With the NHL season now officially unlocked, it's time to turn our attention to the fantasy hockey draft preparation. Although a lot leagues drafted earlier in the fall, there are still sleepers that you need to be aware of that can help you win your league. These are the players that you need to be aware of as you set your rosters this week for opening night.
Teddy Purcell, right wing, Tampa Bay Lightning
Sometimes, it is just as much about whom you play with when it comes to the stat line, and Purcell is a great example of that. When you are expected to see ice time with players, such as Marty St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, and Vincent Lecavalier, you can't ignore what he can do on the score sheet. He was good for 24 goals and 65 points last year, but look for Purcell to grow even more this year due to the chemistry he will have coming out of the gate.
Tuukka Rask, goaltender, Boston Bruins
Finally out of Tim Thomas' shadow, for now at least, Rask will be the guy between the pipes for the Bruins this year. The reason he is so attractive from a fantasy hockey perspective is that the team in front of him should do enough both offensively and defensively to help win Rask a number of games. Rask may not be Thomas or put up his stats, but he will be a solid option for you to lead your team in the all-important goaltending stats department.
Craig Smith, center, Nashville Predators
The Predators center will have a huge opportunity this season with some of the departures of last summer. With a good camp, it is not a reach to say Smith may get second-line duty, and the scoring opportunities that come along with that. Smith had 14 goals and 36 points last season in Nashville, and it is not a reach to think there may be an uptick in those numbers this year, especially with more opportunity. Consider him more of a deep sleeper.
Damien Brunner, center, Detroit Red Wings
Another prime example of who you are skating with raising your fantasy value: Brunner is expected to get top-line time with wingers Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsuk, according to reports out of Detroit. From a fantasy hockey perspective, there really is not much of a better situation to be in from a lineup perspective. Brunner should be in prime position to rack up the points early and often for the Red Wings. Draft him if you get the chance, and you won't regret it later.
Michael Del Zotto, defenseman, New York Rangers
I have been on this bandwagon for a while, and it should pay off in a big way this year. Fresh off inking a two-year contract on the eve of training camp, Del Zotto should develop into a point producer for the Rangers blue line this season. Historically, we know how Rangers head coach John Tortorella loves puck-moving defenseman, and that should only mean great things this season for Del Zotto with another year under his belt.
These are just some of the examples of players to keep an eye on as the season gets underway quickly. With so many games in such a short period of time, it is important to take advantage of finding some of these sleepers and getting them into your lineups. Check back to KFFL.com throughout the season to help you win your fantasy hockey league.
Cory Conacher, LW, Tampa Bay Lightning
Jason Garrison, D, Vancouver Canucks
David Perron, LW, St. Louis Blues
Devan Dubnyk, G, Edmonton Oilers
Luke Schenn, D, Philadelphia Flyers
Victor Hedman, D, Tampa Bay Lightning
Jeff Skinner, C, Carolina Hurricanes
Adam Henrique, C, New Jersey Devils
Braden Holtby, G, Washington Capitals
Nathan Horton, LW, Boston Bruins