Every fantasy manager wants to have a trick up his sleeve later in the draft — a low-risk pick with the potential for a high reward. This is where sleeper shots come in.
There’s no exact science to spotting them, but our starting point for this exercise was a low percentage on the list. To be considered for this sleeper list, we only looked at players who are under 30 percent of Yahoo’s roster at the moment.
Matthias Ekholm, D, EDM | 28% Yahoo
Ekholm’s game isn’t very flashy, but he’s effective everywhere. That was true for the struggling Predators, and the fast-paced Oilers club coming out of the deadline — Edmonton proved to be an excellent starting point for him. Along with Evan Bouchard, a defenseman who provides plenty of shots, expect five-for-five. Although Ekholm probably won’t help you on the power play, he will join the other categories that defenders tend to rely on. This is a stable, late-round pick to bolster defensive depth.
Connor Brown, RW, EDM | 26% Yahoo
Given the performance bonus structure, signing Brown has the potential to be one of the most cost-effective deals from the 2022-23 season. Between his rush-based style and play-making ability, the striker has a lot of brilliance to his game. The big question is whether there is a rust factor to worry about. But time in the Oilers’ top six could help take that away sooner rather than later. This is someone who should not be underestimated, especially if he ends up playing alongside former teammate Connor McDavid for any stretches this season.
Michael Matheson, D, MTL | 24% Yahoo
The #BadTeamEffect can be real. Although we don’t recommend looking for depth players in a team that is expected to finish lower in the standings, those who play pivotal roles can be very valuable. That’s the case for Matheson, who was solid on both ends last year at five-for-five, and a good PP1 midfielder. With a healthy Cole Caufield, there’s a better chance of getting some points with the advantage.
Andrew Mangiapane, LW/RW, CGY | 19% Yahoo
A coaching change can’t come soon enough in Calgary. The attack was quelled and emotions were at a standstill throughout the lineup, so Mangiapane was one of a few skaters poised to rebound. If he can build on his breakout season in 2021-22, expect plenty of quick goals from the skilled winger.
Jonathan Drouin, LW, COL | 15% Yahoo
Despite having some flaws in his game, Drouin has shown that he is highly skilled. With a team as stacked as the Avalanche, he should be in an ideal position to maximize his strengths and hide any weaknesses. That’s even more true if he ends up at No. 1 with Nathan MacKinnon, who had an impact on this free agent signing. Colorado has room for Drouin in the top six, he just has to maintain minutes there.
Sam Montembault, MTL, G| 13% Yahoo
If your league doesn’t count wins, or you simply aren’t concerned about that category of second or third goaltender, Montembault could be a solid option. The Canadiens kept him busy last year, but he stood tall in the face of that difficult workload. If he can show that this season wasn’t a fluke, he can push for more starts and truly emerge as the team’s 1A prospect this year.
Anthony Beauvillier, LW/RW, VAN | 12% Yahoo
Throughout his tenure, Beauvillier struggled with consistency. But he’s off to a solid start in Vancouver alongside Elias Pettersson and Andriy Kuzmenko, and that could be a recipe for success moving forward. The trio achieved 59 percent of the expected goals share in their minutes and outscored opponents five goals to five. If this is a sign of what’s to come, he should be a solid producer worth adding late in the draft.
Charlie Coyle, C, BOS | 11% Yahoo
The Bruins haven’t made any major additions at midfield yet to replace Patrice Bergeron and David Creese in the lineup. Coyle is a player who will benefit from this, as it should boost him into the middle of the top six. He will likely be a landing spot alongside Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, assuming Pavel Zacha moves to center to skate alongside David Pastrnak. If that’s the case, he’ll very likely get a scoring boost.
Matthias Makele, LW, ARI | 8% Yahoo
Maccelli’s quietly effective rookie season makes him a player to watch, especially with the Coyotes improving around him with the arrival of Logan Cooley and the signing of free agent Jason Zucker. Some power play opportunities and a potential first six minutes with some of the Coyotes’ top offensive threats should help build on his impact. The only downside is that he’s not the most frequent shooter, but he has a direct impact on the team’s offense with his key passes.
Anton Lundell, C, FLA | 7% Yahoo
Lundell is developing into an Aleksander Barkov lite and could have a breakout season if he plays more significant minutes. Maybe he can establish himself as the team’s second baseman, which means minutes with Matthew Tkachuk. If not, it adds value to Sam Bennett, who can mesh with the secondary’s scoring and physical superiority.
Thomas Nowak, C, NSH | 6% Yahoo
With Andrew Brunette behind the bench, the Predators should have more offensive flair this season. This bodes well for the players who are starting to emerge despite the team’s style last year. Novak was a highlight, even after Filip Forsberg’s injury in Nashville. In 51 games, he scored 3.45 points per 60 in all situations – 20th in the league – showing how efficient he is in his minutes. In a five-on-five game, his puck-moving abilities helped add some life to the team’s otherwise bland rushing game. This is something that should only grow under new leadership.
Joel Hoover, Special Tribunal for Lebanon, c | 4% Yahoo
This could be the biggest stretch for these sleeper picks because, as it currently stands, Hoover is a backup goaltender. But Jordan Binnington isn’t the most reliable player, which makes the situation even more volatile than it already is. So I wouldn’t be surprised if Hoover starts pushing for playing time. In deeper leagues, he could be a very late addition. For everyone else, he’s probably just a player to keep an eye on at the start of the season.
Igor Sharangovich, C, CGY | 3% Yahoo
After a strong 2021-2022 season, Sharangovich simply wasn’t relevant in fantasy last year. But a trade to Calgary could change that, especially if he ends up in a row with Jonathan Huberdeau and Elias Lindholm. If he moves down the lineup at all, his value will decline later on because he’s not much of a driver. But using the top six should make him a secondary scorer on any team’s roster.
Honorable mentions: Evan Rodriguez, Ryan Johansen, Kent Johnson, Gabriel Vilardi, Logan Cooley, Josh Norris, Dmitry Orlov
(Perry Nelson-USA Today Sports)
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