A look at some short and long term sleepers from New Jersey, the two New York teams, Ottawa, and Phoenix.
This series has been published over the past few months, team-by-team, in the daily ramblings. In Part V, we look at a short (next season only) and long term (next three or four years) sleeper for New Jersey, the two New York teams, Ottawa, and Phoenix.
Since many of these write-ups were done over the past few months, not everything will be completely up-to-date from a timing perspective. I went back and changed what I could, and hopefully nothing slipped through the cracks.
New Jersey Devils
2013-14 sleeper pick: Jon Merrill
Merrill is a dynamic two-way defenseman with a ton of upside. Do the Devils go the patient route with him and leave him in the AHL for a year or two? I think he is NHL ready now, but I am not the coach (nor the GM) for New Jersey. He has top pairing upside – 10+ goals, 45+ points, and solid peripheral numbers. Even if he isn't productive for a year or so, he will be worth the wait.
Long term sleeper pick: Reid Boucher
62 goals in 68 OHL games in 2012-13 for Boucher. Suffice to say… he's a natural scorer. He had two goals in 11 AHL games after turning pro. He isn't on the Devils radar for the immediate future – he has to improve many aspects of his game first. But he definitely has top six upside, and with the right development, he will be a go-to scorer at the NHL level, too.
2013-14 sleeper pick: Matt Donovan
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (which I am, apparently) – read this. Or this.
Long term sleeper pick: Mike Halmo
The Islanders signed Halmo as a free agent out of the OHL last summer. He played his first season in pro hockey in the AHL in 2012-13, finishing with 14 points in 46 games. He's small but pretty gritty (he loves to hit, and he's quite good at it