Angus looks at five multi-category fantasy sleepers for next season…
Here are five young defensemen who are ready to make an impact at the NHL level – either offensively or with other aspects of their game.
More and more fantasy hockey leagues are embracing hits and blocked shots as positive statistics. Why? Well, for starters, they are both recorded in every single NHL rink. The accuracy isn't the same as a goal or an assist (the fluctuations in how these stats are recorded from rink to rink are quite pronounced, actually), but adding these statistics gives fantasy value to a wider net of players. It is widely known that the New York Rangers receive a significant home advantage when it comes to hit recording – the Madison Square Garden statistician is very trigger-happy.
If you learn which rinks tend to award hits more liberally, you can use that information to your advantage.
And it is a nice way to reward gritty forwards and defensemen who otherwise would get little to no attention in fantasy circles. Some leagues are also moving away from PIM (a subject that was debated here last year), as PIM are inherently a negative statistic. Debating aside, there is no arguing that including PIM, hits, and blocked shots in fantasy leagues makes it more challenging (and thus, more rewarding) to evaluate and rank players as draft day approaches.
Alex Petrovic – Florida
Petrovic is a big and mobile defenseman who looks to have a bottom pairing spot in Florida as his to lose for 2013-14. He has been productive at both the WHL and AHL level, and the Panthers have to love a future blue line that features him on one pairing and Erik Gudbranson on the other. The future bash brothers, perhaps?
If Petrovic's play at the lower levels is any indication, he should have fantasy value as a rookie, even if he doesn't put up any offensive numbers initially.
Cameron Gaunce – Dallas
Gaunce once scored 17 goals in the OHL (he also finished that season with 64 points). However, if he makes the Stars this season, it won't be for his offensive prowess. He is a no-nonsense defenseman who likes to play with a physical edge, and he compliments an offensive defenseman quite nicely (which could make him the ideal partner for Alex Goligoski, or down the road, Joe Morrow or Kevin Connauton). Gaunce has consecutive 90+ PIM seasons in the AHL, and he blocks a ton of shots, too. Don't expect much offense, though.
Radko Gudas – Tampa Bay
Gudas finished 2013 with 87 hits in 22 games. Over a full 82 game season, that would equate to 334 hits. Only Matt Martin (374 hits) ha