Monday, April 20, 2009

While you were sleeping...

As the fantasy hockey season winded down and you fought tooth and nail for the championship, most GMs adopt the attitude of "what have you done for me lately?" I know the drill, you start dropping anyone that isn't putting up points and focus more on instant rewards then long-term success. But it's during this last quarter of the NHL season where next year's fantasy sleepers are begging for your affection. Well if you missed their desperate screams for attention, here is a summary of next year's fantasy sleepers based on strong finishes this season.

Claude Giroux, RW/C, PHI
Everywhere he has played, Giroux has been an offensive monster (yes, I said Monster Mr. McGuire). He surpassed 100 points in all 3 years in the Q and was the Flyers 22nd overall pick of the 06' Draft. He went to the Flyers camp as a 19 yo in 07-08 and almost made a deep roster. Claude had a decent camp this year but the Flyers just didn't have a top 9 forward spot for him. Enter Danny Briere's injury troubles and Giroux's point-per-game AHL rookie campaign and the Flyers called him up at the midway point of the season. Giroux didn't slow down either, he netted 27 points in 42 games (on pace for a 54 point rookie season). Getting top 6 minutes, Giroux had a stretch of 11 points in 9 games. So far, in his first 3 playoff games he has 1 goal and 2 assists and a fight with Tyler Kennedy (OK, I know Tyler isn't a fighter but you get the point). His creativity and maturity with the puck will make him a staple on Philly's top two lines for years to come. Just 21 years of age, grab him early if you're in a keeper league.

Next Season's Fearless Forecast: 82 games played, 27 goals, 42 assists = 69 points.
Where you should draft him: 12th-13th round (standard), 5th-7th round (keeper) 

Anton Babchuk, D, CAR
Who is Anton Babchuk? A former 1st round pick (2002) of the Chicago Blackhawks, Babchuk was known as a physical Dman who had some offensive upside. After struggling to impress the Chicago brass, he was traded to Carolina in 2006. After another decent, yet unspectacular year, Anton decided to go home and play for the Russian powerhouse Omsk. It was in Omsk that he started to really develop his untapped offensive game with 24 points in 57 games (great numbers for a Dman in the Russian League). Anton decided to take another crack at the NHL but was buried on a deep Carolina depth chart. As the season progressed though, Babchuk started getting more ice-time and new Head Coach Paul Maurice became a believer in his skill. Babchuk was the Canes best Dman down the stretch and had an amazing 23 points in his last 26 games, averaging well over 2o minutes of icetime a game (he had 8 points in the Canes last 4 games). He has a cannon of a shot and used it to score 16 goals this year. At 25, Babchuk will enter next season as a top 2 Dman on the Canes and should continue to develop his offensive game. We're talking keeper potential here.

Next Season's Fearless Forecast: 82 games played, 18 goals, 31 assists = 49 points.
Where you should draft him: 15h-17th round (standard), 10th-12th round (keeper) 

Stay tuned for more sleepers over the next few weeks.


1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    Just wondering how many teams are you basing the draft round on. A 5-7 pick would be greatly different in a 8 team league compared to a 20 team league.