Now that there is
some glimmer of light appearing under the door, it may be time to start getting
serious about preparing for some last-minute hockey drafts. We've previously highlighted some breakout
and rebound candidates to spice up your roster, but for the most part, it's not
a bad idea to play it safe. These guys
aren't the superstars, but they're a solid, safe pick. They probably won't
compete for the Art Ross, but you know what you're getting with these guys and
can sleep at night with them on your roster.
Check out Loui's
point totals for the last three seasons: 71, 73, 71. His goal totals have
lingered between 26 and 29 as well. Gotta love that consistency. And the truth
is, he's capable of more. The Stars brought in some help for the top 2 lines,
but Eriksson will still be counted on to be the team's top sniper. I fully
expect 35 goals out of brother Loui in 2012-13.
Kopitar seems to
start each season with a bang, giving hope that he'll emerge as an elite
fantasy forward. Mid season struggles have kept him from reaching the next
level, but few fantasy options have been as consistent as this one over the
past few years. He's good for 25-30 goals and close to 80 points.
Lucic managed to
repeat the solid effort he displayed in 2010-11 that vaulted into the fantasy
conversation. His blend of production in goals, assists, and PIMs make him a
safe 4th or 5th round pick.
had been on the decline for the past few seasons, but 2011-12 brought a sudden
bump in production. He hit the 30 goal mark for the 2nd time in his career. #29
turned 29 this year and there's no reason to predict a major dropoff. Another
70 point season should be in the cards, though banking on 30 goals may be
optimistic. Flag him as a safe mid-round selection.
If you're looking
for a safe, reliable pick early in your draft, Henrik Sedin is a good place to
start. His numbers have noticeably dipped for two straight seasons, but that
still kept him at a point a game. The biggest drawback here will always be his
lack of goal-scoring. If goals matter more to you than assists, adjust him
accordingly. Either way, you have a guy who has put up 7 consecutive seasons of
75+ points. During that stretch, he hasn't missed a single game.
If it's goals that
you seek, Sharp has been one of the most consistent producers in recent years.
He has topped 30 goals in 3 of the last 5 seasons, including the last two. He
has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career, which has kept him shy of
hitting the 40 goal mark. 8 Game Winners and a +/- of +28 helped boost his
overall fantasy rank to 12th best among forwards. Some of the young guns in the
NHL will likely pass him by this season, but he's still a reliable contributor,
particularly at right wing. He'll retain his place on the top unit in Chicago,
which ensures him plenty of opportunity to pop in another 30+ tallies.
Martin St. Louis
True, his stats took
a dive last season, dropping by 25 points and registering his lowest goal total
in a decade. He's also 37 years of age. It's tempting to assume the end is
drawing near; however, he's been overcoming doubts his entire career. As long as
he remains the Stamkos wingman, (no reason to believe that will change) he has
significant value. When you're trying to rank St. Louis, you also must consider
your point system. He doesn't take penalties. All told, he's one of the safest
4th or 5th round picks out there.
Aside from one
monster season coming out of the lockout (100 points in '05-06), Staal has been
remarkably consistent from year to year, lingering between 70 and 80 points.
Could the arrival of little brother be enough to spur him on to greater heights
once more? He's been one of the most durable forwards in the league, playing
just one season with less than 81 games. With the moves Carolina made to boost
his support, you should expect Staal to take at least a 10 point jump back into
the 80's in 2012-13.
It seems like
Thornton has been playing hockey forever. He started dominating the NHL at such
a young age, it's tempting to assume he's nearing the end. In reality, he's
"just" 33, plenty young enough to continue to near point-a-game
storyline he has written for years now. As always, the problem is all assists,
no goals, but man, those are a lot of assists. The man hasn't put up less than
68 points in a season yet this millennium. So, just write in 24 goals and 50
assists minimum. Use pen.
Matt Carle is
another safe, if un-sexy, pick for you to fall back on late in the draft. For
the last 3 seasons, he's popped in a handful of goals and lingered between 35
and 40 points. He will be the go-to guy for the Lightning this season and will
probably remain in that territory.
When Ehrhoff bolted
for Buffalo last summer, Edler slid into the #1 man job description. He seemed
to fill that role nicely, racking up close to 50 points, including an
impressive 228 shots on net. Even with the addition of Garrison and the
presence of a healthy Bieksa, Edler will continue to carry the mail for one of
the league's top contenders. Look for another strong effort in the 10 goal, 50
Phaneuf put together
a solid comeback season last year, restoring faith in his ability to rejoin the
ranks of the top fantasy D. His 12 goals ranked 6th at his position and helped
him slide into 6th in total fantasy production. Look for another solid play in
2012-13 from the Leafs captain.
If you're looking
for a safe pick on defense, you can't do much better than Seabrook. His
potential is probably limited, but you can't beat the reliability. For seven
years, he's been very healthy and has regularly put up decent goal and point
totals for the Hawks. Expect another decent go in the realm of 8 goals and 40
Bad news first: -27
on the +/- hurt his overall fantasy value in a big way in many league formats.
He's also seen his point totals decline for four straight seasons. However, he
had set the bar extremely high. Despite another slip, he still posted 47 points
for a team going nowhere. Streit showed no ill affects after missing all of
2010-11, having played in all 82 games last season. Expect another solid season
Miller had a rough
start to the season, which included missing a few weeks with concussion issues.
It took him (and the Sabres) just a bit too long to salvage the season, but man
did they look solid down the stretch. Miller was playing at All-Star levels
through most of the spring, which may bode very well for his prospects heading
into 2012-13. The Sabres are now a confident bunch and their young forwards are
starting to click. This means more help for Miller in getting those W's on the
stat sheet. Look for a solid, bounce-back year for Miller to re-establish
himself as a top-notch fantasy starter.
season with the Sharks was much like his first. Another solid 34 wins to
complement a respectable 2.42 GAA. He's still unchallenged for the #1 job and
will see close to 70 games again this year if healthy. While the Sharks no
longer get a regular mention with the league's elite, they're good enough to
put wins on the table and keep Niemi as a safe, low-end #1 option.
Price had plenty of
pressure (nothing new) after the Habs dealt away Halak. He rose to the
challenge and exceeded expectations. Montreal is clearly not among the elite
teams in the league, so he won't challenge for tops in wins; however, he'll
give you good stats across the board. Strong #2 goalie option.
Rinne put together
another fine season as the Predator's workhorse, amassing a whopping 43 wins in
73 attempts. That would be good enough for 1st in the NHL last season. On the
positive side, Rinne has seen his wins increase every season and he's really just
entering his prime. On the downside, he's going to feel somewhat abandoned when
camp opens and one of his two prime protectors is MIA. The loss of Suter will
be felt. The Nashville defense goes from being one of the best in the business
to somewhat undefined, as they're forced to promote some of their younger
talent. It may be unreasonable to expect Rinne to compete for the Vezina again
this season, and a repeat of the 43 wins is a long shot. That said, as far as
Rinne himself is concerned, he's done nothing to this point in his career that
would suggest he's not worthy of remaining among the elite at this position
from a fantasy perspective.