Right around the middle of the season, I love looking back at one-year drafts and seeing who went where. There are always players who fall much further than they should and the more you can snag, the better your team will perform. Since many draft rankings are based on the prior year’s performance, it’s easy to lose names in the draft day madness. Here are some Eastern Conference picks that might be ranked lower than they should.
David Krejci – Center – Boston
With Marc Savard’s career likely over, Krejci will assume the top line duties in Beantown. Although his 62 regular season points tied for the team lead in scoring, his 23 postseason points in 25 games also led Boston. Last year, Krejci’s shooting percentage (8.3) was his lowest since his rookie season.
Rich Peverley – Center/Right Wing – Boston
With the move to Boston, Peverley struggled to replicate the offensive touch he found in Atlanta. With the departure of Mark Recchi though, Peverley’s only real competition for a top-six spot is Tyler Seguin. Rich will almost certainly be available as a late-round pick as you search for depth options.
Drew Stafford – Right Wing – Buffalo
Although Stafford scored only 52 points, he did it in an impressive 62 games. That’s a 69-point pace, which would have placed him seventh overall in Eastern Conference scoring and 25th overall in the league. Stafford also scored 31 goals in that stretch, prorating to a 41-goal campaign.
Derek Roy – Center – Buffalo
Roy was limited to only 35 games last season, but was scoring at a point-per-game clip, which would have been his second 80+ season of his career. Roy is 28 years old and averaged 73 points over each of the previous three seasons.
Marc-Andre Gragnani – Defense – Buffalo
It’s not likely that Gragnani’s three points in nine games last season have him ranked very high on draft day, but his postseason performance was just a hint of what he’s capable of. Gragnani was a first team AHL All-Star last year, while capturing the Eddie Shore Award (AHL’s best defenseman) while leading the league in defensive points (60) and assists (48), despite playing in only 63 games. He would have played more if it were not for the nine-game cup of coffee he received with the Sabres.
Jussi Jokinen – Left Wing – Carolina
Two years ago, Jussi Jokinen reached the 30-goal, 65-point plateau, setting a career high. During that time, he saw the majority of his shifts with Eric Staal, but he also had to fight Erik Cole for ice time. With Cole out of town, Jokinen should see a lift in ice time with or without Staal, and could certainly break the 60-point barrier once again.
Tomas Fleischmann – Left Wing – Florida
Fleischmann’s status is still uncertain for the beginning of the year, but if he is healthy enough to play, he should make a great depth winger on your squad. Flash was much more successful while playing left wing last year (21 points in 22 games) than playing center (10 points in 23 games) and it’s likely that he will remain playing the wing in Florida.
Mike Santorelli – Center – Florida
Santorelli looked to be the odd man looking in on the Florida roster last year, but despite having only 32 games and three NHL points to his resume, he took hold of the second-line center position and never looked back. On an offensively weak team, Santorelli’s 41 points were the second most in Florida, a team has added significantly more talent for the coming year.
Max Pacioretty – Left Wing – Montreal
Fans have been waiting patiently for Pacioretty to arrive and in 2010-11, he was doing just that. Although he was limited to only 37 games, Max scored at a 53-point pace over a full season. He’ll be fighting Erik Cole and Andrei Kostitsyn for top-six time, but it should only be a matter of time before he starts producing the way he did last year.
Andrei Markov – Defense – Montreal
Although Andrei Markov’s been hit with the injury bug the last couple seasons, he’s still a strong offensive defenseman when in the lineup. Last season, Markov was only able to dress for seven games, though he did score three points. If you’re not worried about his reconstructed ACL, Markov would make a pickup after the healthy elite defensemen have been scooped up.
Zach Parise – Left Wing – New Jersey
It’s unlikely that Parise falls very far on draft day, but most of your fellow GM’s will have a hard time forgetting last year’s six points in 13 games. Try to remember that the two seasons prior to last, Parise averaged 88 points, a number that would have placed him sixth overall in the league. He won’t have Travis Zajac to start the year, but he should be just fine.
Martin Brodeur – Goalie – New Jersey
In two of the last three seasons, Brodeur has had his lowest games played totals (56 and 31) since 1995. He’s also had less than a 2.50 GAA in that stretch and his lowest save percentage was last year at .905, but the Devils struggled overall as a team in the first half and Marty’s numbers reflected that. Brodeur was 10-19 with a 2.84 GAA and .895 save percentage before the All Star break, followed by a 13-7 run with a 1.84 GAA and a .919 save percentage. Don’t be so quick to drop Brodeur down your draft list when the time comes.
Kyle Okposo – Right Wing – New York Islanders
Last season Okposo was finally entering his fourth year and all signs pointed to a breakout. Then, after a heartbreaking preseason injury, Okposo was out for months. When he returned he had lost his top spot to P.A. Parenteau, but make no mistake. Okposo is the best Islanders RW for the coming season. Okposo scored 52 points on an awful Isles team two years ago and the team is much stronger now. If I were a betting man, I would put money on Okposo having a career year and guess at 60+ for the coming season.
Mark Streit – Defense – New York Islanders
Although Streit missed the entire last season with a torn labrum and rotator cuff, he took a full calendar year to recover. Many other stars try to squeeze the entire rehabilitation process into one offseason, and don’t fully recover from the injury. If Streit scored 53 points last season (his average over the previous two seasons in Long Island), he would have tied for fourth overall in defensive scoring with Dustin Byfuglien.
Michael Del Zotto – Defense – New York Rangers
Last summer Del Zotto trained hard and was focused on not falling victim to the sophomore slump. That didn’t work out so well for him, but the future is still bright for MDZ. Mike is a power play specialist and with Brad Richards in town, he will certainly see a boost in points if he can stick with the big club. If Del Zotto is still around after you’ve filled your initial defense spots, he’s certainly worth a gamble.
Sergei Gonchar – Defense – Ottawa
Sometimes when star players relocate, the adjustment period just takes longer than expected. I distinctly remember my Pittsburgh friends calling for Gonchar’s head in the first few months he skated as a Penguin and wondering why they ever signed him. With stars like Crosby and Malkin on the roster though, it didn’t take long for him to get back on his game. That adjustment has taken longer in Ottawa, but there is absolutely no way that Gonchar scores at or under the 27 points he scored last season.
James van Riemsdyk – Left Wing – Philadelphia
A year ago, Claude Giroux was wrapping up an impressive postseason, but few had him pegged to score the 11th most points in the league. JVR is the latest emerging Flyer to have a strong postseason and with Carter and Richards shipped out of town, van Riemsdyk should certainly improve upon last year’s mark of 40 points.
Chris Pronger – Defense – Philadelphia
Pronger is still one of the best defensemen in the league (and even better for fantasy owners), but his 25 points last season won’t have him very high on most draft rankings. There’s a good chance he’ll miss training camp too, which lowers his stock even more. Don’t be fooled though. If Pronger misses the first month of the season, he’ll still be a huge asset to your squad down the stretch.
Jordan Staal – Center – Pittsburgh
Staal played in only 42 games last season and had the Penguins not been featured in the Winter Classic, Staal would have likely delayed his comeback even further. Regardless, his respectable 30 points actually had him on pace to set a career high 59 points. Even if Crosby and Malkin are both healthy, Staal will still be a top-six player in Pittsburgh. If Crosby does return, Malkin will slide to left wing, most likely on Staal’s line, which would trigger a bump in production. In either situation, good things are likely in store for Jordan Staal in 2011-12.
Steve Sullivan – Right Wing – Pittsburgh
Another year, another injury shortened season for Sullivan. Fans were excited when only two years ago, Sullivan dressed for a full 82 games, but Sully followed that up by dressing in only 44, somewhat of a recurring theme in his world. Sullivan is a band-aid-boy, but if Crosby returns to the lineup, keep an eye on Sullivan, who scored 22 points last season in low-scoring Nashville.
Steve Downie – Right Wing – Tampa Bay
Steve Downie has a heck of a lot more skill than people give him credit for and if your league counts PIM and points, Downie is going to be one of the best options out there. Despite scoring only 32 points last year (in 57 games), Downie is capable of at least 50-60 if not more, and he’ll give you 200+ penalty minutes. With Simon Gagne’s departure, there’s more room to skate with either Stamkos or Lecavalier and that could spell breakout for Steve Downie.
Joffrey Lupul – Left Wing – Toronto
Lupul’s had some injury problems the last few years and is a bit of a Windex Wonder, but he’s also never been assured of skating on the top line before. In the three years he scored 46-53 points, he was doing so in a secondary scoring role. Now, he is finding himself the top left wing on a line with Connolly and Kessel. In last year’s injury shortened season, he scored only 31 points, but if healthy, a return to 50+ should definitely be in order.
Brooks Laich – Left Wing – Washington Capitals
Although Brooks Laich’s shooting percentage has decreased in each of the past four years, last year’s percentage (7.7) was abnormally low. Laich still managed to score a respectable 48 points, but that’s not exactly what fantasy owners were hoping for after his 59-point performance the year prior. Laich is now the fourth highest paid Caps forward and carries a NTC for the next six years, which shows the team values his play enormously. Brooks is a durable forward who should get his shooting percentage back on track and increase his point totals, while also contributing in both special teams categories.
Eric Fehr – Right Wing – Winnipeg Jets
Fehr was absolutely buried in Washington and could just never get the offense going. In Winnipeg, he’ll have all the ice time in the world. He will definitely be a top-six forward, ranked fairly low thanks to his 20 points in 52 games last season. If you’re running out of options late in the draft, just remember that Fehr will have much more opportunity this year than in years past.
Hopefully you enjoyed the read and I’m sure I missed a few out there. Feel free to comment below on who you would have added to the list.