DRAFT PREVIEW: TOP SLEEPERS

Thursday, 06.27.2013 / 3:00 PM
Kris Baker  - SabresProspects.com

There’s value to be found in every round. With the 2013 NHL Draft right around the corner, Kris Baker of SabresProspects.com takes a look at a group of possible sleeper picks from each of the main scouting regions.

A sleeper can be defined as a player who will be selected outside of the top 50 picks whose long-term value could see them overachieve per his spot in the draft.

The draft starts Sunday at 3 p.m. from Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.

Vincent Dunn – C, 5’11”, 181 lbs. (Val-d’Or, QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 73 (North American Skaters)
A pesky sparkplug, Dunn hacks, whacks and jaws after whistles while showing a power game befitting a player much larger in stature. The Gatineau, Quebec product made waves in the scouting community in 2012-13, racking up a well-rounded 25 goals, 52 points and 98 penalty minutes. Add in the fact that his Sept. 14 birthday makes him the second-youngest player in the draft (Minnesota high school star Connor Hurley was born a day later), and it’s easy to suggest that the skilled pest is just scratching the surface of his overall potential. Dunn’s average frame and skating will likely keep him out of the first two rounds, but after seeing Andrew Shaw hoist the Stanley Cup as a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, there is less doubt that a smaller player can successfully execute in the role of agitating grinder at the NHL level.

Roberts Lipsbergs – LW, 5’11”, 195 pounds. (Seattle, WHL)
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 85 (North American Skaters)
The Latvian forward arrived in Seattle in 2012-13, and as expected, needed some time to adjust to the speed and physicality on the smaller North American rinks. After going through the first month of the season without lighting the lamp, Lipsbergs’ confidence finally clicked, resulting in 30 goals in 64 games -- good for 14 percent of the team’s scoring. Lipsbergs shows good strength on the puck and a willingness to get to the inside lanes to get off his dangerous shot, but his lack of ideal size and speed project to a later round pick. If he can build out his game at both ends of the ice, Lipsbergs’ tools and desire could see him join fellow countryman Zemgus Girgensons as a bona fide pro prospect.

Remi Elie – LW, 6’1”, 207 lbs. (London, OHL)
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 71 (North American Skaters)
Elie has yet to show his true offensive potential at the junior level, but his gritty, hard-working style already has the makings of a future NHL plugger. The first-year forward quickly proved his worth in a depth role on the talented Knights roster, using a north-south game and heavy shot to collect 17 points (7+10) while working his way into second-unit power-play minutes. Elie’s two-way dependability and knack for getting to the net should see his name called in the middle rounds. Any offense he adds down the road will be a mere bonus.

Taylor Cammarata – C, 5’ 7”, 156 lbs. (Waterloo, USHL)
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 193 (North American Skaters)
Undersized but immensely gifted, Cammarata topped all USHL scorers as a 17-year-old in 2012-13 with 93 points (38+55). While his frame and durability are obvious concerns, Cammarata’s flashy playmaking instincts are not. He uses great vision, stickhandling, and patience to find his teammates around the net while packing a quick release on his shot. Cammarata will need to be a serious student in the weight room during his time at the University of Minnesota, but his potential could pay off big time for a team looking to add sheer offense with a late-round pick.

Anton Slepyshev – LW, 6’2”, 187 lbs. (Salavat, KHL)
NHL Central Scouting Ranking: 20 (International Skaters)
The first-overall pick at the 2011 KHL draft, Slepyshev was passed over in his first year of NHL eligibility due to his intentions of staying in Russia. However, with his contract set to expire in 2014 and rumblings that he’s eyeing a transfer to North America, Slepyshev should be in play come Sunday. He brings a “shoot first” mentality to the rink. While finding his way through inconsistent patches, he has been praised for rounding out his defensive game. Scouts still have a hard time determining whether Slepyshev is sleepy or a sleeper (he posted just one assist at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships), but his combination of size, hands, and pro experience could be attractive to a club with multiple picks in the middle rounds.

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