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Overlooked veterans to target in fantasy leagues

by Eric Goodman / NHL.com

Regardless the size of your league, there usually are a number of fantasy-relevant veterans who slip to the late rounds on draft day. Sometimes a player drops due to a significant injury the previous season, or owners simply forget about an aging veteran who has put up consistent statistics throughout his career.

These five players should be available as buy-low candidates and may provide a great return on your investment:

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Alexander Semin, LW/RW, Montreal Canadiens

Although Semin’s offensive output has significantly declined since he scored 40 goals and had 84 points with the Washington Capitals in 2009-10, he’s talented enough to remain worthy of a middle-to-late-round pick. The Canadiens invested little in the 31-year-old Russian, signing him to a one-year contract reportedly worth $1.1 million on July 24. Semin has scored 20 or more goals seven times in his 10-season NHL career, but only once in the past three. Owners can expect Semin to improve on his six goals and 19 points in 57 games with the offensively challenged Carolina Hurricanes last season, when he battled injuries and was a healthy scratch for several games. Though he figures to be a depth forward to begin the 2015-16 season, Semin may work his way up to top-six minutes on center David Desharnais’ line and possibly see some power-play time with skilled defensemen P.K. Subban and Andrei Markov.

Erik Johnson, D, Colorado Avalanche

After missing the final 34 games of 2014-15 because of a knee injury, Johnson will likely fall in most drafts. Despite playing 47 games last season, the 27-year-old defenseman set an NHL career high with 12 goals and averaged 2.45 shots on goal per game. Johnson should once again see top minutes as the Avalanche’s best defenseman, pairing with either the newly acquired Francois Beauchemin or offensive-minded Tyson Barrie, who had 53 points last season, eighth among NHL defensemen. With Johnson likely to continue getting power-play time -- he had three goals and three assists while averaging 2:38 of man-advantage ice time per game last season – you have a bargain choice for your fantasy team in the middle rounds.

Shane Doan, LW/RW, Arizona Coyotes

In addition to the fun fact that Doan is the only current NHL player remaining from the original Winnipeg Jets franchise, the 38-year-old still holds some value in deeper fantasy leagues. Age is not a factor for the Coyotes captain; he’s remained healthier than many of the younger veterans on this list, and it’s safe to assume Doan will chip in 40-plus points this season. Although the Coyotes were 29th in the League with 165 goals last season, the potential for improvement is there with young forwards Anthony Duclair and Max Domi on the way and high-scoring defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson once again quarterbacking the power play. It is possible Doan will go undrafted in 10- and 12-team leagues, but if you participate in a larger league, the 19-season veteran would be a solid selection in the final round.

Johan Franzen, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings

Franzen didn’t return last season after he sustained a concussion Jan. 6 against the Edmonton Oilers, but the 35-year-old has participated in informal skates with teammates the past couple weeks. He said Sept. 2 that he is feeling good and hopes to be in the lineup when the Red Wings open their season Oct. 9 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. It would be a good start for Franzen, who played 33 games last season and 54 in 2013-14. If you are in a deep league, buying low with Franzen could end up reaping huge rewards. It is rare that you’ll find a player with 25-goal potential in the final round of any draft, so if you’ve already built a quality team, you might as well take a chance on Franzen, who has scored 27 or more goals, including 10-plus on the power play, each of the past four seasons he’s played 71 or more games. He would also provide coverage in assists, plus-minus and SOG.

Dan Hamhuis, D, Vancouver Canucks

A lower-body injury forced Hamhuis to miss 22 games last season, but he had 22 assists (20 at even strength) in 59 games. The 32-year-old certainly will be available toward the end of the draft in nearly every league, so securing a depth defenseman with the potential for 30-35 points, 50 penalty minutes and 150 SOG is possible with your last pick. The Canucks were fourth in the West with 236 goals last season, so grabbing someone like Hamhuis can end up being a steal if you have the wiggle room on your roster to take him.

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