Name one sleeper for next season’s fantasy drafts, and one bust for next season’s fantasy drafts.
It’s hard so look at a number one pick and say they’re a sleeper, but does any top draft pick get less respect than New York Islander John Tavares? Twenty-one goals and 24 assists isn’t a fantastic rookie campaign, but Tavares isn’t playing with a lot of talent. He really hasn’t had anyone to mentor him, but his game has still managed to evolve. Tavares had an average season and I don’t think anyone is looking for him to do much better next year, but I suspect he’ll have a huge season.
In terms of a potential bust, New Jersey Devil Patrik Elias has been steadily running out of gas for the past few seasons. This season, he’s had trouble staying healthy, but also trouble scoring. This could all be a tiny bump in an otherwise great career, but it seems more likely that Elias has lost quite a few steps.
Steven Ovadia, RotoRob.com
The player that I like as an early sleeper for next season is Leafs C Tyler Bozak. He’ll likely be an afterthought on a lot of cheatsheets because his scoring total will be something approaching 30 points for the season. I like him because he’s exactly what the Leafs need – somebody who can compliment the skills of their only star (Phil Kessel) and he’s a more mature rookie (he’s 24 already) than someone completing their first season as a 19 or 20 year old and who might be more likely to experience a sophmore slump. He’s playing his best hockey of late finishing the season strong having played 16 games in March and scoring at least a point in 9 of them.
The one player I will not have on any of my teams next season is the Blues’ Paul Kariya. It’s clear St. Louis is loaded with young talent and his role would diminish anyway as he’ll be another year older. He’ll turn 36 years of age just after the season starts and I’d be inclined to let someone else draft him as I expect he’ll be a guy who will have some injury issues (he’s been remarkably healthy in 4 of the last 6 seasons), and that combined with a reduced role and his reputation as an NHL star and borderline Hall of Famer means he’ll be drafted with a much earlier pick than I’d be willing to invest in him.
Ray Calder, fantasypros911.com
It’s always a challenge to fill a roster with defensemen during the later rounds of fantasy drafts, so I’ll point out a couple blueliners to think about for next season’s drafts. 2008 first-round pick Erik Karlsson has turned it up a notch recently with eight points in his last four games. The Sens haven’t had a true power-play QB since Wade Redden left town, so Karlsson will receive every opportunity to log some major minutes. Speaking of major minutes, Jamie McBain has averaged nearly 26 minutes per game on the Hurricanes’ blueline since joining the team ten games ago, and he logged 29 minutes of icetime on Thursday against Ottawa. He doesn’t have a point in his last four games, but he started his career with a four-game point streak. Both d-men have shown signs of becoming 40-point producers next season, which would be enough for a spot on your fantasy blueline.
It’s time to put Olli Jokinen into the category of bust. Just three seasons ago, Jokinen scored 91 points as a member of the Florida Panthers. However, Jokinen’s point totals have fallen since then from 91 points to 71 points to 57 points to 48 points and counting this season. Expected to be Marian Gaborik’s pivot in NYC, Jokinen has just three goals in 20 games with his latest team. Over the last few seasons, the reportely malcontent Jokinen has made stops in all four corners of North America, and he could be on the move again this summer. It doesn’t seem to matter who Jokinen lines up with – he’s an overrated fantasy commodity that you should allow someone else to draft.
Ian Gooding, fantasyhockey.com