I always look forward to the first few days of the hockey season. You get to see which teams gelled in training, which teams seem rusty and which teams are just plain horrible. Mostly though, I look forward to seeing the freshman and sophomore players and seeing who is going to be able to jump to a top two line player. I decided, why not to a post on the players who I am watching this season.
- John Tavares – Islanders – John was the first overall pick in the draft this season and is by far and away the rookie card to own out of this draft class. Contrary to popular belief, he is not a A-O or Sidd the Kid kind of player. He is a solid first liner who can give you production as a scorer and as a passer. The Islanders need all kind of help this season and without a go to scorer, Tavares may just slide in as the leader. Look for 20 goals and 35 assists from him this season as a statistical floor and maybe 35 goals and 50 assists if he really takes to the league well. His cards from ITG as of now, but expect every UD hockey release to have him in the set. Autographs are going north of $100 and game used even runs in the $25 range.
- Kyle Okposo – Islanders – Came in last year and became a team leader in just one season. He put up 18 goals and 21 assists last year and with Tavares centering on his line should improve dramatically. If the two can work together well, this Islanders team could be a lot of fun to watch. Except a nice bump this season since he is feeding Tavares. 30 goals and 45 assists wouldn’t be out of the question. Again that is a conservative estimate and also assumes a relatively injurey free season. His cards are stunningly low priced right now, with game used and autographs that can be had for under $5. Definitely worth an investment.
- Nikita Filatov – Blue Jackets – Really thought he might have a breakout season last year after nailing a hat trick as a rookie. He is going to become quite the scorer, but his defense is very lax which is a no no with Ken Hitchcock as a coach. He scored 39 points in 36 games in the AHL, he is capable of a 20 goal and 20 assist year as a rookie this season. Apparently my feelings are justified because he autographs are running anywhere from low hundresd to 250 dollars. A little too much to invest in a rookie.
- Artem Anisimov – Rangers – This kid has been all that and a bag of chips in the AHL where he put up 81 points in 80 games. Look for him on the third line coming out of camp. He should be capable of putting up about 35 – 40 points this season. No cards of him yet and his signed stuff on eBay is cheap, may be worth a flyer to pick something up.
- Steven Stamkos – Lightening – Last season’s top rookie, Stamkos got off to a terrible start and injury, but really turned it on in the last half of the season and finished with 40 points. This season, you should expect between 55 to 60 points from him as he starts to share ice time with St. Louis and LeCavlier. We are looking at Filatov type money when it comes to cards, just because he does have it in him to become a superstar in this league.
- Zach Bogosian – Thrashers – Little goes right for the Thrashers, but with a healthy Bogosian manning the point this year on the first line they should see some offense out of him. Last season he tallied 19 points in 47 games, you should expect him to double that for this season. His autographed cards a little more reasonable, only fetching about $15 – $20 on eBay.
- Victor Hedman – Lightening – Some thought he was even better of a prospect than Tavares. Playing in the Swedish Elite League last year, Hedman had 21 points in 43 games. Very good, considering his age. He’s obviously talented, and already huge at 6-6, 220 lbs. Guys that size often take a while to catch up to the speed of the NHL, and the Lightning won’t have to rely on Hedman for points because they already have several scoring blueliners. I wouldn’t expect more than 25-30 points. I have seen his cards run from $10 to $100 for autographs so there are bargains out here, you just have to find them.
- Cody Hodgson – Canucks – Possibly the best prospect in hockey right now. He was expected to make a play for a starting 6 job, but if he can’t he will spend one more year in the juniors. He has a back injury right now, so only expect a few games out of him, but if he does end up going to whole season, there is no reason to expect less than 35 points from him. He has a ITG autograph and you don’t see a lot of them on the market. The only one I saw was running $100. We’ll see what he can do this season before I put that much money down for his card.
Got anymore prospects you are watching this season? List them as a comment and let us know how well you think they are going to do this year.