Ok, so it has been a while since I made a serious post so I figured I better get something out soon. So why not some hockey pool sleeper picks since we are about to enter hockey pool season. In case you are interested, here are my sleeper picks from last season. I didn’t do too bad with those picks. Savard, and Zetterberg had excellent seasons finishing 10 and 22nd in NHL scoring. Frolov and Cammalleri were pretty good in LA and Vanek scored 25 goals with Buffalo. Lehtonen missed half the season because of injury but played very good when he returned and I expect an excellent year from him this year. Zherdev and Arnason had OK seasons but I expected a bit more from them and Malone was just a dissapointment in Pittsburgh but I am not ready to give up on him yet. He could have a break out year this year as well.
Ok, so on to this years picks.
Slava Kozlov, Atlanta. With Savard leaving for Boston Atlanta is going to need to find someone to play with Hossa and Kovalchuk. The only true centermen that Atlanta has (Holik, Rucchin, and Kapanen) aren’t the offensive variety and there is some talk that Kozlov could be shifted to center (he has played their a bit in the past), particularly on the PP. This should result in a boost in his offensive numbers and while he scored 71 points last year if he plays with those two 80-90 points is possible. Regardless, Kozlov isn’t going to be on too many peoples radar screens.
Matthew Lombardi, Calgary. For much the same reason that you might would consider Kozlov you would consider Lombardi. Lombardi has been a bit of a dissapointment in Calgary so far in his career but he does have some skill and this year might just be his break out year. One of the reasons for that is that there is a good chance that he will be given the first shot at centering Iginla and Tanguay. If that happens he could have a huge boost on his 26 points in 55 games last year. 70 points could be within reach. Incidently, I also expect Iginla to get a big boost from the 67 points he had last year. I predict 80-90 points for him.
Alexander Radulov, Nashville – Radulov might be the best rookie no one really knows. We all know of Malkin, Kessel is the big name in Boston and Kaigodorov is getting a lot of talk here in Ottawa as a potential second line centerman but Radulov might be the best rookie after Malkin. Radulov scored 61 goals and 152 points in junior last year and will be given ample opportunity to show his stuff on a fairly skilled Predators team. Don’t expect 80 points from the guy but as a late hockey pool pick he has a decent shot at 60 points.
Kyle Wellwood, Toronto – Everyone is talking about Peca being the Leafs number 2 center and wondering where all the Leafs scoring is going to come from after Sundin. Well, in my mind the Leafs real #2 center will end up being Kyle Wellwood and he will do a bit part in replacing the offense that came from Jason Allison. Wellwood scored 45 points last year but I expect much better things from him this year. I think 70 points is definitely in reach.
Patrick Eaves, Ottawa – Just to show that I am not completely biased I thought I would toss in a Senator.
Early indications are that Eaves will start the season playing with Spezza and Heatley. He has the skill and ability to stick with them throughout the year too and if he does he should benefit greatly. Eaves had 29 goals in 58 games last year but if he could double that or more if he plays with Spezza and Heatley the whole season. Alternately, if Eaves doesn’t pan out the job quite possibly could go to Antoine Vermette so don’t overlook him either.
Marc-Andre Bergeron, Edmonton – On defense one guy to watch out for is Marc-Andre Bergeron. Not only should he get quite a bit more ice time with the loss of Pronger and Spacek but the Oilers offense should be even better this season with the addition of Lupul. He had a solid 35 points last year but 45 points or higher isn’t out of the question and for a defenseman, that ain’t too bad.
Marian Gaborik, Minnesota – Now that the Wild have gone out and actually got some offensive players in Demitra, Parrish and Johnsson maybe Gaborik can now step up his game and become a top offensive player himself rather than the ~65 point guy he has been. I think 80 points is certainly within reach this year.
Well, those are some guys to watch out for off the top of my head. If you guys can think of anyone else post them in the comments. I’ll be sure to add some more as I think of them.