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Fantasy deep sleeper candidates for 2018-19

Roslovic, Fiala, DeBrusk high-upside picks in late rounds, off waiver wire

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / NHL.com Fantasy Editor

NHL.com identifies deep sleeper candidates for fantasy hockey in 2018-19. These players have sneaky upside but will likely be available in the final rounds or go undrafted in 12-team standard leagues. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.

 

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Video: Late-round fantasy picks worth taking a chance on

 

Jack Roslovic, C, WPG
NHL.com rank: 165

The Winnipeg Jets forward had 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 31 games last season despite inconsistent lineup placement. The 21-year-old will likely see a bigger role this season after center Paul Stastny signed with the Vegas Golden Knights on July 1. Stastny's departure leaves a void on the second line between elite right wing Patrik Laine and left wing Nikolaj Ehlers. While it's possible veteran center Bryan Little could occupy this role, the potential exposure to Laine would give Roslovic significant fantasy value, similar to the boost Stastny saw after being acquired prior to the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline. Roslovic had 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 32 games for Manitoba of the American Hockey League and could be the highest scoring deep sleeper of 2018-19 with the right usage.

 

Nick Bjugstad, C/RW, FLA
NHL.com: 176

The Florida Panthers forward had an NHL career-high 49 points (19 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games, including a stretch with 18 points in the final 22 games. While his near point-per-game production may not carry over, his lineup placement with center Aleksander Barkov and wing Evgenii Dadonov should. The Panthers, who missed the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs by one point, could be one of the deeper fantasy teams this season after the addition of wing Mike Hoffman. Bjugstad is available in the last rounds of 12-team standard drafts and is a potential stacking option with Barkov and/or Dadonov.

Video: FLA@OTT: Bjugstad pots Panthers' second in 51 seconds

 

Kevin Fiala, LW/RW, NSH
NHL.com: 199

The Nashville Predators wing is skating on the top line with forwards Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen during the preseason. Fiala had 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) in 80 games last season playing 15:09 per game. If the first-line placement sticks, Fiala could easily break the 50-point mark and be among the Predators' top five scorers. Fiala is being drafted in rounds 14-15 and, with dual eligibility in Yahoo, is well worth a late-round flier.

 

Jake DeBrusk, LW, BOS
NHL.com: 200

The Boston Bruins left wing had 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) in 70 regular-season games and eight points (six goals, two assists) in 12 playoff games. His six playoff goals were tied for first among Bruins skaters with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak. Currently DeBrusk is skating on the second line with center David Krejci, but it's possible that Pastrnak could join that duo on the second line this season to spread out the scoring. Regardless, DeBrusk has value at the scarce left wing position and is worthy of a flier in rounds 15-16.

 

Daniel Sprong, RW, PIT
NHL.com: 206

The 21-year-old had three points (two goals, one assist) in eight games last season but couldn't find a consistent spot in the lineup. The Pittsburgh Penguins forward group will look different this season with Conor Sheary and Tom Kuhnhackl no longer on the team, so Sprong could be poised for a full-time NHL role. Sprong could start on the third line with center Derick Brassard but could easily work his way up to the top two lines, gaining exposure to either elite center Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. Sprong has been playing with Crosby and Guentzel in the preseason, a duo that combined for 42 points in 12 playoff games, and could finish in the 40-50 point range based on his potential even-strength placement alone.

Video: PIT@NYI: Sprong labels top corner for his second goal

 

James Reimer, G, FLA
NHL.com: 212

The Florida Panthers goaltender is a backup with deep sleeper potential. Reimer played a career-high 44 games last season, including stretches as the No. 1 goalie when starter Roberto Luongo missed time with a groin injury. Both Reimer and Luongo are likely to get plenty of work with the Panthers having 17 back-to-back sets this season (tied for most in NHL), making the tandem an intriguing draft strategy in later rounds. Luongo's age (39) is also a concern for his fantasy owners, making Reimer worth handcuffing in later rounds or off the waiver wire.

 

Juuse Saros, G, NSH
NHL.com: 227

The Nashville Predators goaltender signed a three-year contract July 16 and will remain the backup to No. 1 goalie Pekka Rinne. Saros led the NHL in save percentage from Nov. 4 to the end of the regular season (.935; min 20 games) and was fourth in goals-against average (2.19) over the span. The 23-year-old started the second half of Nashville's 11 back-to-back sets last season, but it's worth noting the Predators are tied for fewest in the NHL this season with 10. Despite the uncertainty of Saros' workload, he's worth a late-round flier as a bench goalie.

 

Thomas Chabot, D, OTT
NHL.com: 233

The Ottawa Senators defenseman had 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 63 games last season. The Senators may not be the most appealing team from a fantasy perspective but there is high upside with Chabot, who will see an increase in ice time without elite defenseman Erik Karlsson (traded to San Jose Sharks). The 21-year-old will likely quarterback the first power play with fantasy-relevant forwards Mark Stone and Matt Duchene and is worth drafting as a No. 4 or bench defenseman option.

Video: WPG@OTT: Chabot whips wrist shot past Hellebuyck

 

Oliver Bjorkstrand, RW, CBJ
NHL.com: 238

The Columbus Blue Jackets right wing had a quiet 40 points (11 goals, 29 assists) last season, fourth among their forwards. Bjorkstrand has seen his point total rise in each of his first three seasons and could be on track for a breakout year. The Blue Jackets' top six battled a series of injuries last season (forwards Alexander Wennberg, Cam Atkinson, Josh Anderson), disrupting their line consistency. With a healthy group to start the preseason other than left wing Artemi Panarin (neck), fantasy owners should keep tabs on how Bjorkstrand is being utilized and scoop him up in deeper leagues if he earns a top-six role.

 

Sven Baertschi, LW, VAN
NHL.com: 256

The Vancouver Canucks left wing is currently skating on a line with Elias Pettersson, one of NHL.com's top-ranked fantasy rookies, during the preseason. Baertschi was on pace for an NHL career-high in points (44) last season, playing mostly with right wing Brock Boeser and center Bo Horvat, but missed 29 games with injuries. Despite team concerns, Vancouver has sneaky fantasy upside this season with several intriguing players needing to fill the void of the Sedin twins, who retired at the end of last season. Baertschi is currently going undrafted in Yahoo but may be worth a late-round flier if chemistry is formed between him and Pettersson.

 

Samuel Girard, D, COL
NHL.com: N/A

The Colorado Avalanche defenseman was a trendy waiver wire add last season; he finished with 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) in 68 games for the Avalanche and had another three points in five games with the Nashville Predators. Girard proved useful by filling in on the top power play for injured defenseman Tyson Barrie, who missed 25 games with a hand injury. The power-play exposure to elite forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen made Girard a good injury replacement, but with Barrie expected to be ready for training camp, Girard is likely to go undrafted in non-keeper leagues. Instead, fantasy owners should monitor the 20-year-old's even-strength usage before filing a waiver claim.

Video: STL@COL: Girard tees up slapper to beat Allen

 

Vince Dunn, D, STL
NHL.com: N/A

The St. Louis Blues defenseman had 24 points (five goals, 19 assists), nine on the power play, in 75 games last season. He became fantasy-relevant after earning a spot on the first power-play unit with elite right wing Vladimir Tarasenko. Dunn's 24 points ranked third among Blues defenseman behind Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko, despite Dunn playing 17:44 (5th among Blues defensemen; min 30 games). The Blues added depth in the offseason by acquiring center Ryan O'Reilly and signing forwards David Perron, Tyler Bozak and Patrick Maroon. Even if Dunn doesn't start the season on the top power play, St. Louis' deep offense could make him fantasy-relevant at even strength.

 

Other deep sleeper candidates for 2018-19: Ondrej Kase, LW/RW, ANA; Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, EDM; Andre Burakovsky, LW/RW, WSH; Elias Lindholm, C/RW, CGY; Tyson Jost, C/LW, COL; Mike Matheson, D, FLA

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