When it comes to fantasy hockey, any Tom, Dick, and Harry can go into a prospect draft knowing which players to take with a first round pick. More often than not, it is the late round picks that ultimately decide which fantasy managers will improve their team in the long run.
In this three part series, I will take a look at one prospect from each NHL team who I believe is undervalued and underappreciated in the fantasy hockey world. Now, I am not guaranteeing that all these players will go onto to have future NHL success -- or even NHL careers -- but hopefully a few of these players turn out to give you serious value down the road in relation to where you grab them in your prospect draft or on the waiver wire. We just never know which under-the-radar prospects may turn out to be legitimate NHLers and/or fantasy studs down the road.
Without further ado, I present Part 1, starting with the Anaheim Ducks. Enjoy!
William Karlsson, C
Karlsson has seen his stock shoot up over the last calendar year, however he is still very underrated in fantasy circles. Fresh off being drafted 53rd overall by the Ducks at the 2011 NHL Draft, the 19-year-old Swede put up 45 points in 46 games in his first full professional season with Vasterås of the Swedish Allsvenskan. At the 2012 US National Junior Evaluation Camp, Karlsson was one of the most impressive forwards on Team Sweden, which included the likes of Mika Zibanejad and Filip Forsberg. This season, Karlsson is taking his talents to HV71 of the Swedish Elite League and is expected to center the first line for Team Sweden at the 2013 WJCHC. If he stands out and produces at the WJHC as is expected, he will most likely be very hard to grab in prospect drafts next season.
Carter Camper, RW
It is tough to call a 24-year-old undrafted prospect underrated, but I feel Camper is just that. After a very successful college career with the Miami University Redhawks, the 5-9, 173-pound Camper signed on as a free agent with the Bruins at the end of the 2011 campaign and went on to post a team-leading total of 48 points in 69 games during his first full season with Providence. Camper also got a chance to play in three with Boston last year, scoring his first NHL goal in the process. While he may not possess high upside due to his age, Camper has produced at all levels of hockey, consistently finishing in the top three in scoring on every single team he has been a part of for the last eight years. Camper will need to show the Bruins that he is more than a perimeter player, but his rookie AHL season should alleviate a bit of the concerns that most people had when projecting what his game would be like in the pros.
Jérôme-Gauthier Leduc, D
A third round pick in 2010, Gauthier-Leduc exploded offensively this past season, scoring 28 goals in 62 regular season games for the Rimouski Oceanic. More impressive was the fact that he scored a goal in eight straight games during the month of October, tallying a point 18 times during the same span. For a player that isn’t talked about too much, Gauthier-Leduc has done nothing but produce in his four-year QMJHL career and looks to have nice offensive upside for the professional game, especially in the goals department due to his strong point shot. Gauthier-Leduc has the skill, skating ability, and smarts to potentially become a solid offensive defenseman at the NHL level. This season, he will look to show that his offensive game can translate to the professional ranks with the Rochester Americans of the AHL.
Michael Ferland, LW
The 2011-2012 WHL season was a coming out party for Ferland. Playing on Brandon’s top line with Brendan Walker and top scorer Mark Stone, Ferland scored 47 goals in 68 games and was named to the WHL Second All-Star team. His explosion this past season is definitely a case of “chicken or the egg”, as many people question whether Ferland’s production was mainly due to riding on the back of Stone, or if Stone and Ferland simply formed some good chemistry and helped each other out equally. It is more likely the former, however Ferland showed he has the ability to capitalize on the passes and space he received from playing with Stone. Ferland will make the transition to the pros this season playing for the Abbotsford Flames of the AHL.
Danny Biega, D
A member of the Harvard Crimson Tide, Biega has been one of the top scoring defensemen in ECAC hockey over the last two years, scoring 21 goals and adding 44 assists in 68 games during that span. Biega is an excellent skater with good vision who can quarterback a power play, but he is also great in his own end, having been named the ECAC Defensive Defenseman of the Year for the 2011-2012 campaign. However, that wasn’t the only accolade that Biega received last year as he was also named a first-team ECAC All-American and a runner-up for ECAC Player of the Year. To top it all off, Biega’s name was on the ballot for the Hobey Baker award, which is awarded annually to the top player in all of college hockey. Biega’s well-rounded game gives him a good chance of making the NHL one day, and his offensive upside should be intriguing for fantasy owners looking for a sleeper defenseman prospect. Biega will play one more season with Harvard before signing a contract with Carolina in the spring.