This week's Capped takes a look around training camps for some early season surprises.
The 2016-17 NHL season is now underway, and that means we finally have real hockey games to watch and talk about. It also means we have some clarity with the shape of rosters. Every year there are lots of rookies (or other young players) that surprise us fantasy owners, and the fastest to jump on them can be the managers that ride them to a podium finish. Some of these players are mid-season call-ups, but the most valuable are those that make the teams out of training camp. This is especially valuable in Salary Cap leagues where the cheap production is gold. I really enjoyed Chris Pudsey’s take on this last season, so I hope that I can do it justice with this second take of it.
The point is not to rattle on about players such as Austin Matthews, Dylan Strome and Ivan Provorov that were expected to make their respective teams (and did) and then put up numbers. The purpose is to dig a little deeper, and find those bargains that everyone is always gunning for. So lets toss some things at the wall and see who sticks.
Zach Hyman (C) – Toronto Maple Leafs
Current year salary – $900,000
Zach Hyman has earned some high praise from coach Mike Babcock due to his high work ethic and effort level out of the ice. After a cup of tea with the big club last season, Hyman’s showing in training camp has put him on one of the top two offensive lines* for much of the pre-season. He will be starting the season there, and if he manages to keep a spot in the top six, he could put up some bigger numbers than expected (just beware the plus/minus). Listed as a centre, he should get left-winger eligibility soon.
*I say top two line because of the offensive potential of playing with Auston Matthews and William Nylander. Currently it is listed as Toronto’s third line.
Danton Heinen (C) & Austin Czarnik (C) – Boston Bruins
Current year salary – $872,500 & $817,500 respectively
Danton Heinen was drafted in the fourth round in 2014, and hugely impressed as a freshman at the University of Denver last season. He has continued his impressive play of late, working his way into serious discussion for a top nine spot in Boston. Like Hyman above, Heinen has been playing mainly on the wing. However, while Heinen played on the fourth line in Boston’s last preseason game, Austin Czarnik was centering the third line. Czarnik, the undrafted free agent that Boston signed out of Miami University, has maybe impressed even more. Working on his defensive zone game, he has still managed to score two goals during the preseason. However, as Dobber mentioned in the ramblings a few days past, due to Czarnik getting his bell rung we could see Heinen step into the top 9 role ahead of him. Should that be the case, look for Czarnik to be the call up when injuries strike during the season. With the news Wednesday morning of Patrice Bergeron being day-to-day with a lower body injury, then we may actually see both get top nine time.
Zachary Sanford (C) – Washington Capitals
Current year salary –