I could list a few dozen potential sleepers for the season ahead, with varying degrees of risk and reward, but I have a feeling Washington’s Brooks Laich (pronounced “Like,” incase you didn’t get the headline pun) will be the one player I find myself drafting in the final round of pretty much every league I am in this year (note: I am in five, three of which are keeper leagues).
Two drafts are done so far – the DobberHockey “Experts” rotisserie league (standard categories), and The Hockey News office pool. Both drafts saw me choose Laich in the final round.
If you’re going to roll the dice on a player, there is no better time to do it. In The Hockey News pool, I’m stuck with Laich all season. In the DobberHockey pool, I have the option of the waiver wire if he doesn’t pan out. At worst, however, Laich will match the 37 points he tallied in 2007-08. In the rounds I took him in, we were pretty much down to players in the low-40s anyway, so the downside was minimal. The upside, however, is nice.
Laich finished last season with 20 points in his final 22 contests and followed that up with six points in seven playoff games. This was on the heels of a one-on-one chat with coach Bruce Boudreau who, according to the Washington Post, told him to slow down and not always rush the play. Laich did and the pucks started going in (12 of his last 20 points were goals).
Originally acquired in the deal sending Peter Bondra to Ottawa in 2004, Laich’s pedigree in junior is an impressive one. He had seasons of 78 and 94 points to finish his tenure in the Western League. Now 25, the Saskatchewan native is just about to enter his prime.
Though he lined up with Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin Thursday, I don’t think his upside is any higher than 70 or possibly 75 points. However, I now believe he is a good bet to reach 60.
It will help me in several leagues if he does so in 2008-09…
Dallas rookie Fabian Brunnstrom was a hot commodity last spring with all the media hype, but then expectations came down to Earth. He is now realistically looked at as a promising youngster who should net 30 to 40 points during his debut season. That being said, move him back up your lists again – Dallas has him playing on a line with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro, a line that combined for six points Thursday. This season, Brunnstrom should beat that 30- to 40-point range…
Injuries, from a fantasy league perspective: Amazingly, Carolina pivot Rod Brind’Amour, who underwent knee surgery two weeks ago, was back practicing Thursday. No NHLer is in better shape than this veteran…The “Groin Injury Club – 2008 Training Camp Edition” is starting up. Already several prominent members have joined, including Daniel Alfredsson, Sidney Crosby, Alexander Frolov, Alex Kovalev, Jason Arnott and Dustin Byfuglien. At least one of them will struggle with this nagging injury into November, so beware.
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