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Fantasy sleeper candidates for 2019-20

Hintz gets boost from Stars signing Pavelski; Kadri, Galchenyuk benefit from trades to Avalanche, Penguins

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

NHL.com identifies fantasy hockey sleeper candidates for the 2019-20 season. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 rankings | Mock draft | Cheat sheet

Breakouts | Rookies | Deep sleepers | Bounce-backs | Coaching changes

 

NOTE: Sleepers are players taken in the late rounds who can vastly outperform their average draft position. They can be young players who have scratched the surface or more experienced ones who remain undervalued for any reason(s).

 

Darcy Kuemper, G, ARI 
NHL.com rank: 146

The Arizona Coyotes acquired elite right wing Phil Kessel from the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 29, boosting their entire team fantasy outlook. Kessel should provide more goal support for Arizona's goalie tandem of Kuemper and Antti Raanta, who has dealt with injuries in recent years but has a high fantasy ceiling. But Kuemper had a .925 save percentage in 55 games last season, the only goalie in the NHL with that high of a rate over such a heavy workload. Kuemper likely won't be taken seriously in drafts but could provide efficient play regardless of whether Raanta stays healthy.

 

Nazem Kadri, C, COL
NHL.com rank: 157

The Colorado Avalanche acquired Kadri from the Toronto Maple Leafs to boost their secondary scoring. Kadri is also likely to be the fifth member on a power-play unit with elite forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Gabriel Landeskog and impact rookie defenseman Cale Makar. Kadri, who had consecutive 32-goal seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18, will at least provide strong category coverage of points, shots on goal and hits. If Kadri finds chemistry with fellow newcomer Andre Burakovsky, each could be a late-round fantasy steal.

 

Josh Morrissey, D, WPG
NHL.com rank: 163

The Winnipeg Jets defenseman has improved his point total with each passing year and had an NHL career-high 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 59 regular-season games. That said, he missed more than the final month of the regular season with an upper-body injury, and his point total was tied with defenseman teammates Dustin Byfuglien (same total in 17 fewer games) and Tyler Myers for second among Jets at the position behind leader Jacob Trouba (50). Morrissey, 24, saw time on the first power play last season (10 PPP) and is worth targeting with a chance to take the next step within a potent offense after the Jets traded Trouba to the New York Rangers and Tyler Myers signed with the Vancouver Canucks in free agency.

 

Roope Hintz, C/LW, DAL
NHL.com rank: 166

The Dallas Stars forward scratched the surface during the regular season before bursting onto the fantasy radar in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with eight points (second among rookies) in 13 games on a line with mostly right wing Mats Zuccarello. Although Zuccarello left Dallas to join the Minnesota Wild in free agency, the Stars signed Joe Pavelski, one of the most versatile forwards in the NHL, as an upgrade. With guaranteed exposure to one or more of elite center Tyler Seguin, left wing Jamie Benn (bounce-back candidate), right wing Alexander Radulov or Pavelski (can play center or wing), Hintz could score 55-60 points over a full season, especially if he's on the first power play like he was in the playoffs.

 

J.T. Miller, C/LW/RW, and Alexander Edler, D, VAN
NHL.com rank: 167 (Miller); 171 (Edler)

Vancouver acquired Miller from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 22, upgrading its top-six wing outlook behind Brock Boeser. Miller, who scored 47 points, 20 on the power play, last season, is expected to play with a valuable center in either Calder Trophy winner Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat and potentially with Boeser as well, at least on the first power-play unit. Miller had a trial with elite forwards Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos after being acquired by the Lightning prior to the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline, scoring 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in 19 games, proving he has untapped fantasy potential with lineup stability over a full season.

The Canucks defenseman has not played a full season since 2011-12, when he scored an NHL career-high in points (49), but it's encouraging he's coming off his best points-per-game average (0.61) since 2010-11 (0.65). Edler was limited to 56 games but still led Vancouver defensemen in goals (10), assists (24), points (34), power-play points (17) and shots on goal (128). He'll be undervalued in fantasy drafts because of injury concerns, age (33) and the expected impact of rookie defenseman Quinn Hughes and addition of Myers but has a ceiling of finishing among the fantasy top 20 at the position with valuable category coverage and exposure to Pettersson, Boeser, Horvat and/or Miller.

 

Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, PIT
NHL.com rank: 177

The forward was acquired by the Penguins in the trade for Kessel and has renewed upside on a potential line and/or power play with elite centers Sidney Crosby and/or Evgeni Malkin. Galchenyuk, whose best NHL totals came in 2015-16 (30 goals, 56 points), has at least 20 power-play points in each of the past two seasons but needs to improve at even strength; he can certainly do so if he plays on Crosby or Malkin's wing. Position stability and good health could lead to Galchenyuk, a potential 2020 unrestricted free agent, having his best season yet with 60-65 points.

 

Cory Schneider, G, NJD
NHL.com rank: 179

The New Jersey Devils goalie went without a win for more than a calendar year but rebounded over his final 14 games last season, going 6-6-2 with a .927 SV% and one shutout. Schneider also played for the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Championship and had a .920 SV% in six games. The Devils have a respectable goalie tandem of Schneider and rookie Mackenzie Blackwood and should get boosts from the return of elite left wing Taylor Hall from injury, acquisition of elite defenseman P.K. Subban, selection of center Jack Hughes (No. 1 pick in 2019 NHL Draft) and signing of right wing Wayne Simmonds. Schneider has been an efficient timeshare goalie before with the Devils and Canucks (.919 career SV%) and could be a steal late in fantasy drafts.

 

Tyler Bertuzzi, LW/RW, DET
NHL.com rank: 194

The Detroit Red Wings power forward had an NHL career-high 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists) thanks to a strong finish to the regular season. He had 13 points (five goals, eight assists), a plus-6 and 22 SOG over the final seven games, including four straight three-point games, on a line with mostly center Dylan Larkin and wing Anthony Mantha. Bertuzzi was plus-11 on the season and averaged better than a hit per game (76 in 73 games).

 

Andreas Johnsson, LW/RW, TOR
NHL.com rank: 195

The Maple Leafs forward was the most frequent left wing on elite center Auston Matthews' line over the second half of the regular season into the playoffs. Matthews was better than a point per game (73 points in 68 games) but limited by injury for the second straight season. Johnsson, who signed a four-year contract to remain with the Maple Leafs on June 28, could skyrocket in the fantasy rankings if Matthews has a full-fledged breakout of at least 100 points. Johnsson finished second among rookies in even-strength points (37) behind Elias Pettersson (44) -- largely because of exposure to Matthews. The addition of elite defenseman Tyson Barrie (acquired from Avalanche in Kadri trade on July 1) also adds to the sleeper appeal of Johnsson.

 

Ryan Donato, C/LW/RW, MIN
NHL.com rank: 198

Donato was a bright spot down the stretch for the Minnesota Wild, who missed the playoffs after qualifying in each of the prior six seasons. Donato, acquired from the Boston Bruins prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, had 16 points (four goals, 12 assists), including five power-play assists, with expanded usage over 22 games following the move. The Wild traded top-six forwards Nino Niederreiter (to Carolina Hurricanes) and Mikael Granlund (to Nashville Predators), opening the door for their acquisitions, Donato and Kevin Fiala, to be fantasy sleepers. Donato could bring first power-play exposure to a fellow sleeper in Zuccarello and valuable defenseman Matt Dumba.

 

Other sleeper candidates for 2019-20 (with NHL.com rank): Jacob Markstrom, G, VAN (170); Jakob Silfverberg, RW, ANA (197); Kevin Labanc, RW, SJS (203); Kevin Hayes, C, PHI (217); Zack Kassian, RW, EDM (240); Brandon Montour, D, BUF (N/A); Robert Thomas, C/RW, STL (N/A - INJ.)

 

Read: Preseason fantasy sleepers from 2018-19

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