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Fantasy hockey top 10 sleeper picks

Players worth targeting in late rounds of standard drafts; season preview podcasts

by Fantasy Hockey Staff @NHLFantasy

NHL.com identifies the top 10 fantasy hockey sleeper candidates for the 2022-23 season. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the "NHL Fantasy on Ice" podcast.

 

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Deep sleepers | Rookies

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NOTE: Sleepers are players taken in the later rounds who can vastly outperform their average draft position. They can be young players (at least 24 years old) who have scratched the surface or more experienced players who have performed well in the NHL before but remain underrated or overlooked in fantasy for any reason(s). These picks are a collaborative effort by Pete Jensen and Anna Dua; there are separate top 10 lists for deep sleepers, rookies, breakouts, bounce-backs and draft bargains. Yahoo Fantasy average draft position (ADP) figures are listed below; players are listed in order of NHL.com fantasy rank.

Jakub Vrana, LW, DET (ADP: 166.4) -- He missed most of last season because of injury but has 30 points (21 goals, nine assists) in 37 games in two seasons with the Detroit Red Wings. Vrana was fifth in the NHL in 5-on-5 goals per 60 minutes last season (1.52; minimum 25 games) and also ranks third in the category since entering the League in 2016-17 (1.25; minimum 150 games). He could return immense fantasy value outside the top 100 overall with a chance to earn more time on the top line with valuable center Dylan Larkin (69 points in 71 games last season) or an improved second unit with offseason additions David Perron and Andrew Copp under new coach Derek Lalonde.

Tyler Toffoli, LW/RW, CGY (ADP: 164.9) -- The Calgary Flames wing could play on their top line with elite forwards Jonathan Huberdeau (115 points last season; tied for second in NHL) and Elias Lindholm (career-high 42 goals, 82 points), in addition to the first power play with high-scoring center Nazem Kadri (signed seven-year contract with them). Toffoli, who had his best points-per-game average (0.85; 44 in 52 games) with the Montreal Canadiens in 2020-21, is one of the teammates most impacted by offseason moves; he should now bring exposure to Huberdeau (led NHL with 85 assists last season) and/or Kadri and get better usage after the departure of elite wings Johnny Gaudreau (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Matthew Tkachuk (Florida Panthers).

Mikhail Sergachev, D, TBL (ADP: 137.8) -- The Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman's fantasy ceiling has been capped in the past playing behind elite option Victor Hedman, but Sergechev could get an expanded role (22:28 per game last season; 43rd in NHL) after his eight-year extension; veteran Ryan McDonagh was also traded to the Nashville Predators. Sergachev has a high fantasy floor for one of the safest fantasy teams with at least 30 points in all five of his NHL seasons (38 last season; most since having NHL career-high 40 as rookie in 2017-18) and 1.4 hits per game in his career.

Elvis Merzlikins, G, CBJ (ADP: 155.6) -- The Blue Jackets goalie had an NHL career high in wins (27; tied for 15th in League) last season and was tied for sixth in games played (59). Merzlikins was tied for fourth in the NHL in save percentage over his first two seasons combined (.920; minimum 60 games from 2019-20 to 2020-21) and is another potential beneficiary of the Gaudreau signing with a heavy workload again and Columbus likely to have a much better power play than last season (18.6 percent; 24th).

Boone Jenner, C, CBJ (ADP: 167.1) -- He missed the final 23 games last season because of a back injury but had his best points-per-game average (0.75; 44 in 59 games). He could be the Blue Jackets' No. 1 center on a line with Gaudreau (led NHL with 90 even-strength points last season) and valuable wing Patrik Laine (56 points in 56 games) and brings goal-scoring ability (23 last season; 30 in 2015-16) with strong hits coverage (2.3 per game in NHL career).

Ville Husso, G, DET (ADP: 127.4) -- He was acquired from the St. Louis Blues at the 2022 NHL Draft on July 8 and signed to a three-year contract, giving the Red Wings an improved goalie tandem with Alex Nedeljkovic. Husso, who was tied for sixth in the NHL in even-strength save percentage (.919; minimum 40 games) last season, loses some fantasy appeal considering Detroit has a young defense but should still be considered a fringe top 20 fantasy goalie and top 150 overall player.

Jaccob Slavin, D, CAR (ADP: 158.7) -- The Carolina Hurricanes defenseman is coming off an NHL career-high 42 points (four goals, 38 assists) last season and gains fantasy appeal from them acquiring Brent Burns (leads League at position with 130 goals, 489 points since 2014-15). Playing on the top pair with Burns can help Slavin extend his Stanley Cup Playoff production (0.60 points per game; 27 in 45 games) to the regular season (0.41).

Alex Tuch, RW, BUF (ADP: 164.9) -- After being acquired by the Buffalo Sabres from the Vegas Golden Knights last season, Tuch had the highest points-per-game average of his NHL career (0.76; 38 in 50 games). Tuch's career high in points (52 with Golden Knights in 2018-19) came when he was playing on mostly the third line, so he could shatter that total and realistically lead the Sabres in points this season in their top six and on the first power play with continued coverage of hits (338 in 305 NHL games).

David Krejci, C, BOS (ADP: 162.8) -- He rejoined the Bruins on a one-year contract and is a two-time 73-point producer who was productive in his most recent NHL season (44 in 51 games during 2020-21 season). With Brad Marchand (hip surgeries) expected out for the first two months of the season, Krejci could play on the first power play in addition to slotting back into the No. 2 center spot on a line with at least one valuable wing in Taylor Hall, Jake DeBrusk or potentially elite right wing David Pastrnak under new coach Jim Montgomery.

Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, VAN (ADP: undrafted) -- The 26-year-old forward signed a one-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks after finishing second in the Kontinental Hockey League in points (53 in 45 games) last regular season. Kuzmenko could land a top-six role with exposure to either valuable center J.T. Miller or Bo Horvat and also potentially play on the opposite wing of breakout candidate Vasily Podkolzin immediately or in the future.

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Other fantasy sleeper candidates to consider: Ondrej Palat, LW, and Vitek Vanecek, G, NJD; Pavel Francouz, G, COL; Carter Verhaeghe, LW, FLA; Hampus Lindholm, D, BOS; Phil Kessel, RW, VGK; Nick Schmaltz C/RW, ARI

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