Top 10 Preseason Surprises

Tom Collins


With the NHL preseason wrapping up on Saturday night and final roster decisions still to come (depending on what time you read this), fantasy GMs have been following the preseason action to determine who might be worth rostering on their squad.

While you can expect the superstars to be ready for the start of the season, there are always surprises from training camp. Oftentimes, a player who had no business making the squad can force a team’s hand based on a strong preseason.

For players who aren’t in any danger of being sent down, a strong preseason can lead to more opportunities during the regular season. Occasionally, there can potentially be a top-six role or power-play minutes for a player where none were originally expected a month prior.

Below are 10 players who had a strong preseason showing. This list will skew toward young players and rookies. It shouldn’t be surprising news that Jack Eichel led the Golden Knights in preseason points, that William Nylander had seven points in four preseason games, or the Sens’ top-six performed well (thanks to what felt like 27 games against the Habs).

While some of these players might turn into surprises this season, there’s no guarantee their strong preseason will translate into regular season success. All too often, no matter how great a player might perform, a team might have certain dynamics that a coach will choose to go with. A player averaging 17 minutes preseason might be getting seven minutes a night along with some healthy scratches, leading to a demotion to the minors/juniors.

10. Jake Neighbours

A year ago, Neighbours had four points in five preseason games, but he was sent back to his junior club after his nine-game trial with the Blues. This year, he has six points in six preseason games, and his chances of sticking with the big club are much better. To be fair, five of his six points came in two games, one against Arizona and one against Chicago, so it’s not like he produced against top teams. However, news stories out of S. Louis are that Neighbours has impressed the Blues’ coaching staff, which is the first step to making the big club permanently.

9. Martin Necas

Two years ago, in the Covid-shortened season, Necas had 41 points in 53 games, a 63-point pace. Last year, he had 40 points in 78 games, a 42-point pace. Necas has been showing up on some off-season lists as a bounce-back candidate this year. This preseason showing could be an indicator as he finished with three goals and six points in three games, including a four-point night against Columbus.

8. Dylan Holloway

The Oilers rookie had an insan