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Fantasy sleeper candidates for 2016-17

Robby Fabbri, Anthony Duclair, Robin Lehner can surpass average draft position

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Fantasy Insider

Never take the late rounds of your fantasy draft lightly. That's where you can really set yourself apart.

Sleepers, late-round picks in position to exceed expectations and their low average draft positions, are always on fantasy owners' minds leading up to a draft. They can be young players taken outside the top 100 overall or more experienced ones who remain undervalued for one reason or another.

FANTASY RANKINGS: TOP 250 | CENTER | LW | RW | D-MAN | GOALIE

Last season, sleepers who paid off include left wing Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, who shattered his previous NHL career highs in goals and shots on goal, and right wing Kyle Palmieri, who shocked the fantasy world by scoring 30 goals for the New Jersey Devils. Each turned a Yahoo ADP outside the top 150 into a top 50 finish.

Here are some sleeper candidates for the 2016-17 season, along with standard Yahoo category projections. The top 15 have been arranged in order of rank in NHL.com's Top 200 and should be considered in the 10th round or later in a 12-team draft. Rookies have not been included on this list.

Robby Fabbri, C/LW, St. Louis Blues (NHL.com: 100; ADP: 167.9) -- Among those with at least 20 games played in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Fabbri was second in points per 60 minutes (3.13) behind San Jose Sharks center Logan Couture (3.88). As the Blues turn the page to their youth after some offseason changes, this 20-year-old is in line for bigger minutes at left wing and/or center on an even-strength line and first power-play unit with Vladimir Tarasenko. The injury to Jaden Schwartz only helps Fabbri's chances of being elevated in the lineup.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 42 assists, plus-10, 38 PIMs, 21 PPP, 182 SOG

Video: Mika Zibanejad's Natural Hat Trick

Mika Zibanejad, C/RW, New York Rangers (NHL.com: 117; ADP: 168.7) -- Zibanejad filled in admirably for injured center Kyle Turris on the top line for the Ottawa Senators with 15 points in his final 20 games last season and has a chance to take Derick Brassard's place as the Rangers' first-line center. Zibanejad is dual eligible in Yahoo leagues and could jump from 51 points to 60 or more if he helps Rick Nash return to being an elite goal-scorer.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 37 assists, plus-5, 26 PIMs, 18 PPP, 198 SOG

Alexander Radulov, RW, Montreal Canadiens (NHL.com: 118; ADP: 116.5) -- Radulov, among the Kontinental Hockey League's offensive leaders last season, returns to the NHL as a more mature forward seeking top-six and power-play minutes for Montreal, which is looking to change its identity. Radulov remains a fantasy risk but scored 58 points in the NHL in 2007-08 with the Nashville Predators. There's no reason he can't sniff that total if he meshes with either Alex Galchenyuk or Tomas Plekanec.

Stat projection: 31 goals, 22 assists, plus-2, 56 PIMs, 18 PPP, 215 SOG

Robin Lehner, G, Buffalo Sabres (NHL.com: 128; ADP: 130.2) -- Lehner's time with the Sabres has been defined by injuries; he was limited to 21 games last season because of an ankle injury and is not participating in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 for Team Sweden in an effort to get fully healthy. He had a .924 save percentage last season and could benefit from more goal support if healthy for one of the most improved teams in the Eastern Conference.

Stat projection: 55 games, 29 wins, 2.34 GAA, .920 SV%, 3 shutouts

Teuvo Teravainen, LW/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (NHL.com: 129; ADP: 168.7) -- A trade from the Chicago Blackhawks to the less talented but possession-savvy Hurricanes could be a blessing in disguise for Teravainen, who has yet to reach his fantasy potential. He joins a young nucleus, which includes centers Victor Rask and Jordan Staal, wings Jeff Skinner, Elias Lindholm and Sebastian Aho, and defenseman Justin Faulk. Teravainen should eclipse 50 points in a top-line, first power-play role.

Stat projection: 22 goals, 35 assists, minus-4, 34 PIMs, 19 PPP, 180 SOG

Video: CGY@ARI: Duclair nets Hanzel's feed to tie game

Anthony Duclair, LW/RW, Arizona Coyotes (NHL.com: 136; ADP: 170.6) -- Duclair had 20 goals and 24 assists last season with a strong rating (plus-12) and respectable coverage of penalty minutes (49) and power-play points (12). Playing on a line with rookie center Dylan Strome could help Duclair generate more SOG than in his rookie year (105 in 81 games). Such an improvement would make this 21-year-old a six-category asset and a top 100 player, even if his high shooting percentage (19.0) dips.

Stat projection: 28 goals, 28 assists, plus-9, 57 PIMs, 17 PPP, 185 SOG

Sam Reinhart, C/RW, Buffalo Sabres (NHL.com: 143; ADP: 167.5) -- It remains to be seen if Reinhart can seize the fifth skater spot on the Sabres' first power-play unit with Ryan O'Reilly, Jack Eichel, defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (restricted free agent) and Kyle Okposo. Reinhart's competition is Tyler Ennis, Evander Kane and Matt Moulson, but the 20-year-old has age on his side and made quite an impression last season playing with Eichel or O'Reilly at even strength.

Stat projection: 27 goals, 26 assists, minus-5, 20 PIMs, 15 PPP, 205 SOG

Rickard Rakell, C, Anaheim Ducks (NHL.com: 159; ADP: N/A) -- Coach Randy Carlyle is back with the Ducks and must decide whether to reunite Corey Perry with Ryan Getzlaf or keep the younger Rakell as Perry's even-strength center. The three played together frequently on the first power-play unit, and Rakell, a restricted free agent, scored 43 points (10 PPP) in 72 games. A full season in those spots should mean at least 50 points and coverage of five categories.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 30 assists, plus-5, 28 PIMs, 16 PPP, 196 SOG

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm7: Vasilevskiy robs Crosby's backhander

Andrei Vasilevskiy, G, Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL.com: 155; ADP: 170.3) -- The Lightning are likely to keep Vasilevskiy and Ben Bishop, who's entering the final year of his contract, for much of the season, but Vasilevskiy is likely to start 30 games. Bishop has missed time in each of the past two postseasons with injury, and Vasilevskiy has a .920 career playoff SV% in 12 games. There's an NHL expansion draft looming, so don't be surprised to see the Lightning either trade Bishop at some point or Vasilevskiy narrow the gap into more of a time-share situation. He needs to be drafted if you're a Bishop owner and is a high-upside third or fourth goalie on any roster.

Stat projection: 35 games, 21 wins, 2.38 GAA, .920 SV%, 3 SO

Mikkel Boedker, LW, San Jose Sharks (NHL.com: 157; ADP: 173.3) -- Boedker and Joonas Donskoi are sleeper candidates with a chance to play on the same line with Couture, but Boedker is the real threat to unseat Patrick Marleau on a first power-play unit with Brent Burns, Joe Pavelski, Joe Thornton and Couture. Boedker, second among forwards in power-play ice time (3:57 per game, 19 PPP) behind Alex Ovechkin (4:17 for the Washington Capitals), will play for the most talented team of his career once he steps on the ice for the Sharks and should set an NHL career high in goals and outperform his ADP.

Stat projection: 24 goals, 36 assists, plus-8, 14 PIMs, 20 PPP, 170 SOG

Video: FLA@MTL: Hudler seals win for Panthers with PPG

Jiri Hudler, C/RW, Dallas Stars (NHL.com: 165; ADP: 170.7) -- Hudler is expected to compete for top-six and power-play usage for the Stars, the highest-scoring offense in the NHL last season (265 goals). He is likely to play with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn or Patrick Sharp and Jason Spezza, and chip in points on the second power-play unit. Don't expect 76 points in 78 games like his NHL career-best in 2014-15 with the Calgary Flames, but he could finish among the top 100 again in such a favorable spot.

Stat projection: 19 goals, 36 assists, plus-7, 26 PIMs, 12 PPP, 160 SOG

Morgan Rielly, D, Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL.com: 156; ADP: 157.7) -- After breakout candidate Seth Jones of the Columbus Blue Jackets is drafted in the mid-to-late rounds, Rielly should be considered one of the next-best young fantasy defensemen. He is the front-runner to man the first power-play unit in Toronto and should benefit from potential rookie forwards Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitchell Marner. Expect a bump in scoring, a stabilized plus-minus, and an NHL career high in PPP in 25:00 or more minutes of ice time per game.

Stat projection: 11 goals, 30 assists, minus-6, 40 PIMs, 20 PPP, 185 SOG

Michal Neuvirth G, Philadelphia Flyers (NHL.com: 173; ADP: 174.7) -- The Flyers goalies, Neuvirth and Steve Mason, are being severely underestimated as a tandem in mock drafts. If you pick an elite goalie early and then have two late-round picks close together, target them as a tandem and hope Mason bounces back and/or Neuvirth carries over his sensational playoff performance. The Flyers are tied for the third-most back-to-back games in the NHL, and Neuvirth had a .924 SV% (three SO) in the regular season and a .981 (one SO) in three postseason games.

Stat projection: 44 games, 24 wins, 2.35 GAA, .921 SV%, 4 SO

Video: TOR@FLA: Parenteau goes glove side to beat Luongo

Oscar Klefbom, D, Edmonton Oilers (NHL.com: 219; ADP: 170.5) -- If second-year center Connor McDavid performs at a level even close to expectations over a full season, at least one Oilers defenseman will become fantasy relevant by association. Veteran Andrej Sekera and newcomer Adam Larsson are candidates to improve his stock, but Klefbom, 23, may have the highest ceiling. He scored 12 points (three PPP) in an injury-ravaged season (30 games) and could anchor their first power-play unit if healthy.

Stat projection: 8 goals, 33 assists, minus-7, 30 PIMs, 17 PPP, 150 SOG

Additional sleeper candidates: James Reimer (G, FLA), Joonas Donskoi (RW, SJS), Nikolaj Ehlers (LW/RW, WPG), Mattias Ekholm (D, NSH), Leo Komarov (C/RW, TOR)

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