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Fantasy Hockey: Diving into the deep rookie pool to find some gems

Dobber Hockey
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Continuing with this week's series of fantasy-related content, we'll take a look at the rookies, and where some of them should be targeted at the draft.

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The sexy picks

Many poolies take the bigger-named rookies earlier than they should. The hype exceeds production, because let's face it - these days even Calder Trophy winners are barely getting 60 points if that.

Nail Yakupov, Edmonton Oilers

Someone's bound to take the No.1 pick of 2012 in the fourth or fifth round, hoping they snagged a 70-point winger with upside for the season ahead. And perhaps he will be just that. But historically speaking, Yakupov is probably looking at high 50s and a deserving spot in the middle rounds. He just won't slide that far for you.

Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets

An outstanding defenseman whose name carries a lot of weight in fantasy hockey. But that's for his two-way game, not his offensive game. And in fantasy hockey, we want offense. Considering he's on the Blue Jackets and looking at a golf-tournament-winning score when it comes to plus/minus he shouldn't even be drafted at all in your one-year roto league.

Alex Galchenyuk, Montreal Canadiens

After missing most of last season due to injury, Galchenyuk will be hard-pressed to stick with the Habs beyond a nine-game tryout (assuming those exist with the future CBA). So drafting him at any time before the bench rounds is wasting a pick.

Mikhail Grigorenko, Buffalo Sabres

The, at one point, projected second-overall pick in the 2012 draft fell to 12th, but Grigorenko is consider close to being NHL ready and the Sabres are eager to inject his combination of size and skill into their lineup. He's another 'maybe' just to play in the NHL this year and as such should not be drafted before the reserve/bench rounds, if at all. But you won't have to worry about it because some dummy will grab him in the 14th round and think that they snagged a great sleeper.

Marcus Foligno, Buffalo Sabres

With 13 points in 14 games, there are some eager poolies who see that as 70-plus points. The only way Foligno gets that is if the new CBA ups the schedule from 82 to 132 games. Draft him for 70 PIM and the low 40s for points. Rank him properly on your list and he probably won't make it to you.

Sven Bärtschi, Calgary Flames

After scoring three goals during a five-game emergency call up last year, the 19-year-old has a spot waiting for him on the Flames. He could very well score 20 goals and 50 points and is certainly in the Top 10 on anyone's preseason Calder Trophy list. But that just means he'll go early. Too early.

Gustav Nyquist, Detroit Red Wings

Okay, this one might be my fault. In fantasy hockey circles, Nyquist is vastly popular because of his immense talent and how it seems to have translated so quickly to the pro game. But he's also been a favorite prospect of mine for three years now, which means he's been on the radar of DobberHockey readers since 2009. That's a lot of time for hype to build up. And now he's ready to make the jump, but he's not going to sneak up on anyone, unfortunately.

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Brendan Smith, Detroit Red Wings

Smith is one rookie who isn't a bad pick in the upper-middle rounds. This is because his downside isn't that bad. At worst, he struggles to find the offense but still helps your fantasy squad with tons of PIM. At best, he makes a splash with 35 points on tops of those juicy penalty minutes.

Justin Schultz, Edmonton Oilers

Two things can happen with Schultz, this summer's most-hyped free agent defenseman outside of Ryan Suter. One, he could Jack Hillen his way through a couple of seasons in Edmonton and then bounce around the league. Two, he could go the route of Matt Carle or Jack Johnson, which is a slow and steady progression upwards (albeit on different teams, in the case of Carle). Neither of those options say "gets 40 points right away and is a plus-10 or better". So don't overrate in one-year leagues.

Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers

Your typical preseason Calder Trophy candidate who oozes offense. That is to say, he'll get between 45 and 55 points, and is a long shot for something in the mid-60s.

Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild

My personal favorite among all rookies, but he's in the Top 3 if you were to poll most fantasy owners. However, the summer hype about the Minnesota Wild will see to it that he's drafted far too early.

Ryan Strome, New York Islanders

Strome is going to be drafted in the later middle rounds in more than a few rotisserie drafts. Why? I don't even think he makes the jump full time this season. Thank the person who takes him, for wasting a pick.

Chris Kreider, New York Rangers

A fantastic playoffs has everyone excited about him. But the stats say that he tallied seven points in 18 games and was a minus player. And last time I checked, fantasy hockey relies on stats. Great long-term potential, but for the short term I would only draft him in the bench rounds and expect 40 points and 60 or 70 PIM.

Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues

Tarasenko boasts supreme skill. But is it Alexander Semin/Aleksey Kovalev skill? Or Ilya Kovalchuk/Alex Ovechkin skill? If it's the latter, Tarasenko will make a nice splash. If it's the former, he'll take some nights off. And just ask Nikita Filatov how that worked out with Ken Hitchock as coach.

The savvy picks

Here are the rookies who should slip to the bench rounds. Decent risks to take, even if it means keeping them on the bench for a month or two.

Torey Krug, Boston Bruins

If it wasn't for his size (5-9), Krug would have had nearly as much hype as Schultz. Okay, maybe not. But still, the odds of Krug getting 30 points this year are similar to the odds of Schultz getting 30 points. And you can take Krug in the last round of your draft.

Brayden McNabb, Buffalo Sabres

McNabb would be ineligible as a rookie had he played one more game last year. His production would depend on whether or not Alexander Sulzer stumbles. If that happens, McNabb is a steal. If Sulzer does okay, then you can just drop McNabb. Taking him in the final two or three rounds is very low risk.

Brandon Saad, Chicago Blackhawks

Saad surprised last year, enough to make the team. He was later demoted because the Hawks didn't have enough room to give him the ice time he needed to properly develop. Things will be easier for him this time around.

Brandon Pirri, Chicago Blackhawks

Pirri has done all he can at the AHL level and what you could potentially see is another Kris Versteeg in terms of rookie impact. It's a boom or bust scenario for the steadily improving Pirri.

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Richard Bachman, Dallas Stars

Bachman would flourish if given a chance. But a chance will only come if Kari Lehtonen gets hurt. Fortunately, that happens a lot.

Matt Donovan, New York Islanders

Another former college defenseman with excellent offensive upside to keep an eye on. Surely one of Donovan, Schultz, Krug and Smith will pan out immediately, no? Don't call you Shirley? Alright.

Jakub Silfverberg, Ottawa Senators

Last year's Mr. Sweden, Silfverberg did everything in the SEL except win goaltender of the year. And he probably would have won that had he tried his hand at goaltending. The 21-year-old winger could be in Ottawa's top six right off the bat.

Michael Stone, Phoenix Coyotes

The former WHL All-Star made an excellent NHL debut, posting three points and plus-7 in 13 games. If the Coyotes move Keith Yandle, I think they'll look to Stone for more responsibility and give Brandon Gormley and David Rundblad some more development time.

Simon Despres, Pittsburgh Penguins

Whenever Kris Letang was hurt last year, which was a lot, the Penguins turned to this guy. He proved he belongs and he has a shot at second-unit PP time. And since the Pens play their second unit about as much as the Coyotes play BizNasty, I guess I didn't say much there. Still, in the last rounds of your draft, what kind of quality are you expecting?

Cory Conacher, Tampa Bay Lightning

Another "small player is underestimated, yet still thrives despite the lack of opportunity" story. If you want to know what I think Conacher will do, take a look at what David Desharnais did in 2010-11.

Paul Postma, Winnipeg Jets

I had Postma on this list when I was making notes earlier in the week. Then I removed him, thinking he was too buried when it comes to the power-play picture in Winnipeg. Then Zach Bogosian had that wrist surgery. Now I think Postma could flirt with 30 points - perfect for a late round.

The lucky picks

Insert horseshoe here. If you take any of these players, they could pan out for you. One or two of these players will be the 2012-13 version of Adam Henrique, Carl Hagelin or Matt Read. But most of these players will be this year's version of Paul Byron or Stephane Da Costa.

Emerson Etem, Anaheim Ducks

Many prognosticators have Etem making the team and making a splash. I'm not one of them. Still a year away in my books. But if he does make the team, it won't be to shore up the Anaheim penalty kill. This guy will be there because he's scoring and they can't hold him back any longer. You'll know early on if this late rounder is a dropsy or a steal.

Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

Vatanen reminds me of Tobias Enstrom. Remember all the hype Enstrom got before crossing the pond and making an impact as a rookie? Me neither.

Dougie Hamilton, Boston Bruins

Actually, Hamilton may be miscast here as some eager poolies will take him earlier. But his roster spot is not a certainty and there is no need to rush him.

Leland Irving, Calgary Flames

If the Flames do bite the bullet and trade Miikka Kiprusoff, it will be because Irving seized the No.2 job and showed by December that he can be a starter. Like most rookies in this section, he's a long shot.

Jeremy Welsh, Carolina Hurricanes

The college star signed with Carolina just in time to play the final game and although he got his ass kicked at the faceoff dot, losing nine of 13 draws, he did not look out of place otherwise. He would be best used as the second or third-line center, but will compete with Zach Boychuk for a job. Getting on the team as a winger will be tough, given the Hurricanes' summer acquisitions.

Ryan Murphy, Carolina Hurricanes

Murphy made such a splash last year that he made the team. He was eventually sent back to junior when the 'Canes couldn't get him into the lineup. It will be just as difficult to crack the roster this year and there is no real rush either. Even if Murphy does make it, he's fourth on the PP pecking order so an injury to one of the other guys would be needed (I'm looking straight at you Joni Pitkanen).

Reilly Smith/Scott Glennie/Radek Faksa/Austin Smith/Alex Chiasson, Dallas Stars

There is room on the Dallas roster for a rookie forward, but there are several decent candidates. These five players should be phased into the NHL over the next 18 months, but it will be training camp performance that determines this season. Faksa is thought to be one of the most NHL-ready prospects in the 2012 draft, while Glennie is said to have really come along over the second half of last season. The other three players each turned pro in the spring after successful college careers.

Drew Shore, Florida Panthers

A great Calder dark horse, with his only weakness being the depth of NHL roster. Shore turned pro after posting 99 points in his last 82 WCHA games and then posted three points in eight AHL contests. If he makes the Panthers he's one to watch.

Jacob Markstrom, Florida Panthers

As with most rookie goaltenders, Markstrom's impact will require a bit of help in the forum of an injury to the starter.

Charlie Coyle, Minnesota Wild

One of the best prospects in the world, Coyle is a potential first-liner with tons of offensive skill. However the signing of Zach Parise hurts Coyle's shot at making the team this season, unless he outplays the likes of Granlund. He's in tough and will probably have to wait a year.

Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild

Brodin is a favorite of mine, but any big splash that I figured he would make kind of fizzled when the Wild signed Ryan Suter. If he makes the team he'll be eased in.

Mika Zibanejad, Ottawa Senators

Zibanejad has the skill set to make this team on a checking line, so in all likelihood the points will be low. As always, injuries hitting the roster would quickly change this.

Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues

The lineup is finally healthy and they've added Tarasenko, which means that the spot that Schwartz had last year is no longer available. He's too skilled to completely count out though.

Mark Barberio, Tampa Bay Lightning

The AHL's Outstanding Defenseman from last year was hoping to run some of the power play for the big club. The signing of Matt Carle turned Barberio from a promising rookie to a likely depth guy, at least for 2012-13.

Jordan Schroeder, Vancouver Canucks

Ryan Kesler's surgery and projected recovery period opens the door for a two-month trial for a player such as Schroeder to seize. What he does with that will determine his fantasy value early.

Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets

The addition of Olli Jokinen to the lineup means the Jets won't have to rush Scheifele. So if he makes this team, he earned the spot - and generally that means a big rookie season. Bottom line - boom or bust for 2012-13.

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Completely lockout-proof, take a look my seventh annual fantasy hockey guide. Tips, projections, sleepers, advanced stats breakdowns and more - updated until the puck drops.

Dobber is the resident fantasy hockey know-it-all for Puck Daddy, and founder of Dobber Sports - which includes DobberHockey, DobberProspects, DobberFootball and DobberBaseball. You can follow him on Twitter @DobberHockey

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