Last week we highlighted some players many of you were savvy enough to snag in later rounds of 12-team leagues. With a feeble attempt at foreshadowing in last week’s writings, this week let’s whip out the rolodex for some deeper setting draft steals. Some of the following are young bucks that I feel are going to be great players for many seasons to come and should be on your radar for late round grabs in drafts this fall. This first player seems ready to break out in more prolific fashion in season two if he can avoid the dreaded sophomore slump.
From February 1st through the end of the regular season, only for one stretch did Jake DeBrusk go more than two games without hitting the score sheet. As the season progressed the improvement of play for the young winger was apparent resulting in more frequent offense. Locked into the top six alongside Czech pivot David Krejci both at even strength and on the second power play unit, DeBrusk is positioned well for increased point totals in 2018-19.
Should the Bruins retain Rick Nash this offseason, he’d most likely join these two again making for a potent second line. A 0.61 pts/GM and 2.6 pts/60 made DeBrusk a great value pick later in drafts. 16 goals and 27 assists made for an excellent depth forward in deep leagues where those late picks really make the difference. On top of points he added value in plus minus and averaged one hit per game played. Next season look for him to earn more ice time hopefully up into the 16- minute vicinity.
Going back to Nash, if he resigns really consider the positive implications for the young DeBrusk playing with two great veterans.
If you drafted the Avalanche third line center you can’t really gripe about what Carl Soderberg provided. 37 points, 150 SOG, 71 hits, 425 FOW, and averaging over 17 minutes per game made him a solid, consistent piece for your fantasy puzzle behind more prominent players. Routinely seeing time at even strength with Matt Nieto and Blake Comeau, Soderberg was able to rebound somewhat from a dreadful 2016-17 season. Again, his points are not astounding but this is a player who started in the offensive zone 31% of the time yet still attained a 1.7 pts/60 while posting a healthy 1015 PDO. He’ll never score 50 points again if you ask me, but he surely came at a deeply discounted price in drafts if not acquired flat out on the waiver wire. No complaints overall for a player you only take on for depth. The Avalanche and Jared Bednar will look to build on the success of their 2017-18 campaign with a good crop of young talent still to come along.
If Miles Wood ever gets more ice time he will score 25 goals in a season. Fourth in goals scored on the Devils with 19, he receives far less than all three names above him in that department. Those three just so happen to be the entire top line for the team. If you are not familiar with Wood, he’s a sizeable winger with great speed and acceleration. At only 22 years of age, he has room for improvement and the physical gifts to be a legitimate power forward in this ever-faster league. Barely seeing power play time and on a far less talented second unit, his 19 goals are impressive as are his 2.0 pts/60 averaging 12 and a half minutes per game. In all but the deepest of leagues and keeper settings was Wood drafted most likely but he provided quality goal scoring depth if you picked him up. On top of goals, he’s entering Tom Wilson-lite territory coupling 84 PIM and 75 hits with offense. He’s not at Tom Wilson’s level whatsoever but he seems to have more scoring touch. The depth of the Devils has slowly but surely improved and though Wood most likely will not see top six time, his ability to take advantage of lesser defensive assignments with his speed sets him up for continued goal scoring success. For fantasy owners in in multi-cat settings, definitely have him on your radar late in drafts this fall.
Having this last name had to be brutal growing up. Perhaps the reward for dealing with all that ridicule is playing with wunderkind Auston Matthews and sniper William Nylander. Riding shotgun with these two will inflate anyone’s point totals and such was the case for Zach Hyman with a career high 40 points (15 G, 25A). He’s an underrated multi-cat gem in that he provided 117 hits, played over 17 minutes a night and was a plus-22. Mike Babcock likes to roll consistent lines when the team is at full health, so Hyman has had plenty of time to develop chemistry with his line mates. When playing with ones of their caliber, it’s best to let them do the heavy lifting and prosper from it. The grit to their flash, Hyman has carved out a nice niche for himself on the top line. Babcock does not seem the type to fix what’s not broken so look for him to be in this cushy spot once again in 2018-19. Hyman may be on other’s radars this time around but the draft price will almost assuredly still be bargain bin territory. A quiet, consistent piece, he’d make for smart depth on your roster.
How is Marc Bergevin still the general manager. How? Though Jonathan Drouin is indeed an entertaining player, Mikhail Sergachev is the real deal. 19 years of age potting 40 points from the blue line better grab your attention everyone. He has the size, the skill, and the mind to dominant offensively. Too bad this is Victor Hedman’s blue line because I honestly think this kid can score 60 points a year in and year out eventually. Playing a little over 15 and a half minutes per night with Brayden Coburn on the third pair, his production is most impressive even if 40 percent of it came on the power play. Steve Yzerman knew what he was getting when he traded away the talented Drouin and you the fantasy manager need to hop on the train too while the draft price is still reasonable. In keeper leagues he is surely scooped up by this point but he will still be available at a respectable price in redraft leagues. Sergachev also provided 90 hits and 38 PIM making him more than just a source for points. Have his name circled in red ink when it comes time to make selections.
A large piece of the Golden Knights puzzle is rearguard Colin Miller. Coming off a grand total 29 points in two seasons with the Bruins, he really upped the ante with 41 points (10G, 31A) in his first season in Las Vegas. Increased ice time and responsibility led to great success for the 25-year old defender and he was a strong multi-cat option in fantasy as alongside his points he posted 53 PIM, 177 SOG, and 165 hits. Miller was an afterthought in drafts if picked at all in the first place but he made for a clutch waiver wire grab for owners. Miller goes down as one of my top surprise performers for the 2017-18 season alongside Sergachev. Almost no individual could have foreseen the improvement of Miller from a change of scenery but sometimes a player just needs a chance to showcase their abilities. Just ask Miller’s teammate Jonathan Marchessault. The price will skyrocket in coming drafts for his services thanks to the success of the Golden Knights so be careful not to reach for Miller. Let others make that mistake and leave players of equal talent on the board for you to potentially scoop later on. Regardless, Miller’s 2017-18 was a most excellent surprise and it will be interesting to see if this was a blip on the radar or the new norm for the rearguard.
- Ramblings: Goalie Controversies in Calgary and Pittsburgh, The NHL’s Top Line Debate, and The Tale of Shotgun Jake (Nov 11)
- Ramblings: Parise’s projection, Galchenyuk’s impact, Anderson’s workload, Hoffman’s revenge, Ehlers’ linemates and more (Nov 12)
- 20 Fantasy Hockey Thoughts
- Top 10 under-the-radar hot starts
- The Journey: Calder Trophy Race – November 2018
- Geek of the Week: Aaron Ekblad's Weak Start to Your Benefit
- Wild West: Head-to-Head Matchups, Erik Karlsson
- Fantasy Hockey Podcast: So Chabot Right Now