritty and plays a very simple game (which is a good thing in many cases). He only recently turned 20, and he has only five games of pro hockey under his belt.
Biggs had a good 2012-13 season for Oshawa (although he was a no-show offensively in the playoffs). Look for Toronto to give him a few years with the Marlies before seeing where he fits in (second, third, or fourth line).
2013-14 sleeper pick - Nicklas Jensen
The Canucks are going to be younger this coming season. They want to have an infusion of rookies into the lineup, and that is one reason why Alain Vigneault wasn’t brought back (in addition to both sides needing a fresh start). The team will likely look for a coach who can balance the veteran focus of the roster with a focus on teaching and having patience with younger players.
Jensen is NHL ready. He won’t be a top line forward right off the hop, but he should be a productive player this season. He’s big, strong, and a pretty good skater. For playing style – a much less skilled Rick Nash isn’t a bad comparison. He is similar to Nash in how he can lug the puck around the ice and protect it, and he has really good hands a phenomenal wrist shot.
Long term sleeper pick - Joseph LaBate
There isn’t a ton of depth in Vancouver’s prospect pool, but LaBate is one of the ‘B’ level prospects worth watching. He had a great finish to his sophomore season at Wisconsin (he’s returning for another season, so he won’t be turning pro until at least next summer). LaBate is a big and lanky winger with a great shot and solid overall offensive instincts.
As for LaBate himself, his season mirrored that of his team. He was slow out of the gates, grabbing just two assists in his first 12 games before catching on fire with 21 points in his final 29 games.
2013-14 sleeper pick - Tom Wilson
Wilson is a future multi-category stud. He’s skilled, big, and mean. He hits to hurt, and opposing defensemen in the NHL will soon learn his name. He has the upside to have a Lucic-type impact if everything breaks right for him. He could start out on the fourth line this season alongside Fehr and Perreault, two talented offensive players.
Long term sleeper pick - Stanislav Galiev
Galiev has won three consecutive league titles (two in the QMJHL, and one in the ECHL). He has a ton of talent, and his work ethic is impressive as well. Galiev’s talent and skill set is typically Russian, and I mean that as a compliment. He has a deadly wrister, great hands, and tremendous patience with the puck.
Galiev had a great rookie season in the ECHL after struggling in the AHL – 47 points in 46 games after posting only 1 in 17 games in the AHL. He is still at least two years away from the NHL – needs to get a lot bigger and stronger – but the talent is there.
2013-14 sleeper pick - Jacob Trouba
If you are a regular DobberHockey reader, you are already very familiar with Trouba. He is the best defensive prospect in hockey (not including the 2013 eligible players), and he is more than ready for prime time NHL minutes on the Winnipeg back end. Trouba can do it all – offensively, he’s elite. He is a punishing hitter, and he is sound positionally, too. The Winnipeg defense is wide open after Byfuglien, Enstrom, and Bogosian. Expect Trouba in that top four in short order.
Long term sleeper pick - Yasin Cisse
An interesting prospect to say the least – Cisse left Boston University to go to the QMJHL after struggling there. His production in the Q was decent, but not great. He’s a big forward with a lot of talent, but also a lot of inconsistency in his game. In 27 games in the QMJHL, he scored eight goals and had 14 points. In 29 games with BU, he scored two goals total. He’s 6-3 and 215 pounds, and at this point is about as much of a project forward as you can get.
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.