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). Rookie sleepers (e.g. Max Comtois, Mackenzie Blackwood, Alexandre Texier) are included in NHL.com’s rookies to watch story.
NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast: Sleepers and deep sleepers
Darcy Kuemper, G, ARI
NHL.com rank: 141; Yahoo ADP: 144.0
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 (collectively or individually). 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.
Roope Hintz, C/LW, DAL
NHL.com rank: 148; ADP: 172.4
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 playoffs).
Nazem Kadri, C, COL
NHL.com rank: 149; ADP: 169.1
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: 159; ADP: 171.0
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.
J.T. Miller, LW/RW, VAN
NHL.com rank: 163; ADP: 170.4
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.
Alex Galchenyuk, C/LW, PIT
NHL.com rank: 167; ADP: 173.9
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 and can certainly do so 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: 172; ADP: 176.0
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 sleeper Mackenzie Blackwood and should get boosts from the return of elite left wing Taylor Hall from injury, acquisitions of elite defenseman P.K. Subban and left wing Nikita Gusev, 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 drafts.
Jakub Vrana, LW, WSH
NHL.com rank: 194; ADP: 169.2
The left wing ranked second on the Washington Capitals in even-strength goals (23) behind Alex Ovechkin (33) last season. Vrana, who led Washington’s forwards with a plus-20, plays on the second line with valuable center Nicklas Backstrom and right wing T.J. Oshie and could reach greater heights with Backstrom in a contract year (potential 2020 UFA). Vrana has been projected by NHL.com to score 55 points but could have an even higher ceiling if he earns a bigger power-play role as a result of his strong 5-on-5 production.
Tyler Bertuzzi, LW/RW, DET
NHL.com rank: 196; ADP: 169.1
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, averaged better than a hit per game (76 in 73 games) and plays for a potentially overlooked team with sneaky offensive appeal.
Andreas Johnsson, LW/RW, TOR
NHL.com rank: 198; ADP: 170.8
The Maple Leafs forward was the most frequent left wing on elite center Auston Matthews‘ line over the second half of the 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 Pettersson (44) — and exposure to Matthews is a big reason. The addition of elite defenseman Tyson Barrie (acquired from Avalanche in Kadri trade on July 1) also adds to Johnsson’s sleeper candidacy.
Other sleeper candidates for 2019-20 (with NHL.com rank): Petr Mrazek, G, CAR (157); Jacob Markstrom, G, VAN (160); Robin Lehner, G, CHI (164); Alexander Edler, D, VAN (175); Colton Parayko, D, STL (176); Ryan Pulock, D, NYI (178); Kevin Labanc, LW/RW, SJS (199); Gustav Nyquist, LW/RW, CBJ (204); Ryan Donato, LW/RW, MIN (207); Kevin Hayes, C, PHI (211)
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