Last year it was Matt Cullen and Radim Vrbata. Who will it be this year? While all eyes are on Marian Hossa in Detroit, Brian Campbell in Chicago, Wade Redden in New York or even Jaromir Jagr in Russia, you can set your sights on these late-round potential gems at your draft table.
Jason Krog to Vancouver
The background: He’s an AHL superstar who will probably spend the season in the minors yet again. However, he is on a one-way deal the and the ‘Nucks are desperate for offense. It says here that Kyle Wellwood is a bust and Pavol Demitra is most comfortable on the wing. That leaves Krog, unless the team feels that Ryan Kesler is a second-line player. He’s not.
Draft him: in the last round, but only if your draft is down to 35-point players. Don’t risk it if your draft does not go that deep.
Yann Danis to N.Y. Islanders
The background: His six games in the NHL were all impressive and he was arguably the best goalie in Montreal’s camp last fall. Politics (Cristobal Huet, Carey Price and Jaroslav Halak were all being groomed as potential star starters) pushed him down to the AHL where he floundered. While Joey McDonald has a one-way deal, it is for close to the minimum and Charles Wang won’t mind paying him in the AHL if Danis impresses. Rick DiPietro gets hurt every season and if it ever gets serious, then Danis could surprise. The bigger problem is – how many games will this team win?
Draft him: only if DiPietro gets hurt and you need a third goalie.
Jason Williams to Atlanta
The background: He was on pace to clear 65 points last season before he was derailed by injury. Prior to the lockout, he was a little brittle, so definitely beware. That being said, he gets the first-line right wing job by default. That means Ilya Kovalchuk so he could reach his upside of 70 points.
Draft him: when 55-point forwards start going, scoop him up. If healthy, 55 should be his minimum so he will be the steal of that round.
Bill Thomas to Pittsburgh
The background: You know what he’s good at? Scoring. You know where he plays? On the wing. You know what the Penguins need? A winger who can score. His NHL future is far from certain and Miroslav Satan and Petr Sykora already have spots locked up on a Sidney Crosby/Evgeni Malkin line. But don’t kid yourself – Pascal Dupuis and Ruslan Fedotenko will have to battle for the other two spots with Thomas and Janne Pesonen. While I think Dupuis and Pesonen will be the winners here, don’t turn a blind eye on Thomas in that final round.
Draft him: in the last round, when you are down to 40- to 45-point forwards. His downside is zero, but his upside is 60 or more.
Joakim Lindstrom to Anaheim
The background: Despite 99 points in his first 127 AHL games, Lindstrom managed just one point in 12 NHL contests. The Blue Jackets were getting frustrated that he could not translate his offense to the big club. That changed last season. Not only did he tally 60 points in just 49 games for Syracuse, but he managed seven in 25 for Columbus. With so many highly touted kids joining the squad, his outlook wasn’t good though. Until now. He is probably the sixth most offensively talented forward on Anaheim’s roster. Some quick math will tell you that that will put him on their top six.
Draft him: you can easily get him in the last round when 35-point guys are getting scooped. But even if your draft only goes as deep as 45-point forwards, he’s worth a flyer. Wait for the last round though.
More next week!
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