Sure, serious fantasy owners glance over major junior, American League, NCAA and European stats. But the World Junior Championship is what really grabs the attention of keeper-leaguers everywhere. In this second part of a two-part series, we’ll look at some of the drafted players to keep an eye on for Sweden, the United States and Canada.
James van Riemsdyk, USA – The big Philly prospect’s stock was already high, but it has shot up even higher with his play in the NCAA this year. If he’s not an impact player in Philadelphia next season, I’ll eat my hat.
Drayson Bowman, USA – Carolina doesn’t have a whole lot of offensive prospects in its arsenal who are close to NHL-ready, but Bowman is one of them. His stock has risen steadily over the past year.
Jonathon Blum, USA – The Preds have a lot of solid offensive blueliners in their pipeline and Blum is the best one. His upside as a defenseman is as high as any out there.
Colin Wilson, USA – Another Nashville prospect, Wilson has the same potential David Legwand had. He has more bulk than Legwand though, so he should be more durable, which increases the odds he will actually realize that potential.
Aaron Palushaj, USA – This St. Louis prospect projects as a scoring second-liner. He is a left winger, a difficult position to fill in fantasy hockey, which raises his value.
Cody Hodgson, Canada – No player in the 2008 draft has seen his stock rise higher and faster than Hodgson. The Vancouver prospect nearly made the Canucks in his first training camp and rather than sulk about it in junior, he has dominated the Ontario League offensively.
Alex Pietrangelo, Canada – He actually made St. Louis to start the year, but was sent to junior to get more ice time and experience. He is destined to be a top scorer among NHL defensemen starting in a few years.
Zach Boychuk, Canada – The other promising offensive prospect in Carolina’s system, Boychuk initially made the Hurricanes this past fall. What he lacks in size, he more than makes up for in skill.
Jordan Eberle, Canada – Edmonton’s top pick last summer, Eberle had a strong camp. He isn’t far off from donning an Oilers uniform and should eventually play on the top line.
Angelo Esposito, Canada – This is it. Fantasy owners were all over Esposito when the Penguins drafted him, but his stock has steadily fallen. Now in the Atlanta system, Esposito has stepped up his game this season in the Quebec League and made Team Canada on his fourth attempt. His performance in Ottawa will give a strong hint as to which direction his career is heading.
Oscar Moller, Sweden – He has played all season with the Kings, but his ice time had been slowly slipping. He is a potential first-liner who is also responsible in his own end.
Mikael Backlund, Sweden – Calgary’s top offensive prospect should be a Flame in 2009-10. It will be interesting to see how he does this year against the best his peer group has to offer.
Erik Karlsson, Sweden – Ottawa drafted this offensive defenseman in the first round last June, but it is difficult to get a read on how he is progressing because he is buried on his Swedish Elite League team, Vastra Frolunda. This is an opportunity for all of us to see what he can do when given the ice time.
Mattias Tedenby, Sweden – The fastest player in the tournament, the Devils got a steal when they drafted Tedenby 24th overall in 2008. The left winger is another player somewhat buried in Sweden’s Elite League and he could surprise now that he will be getting quality minutes.
Elsewhere at the WJC…
Those of you in really deep keeper leagues may be interested in the goaltenders who will be playing in the tournament. While none of these keepers will be a No. 1 in the NHL for at least four seasons, the following certainly look promising. Here they are in my order of preference:
Jacob Markstrom, Sweden (Florida)
Dustin Tokarski, Canada (Tampa Bay)
Harri Sateri, Finland (San Jose)
Thomas McCollum, USA (Detroit)
Chet Pickard, Canada (Nashville)
Timo Pielmeier, Germany (San Jose)
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league – check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.
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