I honestly can't believe we are almost at the start of another season. One that I promise you will begin with no lockout... just don't see it happening this time.
What I will be looking at is those players who I believe will surprise and contribute to your fantasy team (If not a "surprise" they will definitely improve from last year). This will be solely on POINTS, don't attack me for PIM etc, I'm talking about points. Some may be available in mid to later rounds, most are those who will be available after the "big names" are taken.
Last year I made the wise decision to pick up Mike Smith in a trade and James Neal off free agency at the beginning of the season. Both of those were inexpensive pieces that paid big dividends and were regular starters for my fantasy team.
Let's look at those by position for 2012/2013 who I believe will simply be better.
Jakub Voracek - Expect him to get top line minutes and most likely play with Giroux all year. With JVR, Jagr et al away from the fold, his minutes will be depended on. He is only 23 years old (today actually, happy birthday) and has a wealth of potential. He will most likely be available in an earlier round, but he will be worth it.
Expectation: 28G 35A = 63P 2011/2012 Totals: 18G 31A = 49P
Mikko Koivu - So no, Koivu isn't a name you've never heard of and depending on your fantasy club, he may be grabbed early on. But, most people still consider him a "decent" consistent player who is under the radar. The good news is, Once the Parise's of the world are chosen (hint hint) Players like this are available. Expect Koivu to log more minutes then usual this year, and play a huge role in Parise's success as a Wild. (... as a a Wild... what the hell.... as a Flyer... as a Devil....as a Leaf.. as a Wild... that just doesn't sound right...change your team name). He will exceed expectations this year. (Yes, he has had some injury issues, but he has consistently played around 60 games minimum his whole career and is generally healthy). Not to mention, he hit 45+ assists 3 seasons in a row before last year. Oh, and 44P in 55 Games last year.
Expectation: 24G 50A = 74P 2011/2012 Totals: 12G 32A = 44P
David Backes - Mr. consistency. And yet, in a market where most people have no idea about his value. He has played a full season 4 years in a row (minus a few games) he has had anywhere between 48 and 64 points a season each of those seasons. And has crossed the 30 goal plateau twice in that time. And yet he is often over looked in the first few rounds. On a blues team that just keeps getting better, I expect him to increase his output this year.
Expectation: 32G 35A = 67P 2011/2012 Totals: 24G 30A = 54P
Oliver Ekman-Larsson: Contract year? Check. Fantastic Defender? Check. Almost guaranteed to be picked after the Doughtys, Webers, Suters, (even Phaneufs) of the world? Check. A prized defender who simply has nowhere to go but up. Responsible, 2 way guy.
Expectation: 16G 27A = 43P 2011/2012 Totals: 13G 19A = 32P
Alex Pietrangelo: Another contract year player. If he isn't picked up VERY early... you people are insane. Kid is unreal. 2 full seasons under his belt now. 10+G 30+A seasons in both. He's only getting better.
Expectation: 16G 41A = 57P 2011/2012 Totals: 12G 39A = 51P
Ryan McDonagh: Future on the blue line for NYR. End of story. Young guy, on his way way up with another full season.
Expectation: 12G 32A = 44P 2011/2012 Totals: 7G 25A = 32P
These two guys didn't necessarily fit into the above blog because they are already great and will most likely just stay that way (and hopefully would be picked very early on if your buddies have some smarts), but they can easily improve again this year and their team is getting better and better. With Jagr there to mentor them, I expect BIG things.
The Dallas Duo:
Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn
Unreal, both of them. Benn was sporting a 26G 37A split last year... Eriksson was rocking a 26G 45A. I can only see them both going up this year. A terrifying tandem, hopefully for Dallas' sake, they fill in the team around these 2 and start contending ASAP.
Thanks for the read, obviously this wasn't meant to pick out those guys who go from 10 points to 50. Its for those who you might be able to pick up in a later round then they are worth and THAT is the key to a successful fantasy season.
Feel free to shoot some other ideas in the comments for players that YOU feel will be improved or even breakout stars of the fantasy world. And please include a description with some point expectations.