This week we’ll take a break from the team-by-team off-season look. It only makes sense, since the NHL Entry Draft is upon us. We’ll also take a break in early July to discuss the impact of the July 1 free agent frenzy.
(Originally published by The Hockey News on June 20, 2008 – Dobber archives some of his older THN articles here in case you missed them there!)
Goaltenders and defensemen generally take a long time to develop. Occasionally defensemen are brought into the NHL at the age of 18, but by the time they start producing fantasy-worthy numbers they are well into their 20s. Chris Pronger was 27 before busting out, and Jay Bouwmeester and M-A Vlasic still haven’t come into their own. Dion Phaneuf – he’s the exception to the rule. There are no Phaneufs in this draft.
For the record, however, I will give you the order of defensemen I would pick in my keeper league: Drew Doughty, Alex Pietrangelo, Michael Del Zotto, Zach Bogosian, Colby Robak, Erik Karlsson and Aaron Ness.
Because forwards tend to make an impact quicker, we will look at them more in-depth. Here are the top ’08 eligible forwards to consider in your keeper league (in order of my preference):
Steven Stamkos: Of course! In Tampa Bay he will step right onto the second line in October and you can look for him to post Patrick Kane-like numbers as a rookie. His long-term upside is in the 90s, just like Kane.
Nikita Filatov: Another obvious one. Don’t be fooled by his nationality, he will play in the NHL whether there is a transfer agreement or not. He will debut as early as 2008-09 and probably no later than 2009-10. His upside may be higher than Stamkos’s, but his downside is lower – so his range is less established. If his range were more of a certainty, he would be picked ahead of Stamkos. There is talk of him going second overall, but the smart money is on the Islanders nabbing him at No. 5. He can slide right into that lineup and become a star.