Fantasy Hockey: Five Forwards You Can Steal on Draft Day

Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers

While Taylor Hall took flight last season, posting a career high in points, Eberle failed to build off his 76 point season in 2011-2012. The 23-year-old notched 37 points in 48 games last season as the team failed to make the playoffs.  Eberle has too much talent to simply be dismissed as an above average hockey player.  He is an elite talent who took a bit of a fall last season but will rebound in a huge way. The Oilers are young and they keep getting better every year. The youngster averaged 3:12 of power-play time per game last campaign and will continue to be a vital piece of one of the most successful power-plays in the league.  Fellow fantasy owners will be trying desperately to get their hands on Taylor Hall and rising star Nail Yakupov. While their busy with that, you may be able to steal Eberle in a later round and reap the rewards.

 Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars

If you are willing to take a gamble, you will likely be heavily rewarded. Seguin has fallen off most people’s radars after a disappointing playoff campaign where he seemed physically challenged to find the back of the net. A new team is always a fresh start though and he should strive in a Stars’ uniform. He is very young and is way too skilled to not be a difference maker in the NHL. He is playing on a revamped Stars team the features Jamie Benn, Ray Whitney, Erik Cole, and Rich Peverley among others. This team is nowhere near as talented as the Bruins but that’s good for Seguin. There were so many scorers on Boston that Seguin wasn’t counted on to provide massive offense. He was slotted in on the second or third line as a depth scorer. That’s not who he is. This is a guy who scored 48 goals in 63 games in the OHL. He is a natural goal scorer who can be a fantasy hockey gem. With top line even strength and power-play minutes waiting in Dallas, don’t pass up on this guy.

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Jeff Skinner, Carolina Hurricanes

He has perpetually fallen off many people’s lists after posting a concerning 24 points in 42 games last season with the Hurricanes. Instead of propelling upwards after his 63 point rookie season, Skinner has fallen every year. Injuries have kept Skinner from actually playing a full season since that Calder winning rookie campaign. Injuries can’t necessarily take all the blame for Skinner’s inconsistent play though. It is a true mystery that Skinner struggled last season while fellow teammates Eric Staal, Alexander Semin, and Jiri Tlusty all excelled. His power-play time dropped significantly last season to under three minutes as a hot Tlusty took his place on the top unit. Nobody is likely to grab him early so why not steal him in a later round? He put up a whopping 31 goals in his rookie season and is capable of doing that again. He is healthy and ready to prove the doubters wrong. Believe in him and he will reward you.

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Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche

Matt Duchene was the star in Colorado last season and now Nathan Mackinnon is in the spotlight. Meanwhile, fantasy owners have their eyes on P-A Parenteau who had a career year last season in his first campaign with the Avs. Landeskog had a down year offensively as he only put up 17 points in 38 games. Most people aren’t looking to draft this guy but there is huge upside to making the move. Most youngsters struggle in that dreaded sophomore campaign and Landeskog is no different. He put up 52 points in his rookie year and should easily surpass that next season. If shorthanded goals are a big factor in your league, consider Landeskog as he potted three of them last season. He will likely get a gig on the top power-play unit that should feature Matt Duchene, Paul Stastny, P-A-Parentaeu and upcomer Tyson Barrie. The young captain should strive next year as the young Avs keep improving.

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Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks

Injuries have prevented Kesler from rediscovering the success of his 40 goal season in 2011.He actually posted 13 points in the limited amount of games (17) he appeared in last season but still wasn’t the player we all know he is capable of. There were flashes of brilliance in the playoffs too as the Canucks got swept by the San Jose Sharks. A healthy Kesler could pay great dividends to any poolie who drafts the center. He will resume his usual spot on the team’s top power-play unit alongside the Sedin twins. Don’t expect a massive jump in points though as the Canucks still haven’t brought in any wingers to play on that second line. If David Booth can stay healthy and find his game, Kesler could benefit. He is capable himself though to put up a solid fantasy season next year and no fantasy owner should shy away from taking the heart and soul forward.

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