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 Breakouts: 5 Players to Watch Allow Anonymous Users Reply to This Topic...
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Posted - 08/07/2009 :  17:03:05  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It's unbelievable that NHL rookie training camps open in less than 4 weeks, and we are under 5 weeks until the start of main camps. My how time flies! Of course, this also means that fantasy players are already drafting teams. With that in mind, let's take a look at 5 players who are poised for breakout seasons in 2009-10:

1. Claude Giroux – F, PHI
Giroux reminds us a lot of teammate Simon Gagne. He's a good skater and is equally adept at making plays as he is at finding the back of the net. Giroux scored 27 points in 42 games last year and saw time in both a 3rd line and top-6 role. The expectation is that he will ultimately start the year in the Flyers top-6, possibly playing RW with (C) Jeff Carter and (LW) Scott Hartnell. It should surprise no-one if Giroux becomes a 60+ point player. His long-term fantasy upside is that of a first line player and 90 points one day soon is definitely possible.

2. Ville Leino – F, DET
With the departure of Jiri Hudler to the KHL, a top-6 spot in Hockeytown is wide open for the talented Fin. Head Coach Mike Babchuk absolutely loves his skill-set, saying, “He's got a nose for the net, goes to the net, dominant on the cycle, makes great passes. He's a Red Wings-type player. Leino, I think he's going to be a scoring machine." Sounds good to us.

3. Ondrej Pavelec – G, ATL
Another year, another surgery for Atlanta Thrashers starting goaltender Kari Lehtonen. Lehtonen had back surgery a week or so ago to repair a disc in his back that will keep him sidelined until training camp. Lehtonen's injury history reads like a rap sheet and he is already considered to be a band-aid boy. Pavelec struggled in his call-up last year with the NHL club, but Thrashers GM Don Waddell has hinted that the starting goaltending job is wide open. The team tried unsuccessfully to trade Lehtonen at the draft, and recently resigned him to a 1-year deal, despite Lehtonen looking for something long-term. Surely the Thrashers are going to want to see what Pavelec can do in the NHL, and it's our bet he gets his fair share of games whether Lehtonen is healthy or not. Pavelec is a big goalie who plays with a ton of confidence and believes he is NHL ready.

4. Artem Anisimov – C, NYR
Anisimov will get a long look in training camp and the belief is that unless he disappoints he could potentially grab the 2nd line centre role in the Big Apple. In his second year in North America, Anisimov exploded for 37 goals and 81 points for the AHL's Hartford Wolf Pack. NYR Head Coach John Tortorella hasn't ruled out the possibility of Anisimov centering the 1st line with Marian Gaborik but that role is probably going to land with Brandon Dubinsky. Anisimov plays a solid 2-way game which would certainly help his chances of sticking with the team in October. If he does, 20 goals in his rookie year is certainly not out of the question. Anisimov could be a nice late round pick in deep leagues or a solid mid-round choice in deep keeper leagues.

5. Tyler Kennedy – F, PIT
Although ultimately Kennedy may be more suited in a 3rd line role long-term, there is a top-6 forward spot open in Pittsburgh. Kennedy scored 15 goals in just 67 games, despite seeing just over 13 minutes of icetime per game (almost none of which came on the PP). Don't expect him to become a fixture with the man advantage, but do expect him to get a long look as a winger to Evgeni Malkin. If so, 25 goals could be in reach.

We've officially entered the “3rd period of summer” and there's been a lot going on at the head offices of SchoolYourPool.com. We've been preparing to re-launch our new website (same address: www.schoolyourpool.com) and if everything stays on schedule it should be 'go time' in the 3rd week of August. The link is active, but the site is NOT completed. I've decided to put it online for now to get some feedback from users who are willing to register, check it out, and provide some feedback and report bugs.


Ray Irwin writes for www.SchoolYourPool.com, the most complete fantasy hockey advice website on the internet. Featuring player and prospect rankings and interviews, daily starting goalies, buy low/sell high, injury reports, goalie carousel, and lots more...come on over to www.schoolyourpool.com and Get Educated!

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