Top 10 Surprise Players Under 30

Tom Collins

2022-05-16

Someone once said that “Sometimes what you’re looking for comes when you’re not looking at all.” For fantasy hockey, that expression would probably more like “Sometimes what you’re looking for comes from where you’re not looking at all.”

This basically means that you can always find gems at the draft, through trades and on the waiver wire. Each NHL season gives us plenty of surprise players, but with goal scoring up this season, it seems as if there are more than ever before. 

But first, I would like to apologize in advance for this column. There are a lot of excellent names that were left off this list. I already broke the top-surprising players into those over the age of 30 (last week) and those under 30 (this week). I could have made a top-30 list, and I still would have missed some. 

I mean, J.T. Miller posted 99 points, smashing his previous career high by 27 points, and he’s not here. Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk both hit 100-plus points, while linemate Elias Lindholm had 82 points in 82 games, and none of them cracked the top 10. Kirill Kaprizov and Jonathan Huberdeau had monster seasons, but it wasn’t enough. Underrated player Damon Severson took over the Devils’ power play and finished with 46 points, but nope, he’s not here either. 

This was one of those lists where if you gave me two more days, I’d probably have a different top 10. A week from now, maybe another completely different list of 10 players. That’s just how many great seasons there nobody saw coming. You could convince yourself that one player deserves it over another, and then change your mind depending on the next tweet you read. 

This was without a doubt, one of the toughest lists I’ve ever had to rank. 

10. Shayne Gostisbehere

Almost every fantasy GM had given up on Gostisbehere, even though last year he had a 40-point pace. Going to Arizona didn’t seem like it would help him rebound, as the squad was expected to have trouble scoring, have a putrid power play and Jakub Chychrun would be the main defenseman on the top power-play unit. Although Arizona was the lowest-scoring team in the league and had the third-worst power-play, Gostisbehere did start the season on the top unit. He played all 82 games and finished with 51 points and 19 power-play points. He also finished with a career high in hits and tied a career high in blocked shots. 

9. Devon Toews

I’ve talked about this a lot over the years, but when you are looking for potential surprise players before the season begins, you are looking for a player that is getting plenty of opportunities. And that’s exactly what happened once Toews was dealt from the Islanders to the Avalanche for two second-round picks. His overall numbers may not seem as high as others, but he missed 16 games due