MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 | Keeper / dynasty
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FANTASY TOP ROOKIES AT PAUSE
NOTES: The below players were rookie-eligible for the 2019-20 season and are listed in order of NHL.com top 250 rank at the pause. Value has been quantified based on production and long-term fantasy outlook in standard leagues (goals, assists, plus/minus, power-play points, shots on goal, hits for skaters; wins, goals-against average, save percentage, shutouts for goalies).
Cale Makar, D, COL (NHL.com rank: 33)
No. 4 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
The Colorado Avalanche defenseman is second among first-year skaters with 50 points (12 goals, 38 assists) in 57 games behind Quinn Hughes (53 in 68 games) but leads rookies in points per game (0.88). He captured a role on Colorado's valuable top power-play unit with forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog, giving Makar immense long-term fantasy value at a scarce position. Fantasy owners should expect to target Makar within the top 50 overall in standard leagues next season.
Quinn Hughes, D, VAN (NHL.com rank: 42)
No. 7 pick in 2018 NHL Draft
The Vancouver Canucks defenseman leads rookies in scoring and could have similar or even higher fantasy upside compared to Makar depending on the Canucks growth in seasons to come. Hughes' power-play exposure to valuable forwards Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat makes him a valuable selection in the first five rounds of standard drafts next season . Makar and Hughes should be selected within the first 10 picks of most keeper and dynasty league drafts.
Igor Shesterkin, G, NYR (NHL.com rank: 68)
No. 118 pick in 2014 NHL Draft
The New York Rangers goalie took the NHL by storm after being recalled from Hartford of the American Hockey League on Jan. 6, going 10-2-0 with a .932 save percentage in his first 12 games. Shesterkin emerged as this season's most valuable rookie goalie and New York's No. 1 option over Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev, making him a top 10 fantasy goalie for next season.
Elvis Merzlikins, G, CBJ (NHL.com rank: 116)
No. 76 pick in 2014 NHL Draft
The Columbus Blue Jackets goalie is 13-9-8 with a .923 SV% and five shutouts in 33 games and proved he's capable of being a No. 1 option when starter Joonas Korpisalo missed time with injury. Merzlikins and Korpisalo each has re-signed with the Blue Jackets, which will make them once of the most appealing tandems in fantasy drafts next season.
Dominik Kubalik, LW/RW, CHI (NHL.com rank: 126)
No. 191 pick in 2013 NHL Draft
The Chicago Blackhawks wing leads rookies with 30 goals in 68 games this season; he has 10 more goals than the next highest-scoring forward (Denis Gurianov, Victor Olofsson: 20 each). His emergence as the top rookie forward is surprising considering how high Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko (first two picks in 2019 NHL Draft) were ranked in fantasy heading into the season. Kubalik should maintain top-six exposure to valuable center Jonathan Toews and has room to see much more first power-play usage with Toews and elite right wing Patrick Kane.
Victor Olofsson, LW/RW, BUF (NHL.com rank: 127)
No. 181 pick in 2014 NHL Draft
The Buffalo Sabres forward has been a staple with elite center Jack Eichel on the top line and first power play, scoring 42 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 54 games this season. His lineup placement with Eichel makes Olofsson worth reaching for in any fantasy format and gives him a ceiling of 35-40 goals next season, especially if the Sabres take a step forward.
Mackenzie Blackwood, G, NJD (NHL.com rank: 150)
No. 42 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
He leads all rookies in wins (22; 13th in NHL) and had a .915 SV% and three shutouts, strong totals considering the New Jersey Devils have been arguably the most disappointing fantasy team in the League this season. Blackwood, unlike Shesterkin, Merzlikins and fellow rookie Ilya Samsonov, does not have much competition in New Jersey's crease and could be a fantasy bargain again next season.
Adam Fox, D, NYR (NHL.com rank: 168)
No. 66 pick in 2016 NHL Draft
The Rangers defenseman contributed to their quick rebuild with 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) in 70 games and had a much better plus/minus (plus-22) than Makar (plus-12) and Hughes (minus-10). If the fantasy landscape at the position stays as thin as it was this season, Fox would be well worth a late-round selection -- even though breakout defenseman Tony DeAngelo has the first power-play spot and is ranked higher at the moment.
Ilya Samsonov, G, WSH (NHL.com rank: 178)
No. 22 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
The Washington Capitals goalie is 16-6-2 with a .913 SV% and one shutout in 26 games this season, mostly serving as a backup to Braden Holtby. With the Capitals' starting job up for grabs with Holtby being a potential unrestricted free agent after this season, Samsonov is worth drafting as a high-upside third goalie next season.
Denis Gurianov, LW/RW, DAL (NHL.com rank: 198)
No. 12 pick in 2015 NHL Draft
He leads the Dallas Stars in goals this season and is tied for second in power-play goals (seven) despite inconsistent usage and an in-season coaching change. The Stars have been an underwhelming scoring offense (2.58 goals per game, 26th in NHL) but could find a higher gear if Gurianov sees more time with Tyler Seguin and/or Jamie Benn in all situations next season.
Nick Suzuki, C/RW, MTL (NHL.com rank: 200)
No. 13 pick in 2017 NHL Draft
He has 41 points (13 goals, 28 assists) in 71 games this season and has bounced around the Montreal Canadiens' top nine because of all their injuries. Suzuki is an intriguing deep sleeper for next season and should be targeted in a similar range as forward breakout candidates Hughes and Kakko.
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