Tuesday, September 27, 2011

30 in 30: Top NHL Fantasy Sleeper Picks - Phoenix Coyotes

It’s almost time for those annual fantasy hockey drafts. While most drafts feature the same players going in the first two rounds, it’s those players that you take in the mid-late rounds that will win you your league. Here’s the twenty-second of the thirty players that could be great sleeper picks in your draft this year.

Lauri Korpikoski – Phoenix Coyotes
Position – Left Wing
Height – 6’1”
Weight – 200
Drafted – 1st Round, 19th Overall, 2004 NHL Entry Draft
2010/2011 NHL Stats – 79GP, 19G, 21A, 40P, +17, 20PIM

For those reading this that aren’t Coyotes fans can you name one of their players not named Shane Doan, Kyle Turris, or Keith Yandle? You had to think about it for a second or two right? It’s too bad since a lot of hockey fans don’t get to see the Coyotes play on TV despite their great record the last few season’s. Even with all the off-ice turmoil the team has had they’ve managed to make the playoffs the last two season’s despite having one of the lowest payrolls in the league. This year could be different though since team MVP Ilya Bryzgalov now plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. Coach Dave Tippett has managed to lead the Coyotes to respectable records with a mix of veteran players like Ray Whitney, Radim Vrbata, Taylor Pyatt, Raffi Torres, and Adrain Aucoin. Another veteran who helped the Coyotes and had a breakout year was forward Lauri Korpikoski.

Korpikoski was originally drafted by the New York Rangers in 2004 and didn’t become an NHL regular until the 2008-2009 season. In a limited role he scored 14 points in 68 games as a rookie. That summer he was traded to the Phoenix Coyotes where he had similar results his first season by scoring 11 points. Something for him changed last season though as he had a career year with 19 goals and 40 points.  The Coyotes were so impressed that they re-signed him to a two year deal worth $3.6million.

Your friends might laugh at you for drafting a player named Lauri but that’s ok because he’s probably very low on most team’s draft list. With Ray Whitney getting up there in age, Korpikoski could challenge for a spot on the top line but it’s safer to say that he’ll play on the team’s second line. A stat that could be of interest was his lack of power-play time last season. He averaged just under a minute of PP time last year yet was still able to have a career year. If the Coyotes reward him with more time he could have an even bigger season. Since decent left winger’s can be hard to find, Korpikoski could be a great steal for you at your draft this year. 

Previous Sleeper Picks:
Day 1 - Anaheim Ducks
Day 2 - Boston Bruins
Day 3 - Buffalo Sabres
Day 4 - Calgary Flames
Day 5 - Carolina Hurricanes
Day 6 - Chicago Blackhawks
Day 7 - Colorado Avalanche
Day 8 - Columbus Blue Jackets
Day 9 - Dallas Stars
Day 10 - Detroit Red-Wings
Day 11 - Edmonton Oilers
Day 12 - Florida Panthers
Day 13 - Los Angeles Kings
Day 14 - Minnesota Wild
Day 15 - Montreal Canadiens
Day 16 - Nashville Predators
 Day 17 - New Jersey Devils
Day 18 - New York Islanders
Day 19 - New York Rangers
Day 20 - Ottawa Senators
Day 21 - Philadelphia Flyers

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