As you continue to prepare your draft list, take some time and scour the stats sheets for players on the rise. The trends indicate that these players are getting better every year and should continue to climb in 2009. If you draft purely on last year's stats, you'll probably undervalue many of these players.
- Atlanta just may be the situation Antropov needs to turn his talent and size into a big pile of points. If he gets paired up with Kovalchuk for any length of time, he could be the steal of the draft. Plan on him setting a career high in points and goals in 2009.
- Booth played at a point-a-game pace for the second half of last season. He also topped 30 goals in just his third season. Expect Booth to raise his production even further this time around and make a go at 40 goals.
- Cleary demonstrated his talent when given the chance in the playoffs last season. His biggest challenge is finding playing time on the Redwings roster. With a few big names moving on this summer, the door is open for Cleary to crack the top 2 lines. Don't be surprised to see him approach 70 points in 2009.
- Gagner had a very slow start to the season last year, but came on huge down the stretch, scoring 21 points in 17 games at one point. Count on him being a much bigger factor for the Oilers in 2009.
- Oshie was dynamite for the Blues in the second half of last season. He's one of the top rising players in the league and may break out for a monster season in 2009. Definitely count on him getting into the 60 point range or better.
- Stafford is improving slowly, but surely, as he enters his fourth NHL season. He may not be ready for star status just yet, but he will be starting on a fantasy roster by the end of the season. Why not make it yours?
- Barker took a big jump in 2008 going from 18 to 40 points. He should continue to climb in points if he's able to play a complete season. Barker could rise into the upper tier of fantasy D in the next couple of years.
- Jack Johnson has gotten a lot of press on his future potential, but it has yet to translate into meaningful results for Kings fans and fantasy owners. It's his third year in the league, so expect him to jump considerably from his 11 point totals of his first two tries. Figure him to land in the 30 point range this season.
- In case you missed the playoffs, Kris Letang is a major talent on an offensive-minded Championship team. With Whitney gone from the picture, Letang will get full power play duty next year, along side of Sergei Gonchar. This is all good news for the rising Penguins star.
- Suter's numbers have risen in each of his first 4 seasons, and all signs indicate that this trend should continue. Anything less than 50 points would be a disappointment this season. Expect him to get closer to 60.
- Mason was the hottest goalie in the league over the last 2 months of the season, as the Blues hit their stride. With Eric Johnson returning in the fall, he'll get even more support, making him an attractive option as a #2 goalie.
- One of these years the Kings are bound to get better, and whoever is in net will likely reap the benefits. This go around, the money is on Mr. Quick. He showed promise in his rookie year with a .914 save percentage, on a young team that allowed plenty of shots. Quick is worthy as a backup and could deliver much more.
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