Fantasy hockey top 10 sleeper picks

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NOTE: Sleepers are players taken in the later rounds who can vastly outperform their average draft position. They can be young players who have scratched the surface or more experienced ones who remain underrated or overlooked in fantasy for any reason(s).

 

1. Zach Hyman, C/LW/RW, EDM (NHL.com rank: 115)

Hyman is coming off the highest points-per-game average (0.77) of his six NHL seasons for the Toronto Maple Leafs and gained fantasy appeal after signing a seven-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers. He will likely play on one of the first two lines with exposure to one of the top five fantasy players in either center Connor McDavid (led NHL with 105 points in 56 games last season) or Leon Draisaitl (second in League with 84 points). Hyman, mostly an even-strength scorer for Toronto, has untapped potential if he lands a first power-play role with the Oilers and a high ceiling given his hits coverage (1.4 per game in NHL career).

 

2. Linus Ullmark, G, BOS (rank: 122)

Ullmark proved to be an underrated fantasy pickup when healthy last season, going 9-6-3 with a .917 save percentage in 20 games despite playing for the Buffalo Sabres (37 points; fewest in NHL). Ullmark has a chance to take his fantasy performance to a new level after signing a four-year contract with the Boston Bruins, especially if he wins the starting job from rookie Jeremy Swayman in the absence of veteran Tuukka Rask (hip surgery; unrestricted free agent).

 

3. MacKenzie Weegar, D, FLA (rank: 131)

Weegar remains underrated in fantasy after leading NHL defensemen in even-strength points (31) last season despite losing his elite Florida Panthers pair Aaron Ekblad to a season-ending leg injury on March 28. Weegar took on an expanded role in Ekblad’s absence and was a fantasy standout with 17 points (four goals, 13 assists) in 19 games and strong category coverage with a plus-17 and 41 shots on goal and 39 hits in 21:57 per game during the span. Weegar can maintain or even expand on his fantasy success with Ekblad expected to be ready for training camp, the rise of rookie goalie Spencer Knight and Florida’s addition of goal-scoring right wing Sam Reinhart (acquired from Sabres).

 

4. Jared Spurgeon, D, MIN (rank: 145)

Defenseman Jared Spurgeon sparked the Wild’s power play down the stretch last season, scoring 19 points (T-6th at position in span) and nine power-play points (T-3rd) over his final 26 games. Minnesota’s power play ranked third in the NHL (29.6 percent) over that span compared to worst in the League (8.5 percent) from the start of the season to March 21. After Ryan Suter‘s contract was bought out this offseason, Spurgeon should be Minnesota’s clear No. 1 fantasy defenseman and a fixture among the top 30 rankings at the position this season.

 

5. Conor Garland, LW/RW, VAN (rank: 150)

Garland, acquired by the Vancouver Canucks on July 23, gained fantasy value with likely exposure to either valuable center Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat. Garland scored 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 49 games for the Arizona Coyotes last season, the best points-per-game average (0.79) of his NHL career, and could improve upon those numbers with a better offensive team in the Canucks. Garland’s offensive production with the Coyotes was impressive considering they rank 27th in goals per game (2.64) over the past three seasons. He’s worth drafting over intriguing young names Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin and could finish among the top-100 overall skaters.

 

6. Tony DeAngelo, D, CAR (rank: 154)

Carolina’s fantasy replacement for elite defenseman Dougie Hamilton (signed with New Jersey Devils) could be DeAngelo, whose contract was bought out by the New York Rangers before he signed a one-year contract with the Hurricanes on July 28. DeAngelo was one of the top scorers at the position in 2019-20, scoring 53 points (T-5th), 19 on the power play (T-9th), in 68 games that season on the first unit with elite forwards Artemi Panarin and Mika Zibanejad and has rejoined the fantasy top 50 D-men with exposure to elite forwards Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov for the Hurricanes.

 

7. Drake Batherson, RW, OTT (rank: 158)

Batherson’s 17 goals were tied for second on the Ottawa Senators with elite left wing Brady Tkachuk and center Josh Norris behind right wing Connor Brown‘s 21. Batherson, who’s only 23 years old, proved he’ll be one of the top offensive contributors for the Senators, and his ceiling is even higher with likely top line and first power-play unit exposure to Norris and Tkachuk over a full season. Batherson should be targeted around the 150 mark in standard 12-team fantasy leagues and gains significant value with strong hits coverage (102 in 56 games last season).

 

8. Jaden Schwartz, LW, SEA (rank: 172)

Schwartz, a leading candidate to play on the Seattle Kraken top line in their inaugural season, scored at least 55 points in five of the six seasons when he played at least 62 games for the St. Louis Blues. He should be one of Seattle’s top offensive players this season, along with right wing Jordan Eberle (selected in NHL Expansion Draft from New York Islanders), and has strong NHL career highs in many of the standard fantasy categories: 28 goals in 2014-15, 36 assists in 2016-17), a plus-28 in 2013-14, 20 power-play points in 2019-20 and three seasons with more than 180 shots on goal. Schwartz’s best NHL season came in 2017-18, when he scored 59 points (24 goals, 35 assists) in 62 games.

NOTE: Schwartz could play on Seattle’s top line with Eberle and fellow fantasy sleeper center Yanni Gourde, who is expected to miss the start of the season after offseason shoulder surgery.

 

9. Calvin Petersen, G, LAK (rank: 201)

Petersen is a potential beneficiary of the Kings’ offseason moves, most notably the addition of two-way forwards Phillip Danault, Viktor Arvidsson and defenseman Alexander Edler. Petersen, who has challenged veteran Jonathan Quick for playing time at different points during each of the past three seasons, has a .916 save percentage in 54 NHL games, much better than Quick in the span (.896 in 110 games). Petersen is a deep fantasy sleeper for Los Angeles, a potential surprise playoff team in the Pacific Division.

 

10. Max Comtois, LW/RW, ANA (rank: 211)

The 22-year-old forward scored 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 55 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season and has an even higher ceiling moving forward. Comtois skated briefly on the top line with No. 1 prospect Trevor Zegras and wing Troy Terry, a line that could be among the sneakiest in the Pacific Division. Comtois should also get a shot on the first power-play unit, bringing potential exposure to Zegras, Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and touted rookie defenseman Jamie Drysdale. The Ducks have been overlooked in fantasy the past few seasons but are starting to become an intriguing bunch with all their young talent. Comtois also covers hits (93 in 55 games last season), making him worth a last-round selection in standard drafts.

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