Well after months of waiting, NHL fans can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the lockout has ended, training camps are now open and a hurried season begins in less than a week. So as the fantasy draft boards heat up, let’s take a look at some top fantasy options for the 2013 season.
Tyler Seguin (C, Boston Bruins)
If you’re a Boston Bruin, your plus/minus rating has been soaring through the roof the last couple of years and Seguin had one of the best at +34 last season. He’s an absolute top tier fantasy option as he had a breakout season in 2011-2012, putting up 67 points in 81 games played. The young center could be in for an even bigger season if his time played in Switzerland during the lockout is any indication as Seguin put up 40 points (25 goals, 15 assists) in just 29 games played abroad.
Mikkel Boedker (LW, Phoenix Coyotes)
This young Danish winger is a stretch and a definite sleeper option for fantasy teams, but I really think that he could be special this season. Boedker put up just 24 points in 82 games played last season, but went on a small tear in the playoffs, scoring eight points in just 16 games and it could be a sign of things to come for the talented player. If Boedker stays as healthy as he did last year he could have a breakout season for the Coyotes.
Erik Karlsson (D, Ottawa Senators)
This young Swedish defender is just 22 years old and is already the centerpiece of the Senators. After a monster campaign last year in which he scored more points than any other defenseman in the league, Karlsson is ready for another go in a shortened 2013 season. While he may not put up the absurd numbers that he did last season, Karlsson has been consistent during his short NHL career, putting up 149 points in 216 career games played and is a top fantasy option, regardless of position.
Ryan Miller (G, Buffalo Sabres)
Miller was sensational in 2009-2010, putting up a sparkling .929 save percentage and 41 wins en route to the Vezina Trophy and will look to re-discover that form in this shortened season. The Sabres added more toughness to their lineup which should help Miller’s cause. The former Michigan State Spartan should return fresh and ready to go for 2013 after not playing during the lockout. Look for him to have a great season for an improved Sabres squad.
Steven Stamkos (C, Tampa Bay Lightning)
Probably the best young sniper in the game today, Stamkos will look to put up numbers similar to last year when he went on a career best 97-point, 60-goal tear. The young center’s fitness level is off the charts so not playing during the lockout shouldn’t affect his performance early on in the season and he should once again be in the discussion for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP; and who knows how many goals he could put up in a 48-game season. Draft this guy quickly before he is swiped up.
Roberto Luongo (G, Vancouver Canucks)
Some believe that one of the game’s best goaltenders over the past decade could be on a downward slide after his sub-par performance last season, but I believe that he still has the abilities to be one of the game's best for some years to come. With rumors of a possible trade to Toronto or Florida (his previous tour of duty) still in the works, one thing remains certain: Luongo will be on a mission in 2013 with much to prove.
Niklas Kronwall (D, Detroit Red Wings)
This veteran Swedish defender has been improving with age it seems. The 32-year old has scored 73 points over his last two seasons and has been monumental for the Red Wings on the power play and even more importantly, in the playoffs. Kronwall has 40 points in 79 career playoff games. Look for him to be a top option on your fantasy blue line in 2013.
Brian Campbell (D, Florida Panthers)
Former Blackhawks GM Dale Tallon was not going to leave Chicago for south Florida without Brian Campbell coming with him and the sensational defenseman came along willingly, which is just a small example of what kind of a team player you’re getting with Campbell on your squad. Campbell’s gritty style of play and excellent passing abilities from the blue line lead the Panthers to an achingly close chance of winning their first playoff round since 1996 in last season’s series versus the Devils. The veteran defenseman scored over 50 points last season for a talented young Panthers team and I would look for him to put up similar numbers again this season as long as he remains healthy.
Michael Ryder (RW, Dallas Stars)
Ryder could very well be one of the most underrated wingers of the past decade in the NHL. Last year he once again showed why as he put up 62 points (35 goals, 27 assists) for his new team. His wealth of experience and knowledge of the game could prove instrumental and help propel the Stars to an outside chance at reaching the playoffs in a shortened 2013 season. The addition of two new Stars who love to pass the puck (Ray Whitney and Jaromir Jagr) can only help the Stars (and Ryder’s) chances for a big season.
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