• Top 10 fantasy sleeper picks for 2015-16

    Matt Larkin
    David Pastrnak.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

    They’re back. Everyone’s favorite players to draft in fantasy pools. The sleepers.

    There’s a special high that comes with being “the genius who predicted _______’s breakout season.” That’s why it’s so intoxicating to research sleepers every year. If you’ve already studied my most recent update of the top 200 overall players, now it’s time to dig for undervalued guys.

    As I outlined in last year’s sleeper list, I identify them as follows:

    (a) Players who will outperform their average draft position
    (b) Players who will outperform some players drafted before them
    (c) Players you can steal cheap at the ends of drafts to reap major profits

    After taking last year’s feedback into consideration, I want to stress (a) and (b) a lot more than (c). There’s a misconception every sleeper has to be “that guy no one else knows about who’s still on the board in the final round of a draft.” Anyone looking for only that type of sleeper on this list will end up posting something like “Gee, thanks for the shocking insight on Teuvo Teravainen, I had no idea who that guy was, jerk.” But that person misses the more important point. Teravainen goes on average 172nd overall in fantasy drafts, according to Yahoo’s ADP (average draft position) numbers. My rank for Teravainen in the top 200: 139th overall. Essentially, I’m saying he should outperform 32 guys currently being drafted ahead of him. Savvy GMs may think it’s no big revelation to talk up Teravainen, but the general drafting public evidently hasn’t caught on yet. Teravainen’s a legit sleeper.

    Of course, I’m not going to tout Ryan Johansen as a sleeper when I rank him 18th and he’s going 33rd. There’s a line to draw here. I still want to help you find guys you can actually steal in the mid to late rounds. With that, let’s begin the 2015-16 list:

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  • What’s holding up Stamkos and Kopitar extensions? The ‘R’ word

    Anze Kopitar  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

    If you’re Steve Yzerman, you should have had Steven Stamkos signed to an eight-year contract extension more than a month ago. Same goes for Dean Lombardi and his dealings with Anze Kopitar. It’s simple really. These guys are franchise players. Sign them at the going rate for the maximum number of years and get rid of the distraction.

    After all, that’s what Stan Bowman did last summer and he killed two potential headaches with one Aspirin. Faced with a similar situation with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Chicago Blackhawks GM needed exactly eight days to get his two stars signed to identical eight-year deals worth $84 million. Cap hits of $10.5 million per times two represented a bold move, but in reality, the Blackhawks got themselves a deal. Had Toews and Kane played out the final seasons of their contracts and gone on the open market separately, they would have cashed in even more. Read more

  • AHL Logo Ranking: No. 15 – Lehigh Valley Phantoms

    Jared Clinton
    Lehigh Valley Phantoms logo (via SportsLogos.net/Chris Creamer)

    (The AHL has undergone a season of change and one-third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

    It’s been a while since the once dominant Phantoms franchise has found its way into the post-season. Can 2015-16 be the year they make the jump from AHL pretender to Calder Cup contender?

    Since 2009-10, the club has failed to make the playoffs and there has been quite a bit of change to the Phantoms roster in time for the new season. Gone are 12 regulars from last season’s lineup, including top-10 scorers Jason Akeson, Blair Jones and Zack Stortini. On the backend, Adam Comrie, Steve Delisle, Oliver Lauridsen and Brett Flemming are all off to new opportunities for the upcoming campaign.

    The big names coming in are Chris Conner and Colin McDonald, who scored a combined 87 point in 101 games this past season. That should make up for the production lost this off-season and there’s also some youth that could be on its way to town. Young defenseman Samuel Morin, one of the Flyers’ top prospects, could start his campaign in the AHL, and Tyrell Goulbourne and Pavel Padakin might be able to provide some scoring up front as first-year AHLers.

    In goal, the addition of veteran Jason LaBarbera provides some stability in goal, especially with how much Anthony Stolarz struggled this past season. It’ll likely be the combination of 35-year-old LaBarbera and 21-year-old Stolarz defending the net for the Phantoms in 2015-16.

    Entering their second season in Lehigh Valley, a playoff berth would be a pleasant surprise for the Phantoms. Read more

  • Watch Newcastle North Stars win Australian championship on penalty shot in overtime

    Jared Clinton
    Newcastle North Stars celebrate their Goodall Cup victory. (via AIHL/Facebook)

    When it comes to championship-winning drama, it’s going to be difficult to top the 2015 AIHL final.

    The league’s championship tournament took place this past weekend with the Newcastle North Stars facing off against the Melbourne Ice in a game that pitted the league’s top two teams against each other in a one-game, winner-take-all match for the Goodall Cup. And the heroics came from one of the most unlikely sources. In overtime of the Grand Final, Newcastle center Brian Bales was given the opportunity of a lifetime.

    Bales, who scored 10 goals and 30 points during the regular season, was on a partial breakaway when he was hauled down from behind, resulting in a penalty shot less than three minutes into the first overtime. On his attempt, Bales took the straight-line approach before making a quick juke and burying the puck past the Melbourne’s Alex Leclerc. Read more

  • Rumor Roundup: Lucic’s time with Kings could be short as Kopitar deal looms

    Lyle Richardson
    Milan Lucic (Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)

    The Los Angeles Kings will have to pay big bucks to keep first-line centerman Anze Kopitar out of next summer’s unrestricted free agent market. However, he’s not the King who will prove costly to retain.

    Fluto Shinzawa of The Boston Globe speculates left winger Milan Lucic could have a short tenure in Los Angeles. Lucic, 27, was dealt to the Kings in June by the Boston Bruins. Like Kopitar, he’s slated to become a UFA next July. He’s completing a three-year, $18 million contract and it’s expected he’ll seek a significant raise.

    The Kings currently have over $49 million invested in 15 players for 2016-17. That’s not including the potential salary-cap recapture penalty for center Mike Richards, whose contract termination is being contested by the NHLPA, or the $4.167-million salary-cap hit of currently-suspended defenseman Slava Voynov. Read more

  • Curtis Glencross wishes he didn’t take a hometown discount with Flames

    Jared Clinton
    Curtis Glencross (Rich Lam/Getty Images)

    After scoring 13 goals and 35 points, Curtis Glencross remains without a deal for the 2015-16 season. And with the speedy winger still looking for a contract, he’s having some regrets about his prior four-year deal with the Calgary Flames.

    In May 2011, Glencross inked a four-year, $10.2 million deal with the Flames. It was considered to be less than Glencross may have been able to fetch on the open market, especially as he was coming off of a 24-goal, 43-point campaign.

    “I love my time in Calgary and the organization, but you learn that eventually it’s a business and you’re just a number,” Glencross told the Calgary Sun’s Eric Francis. “If I could do it again … as much as I love (Calgary) and call it home and met great people, at the same time, when it’s time for you to cash in, you have to take advantage and cash in. You can’t take a pay-cut or hometown discount because things change.” Read more

  • Free agent defensemen Ballard, Leopold contemplating retirement

    Jared Clinton
    Keith Ballard (Bruce Kluckhohn/Getty Images)

    As free agency rolls on and Keith Ballard and Jordan Leopold remain without contracts for the 2015-16 season, it appears the two defensemen could hang up their skates for good.

    Neither Ballard, 32, and Leopold, 35, have confirmed their desire to retire from the game, but both blueliners told the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Michael Russo that their circumstances dictate they may have played their final campaign’s in the NHL.

    For Ballard, injuries — especially concussions — have potentially ended his career. Over his 10-year NHL career, Ballard has suffered at least four documented concussions, with the latest, an injury sustained Dec. 9, keeping him out of the lineup for 66 games this past season. This comes less than three years after headaches stemming from a concussion kept him out of the Vancouver Canucks’ for 28 contests.

    “I’m just trying to get healthy,” Ballard told Russo. “If I make a full recovery from this one, I’ll chalk it up to good luck. But I admit, if I’m hit like this again, I’m a little freaked out about what would happen the next time.” Read more

  • Steven Stamkos and the importance of playing other sports

    Steven Stamkos (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    The Toronto Blue Jays are putting up enough offense to win the Rocket Richard Trophy (they have that in baseball too, right?), so it’s no surprise local boy Steven Stamkos – a two-time winner of that accolade himself – dropped by to shag a few pitches himself the other day.

    Stamkos is a well-known baseball fan who plays the game in the summer, despite the fact he’s one of the best hockey players in the world. But he’s not the only elite iceman whose sporting pursuits go beyond the arena. And for young players (and their parents), Stamkos is a great role model.

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