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Fantasy sleeper candidates for 2019-20

Bertuzzi, Johnsson bring exposure to elite linemates; Hintz should build upon strong postseason

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

NHL.com identifies 10 fantasy sleeper candidates: 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). For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy.

 

MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Breakouts | Rookies | Deep sleepers | Bounce-backsTop 250

 

Alexander Edler, D, VAN
NHL.com rank: 157

The Vancouver 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 but could finish among the top 15 in scoring at the position with exposure to valuable forwards Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat.

 

Roope Hintz, C/LW, DAL
NHL.com rank: 160

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. If Zuccarello, a potential UFA, re-signs with Dallas, he and Hintz could each score 55-60 points over a full season playing together at even strength and on the first power play with elite center Tyler Seguin, bounce-back candidate Jamie Benn and valuable defenseman John Klingberg.

 

Tyler Bertuzzi, LW/RW, DET
NHL.com rank: 172

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).

 

Jimmy Howard, G, DET
NHL.com rank: 177

The veteran goalie signed a one-year contract to remain with the Red Wings and has sneaky upside with a young offensive core in front of him. Detroit still has question marks on defense, but that could be addressed by new general manager Steve Yzerman this offseason, especially with the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. Howard had a respectable win total (23) playing for a bottom-five team and went 5-2-0 with a .921 save percentage over his final eight games.

 

Jakob Silfverberg, RW, ANA
NHL.com rank: 179

The Anaheim Ducks right wing signed a five-year contract March 2, after which his production spiked for the rest of the season. Silfverberg was better than a point per game with 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists), four on the power play, and a plus-10 over the final 17 games on a line with mostly wing Rickard Rakell and rookie center Sam Steel and also the first power play. Silfverberg could shatter his best point total (49 in 2016-17) with exposure to Anaheim's young talent, which includes Ondrej Kase, Troy Terry, rookies Max Comtois and Steel, under new coach Dallas Eakins.

 

Ryan Donato, C/LW/RW, MIN
NHL.com rank: 180

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 next season.

 

Josh Morrissey, D, WPG
NHL.com rank: 201

The Winnipeg Jets defenseman has improved his point total with each passing year and had a NHL career-high 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 59 regular-season games. But 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 this season (10 PPP) and is worth targeting in late rounds with a chance to take the next step within a potent offense after the Jets traded Trouba to the New York Rangers.

 

Andreas Johnsson, LW/RW, TOR
NHL.com rank: 202

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. If Johnsson sticks with Matthews and the latter has a full-fledged breakout of at least 100 points, Johnsson could be one of the biggest steals in fantasy. He finished second among rookies in even-strength points (37) behind Elias Pettersson (44) -- largely because of exposure to Matthews.

 

Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, ARI
NHL.com rank: 213

The Arizona Coyotes, who missed the postseason by four points, have a much higher fantasy ceiling next season. Fantasy owners can easily invest in Arizona's top forward(s) Clayton Keller (bounce-back candidate), Nick Schmaltz (injury bounce-back) and/or Galchenyuk (sleeper) in late rounds of fantasy drafts. 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. Position stability and good health for Arizona could lead to Galchenyuk, a potential 2020 unrestricted free agent, having his best season yet with at least 65 points.

 

Cory Schneider, G, NJD
NHL.com rank: 226

The New Jersey Devils goalie went without a win for more than a calendar year but rebounded over his final 14 games of this season, going 6-6-2 with a .927 SV% and one shutout. He also played for the United States at the 2019 IIHF World Championship and had a .920 SV% in six games. The Devils will likely be overlooked in fantasy but 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 and No. 1 pick (Jack Hughes or Kaapo Kakko) after winning the NHL Draft Lottery. Schneider has been an efficient timeshare goalie with the Devils and Canucks (.919 career SV%) and could be a steal in late rounds or off the waiver wire.

 

Other sleeper candidates for 2019-20: Jacob Markstrom, G, VAN (133); Darcy Kuemper, G, ARI (159); Kevin Hayes, C, PHI (184); Zack Kassian, RW, EDM (231); Oskar Lindblom, LW, PHI (232); Robert Thomas, C/RW, STL (241); Brandon Montour, D, BUF (243)

 

Read: Preseason fantasy sleepers from 2018-19

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