Fantasy Hockey Draft 2013: Recapping Third Round
29) Team Vail: James Neal, Pittsburgh Penguins: I’m sure this owner is pretty pleased to have drafted Neal all the way in the third round. Neal is easily a top three fantasy right winger, and will continue to be with superstar Evgeni Malkin on the same line as him. Neal has one of the quickest shots in all of hockey and rumblings out of Pittsburgh are that he could join Kris Letang on the point during the powerplay.
30) Team Derr: Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins: With Tim Thomas sitting this season out, an ideal opportunity has presented itself for Rask to shine. Rask has played very well as an understudy and there is a ton of confidence that he can be one of the better fantasy netminders. In 22 starts last season, Rask had a 2.05 GAA and a .929 save percentage. It also helps when you have a terrific team in front of you.
31) Team Flynn: Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues: Pietrangelo absolutely blossomed last season, totaling 12 goals and 39 assists. Durability clearly isn’t an issue either, as the top tier defenseman missed just one game last season.
32) Team Pfeifer: Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators: I was very content with drafting Rinne in the third round as my number one goalie. After an impressive 2011-12 campaign (2.39 GAA, .923 SV%) Rinne has the upside to be the best fantasy goalie. Clearly the loss of Ryan Suter is a bit of a concern, but the fact that the Predators managed to keep Shea Weber is huge.
33) Team Aiello: Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets: Byfuglien had a solid 2011-12 outing, posting 53 points on 223 shots. Remember, this was in just 66 contests. The Jets are a team getting better by the day and Big Buff can provide a variety of fantasy production, whether it be assists, hits or goals.
34) Team Hylwiak: Jaroslav Halak, St. Louis Blues: The Blues goaltending situation was an interesting one, as both Halak and teammate Brian Elliot were involved in an elite timeshare. Halak produced a monster campaign last year, posting an impressive 1.97 GAA. Although it’s a goalie by committee situation, Halak appears to have gotten a bit of the edge, but both are very viable fantasy options heading into 2013.
35) Team Robbins: Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche: Landeskog is one of the most special players in the entire league. I mean, the kid is just 20-years old and has already been named the captain. Last year, Landeskog posted 52 points and an impressive plus-20 rating on his way to a Calder Trophy. The sky is truly the limit for the sophomore left winger and I expect him to continue to emerge as a star.
36) Team Call: Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks: He may be entering his 15th season, but the veteran Boyle is showing no signs of slowing down. Last year, Boyle posted 252 shots, which was a career high, as well as more than 25 minutes per game. Assuming he can stay on the ice (only missed one game last year) Boyle should remain a top ten fantasy option among defensemen.
37) Team Moyer: Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: Howard’s inconsistency can be troubling at times, but last season as a whole was impressive. He posted a 2.12 GAA to go along with a .920 save percentage. Obviously, the loss of future hall of famer Nicklas Lidstrom is monumental and the team didn’t make any improvements in the off-season. However, Howard and the Red Wings are talented enough to solidify himself as one of the better fantasy goalies this year.
38) Team Wright: Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings: Richards struggled a bit when transitioning to the role of a second line center, seeing his point total drop to just 44. However, during the playoffs, he shared a line with familiar face Jeff Carter and Dustin Penner. When centering this line in the playoffs, Richards posted 15 points in 20 games. Assuming this trio remains in tact, I expect Richards fantasy value to be pretty high.
39) Team Breece: Scott Hartnell, Philadelphia Flyers: While Hartnell clearly won’t match his career high 37 goals from last season, he will again be playing on the top line with one of the best playmakers in Claude Giroux. Hartsy is a grinding, physical two-way power forward who can score in just about any way possible. He will also get owners some penalty minutes and powerplay time, making him a viable fantasy winger.
40) Team Pavorsky: Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes: Staal’s fantasy value is rising by the minute, after being traded to the Hurricanes. No longer in the shadow of Sidney Crosby and Malkin, Staal will most likely join his brother Eric on the first line. The two have been playing together their whole lives, so expect a ton of chemistry. Expect a plethora of fantasy production from both Staals, on a team that is on the rise.
41) Team Oettinger: Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning: While 74 points certainly isn’t bad by any means, St. Louis’ drop off last season upset fantasy owners a bit. However, St. Louis is still a very great player in this league, and when you share a line with a goal scoring machine like Steven Stamkos, you have a great chance to post big numbers.
42) Team Hathcock: Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils: Granted, the departure of Zach Parise will worry many Kovy owners, but remember this; He hasn’t always played with a superstar in his career. Kovalchuk is still one of, if not the best sniper in all of hockey and is an elite talent. His 310 shots on goal last season resulted in 37 goals, and I expect him to continue to shoot the puck at a blistering pace.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy football/hockey columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.