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Fantasy rookies to watch in 2018-19

Dahlin, Svechnikov, Pettersson among first-year players with significant value

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / NHL.com Fantasy Editor

NHL.com identifies 10 rookies that could potentially alter the fantasy hockey landscape for the 2018-19 season. They are listed in order of NHL.com rank (if applicable).

 

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Rasmus Dahlin, D, BUF (NHL.com rank: 71)

Age: 18
No. 1 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft

The Buffalo Sabres defenseman will alter the fantasy landscape for this season and beyond. The No. 1 pick in the 2018 Draft will be hard to obtain beyond rounds 6-7 in 12-team standard league drafts because of the high ceiling and excitement he brings to the Sabres. The 18-year-old could play with Rasmus Ristolainen at even-strength or on the power play, making them an elite fantasy defensemen duo. Dahlin will have exposure to center Jack Eichel (ranked 33rd on NHL.com), who if healthy, could produce at a point-per-game pace or better. Dahlin was selected No. 69 in NHL.com's first mock draft.

Video: Discussing the Sabres' offseason, adding Dahlin

 

Andrei Svechnikov, LW, CAR (NHL.com rank: 135)

Age: 18
No. 2 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft

The Carolina Hurricanes wing has plenty of upside in a forward group including Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Svechnikov will compete for a top six role during training camp but first line placement with Aho and Teravainen is more likely to be occupied by other rookie wing Valentin Zykov, who played with them at the end of last season. Still, Svechnikov could gain exposure to the Finnish pair on the top power-play unit and was worth selecting in the 11th round (No. 124) of the first mock draft.

Worth noting: Hurricanes rookie forward Martin Necas (No. 12 pick in 2017 NHL Draft) is expected to compete for a roster spot and could play alongside Svechnikov in the top six.

 

Filip Zadina, LW/RW, DET (NHL.com rank: 161)

Age: 18
No. 6 pick in the 2018 NHL Draft

The Detroit Red Wings forward could spark a youth movement for the team, shifting away from their veterans first mentality. Zadina had 82 points (44 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. The 18-year-old will have the opportunity to compete for a roster spot in training camp and if he makes the team, he'd likely play on one of Detroit's top lines. Zadina was selected No. 173 (Round 15) in the mock draft and could be one of the top rookie scorers with the right usage.

Worth noting: Red Wings forward Michael Rasmussen (No. 9 pick in 2017 NHL Draft) is also expected to compete for an opening night spot. He had 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 14 playoff games for Tri-City of the Western Hockey League last season.

Video: Zadina is shining in development camp

 

Elias Pettersson, C, VAN (NHL.com rank: 191) 

Age: 19
No. 5 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft

The Vancouver Canucks forward set a Swedish Hockey League record for scoring by an under-20 player with 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists) in 44 regular season games. He added another 19 points (10 goals, nine assists) in 13 SHL playoff games. The 19-year-old could help offset the loss of Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who retired at the end of last season. Without the Sedin's, there will be spots to fill in Vancouver's top six, where Pettersson will likely play to start the season. Pettersson was not selected in the first mock draft but is worth a late-round flier with Calder Trophy potential.

 

Eeli Tolvanen, LW, NSH (NHL.com rank: 220)

Age: 19
No. 30 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft

The Nashville Predators left wing was expected to make an immediate fantasy impact after making his NHL debut on March 31 last season. He didn't have a point in three games but only saw 12:07 in a limited role. Tolvanen will likely start on the third line with forwards Nick Bonino and Ryan Hartman but fantasy owners should monitor lineup trends in Nashville. If Tolvanen starts to play on the second line with center Kyle Turris or first power-play unit with elite left wing Filip Forsberg, he'll be a must-add on the waiver wire. The 19-year-old rookie went undrafted in the first mock.

 

Kailer Yamamoto, RW, EDM (NHL.com rank: 221)

Age: 19
No. 22 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft

The Edmonton Oilers right wing had three assists in nine games last season, at times playing on the first line with elite center Connor McDavid. Yamamoto finished the season playing for Spokane of the Western Hockey League where he had 64 points (21 goals, 43 assists) in 40 games. Edmonton is thin at the wing position and Yamamoto could find himself fantasy-relevant on a line with McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Yamamoto was not selected in the mock draft but would be worth a late-round flier if there's an update on his lineup status closer to this season.

 

Casey Mittelstadt, C/LW, BUF (NHL.com rank: 224)

Age: 19
No. 8 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

The Buffalo Sabres forward looked promising with five points (one goal, four assists) in six games last season. It was a small sample size but Mittelstadt gained additional value in the offseason when center Ryan O'Reilly was traded to the St. Louis Blues on July 1. The loss of O'Reilly opens up a spot on Buffalo's second line, which should be occupied by Mittelstadt. He will likely go undrafted in 12-team standard leagues but should be an early addition on the waiver wire.

 

Ryan Donato, C, BOS (NHL.com rank: N/A)

Age: 22
No. 56 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

The Boston Bruins forward was a trendy waiver wire add last season with nine points (five goals, four assists) in the final 12 games. Boston has a deep forward group that could lead the NHL in goals, making their top nine forwards all worth monitoring. Donato could start the season on the third line at even-strength but still has a high ceiling if he gets time on Boston's second power-play unit. Donato was not selected in the mock draft but is an intriguing waiver wire add.

Video: BOS@FLA: Donato buries rebound in front for PPG

 

Miro Heiskanen, D, DAL (NHL.com rank: N/A)

Age: 19
No. 3 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

The Dallas Stars defenseman could provide much needed secondary scoring to a top-heavy roster. The 19-year-old won Liiga's best defenseman award last season, the youngest player to do so in history. Dallas has a talented forward group including Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn and an elite defenseman in John Klingberg. With exposure to the aforementioned, Heiskanen is worth stashing on your bench in deeper leagues. He went undrafted in the mock but should be selected if he's projected to make the team.

 

Anthony Cirelli, C, TBL (NHL.com rank: N/A)

Age: 21
No. 72 pick in 2015 NHL draft

The Tampa Bay Lightning center made his NHL debut last season with 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 18 regular season games. He also gained valuable experience in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with three points (two goals, one assist) in 17 games playing against the NHL's top competition. What sets Cirelli apart from others on this list is lineup security. Cirelli was inserted on Tampa's third line last season and is expected to have the same placement for 2018-19. His linemates may change throughout the season but it's likely he'll play with wings Yanni Gourde and Alex Killorn, who were both fantasy relevant last season. Cirelli also benefits being on one of the top scoring teams in the NHL and will likely be one of the hottest adds on the waiver wire.

 

Other rookies with fantasy upside: Lias Andersson, C, NYR; Ethan Bear, D, EDM; Henrik Borgstrom, C, FLA; Filip Chytil, C, NYR; Thatcher Demko, G, VAN; Alex Lyon, G, PHI; Dylan Sikura, RW, CHI; Robert Thomas, C, STL; Owen Tippett, LW, FLA; Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, WPG; Colin White, C/RW; OTT

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