Fantasy Picks: Central Division

In a six part series, I’ll highlight players from each team in the categories of: Best Draft Pick, Sleeper Pick and Who to Avoid.  My picks can be contested; we all have our own opinions.  My goal is to help put the right players on your radar and avoid the bad ones so you can win your pool this year.  All reference to positions and rankings is a reference to Yahoo!’s Fantasy Hockey pools.  Remember to diversify your team, defense are few and far in between, trades rarely happen, and most of all, best of luck this season.

Central – Atlantic – Northwest – Northeast – Pacific – Southeast

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks:

  • Best Draft Pick – Patrick Sharp (C/RW):  It could be his nice hair capturing my attention, but Sharp really is the best on the team.  The forward is well rounded, netting nearly as many goals as he does assists.  He takes a lot of shots and had a good plus / minus rating last season.
  • Sleeper Pick – Andrew Shaw (C): The young stud played in only 37 games last season but had an impressive 12 goals and 11 assists.  His little play time and talk of other big topics in the off-season will have most managers forgetting about him.  It is still undecided how much ice-time Shaw will get, but if he gets any power-play time like he did last season, it is that much more of a reason to pick him up.
  • Who to Avoid – Corey Crawford (G): Last year Crawford fell subject to the typical sophomore slump.  Still, I’m not fully sold on his road to recovery.  He has good win potential as the team ahead of him is a good team, but the Central Division is getting tougher.

Columbus Blue Jackets:

  • Best Draft Pick – Brandon Dubinsky (C/LW): Received in the trade that sent Rick Nash to the New York Rangers, Dubinsky will take on a more heavily relied upon role than his previous team.  Lacking much offense, his youth and determination should help him notch a decent point total.
  • Sleeper Pick – Vinny Prospal (C/LW): A bit older but still a talented player.  Achieving last year’s numbers of 55 points will heavily rely upon who he plays with.  Considering he is the best setup guy on the team, he should be skating on the top line.
  • Who to Avoid – Jack Johnson (D): He is a top defense-man, but, he is also on the offensively lacking Blue Jackets.  Point production should be modest while his plus / minus will overshadow his production.  I think it is safe to say to avoid any defense on the Blue Jackets.

Detroit Red Wings:

  • Best Draft Pick – Pavel Datsyuk (C/LW): Not only a point-per-game production, but the sheer pleasure of watching him knowing he is on your fantasy team makes him the top player to draft.  Oddly enough he is rated kind of low this year, even lower than player I suggest to avoid.
  • Sleeper Pick – Valterri Filppula (C/LW): Filppula may go in rounds ten or later, allowing you to stock up on other positions with the security of knowing Filppula can cover both center and wing.  He is seeing more ice time and really starting to come into his own.  Sixty points should be obtainable this season.
  • Who to Avoid – Johan Franzen (LW/RW): Franzen, the Mule, is starting to rub Wings’ fans the wrong way.  The heard to often, “He’ll show up in playoffs where it matters” is beginning to wear, especially when he does not show up in the playoffs.  His point production is sporadic, which is torture as a fantasy manager.

Nashville Predators:

  • Best Draft Pick – Shea Weber (D): You can argue goalie Pekka Rinne is the best draft pick, but with a team that lost a key defensive player, his stats may lower.  On the other hand, defenseman Weber will be the go-to-guy, receiving plenty of ice time and power-play time.
  • Sleeper Pick – Mike Fisher (C): Fisher transformed his game after coming from the Ottawa Senators.  He has gained awareness, but with Suter’s departure, some owners may be hesitant to draft Predators.  A solid center who will produce.
  • Who to Avoid – Patric Hornqvist (RW): It just seems each year you expect more out of Hornqvist.  Sure, averaging 47 points over the last three seasons is very good, but something inside me says he will not do as well this year.  Take this one with a grain of salt.

St. Louis Blues:

  • Best Draft Pick – Alex Pietrangelo (D): T.J. Oshie or David Backes could of easily made this spot, but you have to give it to the lack of good defenders in the league.  Ranking 5th best last season among defensive point leaders, he’s young, takes a lot of shots and has a good plus / minus rating.  Plus, the Blues look to be as solid as they were last year, if not better.
  • Sleeper Pick – David Perron (LW): Perron was recovering from a concussion last season, missing 24 games.  Still, he netted 21 goals and totaled 42 points in 57 games played.  A full season could put him in the 55+ point mark.  How many owners know that?
  • Who to Avoid – Andy McDonald (C,LW): An extremely talented player but injury prone.  He has missed 153 games over the past five seasons with the Blues.  A real shame since he does tear it up when he is on the ice.

Have a question or comment, email at or contact on Twitter @HWBEB.

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