Under the radar players in fantasy sports, or “sleepers”, can make the difference between fantasy gold and fantasy garbage. Having said that, why not look at some guys that are poised for breakout 2013 campaigns in the NHL? Some names will be familiar to you, while others not as much. Let’s take a look.
Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Florida Panthers: During the lockout, Huberdeau played in the QMJHL for the Saint John Sea Dogs. He has done nothing but impress, totaling 105 points during his draft year. When you are only 19 years old and are already penciled in as the team’s second-line center, you know there’s something special. This kid has dynamic talent with the puck on his stick and is great at finding the open player. Look for the young Huberdeau to emerge in 2013.
Matt Moulson, LW, New York Islanders: Moulson isn’t a huge sleeper, but he is often overlooked from a fantasy perspective. I really don’t know why because he has scored at least 30 goals the past three seasons. Moulson has tremendous speed, allowing him to skate by defenders and attack the net often. He has also been developing an incredible chemistry with emerging center John Tavares. With Tavares having not even hit his ceiling yet, expect Moulson to continue to shine as he does.
Ryan Johansen, C, Columbus Blue Jackets: With the departure of All-Star Rick Nash, a door has been opened for the 20-year-old Johansen. He has a raw skill set and tremendous upside, which gives him a legitimate shot to make a name for himself in the NHL this season. If he impresses at camp, I wouldn’t be surprised if he found a second or even first line spot for the rebuilding Blue Jackets. It’s just a shame that they have already been eliminated from playoff contention. Too soon?
Derek Stepan, C, New York Rangers: I love Stepan’s game. He is a tremendous passer, which benefited linemate Marian Gaborik last season. Stepan has just 51 points last season, but with the expected return of this line combination, fantasy owners can expect a ton of upside from the 22 year old. Keep a close eye on Stepan in 2013.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy hockey/football columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.