As a hockey fan who loves fantasy sports this is one of the best times of the year, the preseason is about to start, and it's time to do your hours of research for your fantasy drafts. My favorite night of the year is draft night, the comradery, planning and feeling that you are a general manager for a night is addicting to say the least. Everyone knows that fantasy hockey isn't won with your Ovechkins, Crosbys, and Kanes but won on your late picks and your sleepers who will be the ones to get a couple of points when you are in a tight matchup. Luckily for you, that's why I am here to tell you five sleepers you NEED to fight for in your draft.
5. Andrei Vasilevskiy (G) - Tampa Bay Lightning
NHL Draft Ranking: 154
Andrei Vasilevskiy is coming off an impressive Stanley Cup Playoff campaign that saw him with a .920 Save Percentage which made Lightning GM Steve Yzerman give him a new contract. Even though it isn't certain he will start this year, he will play at least play 35 games and maybe more if they decide to trade Ben Bishop (Last year of contact), or he gets injured again. He is a perfect second or third goalie due to his stellar save percentage and top defensive core in front of him.
4. Derick Brassard (C) - Ottawa Senators
NHL Draft Ranking: 125
Derick Brassard is a gem of a hockey player; he will get you goals, assists, power play minutes, +/- and everything in between. These qualities are what made him one of the most lovable athletes in the tri-state area with the Rangers. Brassard will most likely be playing with Bobby Ryan and Mike Hoffman which means he will be getting some crazy fantasy points this year and is someone you should do everything in your power to get.
3. Frank Vatrano (C/LW) - Boston Bruins
NHL Draft Ranking: Undrafted
Even though Frank Vatrano has been ruled out for the next three months (Foot) he would still be an amazing pick up for your fantasy season. This is the first player on the list you probably won't have too much competition getting, but you should still go hard to get him. Vatrano last season scored 36 goals in 36 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL) and when called up he tallied 11 points (8 goals and three assists) in 39 games with the Bruins. These stats might not jump off the page, but he has shown in the College (UMass-Amherst), AHL and now the NHL he has an eye for goal and could become a top-six forward for the Bruins this season.
2. Nikolaj Ehlers (RW/LW) - Winnipeg Jets
NHL Draft Rating: Undrafted
Nikolaj Ehlers is coming off a great season for the Jets where he had 38 points (15 Goals and 23 Assists) in 72 games. The speedy ninth overall pick in 2014 is tipped to be a first liner this season with Mark Scheifele and their top goal scorer, Blake Wheeler. With his blazing speed and skill to create chances, I can see him doubling his assist numbers this season and is another player that you CAN'T afford to go undrafted.
1.Rasmus Ristolainen (D) - Buffalo Sabres
NHL Draft Rankings: Unclear (Average Round: 9)
With nine goals and 32 assists Ristolainen had a quiet but great year for a below par Buffalo team. Many people are picking Seth Jones to be the marquee defensemen sleeper pick, but I think this guy is going to be a top 15 fantasy defenseman this year. With Eichel, Kane, Okposo and O'Reilly on his team, he has no shortage of top forwards to pass to this season. He might not get you that many penalty minutes like most top defensemen will but he will sure make up for that with many assists and improving into a double-digit scoring season. The only negative is his +/-, he had a terrible -21 due to their weak goaltender, but his pros certainly outweigh his cons.
I hope this helps anyone else who wants to jump into the world of fantasy hockey. Also, I have a big announcement: My Premier League Draft Kings Player Spotlight is coming to the NHL! Five times a week we will have Player Spotlights, so you know who to pick for daily fantasy! Thank you all for support to help grow this blog. Hopefully, it is just the beginning of something special.
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