Top 10 Surprises of 2019-20
One of the keys to winning your fantasy championship is being able to find those guys who will have great seasons that seeming come out of nowhere. After all, these are players that you could have drafted late or picked up off the waiver wire at some point, and many of them performed better than third- and fourth-round draft picks.
For this list, we're looking at surprise players who had sustained success. Tristen Jarry had a good run for a while, but not enough that it would have impacted your season too much. We're also excluding rookies, as we didn't have a baseline for potential success.
Something to consider is that with teams having at least 10 games remaining when the league was suspended, we also have to look at the players' points pace to get a better sense of how well some of these guys were playing.
One of the things I like to do is gather projections from a bunch of web sites, experts and fantasy guides in the offseason to see if there are any outliers. It's also helpful at the end of the season to look back to see if there were anyone that everyone missed out on.
10. Jakub Vrana
Despite playing in 13 fewer games this year than a year ago, Vrana still notched one extra goal and five extra points. In total, he had 25 goals and 52 points in 69 games (a 30-goal, 62-point pace). He also had 187 shots and 12 power-play points, both career highs. His shot total was helpful in weekly leagues, as he had at least five shots in a game on nine occasions, and had games of eight, nine and 10 shots. He was fairly consistent most of the season, only hitting a cold spell down the stretch when he had one point in six games.
9. David Perron
Looking on the surface, it doesn't feel like Perron's 60 points (and 69-point pace) should have been a surprise. Last year, he had 46 points, but scored at a 66-point pace as he only played 57 games. The season before, he had 66 points, but this time was a 77-point pace as he only played 70 games. So, this year's 60 points and 69-point pace doesn't look that out of place. However, most projected he would get 45 to 55 points because of those health issues. Instead, he played every game, which was another great surprise.
This is a tricky one to include, as he hasn't played a game since the middle of January, but we can't overlook how surprising he was in the first half of the season. Most people projected Hamilton to finish with a little more than 40 points. It looked like he was going to blow that out of the water as he hit the 40-point mark on Jan. 10 and was a Norris-trophy candidate for the first half of the season. He was on a 70-point pace when he was lost for the season to injury. Part of the reason was that he was a team's top power-play option, a rare occurrence for Hamilton, and one of the main reasons no one had him pegged for a breakout season.
Each year, numerous players reach 70 points for the first time, but suspending the season this year took many players out of the running. One was Konecny, who had 61 points in 66 games, a 76-point pace. Most had him projected in the low 50s. It helped that he played with either Sean Couturier or Claude Giroux for most of the season, and that he was on the top power-play unit. Expect another big surprise season from him next season.
At the start of the season, it appeared as if DeAngelo was going to struggle for power-play time. Many assumed newly acquired Jacob Trouba would get the first shot at the power play, and there was also rookie Adam Fox to deal with. It took about 10 games until he took over the power play, but then he really shone, finishing with 53 points in 68 games (a 64-point pace) to go along with 19 power-play points.
5. Ryan Strome
It's funny how things work. Last year, Strome's brother, Dylan, was one of the biggest surprises of 2018-19, and this year, he was one of the most disappointing young players of 2019-20. Now Ryan Strome is a top surprise of 2019-20 (with 59 points in 70 games, a 69-point pace), so it will be interesting to see what happens next season. This year, Strome benefitted from playing on the top line Artemi Panarin and being on the top power-play.
4. Neal Pionk
At the start of the season, Pionk was relegated to the second power-play unit, but he still got off to a great start with eight points in 12 games. Near the end of November, he was bumped to the top unit, and things really took off after that. He finished with 34 points (21 on the power play) in 47 games once he took over the power play. Overall, he had 45 points in 71 games (a 52-point pace) and should be a fixture on that top power-play unit for years.
The fact that Zibanejad had 75 points isn't the surprise. After all, he had 74 last year. It's that he had 75 points in 57 games that is shocking. That's a 108-point pace over 82 games. His 41 goals were fifth-highest in the league, only seven behind the league leaders. His 0.72 goals per game was the highest among all players. His 27 power-play points were a career high. He had a great shot of finishing with 50 goals and 90 points if the season wasn't suspended.
2. J.T. Miller
How surprising was Miller's season? In his guide last season, Dobber projected Miller to finish with 61 points. No one else (out of 12 other projections) had Miller finishing with more than 54. Miller wound up with 72 points in 69 games (an 86-point pace) as he fit in perfectly on the top line with Elias Pettersson. Throw in a career high in shots (165) and power-play points (25) to go along with 123 hits, and Miller provided insane value.
1. Bryan Rust
The easy choice for number one, as no player took advantage of an opportunity better than Rust. Remember, he missed most of October and didn't play his first game until Oct. 26. In his first 10 games, he got little power-play time and averaged 16:05. However, thanks to seven goals and 11 points, was given the chance to move into the top-six with top power-play time once the stars were going down with injury. But the time the season was suspended, Rust had 27 goals and 56 points in 55 games, to go along with 151 shots, eight power-play goals and 17 power-play points.
No data at this moment.