September is right around the corner and that means that armchair GMs everywhere are gearing up for the 2014-15 NHL hockey season. Want to dominate your fantasy hockey league this upcoming season? Here are a few sleeper picks that may give you the edge against your buddies:
10 - Boone Jenner
Granted, playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets doesn't exactly elevate one's fantasy stock, yet Boone Jenner, much like teammate Ryan Johansen did last season, has the potential to overcome the fantasy stigma associated with playing hockey in Ohio's capital. Don't expect Jenner to put up Johansen's offensive stats, though his 16 goals and 29 points in his rookie campaign were better totals than Johansen's own rookie campaigns. However, if your pool has a broad range of statistics including hits, PIMs and shots then Jenner could be a diamond in the rough for you this season.
9 - Erik Gelinas
This surprising rookie came seemingly out of nowhere last year, posting an impressive 29 points in just 60 games last season. Not only did the rearguard put up 29 points, but 17 of those came on the powerplay, a double whammy for fantasy owners. If he can avoid the sophomore jinx and build on that fantasy rookie campaign he could turn into a solid keeper in the years ahead.
8 - Chris Kreider
It seems like this guy is a sleeper every year, and so far he hasn't quite managed to bust through and really establish himself as a dominant player in the league. Well, I'm going out on a limb here and declaring that this year will finally be the year that Kreider lives up to his potential. He had a solid, if unspectacular regular season last year, and a great playoff run that helped the Rangers make the Stanley Cup Final. With speed to burn this guy is a d-man's worst nightmare. Look for him to push for 30 goals and 60 points this season.
7 - Valeri Nichushkin
This hulking Russian forward is going to be a handful when he really hits his stride, and that may occur as early as this season. With size, skill and speed he is the complete package, and with his rookie campaign in the rearview mirror he is ready to take a giant leap forward and really make his impact felt. If he starts to use that 6'4" frame of his to punish his opponents he will not only be a fantasy stud on the offensive side of the ledger, but also give fantasy GMs some bonus points in secondary categories as well.
6 - Tyler Toffoli
He showed flashes of brilliance in both the regular season and the playoffs last year for the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, and this year, as a full-time roster player, watch for Tyler Toffoli to explode offensively. He has immense talent, and his hockey sense is off the charts. If you have this guy in a keeper pool make sure to hang onto him. He is going to be a stud this year and for many years to come.
5 - Jonathan Drouin
Much like former Halifax Mooseheads teammate Nathan MacKinnon did last year Jonathan Drouin should make an immediate impact in the NHL in his rookie season. Possessed of a ridiculous skill set, and incredible on-ice vision, Drouin should have no problem finding the score sheet, particularly if he is paired with prolific sniper Steven Stamkos. No, he probably won't rack up much in the way of secondary stats, but his offensive numbers, both at even strength and on the powerplay will make this guy a valuable fantasy asset this year.
4 - Gustav Nyquist
Some might object to this guy being called a fantasy sleeper in light of the 48 points he put up in just 57 games last year, but with the return of both Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, Nyquist will again find himself flying under the radar. He shone when called upon to provide offensive when both of Detroit's superstars went down with injury. There's no reason to think he can't continue to be a force even in the secondary role he will find himself in this season.
3 - Mikael Granlund
The number nine pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft is ready for a huge year. 41 points in 63 games wasn't too shabby last season, but this guy has the potential to push 70 points in a full 82 game campaign, and insulated within a top six that is as good as any other team's Granlund shouldn't find himself playing against top pair d-men too often. Yes, durability is a question mark, but if he stays healthy he will reward any fantasy hockey GM bold enough to take a chance on him.
2 - Alex Galchenyuk
He has shown flashes of brilliance in his first two seasons, but inconsistency and injury have both conspired to keep this Hab from really showing the potential that prompted the Canadiens to pick him third overall. So far he has been overshadowed by Brendan Gallagher, the pesky, hard-working teammate that made the team the same year Galchenyuk did. Look for Galchenyuk to come out from under that shadow now and really shine. He has far more natural talent than Gallagher, and the numbers should prove it this season.
1 - Patric Hornqvist
Unlike most of the others on this fantasy hockey sleeper list, Patric Hornqvist has more than a season or two of NHL experience under his belt. At 27 years of age he has already got six seasons in the big league, all with the Nashville Predators, and he has proven he has top-notch offensive ability during his tenure there, despite playing on one of the NHL's most offensively-challenged teams. Well, he no longer needs to worry about the offensive skill-set, or lack thereof, of his teammates. In the off-season he was acquired by the Pittsburgh Penguins, and now with the chance to play with the likes of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin there is no reason to doubt he will have a career offensive year.