Jun 19, 2013; Boston, MA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) celebrates a goal scored by right wing Patrick Kane (not pictured) during the second period in game four of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Wars Episode I: The Forward Menace

“With the first pick in the 2013 NHL Fantasy Draft……”

Let’s be honest. Fantasy sports are almost the norm nowadays for wannabe GM’s who plant themselves on their La-Z-Boys,  computers on their laps, in search of virtual (maybe some real-life life) bragging rights. Some do it for money, others do it because they like the thrill of their choice players lighting up the scoreboards each night, I, on the other hand, do it cause I feel more connected to the game, also because it is just downright fun.

Jun 30, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; NHL commissioner Gary Bettman during the 2013 NHL Draft at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Trying to pick the winning combo can be the toughest part, but when the season gets going and your player goes down with an injury, you may be left with nobody in free agency. But first, you must draft.

And what do you draft? Well the obvious answer is players, but in what order? A lot of factors play into each league you’re in. So many different things like a solid offense, defense, and two to three, my suggestion is two, goalies who can backstop your team and earn you some wins, hopefully shutouts.

In my opinion, the top 5 forwards from 2012-2013, that you should strongly consider, are as follows:

Number 1: Martin St. Louis- The formerly undrafted player has paid off huge in his 14 seasons between the Calgary Flames and the Tampa Bay Lightning, climbing the ladder as a top winger. He has definitely found a chemical match with Vincent Lecavalier and also with the rising star in Steven Stamkos. The two-time Art Ross winner is definitely a great addition, maybe not in the early rounds, but definitely a great winger to have. He may not be the scorer that everyone needs, but he is a sure winner in the assist point category. If he is still there in the 3rd/4th round, grab him.

Apr 24, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (91) waits for a pass during the first period against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

Number 2: Steven Stamkos- The 23-year old had a great year in the lockout shortened season, putting up 29 goals and 28 assists, placing him at second among all players last season with 57 points, behind fellow teammate Martin St. Louis. My suggestion, if he is there, take him. He will earn you goals left and right. But, the demand for a player like Stamkos only allows for him to be on the wire for a very short amount of time, so hope for a) a high draft pick b) a very dumb league that you are in c) no auto-picking teams ahead of you. You will not make it past the 1st round and have him on the table.

Number 3: Alex Ovechkin- Duh. The man earns points. In 48 games last season, we saw Ovi earn himself 32 goals and 24 assists, making him an elite player on both ends of the point category. In his 8 seasons, Ovechkin has been a scoring machine, although his numbers have dropped off, not being able to break the 40-goal barrier since his 50-goal season in 2009-2010, don’t let him slip through the crack, for he will be grabbed in the 1st round, and whoever grabs him will have a definite advantage. I predict he will break 45 goals this year, he is due for that.

Number 3: Sidney Crosby- Another no-brainer, while hampered by injuries and severe dropping of play, Crosby is still a force to be reckoned with. Even with his goals seeming to decrease, he is still an assist-machine, earning 41 last season. I predict a rebound year for the kid, coming out big in the start and finishing big towards the stretch. I’d predict a 35+ goal season, and another huge year for assists. Don’t let him slip past you, because you will lose some valuable points that will fall into another persons lap. 1st or early 2nd round.

Number 3: Jonathan Toews- Coming off of a 2nd Stanley Cup victory, the next things for Toews to do is to prove himself, again. The last thing a player like Toews wants is to drop off the map. We should see the same effort come from the Hawks center-man this season. With 23 goals and 25 assists, he is a solid forward to have on your starting roster. Look for Toews to add on to his successes from the past few seasons and have an amazing year. I would say take him if he is right there. First pick for your team, absolutely.

In the next round, some consistent players to keep a look out for include:

Claude Giroux: 13 G, 35 A
John Tavares: 28 G, 19 A
Patrick Kane:23 G, 32 A
Eric Staal: 18 G, 35 A
Zach Parise: 18 G, 20 A

Who will be your first pick? Who do you hope to put on your roster? Who do you think will top your roster offensively? Comment below!

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