With the regular season almost upon us, I have decided to take a closer look at some of the young guys that are looking to make an impact on their team’s rosters this season, and could be valuable picks late in your Fantasy Hockey drafts (or earlier in some Dynasty/Keeper Leagues).
One of the key pieces in the Bobby Ryan trade was 22 year old Jakob Silfverberg. Silfverberg led the Ottawa Senators in Shots On Goal last year with 134, and was tied with Daniel Alfredsson for 2nd on the team in goals with 10. Jakob will likely find himself playing wing on either the first line with Perry and Getzlaf, or the second line with future hall of famers Saku Koivu (Bonino?) and Teemu Selanne. From a fantasy perspective, both of those lines sound great for Silfverberg who looks to step out in his sophomore year.
Honorable Mention: Emerson Etem stepped up his game last year in the playoffs for Anaheim. He has looked good this preseason as well, but I think Silfverberg is just a step ahead of him.
First of all, let me preface this post by saying that I recommend you avoid drafting anyone from the Calgary Flames until the later rounds of your draft. With that being said, the rebuild in Calgary has a few youngsters that could be viable in the next few years. The two youngsters that will likely stick with the Flames for the full 82 game season are 20 year old Sven Baertschi on the wing, and 18 year old Sean Monahan at center. I don’t expect huge things from either of these guys this year, but with a few veterans on the last years of their contracts we may see these guys pop up on the radar if the flames make any trades at the deadline to make room for these youngsters on the top lines.
The Edmonton Oilers are full of talented youth and expectations are high in Alberta. The first overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, Nail Yakupov, looks to build on an impressive rookie season. Yakupov tied for the rookie scoring lead with Jonathan Huberdeau, and somehow wasn’t even on the ballot for Rookie of the Year. The 19 year old winger for Edmonton looks to prove the voters wrong and show that he was in fact the better choice.
Honorable Mention: Justin Schultz was also left off the rookie of the year ballot. His one downfall last year was his defense but hopefully that will change this year with the Oilers adding Andrew Ference as his partner on defense. Schultz will likely quarterback a potentially deadly powerplay unit in Edmonton as well.
LOS ANGELES KINGS
Much like the situation in Anaheim, there is a newcomer in town in L.A. with a lot to prove. This time I’m talking about recently acquired right winger Matt Frattin (the main piece in the Bernier trade with Toronto). At 25 years old, Frattin is a bit old to be included in a young gun segment, but I am shocked at how many mock drafts I have seen him go undrafted. Frattin, a Canadian by birth, went the NCAA route which delayed his NHL career compared to others who take the CHL route. Matt will likely start the 2013-14 season on the King’s second line alongside Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. He also adds a gritty side to his game, and should be a great late round pick in any league that counts hits.
Honorable Mention: Jake Muzzin had one good month last season that saw him fly off the waiver wire. Muzzin scored 11 points (4G,7A) in 17 games last March to gain him the rookie of the month award. However, he tapered off towards the end of the season, and had only 3 assists in 17 playoff games for the Kings. Unlike Frattin, I have seen Muzzin taken anywhere from the 9th to the 18th round in some drafts. He is only projected to be L.A.’s 6th or 7th defenseman, but should see time again on L.A.’s 2nd powerplay unit. If you want to risk a pick on him, I’d err closer to the 18th round.
The Phoenix Coyotes roster is surprisingly hard to crack for youngsters. The brass over in Arizona have put together a nice team, and the future on the Coyotes blueline was solidified when they signed 22 year old Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a six year contract extension that starts this year. OEL has some very nice moves for a defenseman, and is a great long term option for any dynasty or keeper league.
SAN JOSE SHARKS
In San Jose there seems to be a changing of the guard on it’s way. Logan Couture and Joe Pavelski are obvious pickups, but there is a new name you might be hearing this season at the shark tank, Tomas Hertl. The 19 year old Czech winger was the Sharks first round pick in 2012, and GM Doug Wilson thinks Hertl is ready for the NHL this year. Hertl has three goals and four points in three preseason games so far, and all three of his goals have been assisted by Joe Thornton. Hertl should definitely be on your watch list this season.
Much like the Coyotes, the Vancouver Canucks roster is pretty tough for young guys to crack. If they are thin at any position though I would have to point to their centers, which is good news for 18 year old Bo Horvat. The Canucks have a few prospects in the system at the center position, but if this preseason is any indication in what new head coach John Tortorella wants… it appears as though Horvat is the one that will likely make the team out of training camp. I wouldn’t expect huge numbers from Bo though, as he will likely be limited to the 3rd or 4th line center under the defensively minded Tortorella.
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