It’s been over three months.
For a little more than three months, hockey fans have been anxiously anticipating the return of their beloved sport. Some have had enough, while many stuck by. However, after more than 100 days of pain and agony, the NHL is back.
And with that, comes the return of fantasy hockey.
The 2013 season is set to kick off on Saturday, Jan.19. With the very late start, this makes for an abbreviated 48-game season, which means those who plan on joining fantasy leagues need to take action. Many aren’t sure who to draft outside of the bigger name players. That’s where I come in.
As we are just about 10 days away from the first puck drop, I thought I’d take the liberty of providing the fantasy enthusiasts with a handful of guys who are on the rise. And no, I didn’t mean for that to rhyme. Anyway, let’s get right to it. I mean, there is only 10 days left until hockey!
Thank god I finally get to say that.
Brayden Schenn, C, Philadelphia Flyers: Schenn began to come into his own last season with the Flyers, a part of an extremely impressive group of rookies. This year, with both Jaromir Jagr and James van Riemsdyk out the door, Schenn will play a much bigger role. A positive sign is that Schenn has been active, as well as successful, during the work stoppage. While playing with the Adirondack Phantoms in the AHL, Schenn has posted 33 points in 33 games, a true sign of consistency. With Danny Briere expected to miss the first week or so of the season, you may end up seeing Schenn on the second line in the beginning of the year. He is a physical, hard-working player who can consistently produce points. There is a lot to be excited about with young Schenn.
Jamie Benn, LW, Dallas Stars: Benn showcased his star potential last season, netting 26 goals and 37 helpers. He also kept busy during the lockout, playing overseas in Germany. In 19 games, he posted 20 points. Back to the NHL, Benn was already a top 50 guy before the off-season, but after the Stars made some a acquisitions, I like him even more. Dallas brought in Jagr, who can really help a younger player like Benn after helping raise Claude Giroux to superstardom (not as if he needed help). He will also have a chance to play with an underrated center in Derrick Roy, as well as veteran Ray Whitney. All of the pieces are there for Benn to have a breakout fantasy season in 2013.
Jakub Voracek, RW, Philadelphia Flyers: Okay, so I may be a Flyers fan, but even if I wasn’t, I’d still think these guys would be primed for breakout seasons. Voracek is coming off a nice 2011-12 campaign, scoring 18 goals and 31 assists, totaling 49 points. This year, he will most likely be moved up to the first line with Giroux and Scott Hartnell. Umm, did you see the production these two had last year? I mean, 40-year old Jagr had 54 points alongside them last season. Voracek, like Giroux, is a terrific passer, and with finishers like Hartnell on the same line, expect a high point total from Voracek in 2013.
Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Colorado Avalanche: You know, it’s not every day that a 20-year old is named captain of a professional hockey team. Landeskog won’t let that get to him, however, as he is incredibly mature. In his inaugural season, Landeskog scored 22 goals along with 30 assists. Not bad for a rookie, ehh? Last year was only a small sample of what this kid will do in the NHL. He has all the intangibles, the work ethic and character to be successful in this league. Not to mention, he still has skill guys like Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny around him, who will benefit has fantasy numbers positively.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football/hockey columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.