Rookies Strome, Scheifele worth drafting in fantasy

Monday, 09.16.2013 / 12:53 PM
Matt Sitkoff  - Contributor

We already broke down the 2013 draftees and who can have an immediate impact in the fantasy landscape, and realistically any of those players could have their name on the fantasy rookie of the year trophy.

But last season's Calder Trophy finalists were selected in the 2010 (Brendan Gallagher) or 2011 (Jonathan Huberdeau and Brandon Saad) NHL Draft, showing rookie production doesn't just come from freshly-drafted players.

Here are some rookies to keep an eye on when creating your fantasy team.

Ryan Strome, C, New York Islanders

The highest pick of the 2011 draft (No. 5) not to play a game in the NHL yet should get his turn to show his skills this season on Long Island. The Islanders' new motto of not rushing prospects will help the 20-year-old, similar to what we saw with Huberdeau in Florida last season. The 6-foot-1 right-shooting center/right wing showed he can play at a pro level when he scored seven points in 10 American Hockey League games after his junior career ended last season. To read more on this talented prospect, he also was on Pete Jensen's sleepers list.

Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets

Selected two picks after Strome in the 2011 draft, Scheifele finally will get his turn as a Jets regular this season. After making the team out of training camp as an 18-year-old, Scheifele played in seven games, scoring his first NHL goal, before he was sent back to his junior team, the Barrie Colts of the Ontario Hockey League. The scene repeated itself last season, as Scheifele made the opening night roster, played in four games, was a healthy scratch for five games and then returned sent back to his junior team. It looks like the third time will be the charm for the 20-year-old, as he has been skating as the second-line center during training camp, between Evander Kane and Devin Setoguchi. That trio combined for two goals and five points in their first preseason action, Saturday against the Washington Capitals. The expectation is that Scheifele beats out Olli Jokinen for the second-line center role, and on that line, we fully expect him to be in the fantasy rookie of the year discussion.

Tyler Toffoli, RW, Los Angeles Kings

Early reports from training camp have last season's AHL rookie of the year skating on the top line, with Justin Williams and Anze Kopitar (Dustin Brown is recovering up from an injury). We don't expect the 21-year-old to start the season in that spot, but Toffoli is a proven goal scorer (11 points in 22 regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoff games last season), who will benefit from being surrounded by a talented group of forwards. You can read more of a breakdown with projections for Toffoli as he made my fantasy sleepers list.

Tomas Hertl, LW, San Jose Sharks

The top-rated Sharks prospect named by is ready to inject some youth to an aging core in San Jose. The 17th pick of the 2012 draft has been skating alongside Joe Thornton and Brent Burns during recent intrasquad scrimmages, and that is a spot where we project him to start the season. The 19-year-old had 18 goals and 30 points last season with HC Slavia Praha in the Czech league, which was the most on his hometown team. The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder also made a splash on the international stage, scoring five points in six games at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship and then competing for the first time in the World Championship. With the health concerns of Martin Havlat, there is space in the top-nine forward group for Hertl on the Sharks' opening-night roster. Whether it's on the big scoring line with Thornton and Burns or the third line with Joe Pavelski and Tommy Wingels, expect Hertl to contribute to your fantasy team immediately.

Sven Baertschi, LW, Calgary Flames

The 13th pick in 2011 has run hot and cold in two seasons since being drafted. Fantasy owners and Flames fans were amazed at the Switzerland native's offensive talent in a five-game emergency recall in 2011-12, when he scored three goals. He made the Flames out of camp last season, but after four scoreless games he missed the next 11 due to an injured hip flexor and spent the majority of rest of the season in the AHL. He did finish with the big club and ended the season on a seven-game point streak (three goals, six assists). The 20-year-old will get a shot at top forward minutes on a team that is rebuilding, and he should flourish in a playmaking role.

Ryan Murray, D, Columbus Blue Jackets

A player that likely would have been on this list last season if not for a season-ending shoulder injury sustained while playing in the Western Hockey League last November. Murray now is healthy and ready to be a fantasy asset. The No. 2 pick in 2012 is back and healthy after playing in the Traverse City prospects tournament and an NHL preseason game, scoring an overtime goal. In his blog for, during the Traverse City tournament, he wrote, "As far as my shoulder goes, I feel good. The shoulder feels solid." That is great news for fantasy owners, as the soon-to-be 20-year-old is a defenseman who is not afraid to join the rush and is offensively gifted. Murray (6-1, 198) is a long-term investment for fantasy owners, and he likely will get better as the season develops. We suggest him as a fourth defenseman on your fantasy team, as the potential for points is far ahead of any other rookie defender out there.

Other rookies to watch: Brandon Pirri (Chicago Blackhawks), Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets), Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators), Tom Wilson (Washington Capitals), Torey Krug (Boston Bruins), Jean-Gabriel Pageau (Ottawa Senators), Joel Armia (Buffalo Sabres), Nicklas Jensen (Vancouver Canucks), Vladislav Namestnikov (Tampa Bay Lightning)

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