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Fantasy rookies to watch in 2019-20

Nylander, Glass worth adding in deeper leagues; Comtois brings value playing on line with Getzlaf

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / Fantasy Editor identifies the top rookies in fantasy hockey for the 2019-20 season. For more fantasy hockey coverage, visit and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.


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NOTES: Below are rookie-eligible players listed in order of rank, if applicable. Teams with multiple rookies who can become fantasy-relevant have the top player highlighted and others mentioned in the respective paragraph. ... Value has been quantified based on projected lineups and past production in the NHL (if applicable), other leagues and/or tournaments.


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Cale Makar, D, COL ( rank: 98) 
Age: 20 (will turn 21 on Oct. 30)
No. 4 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

The Colorado Avalanche defenseman had six points (one goal, five assists) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Makar skated on a pair with Samuel Girard, bringing exposure to elite forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog at even strength. After Tyson Barrie was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Makar has joined the top 20 defenseman rankings based on upside and could land a first power-play role in his rookie season.

Kaapo Kakko, RW, NYR ( rank: 99)
Age: 18
No. 2 pick in 2019 draft

Kakko will start the season on the second line with left wing Chris Kreider and center Ryan Strome and the top power-play unit with forwards Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Pavel Buchnevich and defenseman Jacob Trouba. The Rangers are one of the most-improved fantasy teams with the addition of valuable defenseman Trouba (acquired from Winnipeg Jets on June 18) and potential impact prospects in Kakko and defenseman Adam Fox.

Jack Hughes, C, NJD ( rank: 100) 
Age: 18
No. 1 pick in 2019 draft

Hughes is projected by to score more than 60 points as a rookie with the New Jersey Devils in a top-six, first power-play role with potential exposure to elite left wing Taylor Hall. Hughes gains additional value with the acquisition of elite defenseman P.K. Subban and signing of left wing Nikita Gusev and right wing Wayne Simmonds, who can help the Devils power play finish among the 10 best like they did in 2017-18 (21.4; T-9th). Hughes will likely skate on the second line with Gusev, one of the top fantasy sleepers, and Simmonds. The Devils also have a potential impact goalie prospect in Mackenzie Blackwood, who is expected to compete with veteran Cory Schneider for the starting job.

Quinn Hughes, D, VAN ( rank: 120)
Age: 19 (will turn 20 on Oct. 14)
No. 7 pick in 2018 NHL Draft

The Vancouver Canucks defenseman had three assists in his first five NHL games and is ranked among the 30 best at the position based on upside. Hughes had 33 points (five goals, 28 assists) in 32 games as a sophomore for University of Michigan of the NCAA and three assists in eight games for the United States at the World Championship. Hughes' ceiling is just as high as Makar's with potential power-play exposure to valuable forwards Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat but will compete with veteran Alexander Edler for PP1 duties. The Canucks also have a potential impact goalie prospect in Thatcher Demko, who will compete with starter Jacob Markstrom for playing time.

Max Comtois, LW, ANA ( rank: 205) 
Age: 20
No. 50 pick in 2017 draft

The Anaheim Ducks left wing had seven points (two goals, five assists) and 27 hits in his first 10 NHL games but sustained multiple injuries and spent the rest of the season playing for Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He had 48 points (31 goals, 17 assists) in 25 QMJHL games and five goals in five games for Canada at the World Junior Championship. Comtois and rookie center Sam Steel (lower body; injured reserve) should have NHL spots when healthy and could skate with bounce-back candidate Ryan Getzlaf and/or Rickard Rakell under new coach Dallas Eakins, who coached Comtois, Steel and other Ducks players for San Diego of the American Hockey League.

Victor Olofsson, LW/RW, BUF ( rank: 207)
Age: 24
No. 181 pick in 2014 NHL Draft

The Buffalo Sabres wing was a late-season streaming option with four points (two goals, two assists), two on the power play, in six games. He got a trial on the top line and first power play with elite center Jack Eichel and right wing Sam Reinhart last season and could be a hidden rookie gem this season. His lineup placement with Eichel has carried over to the preseason, making Olofsson worthy of an early waiver wire add.

Cody Glass, C, VGK ( rank: 208)
Age: 20
No. 6 pick in 2017 NHL Draft

The Golden Knights center is a must-add player in all formats after making the opening night roster as their No. 1 center skating with left wing Max Pacioretty and right wing Mark Stone. Glass had 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in 28 games for Chicago of the AHL last regular season and playoffs combined and carries early season waiver wire appeal with his lineup placement.

Alexandre Texier, LW, CBJ ( rank: 230)
Age: 19 (will turn 20 on Sept. 13)
No. 45 pick in 2017 draft

The Columbus Blue Jackets left wing made an immediate impact in the playoffs, scoring three points (two goals, one assist), two on the power play, in eight games. With the Blue Jackets losing Panarin and valuable center Matt Duchene in free agency, Texier is expected to skate on the top line and on the first power play with potential exposure to fantasy-relevant forwards Cam Atkinson, Pierre-Luc Dubois, defensemen Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Columbus also has an impact goalie prospect in Elvis Merzlikins, who could compete with Joonas Korpisalo for the starting job after elite goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (signed with Florida Panthers) left in free agency. Forward Emil Bemstrom also made Columbus' opening night roster and is worth monitoring in deeper leagues.

Ilya Samsonov, G, WSH ( rank: 234)
Age: 22
No. 22 pick in 2015 NHL Draft

The Washington Capitals goalie made the opening night roster and will likely back up Braden Holtby to start the season. Holtby, who is a potential unrestricted free agent in 2020, has had two straight underwhelming regular seasons in fantasy and could lose starts to Samsonov.

Alexander Nylander, LW/RW, CHI ( rank: 235)
Age: 21
No. 8 in 2016 NHL Draft

The Chicago Blackhawks wing has been skating with valuable forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the preseason and would carry significant value if the lineup placement sticks beyond the first few games of the regular season. He's worth adding in standard 12-team leagues and could have one of the highest ceilings among first-year forwards.

Erik Brannstrom, D, OTT ( rank: 236)
Age: 20
No. 15 pick in 2017 draft

The Ottawa Senators defenseman had no points in two games after being acquired from the Golden Knights prior to the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline. Brannstrom spent the majority of the season playing in the AHL, where he totaled 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists) in 50 games for Chicago and Belleville. With likely exposure to valuable left wing Brady Tkachuk, center Colin White and elite defenseman Thomas Chabot, Brannstrom and rookie forward Drake Batherson have sneaky appeal with the chance to play big roles for the rebuilding Senators.

Other rookies with fantasy upside: Denis Gurianov, LW/RW, DAL; Martin Necas, C, CAR; Owen Tippett, RW, FLA; Ethan Bear, D, EDM; Carl Grundstrom, LW/RW, LAK; Noah Dobson, D, NYI; Nick Suzuki, C, MTL


Read: Fantasy hockey rookie tracker for 2018-19


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