Fantasy hockey experts share their favourite player to target in drafts

It’s the season of fantasy hockey drafts with the season closing in fast. So far the writers at DobberHockey have given you 10 players to target in the late rounds, four stats to focus on when drafting your team, 10 players to beware of in your draft, and how to execute the perfect draft.

Today, the experts share their “my guy” — a player outside of the first round who they are targeting in as many drafts as they can.

Cam Atkinson, RW, Columbus Blue Jackets
Where I Am Drafting Him: In the Top 70

I’ve been an Atkinson fan ever since he was a prospect. His development and progression each season has been by the book – everything I anticipated. And he still has another gear. In the pre-season he’s lining up with the best offensive player on the team (Artemi Panarin), as well as the top setup man (Alexander Wennberg). If that combo sticks that ‘other gear’ will become two or three gears (jet fuel?). Atkinson is a shots-generating machine and has a steadily improving year-over-year shooting percentage, to boot. His points-per-game average has yet to go down from one season to the next and it won’t start happening this year, either. -Darryl Dobbs

Brayden Schenn, C/LW, St. Louis Blues
Where I Am Drafting Him: Round 7 (around pick 75)

The trade that sent Schenn to the Blues should help his fantasy value, but there was a lot to like even before the deal. Multi-category leaguers should be all over Schenn in fantasy drafts, particularly those leagues that count power-play points and hits. Schenn led the NHL with 17 power-play goals last season, while just over half of his 55 points were with the man advantage. Remember that NHL referees are calling more penalties this pre-season, which could result in more power plays early into the season. If your league counts hits, you’ll want to know Schenn finished second on the Flyers last season with 189 of them. If he happens to play on the same line as Vladimir Tarasenko, Schenn could even push for 70 points in 2017-18. -Ian Gooding

Scott Darling, G, Carolina Hurricanes
Where I Am Drafting Him: Round 9

All the Hurricanes need from their goalie is competence and they’ll have the makings of a playoff team. Over the past three seasons, they rank second-best in shot suppression, but second-worst in save percentage, coming in at a lowly .902. Cam Ward and Eddie Lack have set the bar so low that Darling cannot help but clear it. Darling’s career .923 save percentage ranks sixth in the league over the past three seasons. While he doesn’t have a long track record, we have to take what information we have and project forward.

Everything we do have indicates Darling is a top-of-the-line talent. We always ask these questions about backups moving into a starting role, but they succeed more often than not; Cam Talbot is the latest example. Darling’s talent and situation makes for top-five fantasy goalie upside and you can get him as the 15th goalie off the board or later. -Steve Laidlaw

Matthew Tkachuk, LW, Calgary Flames
Where I Am Drafting Him: Among the top left wingers

Yeah, he’s just 19, but he’s skilled, tough, elusive and has all the confidence and swagger of a pitbull. And on top of all that, 6-foot-2 Tkachuk will be entering the new season a few pounds lighter and quicker. A mainstay on the Flames’ 3-M line, alongside Mikael Backlund and Michael Frolik, the last thing Keith’s son looked like last year was a baby-faced rookie. Far from it, in fact, as his 48 points and 105 PIM serve as clear evidence.

While some observers always caution about the sophomore jinx, Tkachuk’s natural leadership abilities and in-your-face gumption will embrace the challenge. Don’t hesitate to draft him around the top dozen left wingers in a points-only league, and easily as a top-five LW in multi-cat setups. He should add about 20 points to last year’s totals. -Mario Prata

Alex Pietrangelo, D, St. Louis Blues
Where I Am Drafting Him: Top-10 defenceman

Many poolies are convinced Colton Parayko will cut into Pietrangelo’s production, but looking beneath the surface suggests the opposite is likely true. Following the departure of Kevin Shattenkirk, Pietrangelo posted 18 points (eight on the PP) in his final 20 regular games, versus only seven (one on the PP) for Parayko. Pietrangelo also received the full ‘Ryan Suter treatment’ of being heavily leaned on by new Blues coach Mike Yeo, getting more than 27 minutes in nine of those 20 games, which matched his total number of 27-plus minute games from his first 59 contests. Chances are Pietrangelo will be draftable in the 45-point defencemen range in most leagues, but should give you 55-plus points when all is said and done in 2017-18. -Rick Roos

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