ISLANDERS FANTASY HOCKEY PREVIEW
Periodically throughout the course of the season, Corey Witt will give Islanders fans a heads up on which of their favorite players are fantasy must plays, sleepers as well as key injury updates. This week - Here's your Islanders fantasy draft preview.
Early Round Selections:
Rick DiPietro - Cast off the title of young netminder because Ricky D. is the real thing in the crease. The former No. 1 overall pick in the draft played in 51 games in 2003-04 and that number can easily jump into the mid-60's this season. And watch out, even with the new goalie rules, DiPietro can still give your team a few assists.
Alexei Yashin - Four words: New Rules/Miroslav Satan. The new NHL should make for a new Yashin on the Island. Open ice could (dear we say it?) mean 50 goals? And even if his new scoring partner Mr. Satan isn't on the same line, it will split up the opposing defense and let Yashin cash in.
Miroslav Satan - Simply put, he's one of the best scorers in the game right now. Since the 1998-99 season, Satan has netted the ninth most goals with 194. Again, more open ice should let Satan be a huge goal collector.
Oleg Kvasha - Co-led the Islanders in points in 2003-04 and it looked like he finally broke out. He's a top-two line forward on the Isles and will have plenty of good company on his wings. Another 51-point season is definitely possible Kvasha.
Trent Hunter - The other scoring co-leader for the Islanders in 2003-04. Injuries slowed him in the second half of his rookie campaign, but if he stays healthy this year, Hunter will be targeting plenty of big games.
Janne Niinimaa - Where's the defense on this list you ask? Niinimaa is one of the Islanders big guns on the blueline and could see his minutes increase from 2003-04. He netted 28 points while averaging 23:15 minutes per game. More ice time could equal more points.
Mark Parrish - Always good for 25+ goals. Can't ask for more from a mid-round selection.
Mattias Weinhandl - The ultimate sleeper. If your league didn't follow the Swedish Elite League last year, then you're in luck. Why? Weinhandl was tied for first in goals with 26 and third in points with 46. He is a fantasy must-have and grab him in the middle-to-late rounds.
Mike York - Will he play wing or center and what's his exact role on the Islanders? Those questions might hurt his fantasy value. But even if he finds work on the third line, he can certainly put up good fantasy numbers? just ask Jason Blake.
Jason Blake - See: Mike York. Same story and he's been putting up big numbers in recent seasons. These types of players never get fantasy respect. So hope the other teams in your league don't give it to them either because the Islanders and your fantasy team will bask in their glory.
Brad Lukowich - This d-man can help your team's plus/minus. In 2003-04, he finished with a +29 rating (seventh best in the NHL). He won't hurt your team - only help it.
Check back as the season gets closer for more fantasy inside tips on the Blue and Orange.