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Fantasy rookies to watch in 2018-19

Pettersson, Heiskanen impress during preseason; Dahlin, Svechnikov lead list

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / NHL.com Fantasy Editor

NHL.com identifies the top 10 rookies for fantasy hockey in 2018-19. Players are listed in order of consensus NHL.com rank, and training camp and NHL Preseason trends have been included. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Sleepers | Breakouts | Buyer beware

Top 250 | F (C | LW | RW) | D | G | Power ranks

 

Rasmus Dahlin, D, BUF (NHL.com consensus rank: 81)
Age: 18
No. 1 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
Yahoo average draft position: 105.5

The Buffalo Sabres defenseman will alter the fantasy defenseman landscape this season and beyond. You will likely need to reach for the No. 1 pick in the 2018 Draft in the eighth or ninth round of 12-team standard drafts because of the high ceiling and excitement he brings to the Sabres. The 18-year-old could play on the top defense pair with Rasmus Ristolainen, immediately making them one of the elite fantasy defenseman duos. Dahlin will have exposure to center Jack Eichel (34th in NHL.com's rankings), who if healthy, could produce at a point-per-game rate or better. Dahlin will have even more help around him after the Sabres acquired left wing Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes on August 2.

 

Andrei Svechnikov, RW, CAR (NHL.com rank: 137)
Age: 18
No. 2 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: 154.6 

The Carolina Hurricanes wing has plenty of upside in a forward group that includes Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen. Svechnikov has played with rookie center Martin Necas on the second line this preseason and could remain there if rookie wing Valentin Zykov sticks with Aho and Teravainen (played there for final 10 games last season). Still, Svechnikov could gain exposure to the Finnish pair on the top power-play unit, and there is plenty of fantasy value to be gained from Carolina's rookie forwards. The right wing doesn't have the same fanfare as Patrik Laine did in his rookie season, but could have a similar ceiling (36 goals).

 

Elias Pettersson, C, VAN (NHL.com rank: 149) 
Age: 19
No. 5 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: 164.6

The Vancouver Canucks forward set a Swedish Hockey League record for scoring by a junior-aged 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 Sedin and Daniel Sedin, who retired at the end of last season. Without the Sedins, there will be spots to fill in Vancouver's top six, where Pettersson has played alongside forward Sven Baertschi in the preseason. With the right usage, Pettersson should be among the Calder Trophy finalists.

 

Filip Zadina, LW, DET (NHL.com rank: 161)
Age: 18
No. 6 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: 166.5

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 has been skating on the second line with forwards Thomas Vanek and Andreas Athanasiou during the preseason. Red Wings center Henrik Zetterberg is unable to continue his NHL career with a degenerative back condition, indicating more playing time will be available for Zadina and fellow rookie forward Michael Rasmussen (No. 9 pick in 2017 NHL Draft).

 

Casey Mittelstadt, C, BUF (NHL.com rank: 163)
Age: 19
No. 8 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: 158.2

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 will likely be occupied by Mittelstadt. If Buffalo sees drastic improvement this season, their second line should be fantasy relevant.

 

Miro Heiskanen, D, DAL (NHL.com rank: 180)
Age: 19
No. 3 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: 181.7

The Dallas Stars defenseman could provide much-needed secondary scoring to a top-heavy roster. The 19-year-old won the best defenseman award in Liiga (Finland) last season, the youngest player to do so in history. Dallas has a talented offense including forwards Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and elite defenseman John Klingberg. With exposure to those skaters, Heiskanen is worth drafting as a No. 4 fantasy defensemen option. He has skated at times with Klingberg in the preseason and could return similar value to Dahlin if that pairing stays together.

 

Eeli Tolvanen, LW, NSH (NHL.com rank: 223)
Age: 19
No. 30 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: N/A

The Nashville Predators wing was expected to make an immediate fantasy impact after making his NHL debut on March 31 last season, but he didn't have a point in three games with a limited role (12:07 per game). Tolvanen will likely start on the third line with forwards Nick Bonino and Craig Smith this season but fantasy owners should keep a close eye on 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.

 

Kailer Yamamoto, RW, EDM (NHL.com rank: 226)
Age: 19
No. 22 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: N/A

The Edmonton Oilers right wing had three assists in nine games last season, at times playing 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 on the wing, so Yamamoto could find himself in their top six becoming fantasy-relevant on a line with McDavid or Leon Draisaitl. Yamamoto isn't being drafted on average in Yahoo but is worth tracking to see if he makes the team.

 

Ryan Donato, LW/RW, BOS (NHL.com rank: 228)
Age: 22
No. 56 pick in 2014 NHL Draft
Yahoo ADP: 168.3

The Boston Bruins wing made an immediate impact with nine points (five goals, four assists) in 12 games last season. Boston has a deep forward group with the potential to lead the NHL in goals, making their top-nine forwards worth monitoring. Donato will likely start the season on the third line but could find himself on Boston's first power-play unit, giving him a much higher ceiling. The 22-year-old forward is dual-eligible and could even be relevant on the third line with rookie center Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson.

 

Brady Tkachuk, LW, OTT (NHL.com rank: 250) 
Age: 19
No. 4 pick in 2018 NHL draft
Yahoo ADP: N/A

The Senators have arguably the lowest team fantasy appeal in the NHL after trading Erik Karlsson to the San Jose Sharks on Sept. 13, but their lack of left wing depth gives the 19-year-old an opportunity to land a top-six spot. Tkachuk is playing with right wing Mark Stone (2019 potential unrestricted free agent) and center Chris Tierney in the preseason, meaning Tkachuk is worth a flier in the final round of a 12-team standard draft.

 

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

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