Fantasy hockey top 10 deep sleeper picks

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NOTES: Players who are potential deep sleepers have sneaky upside in the late rounds of a larger fantasy league and could go undrafted in the standard, 12-team format. These deep sleeper picks are a collaborative effort by Pete Jensen and Rob Reese.

 

1. Pavel Francouz, G, COL
NHL.com fantasy rank: 204

The Colorado Avalanche goalie missed last season with a lower-body injury that required surgery but is expected to be the backup to elite option Darcy Kuemper (acquired from Arizona Coyotes on July 28) this season. Francouz was among the more valuable timeshare goalies in 2019-20, going 21-7-4 with a .923 SV% and one shutout in 34 games while sharing starts with Philipp Grubauer (signed with Seattle Kraken on July 28). Given Kuemper’s recent injury history, Francouz could feasibly be Colorado’s starter for stretches of the season and, at worst, be fantasy relevant as the 1B or backup for one of the strongest teams in the NHL.

 

2. Yegor Sharangovich, LW/RW, NJD
NHL.com fantasy rank: 207

The New Jersey Devils wing finished third among rookies in even-strength points (27) behind Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars (39) and Kirill Kaprizov of the Minnesota Wild (38) last season and fourth in points (30 in 54 games) and shots on goal (114; 2.1 per game). Sharangovich is expected to play in the top six with a valuable center in either full-fledged breakout candidate Jack Hughes or bounce-back hopeful Nico Hischier and should also benefit from the signing of elite defenseman Dougie Hamilton.

 

3. Max Comtois, LW/RW, ANA
NHL.com fantasy rank: 209

He scored 33 points (16 goals, 17 assists) in 55 games for the Anaheim Ducks last season and skated briefly on the first line with top prospect Trevor Zegras and wing Troy Terry. Comtois should get a shot on the first power play, bringing potential exposure to Zegras, forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Rickard Rakell and touted rookie defenseman Jamie Drysdale. Comtois also covers hits (93 in 55 games last season) for the Ducks, a possible sleeper team in the Pacific Division.

 

4. Jaroslav Halak, G, VAN 
NHL.com fantasy rank: 224

The veteran goalie was 9-6-4 with a .905 save percentage and two shutouts in 19 games with the Boston Bruins last season. Halak, who signed a one-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks on July 28, is expected to be the backup to young starter Thatcher Demko. That said, Halak returned plenty of fantasy value behind Tuukka Rask over his three seasons with Boston (49-23-14, .918 SV%, 10 shutouts) and could benefit from an improved Vancouver skater group.

 

5. Jack Roslovic, C/RW, CBJ
NHL.com fantasy rank: 226

He scored 34 points (12 goals, 22 assists) in 48 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets after being acquired from the Winnipeg Jets last season. Roslovic benefited from top-line and first power-play usage with Columbus and should have similar placement this season under new coach Brad Larsen. Roslovic could have an even higher gear skating with bounce-back candidate Patrik Laine and likely another valuable wing in either Oliver Bjorkstrand or Jakub Voracek (acquired from Philadelphia Flyers on July 24). It’s also worth noting deep sleeper defensemen Adam Boqvist and Jake Bean can help Columbus offset the departure of Seth Jones (traded to Chicago Blackhawks on July 23).

 

6. Jared McCann, C/LW, SEA
NHL.com fantasy rank: 229

McCann was selected by the Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft and could start the season as their No. 1 center because forward Yanni Gourde (selected from Tampa Bay Lightning) is expected to be out after shoulder surgery. McCann had the highest points-per-game average of his NHL career (0.74; 32 points in 43 games) last season with the Penguins and scored a career-high 10 power-play points. Even when Gourde returns, McCann could center the second line, a spot where he was productive last season for Pittsburgh; he scored 18 points (nine on power play) during a 22-game stretch when Evgeni Malkin was out with an injury.

 

7. Erik Cernak, D, TBL
NHL.com fantasy rank: 238

The Lightning defenseman, outside of his strong plus/minus (plus-44 in 171 NHL games), has not provided much fantasy value over his first three regular seasons. But Cernak was Tampa Bay’s second best fantasy defenseman during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs behind elite option Victor Hedman, scoring 10 points (one goal, nine assists) with a plus-12 in 21 games to help the Lightning win their second straight Stanley Cup title. Cernak is a safe pick anytime outside the top 200 overall at a scarce position in deep leagues.

 

8. Charlie Coyle, C/RW, BOS
NHL.com fantasy rank: 250

The Bruins center is expected to skate on the second line with wings Taylor Hall and Craig Smith after veteran David Krejci left them to continue his hockey career in his native Czech Republic. This line promotion gives Coyle the potential to match his previous NHL career high in points (56 in 82 games with Minnesota Wild in 2016-17) and expand on his postseason success on the third line over the past three seasons (24 points in 48 playoff games with Boston).

 

9. Owen Tippett, RW, FLA
NHL.com fantasy rank: N/R

The Florida Panthers wing scored 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists) in 45 regular-season games as a rookie before making a huge impact in the postseason with four points (one goal, three assists) and 14 SOG in six games against the eventual champion Lightning. Tippett could be a big fantasy steal if he lands a spot in Florida’s potent top-nine forward group, which features top 100 overall fantasy players in Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Sam Bennett, Sam Reinhart and Patric Hornqvist, as well as other potential late-round steals in Carter Verhaeghe, Anthony Duclair and Frank Vatrano.

 

10. Rasmus Andersson, D, CGY
NHL.com fantasy rank: N/R

The Calgary Flames defenseman scored 21 points (five goals, 16 assists) in 56 games, the best points-per-game average (0.38) of his NHL career. He has gained fantasy appeal from defenseman Mark Giordano being selected by the Kraken in the NHL Expansion Draft. Andersson should see an increase in average ice time at even strength and more usage on the first power-play unit, bringing exposure to valuable fantasy forwards Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan.

Other fantasy deep sleeper candidates: Brandon Saad, LW/RW, STL (NHL.com fantasy rank: 213); Mike Hoffman, LW/RW, MTL (219); Adam Boqvist (232) and Jake Bean (N/A), D, CBJ; Blake Coleman, LW/RW, CGY (233); Alexander Barabanov, RW, SJS (246)

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