Nikita Filatov was picked sixth overall by Columbus in the 2008 NHL draft, but has spent most of this season with AHL Syracuse. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Getty Images)
Sure, serious fantasy owners glance over the stats for Canadian junior leagues, the American League, American college hockey and the European leagues, but what really brings keeper leaguers’ attention to their prospects is the annual IIHF under-20 tournament.
In the first part of a two-part series, we’ll look at some of the drafted players to keep an eye on for the Czech Republic, Team Russia and Team Finland.
Vladimir Ruzicka, Czech Republic – This Phoenix talent is a few years away from the NHL as he needs to shore up some of the intangibles, such as effort. However, his talent and vision are highly regarded. Am I getting old if I owned his father (of the same name) in my keeper league?
Nikita Filatov, Russia – He has already shone for Columbus this season and is arguably the top prospect not currently playing in the NHL. He is a must-own in all keeper leagues and should be treated as though he will be your best player in two or three years.
Maxim Mayorov, Russia – Another Columbus prospect who was having a more difficult time adapting to the North American game. However, he is coming along now and possesses first-line talent.
Sergei Korostin, Russia – This talented winger should be in the Dallas lineup in about three years. His upside is that of a high-end second liner.
Evgeny Grachev, Russia – He could be a first or second-line center for the Rangers in about five years. He adds size and power to his solid skills and could work some real magic with Filatov at the WJC.
Dmitri Kugryshev, Russia – Washington’s second-round pick has seen his stock rise since the draft. He’s playing in the Quebec League and leads the Remparts in scoring.
Viatcheslav Voynov, Russia – The Kings’ stable of young rearguards is looking fantastic and that’s before Voynov’s progress in the AHL this season. He may have a difficult time running the power play in Los Angeles, though, given the other players who are on the way. Still, he bears watching.
Harri Sateri, Finland – Given San Jose’s track record of drafting European goaltenders, Sateri should be another good one.
Niklas Lucenius, Finland –Teams that are just starting to rebuild, such as the Thrashers, really warrant more attention in terms of their prospects. These youngsters will get more of an opportunity to shine than they would on a deep, solid NHL team. Lucenius is a high risk/high reward center who will gain a lot of fantasy value with a strong performance in Ottawa.
Elsewhere in the fantasy hockey world: With Mats Sundin probably playing his first game on Dec 27, he is looking at 46 games this year. Expect 45 to 50 points from the big Swede. His presence will also significantly boost the production of two of the following three players: Steve Bernier, Taylor Pyatt or Mason Raymond. While I believe Pavol Demitra will be one of his linemates, I think his mere presence in the lineup will have the ripple effect of making the Sedin twins (and their linemate) more productive. All in all, if you own any Canucks, this signing is a good thing for you.
Darryl Dobbs’ Fantasy Pool Look is an in-depth presentation of player trends, injuries and much more as it pertains to rotisserie pool leagues. Get the edge in your league - check out the latest scoop every Tuesday and Saturday throughout the season. Also, get the top 300 roto-player rankings on the 1st of every month in THN’s Fantasy section.