NHL Fantasy pools can be won by selecting players that outperform their draft ranking. Find the hidden gems by first reading Blue Steam Hockey’s NHL Fantasy Sleepers for the 2017/2018 season.
Sleeper: A player who will far surpass his average draft position (ADP). (Definition: ESPN.com.)
In addition, to put more context into why we chose the following players, below are the listed fantasy categories that we were operating under.
Player Fantasy Categories: Goals, Assists, PIMs, Plus/Minus, PPP, Shots
Goalie Fantasy Categories: Wins, GAA, SV%, Shutouts
NHL Fantasy Sleepers
Spencer’s NHL Sleepers
Ivan Provorov (D) – Philadelphia Flyers
The 20-year-old defenseman quietly played all 82 games last year, recording 30 points. With all eyes on fellow Flyers d-man Shayne Gostisbehere, the Russian has become Philadelphia’s D1, scored some PP time, and will start the year on the team’s top-pairing with Andrew MacDonald. Provorov is going to be a rock on the team’s back end this year, especially against other offensive-minded Metropolitan teams.
Vadim Shipachyov (C) – Vegas Golden Knights
Vegas is a rag tag team of unwanted players (harsh but true), but a bright spot could be Shipachyov. The 30-year-old recorded more than 1.0 PPG in the KHL’s St. Petersburg SKA for the past three seasons, including a career best 76 points (36G 50A) in 50 games in 2016-17. Time will tell how his game translates to the smaller ice but I’m sure Russian teammates Pavel Datsyuk and Ilya Kovalchuk gave him a few pointers. If the opportunity arises, I’m rolling the dice on the centreman.
Andrew’s NHL Sleepers
Vadim Shipachyov (C)– Vegas Golden Knights
Shipachyov is just about as unknown as an NHL player can be. The 30 year old has no NHL experience and is joining a brand new expansion team. While he has no history in the NHL, Shipachyov has put up very strong results in his 9-year KHL career, peaking last year with him scoring 26-50-76 in 50 games. He has averaged over a point per game in the world’s 2nd strongest hockey leage for the last 3 years. Right now, he can be had near the end of the draft in both Yahoo and ESPN – if you’re looking for a late round flyer, here’s your guy.
Jesse Puljujärvi (RW) – Edmonton Oilers
After seeing the tremendous seasons from Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine last season, it’s understandable that Oilers fans might have been disappointed that Puljujärvi didn’t stick in the NHL. The 19 year old only managed 8 points in 28 games, and spent most of his season in the AHL. As a result, he’s slipped towards the end of most mock drafts this season. However, don’t sleep on Puljujärvi – he’s a very talented player with a big frame who should stick with the Oilers this season. While he didn’t put up many points, he also played almost exclusively in the bottom 6. Look for Puljujärvi to earn a spot higher up in the Oilers line up this year with Eberle’s departure.
Trevor’s Fantasy Sleepers
Marc-Andre Fleury (G) – Vegas Golden Knights
There was so much talk about Fleury becoming the biggest star on the Golden Knights that you might think it adds a lot of pressure to his performance. With any expansion franchise, there is not much pressure to succeed and become a threat to the league. It is afterall a building year to see what there is to work with. This is especially true for a declining goalie who is arguably on the roster not to take them to the promised land but as an experienced veteran and a jersey seller at the team shop. Fleury is in a position of simply playing hockey and enjoying his time in a brand new market. Fleury may start off the season slow and not quite in tune with the ongoing distraction of playing hockey in Las Vegas but he could very well shine as the season goes on as he realizes this is a chance of a lifetime and an opportunity to be the big shot in a thriving fanbase.
Aleksander Barkov (C) – Florida Panthers
Plagued by injuries and often hidden in the shadow’s of the other young talent on the team, Barkov can be a game changer when he is healthy. Barkov has the big body and high-level skill up the middle most teams dream of. He did not increase his production since two years ago, but he is primed to make the leap this season. He is one of the league’s most underrated power forwards and has undeniably not shown his true potential to this point in his career. Given the situation the Panthers are in this season, losing their wily veteran Jagr and practically giving away Marchessault to the Golden Knights, Barkov is destined to climb into the spotlight and be the true number one centreman he needs to be.
Nick’s Fantasy Sleepers
Patrick Marleau (LW) – Toronto Maple Leafs
As Mike Babcock said “He’s not going to score like he’s 32, but he’s getting 20”. I’d say that 20 goals is pretty much a gimme, especially if he gets sometime with Auston Matthews as his center or with Mitch Marner on the other side of the ice. The 37 year old (I guess 38 as of today) is not what he used to be, but he can still get up and down the ice, and he knows how to put the puck in the net (27 goals in 2016/2017). Assuming with he gets some ice time with the Leafs young studs, 30 goals is not out of the question.
Noah Hanifin (D) – Carolina Hurricanes
The young d-man had a solid first year in the NHL. His skating ability is attractive to any hockey fan and he’s playing on an up-and-coming d-core in Carolina. He had 29 points last year including 11 PPP. Assuming both he and Carolina take a step forward, expect to see some solid production on 5V5 and on the powerplay
Brendan’s Fantasy Sleepers
Ivan Provorov (D) – Philadelphia Flyers
Out of all the players whose ADP stands out as an opportunity for a value pick, Provorov is a clear choice for an offensive defenseman that can be found in the late rounds on draft day. After watching a few Flyers games last year, I honestly believe that Provorov’s play is far more impressive than what Shayne Ghostbierre brings to the table. His steady play at 5v5, paired with his capability on the man advantage, should ensure Provorov is a name you remember on draft day. Don’t rely on him for D1 type production, but if you can steal him in a later round, take a shot. Expect Provorov to go later than his expected ADP.
Morgan Rielly (D) – Toronto Maple Leafs
Morgan Rielly has been a solid piece for the Maple Leafs’ blue line since he was drafted in 2012. While extremely gifted offensively, Rielly has yet to hit his stride in terms of point production. Last season, from a fantasy standpoint, was a miss for Rielly, posting only 6 goals and 21 assists over 76 games. His play isn’t exactly disappointing, but not something that jumps off the page come draft day. However, one can expect his shooting percentage of 3.4% (!!!) to improve in 2017-2018. Furthermore, a young Leafs core looks primed to take another step forward this season, which could trickle down and help Morgan put up some higher point totals. 15 goals seems totally reasonable to me.
It all comes down to usage, Rielly will need more opportunities on the PP if he is going to provide fantasy value. Look to snag him in the last round of your draft if you are willing to take some risk.