Where fantasy drafts are won and lost, though, is in the middle to later rounds. Maybe it’s a super rookie whose NHL ability is unknown, or a young player who is on the verge of a breakout. Or it could even be a veteran who is ready for a bounce-back after one forgettable season.
So in those later rounds, which players could be difference-makers for your team? Below is a list of players for you to target as you are filling out your roster at the draft. All players listed are being drafted, on average, outside the top 100 in most leagues.
Craig Anderson, G, OTT (ADP – Yahoo: 104, ESPN: 119, Fantrax: 85)
If your fantasy draft has gone several rounds and you haven’t done enough to address your goaltending situation, you might still be in luck. Don’t be fooled by Anderson’s win total last season (25), as he missed a significant chunk of games because of his wife’s battle with Cancer. Among goalies who played at least 25 games, Anderson finished with the league’s third-highest save percentage (.926) and the 10th-best goals-against average (2.28 GAA). Although these are the best ratios he has had over his past four seasons, Anderson deserves to be drafted higher than he is in many leagues.
Scott Darling, G, CAR (ADP – Yahoo: 120, ESPN: 175, Fantrax: 108)
You’ll need to grab Anderson or Darling before the skaters listed below. But if you missed out on Anderson, you might be able to secure another goalie who could easily outperform his draft-day value. As the backup in Chicago last season, Darling performed better than many starters by posting the league’s sixth-highest save percentage (.924) and the 11th-best goals-against average (2.38 GAA). Don’t underestimate Carolina either: This is a team on the rise with a strong young defence, so Darling could lead a push toward a playoff spot.
Nick Leddy, D, NYI (ADP – Yahoo: 162, ESPN: 143, Fantrax: 133)
Leddy was a top-15 point-getter among defencemen last season and has reached 40 points the past two seasons. So why is he being grouped with much lower-scoring defencemen? Leddy doesn’t have outstanding peripheral stats, but he led Islanders blueliners with over three power-play minutes per game. Be patient with Leddy if you draft him, though, as he’s traditionally more of a second-half player — over the past two seasons, he’s scored at a 55-point pace in the second half.
Ivan Provorov, D, PHI (ADP – Yahoo: 167, ESPN: 192, Fantrax: 141)
Provorov is being ranked among defencemen with similar floors, but much lower ceilings. The Brayden Schenn trade could create a spot for Provorov on the first-unit power play, which would further increase his value. But if not, he could be given the opportunity anyway should Shayne Gostisbehere slump. With additional power-play time, the seventh overall pick in the 2015 draft could reach 40 points as early as this season. All but five of Provorov’s 30 points in his rookie season were even strength, so there is definitely room to grow. At the very least, he will be a solid keeper going forward.
Brandon Montour, D, ANA (ADP – Yahoo: N/A, ESPN: 230, Fantrax: 215)
Want to get a head start on your opponents? Both Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm are expected to miss the first month of the season, creating space on both the Ducks’ blue line and power play. That opportunity makes Montour worth a late-round selection in many leagues. Over his two seasons in the AHL, Montour has scored at a near point-per-game pace. Should he take advantage of the opportunity he could cement a permanent spot on the Ducks’ power play and become a regular in fantasy leagues.
Vadim Shipachyov, C, VGK (ADP – Yahoo: 167, ESPN: 162, Fantrax: 152)
Someone has to score points in Vegas. That somebody could be Shipachyov, who scored over a point-per-game in his last three KHL seasons. He stood out last season with 76 points in just 50 games, finishing just two points behind Ilya Kovalchuk in team scoring despite playing 10 fewer games. Shipachyov is already 30 years old and was never drafted in the NHL, so we’re talking about a player with a shorter keeper span and virtually no pedigree. But given Artemi Panarin’s success transitioning from the KHL to NHL, Shipachyov is an intriguing pick.
Evgenii Dadonov, RW, FLA (ADP – Yahoo: 169, ESPN: 177, Fantrax: 166)
This could be the season that not one, but two former St. Petersburg SKA forwards emerge as serious NHL scoring threats. Shipachyov’s KHL teammate finished fourth in team scoring with 66 points in just 53 games. Since the Panthers don’t have a ton of depth on the right side, Dadonov could even find himself on their top line alongside Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau. If so, he could push for 50 points.
Elias Lindholm, C/RW, CAR (ADP – Yahoo: 175, ESPN: 230, Fantrax: 199)
At the rate Lindholm is improving, he could reach 50 points for the first time in his career. Yet he is somehow ranked among players who are projected to reach significantly lower totals than that. If you’re looking for another reason to draft Lindholm, he scored 36 points in his last 45 games, which put him on pace for over 60 points. The Hurricanes are assembling some young underrated scoring options, all of whom seem to be a good fit with the playmaking Lindholm. Throw in first-unit power-play time and there’s a lot to like here.
Brock Boeser, RW, VAN (ADP – Yahoo: 158, ESPN: 230, Fantrax: 242)
As of the time of writing, Boeser is not a lock to make the Canucks because of the number of veteran forwards on their roster. But on merit alone, Boeser should not only make the team but also push for top-line duty. He has followed up a late-season stint of four goals in his first nine NHL games with an impressive pre-season that shows he belongs in the NHL right now. Should you take a chance on the young Canucks’ sharpshooter, he could pay dividends for your fantasy roster as one of the NHL’s top rookies.
Clayton Keller, C/LW, ARI (ADP – Yahoo: 168, ESPN: 192, Fantrax: 182)
Speaking of rookies, Keller is another name to remember for the Calder race. His style of play reminds many of Patrick Kane, which should be a good sign for those who own him in the fantasy game. For a guy with that kind of talent, it’s nice to know that you won’t need to use an early pick on him. With 45 points (including 21 goals) in just 31 games with Boston University, Keller proved that he is NHL-ready. And given the Coyotes’ lack of proven scoring depth, he should be given more opportunity than the average rookie.