Admit it, aside from winning, the funnest part of fantasy hockey is being right about those sleeper picks you drafted in September that everyone mocked you for.
After all, you were crazy for taking Nick Foligno in the 10th round last year, right? Were you nuts when you took a flyer on Devan Dubnyk as a backup to Mike Smith in Arizona? And you always suspected Jiri Hudler could lead the Flames to the playoffs with a 70-point season, right?
The sleeper pick isn’t for the faint of heart. Instead of grabbing a guaranteed 50-point guy, you’re looking for the home run ball.
Below you’ll find a sleeper at each position and one really deep sleeper. These are players who probably won’t amount to much, but you can look at their situation and figure if everything falls into place just right, his season could be much better than anticipated. Just like Foligno, Dubnyk and Hudler last season.
The purpose of this column is not to look at sleepers everyone is predicting. Valeri Nichushkin is a perfect example. So many people are predicting him as a sleeper that he no longer is one.
Sleeper: David Krejci. When you pro-rate the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Krejci’s point totals over the past ix seasons are: 73, 52, 62, 62, 58, 69 and 31. Last season was an aberration because he dealt with injuries for the first time in his career. This year, he should be ready to prove he’s worth his new $7.25 million cap hit.
Deep sleeper: Alex Burmistrov. There’s a bit of a debate about whether he counts as a centre, but both Yahoo and ESPN list him as multi-positional. He’s always had talent, and while the Jets are deep in the middle, Burmistrov is only 23 years old and hasn’t yet hit his prime.
Sleeper: Brandon Dubinsky. The Blue Jackets forward contributes in many fantasy categories and had 36 points in 47 games last year. He’ll still get lots of ice time and will also pick up penalty minutes for you. He can be a fixture on the power play and his plus-minus should be healthy with Sergei Bobrovsky behind him.
Deep sleeper: Sergei Plotnikov. It’s boom or bust for Plotnikov. After a successful KHL career, the 25-year-old is now with the Penguins. While there’s still some debate on his linemates, he does have the opportunity to play with superstar Evgeni Malkin, who had a role in getting Plotnikov to sign with the Pens.
Sleeper: Marko Dano. When Yahoo opened up its hockey fantasy leagues this year, it had Dano ranked 214th, but his average draft position is around 165. That still isn’t high enough. Early in camp, Dano has been playing on a line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. He was great as a rookie last year in Columbus and if he can play on the top line with Chicago, then he could be a top-100 fantasy option.
Deep sleeper: Brett Connolly. Connolly has had success in every level of hockey except for the NHL. Now that he is in Boston, he has his best chance of success yet. He’ll be a top-nine player, and in the right situation, could earn second line time. He’s also a restricted free agent next season, which seems to bring out the most in players.
Sleeper: Yannick Weber. Only eight NHL defencemen scored 10 goals, five power play goals, had 30 penalty minutes and a positive plus-minus last season. Weber was one of them. He was Vancouver’s best defenceman down the stretch and with Alexander Edler’s fantasy career on the decline, Weber owners should benefit.
Deep sleeper: Ryan Murphy. While everyone is excited about the chances of prospects Haydn Fleury and Noah Hanifin making the Canes blueline, Murphy already has the inside track. He’s likely to be on the third pairing and with James Wisniewski bound to be injured at some point this year, Murphy could have the opportunity to play on the top line and top power play unit. That’s not bad for a guy ranked 722nd by Yahoo.
Sleeper: Jacob Markstrom. He’s never been able to prove he can handle the pressure of the NHL. He’s been brutal in both Florida and Vancouver (a career 13-28-5 record with a .896 save percentage and 3.19 GAA). Last season, he was awesome in the AHL. This season he will be backing up Ryan Miller, who hasn’t been fantasy relevant, or that good, since 2009-10. Markstrom, ranked 389th by Yahoo and 458 in ESPN leagues, could be the starter by Christmas.
Deep sleeper: Anders Lindback. Any fantasy league with 14 or more teams that starts two goaltenders are going to have every starter and half the backups chosen. But Lindback won’t be selected in the majority of leagues. Yahoo has him ranked 390th. Most don’t believe he has what it takes to be fantasy-relevant anymore. Of course, people said the same thing about Dubnyk last year. Arizona has a good track record with reclamation goalie projects and Mike Smith is easily one of the worst starters in the league.
Tom Collins is a writer at DobberHockey. Be sure to check out his weekly Fantasy Top 10 column. And as the perfect supplement to your Sportsnet Fantasy Guide check out Dobber’s 10th annual Fantasy Guide here.