A little late, but hopefully you share the mindset of “better late than never.” As always, there were quite a few surprise players who bear watching for your fantasy hockey league.
Mattias Weinhandl – Sweden. The extremely talented Swede had a great tournament, potting five goals and finishing with 12 points (good for third in tournament scoring). Weinhandl has had some stints in the NHL with The Islanders and the Wild, but he has failed to stick in a top-six role. He is a very soft player and has struggled to adapt to the physicality of the North American game. He has proven he can score at the AHL level as well. Will he be given a shot at some point? He turns 29 this summer, so his time may be close to running out. He seems to dominate on the big ice with his vision, shot, and offensive skills, but he needs to find a way to translate that to the smaller ice surfaces.
Niko Kapanen – Finland. Kapanen was impressive for the Fins. He plays a strong two-way game with a bit of grit (a staple of Finnish forwards, it seems), and he has great wheels. He had 10 goals and 28 points with Phoenix in 2007, which are impressive numbers for a checking line player (and one on Phoenix to boot). He currently is playing in the KHL, but has proven he can play in the NHL before. Don’t be surprised if he returns to the NHL very soon.
Alexander Radulov – Russia. What would a DobberHockey article be without a reference to Radulov? He had a great tournament, skating circles around opposing defensemen from start to finish. He has had several meetings with Nashville management, as they are trying to gauge his level of interest in returning. Several Nashville players voiced their disdain for Radulov fleeing last off-season (including Jason Arnott), but I think bygones will be bygones if Radulov brings 25-35 goals to the offensively-starved Predators.
Andrei Mezin – Belarus. Mezin stole the show at the tournament, capturing both a First-Team All-Star nomination and the Best Goalie award. He turns 35 this summer so he will never be an NHL player, but his dominant play at this tournament helped him land a KHL contract with Dynamo Minsk. He has made several stops in North America, but nothing above the AHL level (he played seven games with Rochester in 1996-1997).
Kenny Jonsson – Sweden. Jonsson is fantastic at every international tournament, and I used to wonder why he wasn’t in the NHL anymore. Apparently he has been offered a contract by nearly every NHL club since he returned to Sweden a few years ago, but he has chosen to remain in Sweden. He can log a ton of minutes, and rarely makes a mistake at either end of the ice. If he decided to return to the NHL he would probably fetch a contract somewhere in the $4 or $5 million range.