With the NHL season almost halfway through, ESPN Fantasy owners may not see the results they expected from late round draft picks. What owners don’t understand is the low owned percentage players and what their value can be. What tends to happen is the highly anticipated NHLers either keep the pace of play up, or fall off the charts. These small percentage players are able to string multiple points together without failing expectations. So my advice to fantasy owners is to look for some deep sleepers–those underrated players that prove to be valuable pickups.
The Fantasy game isn’t all about just drafting and performing, with consistency and research comes success. Players that have no value are usually placed on a third or fourth line with no chance of power play or penalty kill time. These aspects are huge because of the bonus points you are able to obtain. My league gives owners 2 bonus point for every power play goal and one extra point for an assist along with goal and assist base points. Those bonus points can be a game changer when the you are down a few points away from taking the league.
Looking for deep sleepers can be hard depending on how deep your pool is and the results you want to see. These are 5 candidates for deep sleepers who will see progression overtime.
Alex Chiasson – Right Wing – Edmonton Oilers – 1.8% owned
Alex Chiasson started off with a hot campaign, recording a series of goals and assists. The Montreal native has 17 points (13 goals and 4 assists) with half of his points gained from the third line before he made his way up to the first. He has recently moved to top scoring lines with superstars like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl and has kept racking up points. Being put on the first line for both power play and five-on-five has been a confidence booster for the grizzled veteran. Left-wingers such as Chiasson won’t stay under the radar for much longer after being high profiled around the NHL. The all-around forward is ranked as a number-one pick up, so be sure to snag him as fast as possible.
Nikolay Goldobin – Left Wing – Vancouver Canucks – 0.3% owned
You wouldn’t normally pick up a player from the Vancouver Canucks because of their typical hero to zero season. Right now, the Canucks have faith, and by faith I mean the young stars of the team. Nikolay Goldobin plays on a line with assistant captain of the Canucks, Bo Horvat, and young stud Jake Virtanen. The 23-year-old’s role is to set up the two dead eye shooters and rack up assists while having the green light to find the back of the net. Having 19 points (5 goals and 14 assist) looks like easy work for the Russian native. The play maker isn’t just labelled as a five-on-five rising star, but a rotational player between the first and second line power play, guaranteeing fantasy owners power play time. The Vancouver Canucks’ success depend on the development of the young talent so expect Travis Green to lean more onto the energetic rookies like Goldobin.
Andrew Shaw – Right Wing – Montreal Canadiens – 3.2% owned
Andrew Shaw has been a surprising player, coming into the league as a goon. During his time with Chicago Blackhawks, his role was to protect star players such as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. With the recent move to the rebuilding Montreal Canadiens, he figured the goon role was ineffective. Shaw now has 19 points (9 goals and 10 assists) while playing on the first line with the highly-anticipated Jonathan Drouin and the silky Max Domi. Being on the second power play means a lot to the team and the line, given his extensive experience. Shaw centers the man advantage and shows why he should by controlling the puck with ease. Considering the experience he has in the league with two Stanley Cups won alongside the Chicago Blackhawks, he brings leadership to a team that was once a dynasty. Have Shaw on your watch list as he continues to be a contending forward.
Miro Heiskanen – Right Defenceman – Dallas Stars – 10.8% owned
The success of the Dallas Stars depends on only their first lines. Miro Heiskanen has clearly shown that he contributes to that success. Having no experience in the league, Heiskanen has already displayed talent to turn coaches, scouts, and analysts heads with 17 points (7 goals and 10 assists). When the Stars number one defenceman Jonathan Klingberg underwent hand surgery, they turned to Heiskanen who hasn’t let them down. The 19-year-old is placed on the number one line in five on five and rotates between first and second line power play. When Klingberg comes back after his five week recovery, don’t drop the skillful rookie as he will only benefit playing with Klinkberg, making them an “all star pairing.”
Erik Gustafsson – Left Defenceman – Chicago Blackhawks – 0.3% owned
Bringing in a new coach to the Chicago Blackhawks has been a wake up call for the power team. Although the changes haven’t been bad at all. Erik Gustafsson has been a solid defenceman both defensively and offensively recording 13 points (5 goals and 8 assists). The early success has been built upon the power play and the fourth round draft pick has slotted in nicely. He quarterbacks the power play along with big names like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Gustafsson finds most of it on five-on-five being rewarded with the second defenceman pairing with Jan Ruuta. At times, the newly appointed coach scrambles lines making all the players go up or down a line for chemistry purposes. The Hawks have brought in many new players but Gustafsson is one they will invest time with and continue to further develop to fill in a massive role after Duncan Keith retires.
With all these players comes a certain amount risk to your team. Many of these players have came up from the AHL (farm league of the NHL) or other leagues. However, they’ve been trusted by their teams and now have secured a first or second line five-on-five with lots of ice time. Most importantly, all these players have experience on their teams’ power plays and penalty kills giving them the upper advantage over regular NHL players. It is time to pick some players up and solidify your team for victory because these players are the NHL’s future.