It's the best time of year!
As we continue ‘Fantasy Week’ here at RLD, we take a look at five players who should take the next step in the fantasy world, along with some deep sleepers for you fantasy gurus!
1. John Tavares
09/10 Stats: 82 GP, 24 G, 30 A, 54 Pts, -15
A lot of people are comparing Tavares as the 'next Stamkos'; put me on that bandwagon. Tampa Bay’s Stamkos went on a scoring binge in 2009/10 after a rough rookie year, tying Sidney Crosby for the Rocket Richard Trophy with 51 goals. Tavares was streaky in his rookie year, but is set to improve in his sophomore season. I don’t think he’ll record 98 points like Stamkos did, but 70-80 would be a safe bet. If ‘JT’ improves like we think he will, also watch out for more goals from wing-mate Kyle Okposo.
2. Michael Frolik
09/10 Stats: 82 GP, 21 G, 22 A, 43 Pts, -4
Is this finally the season Frolik bursts onto the scene for Florida? The 10th overall selection from 2006 is entering his third season in the league, and has shown a lot of promise but not enough results. Frolik has a great opportunity to score in bunches next to Stephen Weiss with Nathan Horton no longer in Sunrise. I’m feeling at least a 25-goal, 60-point season from the Czech native… and that goal total will grow if David Booth can’t rebound from the concussions. And remember Frolik is just 22, so he’d be a smart pickup in keeper leagues.
3. Semyon Varlamov
09/10 Stats: 26 GP, 15-4-6, 2.55 GAA, .909 SV%
Jose Theodore’s departure means there is a new starting goalie in Washington… say hello to Varlamov! In two seasons as a backup to Theodore, Varlamov has a 19-4-7 record and 2.52 GAA. The Russian will likely start the year splitting time with fellow youngster Michal Neuvirth; but at some point I expect Varlamov to take the bull by the horns in net. He’ll be a better fantasy goalie than people think, as he’ll rack up the wins with the high-powered Capitals. If he takes over the number one role by midseason, I can see ‘Varly’ winning 40 games with a handful of shutouts.
4. Colin Wilson
09/10 Stats: 35 GP, 8 G, 7 A, 15 Pts, -2
Wilson’s rookie campaign was a tale of two stints. In October, the Boston U. product tallied two points in ten games. After returning from Milwaukee fully healthy, Wilson recorded 13 points in 25 games. Wilson had part-time duty on the top line, and was still getting acclimated to the NHL. With Jason Arnott out the door, Wilson could eventually take over as the number one pivot for Nashville, where he’d be dishing the puck to a 30-goal scorer in Patric Hornqvist, and receiving passes from playmaker Steve Sullivan. I like Wilson’s chances of getting 60-plus points with some decent power play numbers.
5. Troy Brouwer
09/10 Stats: 78 GP, 22 G, 18 A, 40 Pts, +9
Brouwer could be a sleeping giant in fantasy this season. Last year could have been viewed as his ‘breakout season’, but he’s going to have more of an opportunity to contribute even more in 2010/11. Dustin Byfuglien’s absence means Brouwer likely gets a top-six role with the Blackhawks, where he’d be alongside Jonathan Toews/Patrick Kane or Marian Hossa/Patrick Sharp. The 25-year-old Brouwer can take over the role of power forward on the power play, and is surrounded by talent in Chicago. Is 30 goals out of the question for him this year? No.
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