Doesn't take a genius to draft Sidney Crosby 1st overall in your hockey draft. The first few rounds of most fantasy drafts can be fairly straight forward. The differences between many of the top players is well documented. Whether your drafting Ilya Kovalchuk or Jerome Iginla or Marian Hossa you are going to get a quality hockey player. Many fantasy hockey pools are won or lost in the mid to late rounds of the draft. Here's a look at a few players that might be available late in your pool that could surprise.
Murphy comes over after putting up impressive numbers in Europe. Murphy also showed very well at last years World Championships. He's poised to battle it out with Mike Van Ryn for power play time along side Jay Bouwmeester in Florida. Murphy is a mature player that has a chance to step right in and put up points on an improving Florida team.
Ruutu was once touted as a possible franchise player for the Chicago Blackhawks. Once upon a time he was considered the best young player in the game. Injuries and years of not living up to potential have diminished Ruutu's value greatly. With players like Havlat, Toews, Lang, Samsonov, Skille and more now arriving in Chicago, Ruutu will have plenty of offense to line up next to. While we don't expect Ruutu is going to put up 80 points, a 65 point season might not be out of the question. Not bad value in the 15th-20th rounds.
Connolly has always had very good offensive skills, but concussion problems have kept him out of the lineup for sometime. With the departures of Briere, Drury, and Zubrus there are plenty of openings on the top two lines of the high scoring Sabres. Tim finished last season healthy and if he can maintain that this season he could put up big numbers. Well worth a late round pick.
Paetsch put up a respectable 25 points in just 63 games. He also put up 50 penalty minutes in the short time. Paetsch displays good quarterbacking skills, and if he can land a regular spot on the Buffalo power play, it wouldn't surprise to see him put up 40 points.
It might be a little late to expect Pavelski to drop in your fantasy draft after his strong showing last season. But if Pavelski does fall he's certain to offer top value in the later rounds. Pavelski does one thing very well and that's score - something very important in fantasy hockey.
Like a few on this list we've been waiting a long time for Hudler to become the player he was once projected to be. Much of that hinges on Mike Babcock and Hudler's icetime. Hudler might be the biggest benefactor of Robert Lang's signing in Chicago. Expect this year to be the year Hudler puts up some decent numbers.
Svatos burst onto the scene in 2005 but suffered a sophomore slump in his second full campaign. In fairness to Svatos he was plagued by groin problems much of the year. A tough pill to swallow for a guy that uses speed as his primary weapon. When healthy Svatos is one of the quickest players in the NHL. If Svatos can remain injury free expect him to return to the player we saw in his rookie year.
While we are not huge fans of Prospal's game here at Toronto Hockey, he does play with three of the most offensively gifted players in the NHL. Prospal will again see plenty of action alongside the big three in Tampa. Expect Prospal to improve a little on last seasons numbers.
While not as highly touted as some young prospects expect big things from Brown this season. L.A. has added plenty of offensive talent and Brown compliments many of the high octane players found in L.A.'s attack. In leagues with penalty minutes Brown should be valued highly.
Weiss just another example of a player that has taken a while to emerge. Weiss made huge strides last year and is a big part of the Panther's future. Weiss's role is sure to increase in Florida, and his offensive totals will to.
Bochenski has bounced around quite a bit for a young player. Brandon put up massive totals in the minors. He also performed well late last season in Boston. Boston has plenty of well rounded wingers and Brandon's lack of defensive ability limits his icetime. If Brandon can find his way onto the top two lines and increase his minutes he has the potential to put up a point a game.
We don't expect Brad Boyes will fall in to many fantasy drafts. Not after putting up 70 points 2 years ago. If he does get overlooked in the early rounds he'll be very good value in the later rounds. His new home in St. Louis will offer Boyes every opportunity and plenty of quality icetime. Look for Boyes to return to the 70 point as a result of his increased role and icetime.
Hardly an unknown but played in relative obscurity in Phoenix. Add a sub-par year, a disappointing sting in Dallas, and Nagy will probably fall further then he should on draft day. His new home in L.A. gives Nagy more offensively skilled linemates then he had in Phoenix. Expect a decent year from Nagy and a return to form.
We have our doubts about Mara after such a horrible season in Beantown. But if there isn't much around in the late rounds he might be a relative bargain. Mara has had some very good offensive seasons and owns a nice shot from the point. Hopefully with some increased powerplay time in New York Mara will rebound.
Legace put up some very nice numbers late last season. With the defensive system St. Louis has in place Legace could have a strong year. Definitely worth the risk in the late rounds on draft day, especially if you're searching for a tender.