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Fantasy sleepers for first round of 2019 playoffs

DeBrusk, Hintz among valuable secondary scorers; Morrissey's return crucial to Jets' success

by Rob Reese @NHLReese / Fantasy Editor identifies sleeper candidates for the Stanley Cup Playoffs who can round out your playoff pool roster or provide value in FanDuel DFS contests. For more fantasy hockey coverage, visit


MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Playoff ranks | X-factorsTop 250

Stanley Cup Playoffs fantasy picks | Projected lineups, starting goalies




Boston Bruins: Jake DeBrusk, F -- The Bruins left wing set an NHL career-high with 27 goals in 68 games this season. He had 23 points (13 goals, 10 assists) in the final 21 games skating on an underrated line with center David Krejci, who tied a career-high with 73 points (20 goals, 53 assists) in 81 games. With wing Marcus Johansson healthy for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins could provide depth scoring to take pressure of the dynamic top line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak.

Carolina Hurricanes: Micheal Ferland, F -- The Hurricanes wing was fourth among their forwards in points (40) and power-play points (13) and ranked second in hits (182) behind Jordan Martinook. Ferland has been skating on the second line with forwards Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen and on the second power-play unit with Staal, Andrei Svechnikov and defensemen Jaccob Slavin and Dougie Hamilton. Ferland's ability to produce on any of Carolina's first three lines and physical play could be relied upon heavily against the Washington Capitals.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Oliver Bjorkstrand, F -- The Blue Jackets wing had an NHL career-high 23 goals in 77 games mostly skating on the third line with forwards Boone Jenner and Nick Foligno. Bjorkstrand's production was impressive considering his 12:20 per game was the lowest of his career. He finished the season with 11 points (nine goals, two assists) and 33 shots on goal over the final 10 games and could have sneaky value if given more opportunity in the playoffs.

Video: CBJ@OTT: Bjorkstrand buries blistering slap shot

New York Islanders: Jordan Eberle, F -- The Islanders right wing had his lowest point total in a full season (37) but finished strong with five points (four goals, one assists) in the final five games mostly skating on the top line with center Mathew Barzal and left wing Anders Lee. If the lineup placement sticks, Eberle could play a valuable role in the first round against the Pittsburgh Penguins; he had two goals in four games against them in the regular season.

Pittsburgh Penguins: Justin Schultz, D -- The Penguins defenseman missed significant time this season with an ankle injury but had 15 points (two goals, 13 assists), six on the power play, in 29 games. He'll be relied upon to contribute offensively on the second pair with Olli Maatta and second power play. Schultz has 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) in 48 playoff games.

Tampa Bay Lightning: Mikhail Sergachev, D -- The Lightning defenseman flew under the radar this season with 32 points (six goals, 26 assists) in 75 games after scoring 40 points as a rookie. The decline in production came despite Sergachev skating more than two minutes per game (17:55) more than last season (15:22). If Sergachev takes advantage of the additional ice time, he could be their second-most productive defenseman behind Victor Hedman and pay dividends over multiple rounds.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Kasperi Kapanen, F -- The Maple Leafs right wing had a breakout season with 44 points (20 goals, 24 assists) in 78 games mostly skating with elite center Auston Matthews at even strength. Kapanen is expected to start on Matthews' line over William Nylander against the Bruins in the first round and could draw more favorable defensive matchups than the top line of forwards John Tavares, Mitchell Marner and Zach Hyman.

Washington Capitals: Jakub Vrana, F -- The Capitals wing had NHL career-highs in goals (24), assists (23) and points (47) in 82 games. Vrana is expected to skate on the third line with center Lars Eller and wing Brett Connolly, who also had a career high in goals (22), against the Hurricanes in their first round. Vrana had eight points (three goals, five assists) in 23 playoff games last season and has additional room for growth, especially if he's moved back to a line with either center Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov.



Calgary Flames: David Rittich, G -- The Flames goalie outperformed veteran Mike Smith during the regular season, going 27-9-5 with a .911 save percentage and one shutout. While Rittich may not start Game 1, he could be relied upon if Smith, the likely Game 1 starter, falters at any point against the top-heavy Avalanche.

Colorado Avalanche: Cale Makar, D -- The rookie defenseman is playing for the University of Massachusetts in the NCAA Frozen Four but could join the Avalanche after the tournament ends. Makar finished tied for third in the NCAA with 48 points (16 goals, 32 assists) in 39 games and could potentially make his NHL debut in the first round against the Flames.

Dallas Stars: Roope Hintz, F -- The Stars rookie forward had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in the final 14 games of the season mostly skating on the first line with elite forwards Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov. Hintz provided the top six with much-needed secondary scoring to take pressure off of top forwards Seguin, Radulov and Jamie Benn. With a likely top-six role to begin the playoffs, Hintz could provide value in postseason pools alongside forward Mats Zuccarello, who has returned from a broken arm.

Nashville Predators: Wayne Simmonds, F -- The Predators veteran right wing had three points (one goal, two assists) in 17 games mostly skating on the fourth line with forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Brian Boyle. Simmonds is a valuable playoff performer with 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 42 career postseason games and could provide a spark in the bottom six and/or on the power play.

Video: TOR@NSH: Simmonds nets first goal with Predators

San Jose Sharks: Gustav Nyquist, F -- The Sharks right wing made an immediate impact with 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 19 games after being acquired prior to the NHL Trade Deadline. Nyquist has recently been skating on a line with valuable forwards Tomas Hertl and Evander Kane, which could give him a high ceiling in the postseason. 

St. Louis Blues: Jake Allen, G -- The Blues goalie will likely begin their series against the Winnipeg Jets as the backup to rookie Jordan Binnington, who has earned Calder Trophy consideration going 24-5-1 with a .927 SV% and five shutouts in 32 games. If Binnington loses Game 1 or 2, the Blues could turn to Allen, who was 6-5 with a .935 SV% in 11 games during their 2017 playoff run.

Vegas Golden Knights: Alex Tuch, F -- The Golden Knights right wing was moved out of the top six after the acquisition of Mark Stone prior to the trade deadline. Despite skating mostly in a third line role for the remainder of the season, Tuch still finished with a NHL career-high 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 74 games after scoring 37 as a rookie. Tuch brings scoring prowess to the Golden Knights bottom six, potentially creating matchup problems for the Sharks. He had 10 points (six goals, four assists) in 20 playoff games last season.

Winnipeg Jets: Josh Morrissey, D -- The Jets defenseman set an NHL career-high in assists (25) and points (31) despite missing 23 games with multiple injuries. When healthy, Morrissey skated on the top pair with elite defenseman Dustin Byfuglien at even strength and was third in ice time per game (22:24) behind Byfuglien (24:22) and Jacob Trouba (22:53). Morrissey (upper body) is expected to return for Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday, and the Jets are 36-19-4 when Morrissey is in the lineup (11-11-1 without him).


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