Ask any perennial fantasy manager, of any sport and most will say your team’s fate doesn’t rely on your first round pick, but rather the pick no one else saw coming.
The beauty of that is it could totally happen by accident. It’s not who you’ll take first overall, but rather who you’ll take 121st overall. So as fantasy hockey nuts gear up for another long season, lets remind ourselves of recent fantasy sleeper picks that most likely either propelled us to the fantasy stardom or deflated any hopes of taking home hockey’s “Shiva.”
Corey Perry (2010-2011) – Perry is a beast and we all know it, but 50g, 11 of them game-winners and 104 PIM? That’s as sexy a fantasy campaign as you can get. Now tell someone they didn’t have to draft him until the 4th round with an average draft position of 42.
Erik Karlsson (2011-2012) — When you sat down to work on your pre-draft rankings two years ago, I don’t think anyone, outside the die hard Ottawa Senators fan was considering Karlsson in the first two rounds. In fact, according to an “All-Pro” Fantasy Team post on ESPN.com, his ADP was 157.8. 82 games later, 78 overall points and a Norris Trophy to start his collection at home and whoever took the gamble at 157, most likely took home gold themselves.
Steven Stamkos (2009-2010) – Remember who you drafted instead of Stamkos in the 7th round of your draft the year the team who did, won it all? I do – mine was Mikhail Grabovski. In 2008, he was a waiver wire pick up, if that. In 2009, he potted 51 goals and 95 points; an absolute steal for anyone who picked him after the 5th round. People may have even given up on drafting at that point, hit auto-pick and 6 months later were saying “cha-ching.”
So who will it be this year? Everyone already knows about the Tavares’ and Karlssons of the world. It’s about finding this year’s Stamkos. Perhaps Matt Duchene? Jordan Eberle had a good go at it two years ago, maybe it’s Taylor Hall’s turn?
One thing’s for sure, you certainly won’t be taking Grabovski over any of those potential sleepers in the seventh round. Learn from me.