Most Fantasy Hockey League Drafts will have anywhere from 180 to 200 players selected. Here is a quick look at a few Late Round Gems to keep on your radar going into the final rounds of your Draft. Their upside just might put your team over the top.
Victor Hedman – The Lightning brought in a few solid defenseman this summer, and that should take a little pressure off Hedman, and allow him to take the next step in his development. He finished last season strongly and with his world class skating ability, all signs point to Hedman flirting with 40 points this year. At only 21, he has already played 214 games in the NHL.
Alex Goligoski - The Stars top blueliner has shown a knack for chipping in offensively throughout his collegiate, AHL and NHL Career. After a small dip in production last season, Goligoski is set to rebound in a big way and return huge rewards on his draft position. The Stars Power Play has some gifted offensive weapons and ‘Gogo’ is in his prime and ready to push towards 50 points.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Like countryman Hedman, the Coyotes Blueliner has all the skills needed to be a top tier Fantasy contributer, the only question is when that will happen. Ekman-Larsson improved throughout the 2011/13 season, and garnered a lot of attention and praise for his contribution to the Coyotes Play-Off success. He could score 20 goals this season and it is all uphill from here on out.
Travis Hamonic – Is a much better NHL Defenseman, than Fantasy Hockey player, but his defensive responsibility, toughness and puck moving skills wont hurt your lineup. Hamonic brings the complete package of hits, blocked shots, and eats big minutes on an improving Islanders team where he’ll contribute close to 30 points. At 22, Hamonic still has room to grow offensively.
Erik Johnson – Although, he will never be confused for a Power-Play Quarterback, there is a lot to like about Johnson’s development path. He has scored in the past, to the tune of 72 points in his first 2 NHL seasons, so a return to 30 points is inevitable in the near future. Like Hamonic, he plays for a budding young team and he is the head honcho on the blueline in Colorado.
Jake Gardiner - After a solid freshman campaign in the NHL last year, Gardiner went on to dominate in the AHL Play-Offs. There is a risk of a sophomore slump and Toronto can be a tough place to play, but Garinder is fast, creative and has phenomenal offensive vision and playmaking ability. His upside is huge, but don’t confuse Gardiner as a two-way asset anytime soon.
Brendan Smith - Will arrive in Detroit for full time action this season, and unlike most of the youngsters on this list he hasn’t been rushed to the NHL. He has had time to refine and develop his game in the AHL, and he’ll have to contribute right away with Brad Stuart and more notably Nicklas Lidstrom out of town. Smith has the potential to top 30 points this season.