The best strategy in fantasy hockey is to grab a couple of elite forwards, then try to fill your defence and goaltending before finishing off your offence because there are many opportunities for forwards to emerge and change lines. This is why the deep sleepers I’ve assembled today are all forwards who should put up a lot more fantasy points than expected and will be available at the end of most drafts.
Mason Marchment – 172.3 ADP
Mason Marchment was a big pickup for the Dallas Stars this offseason and should inject more scoring into their lineup behind the top line. That will be especially important now that the team can’t get a deal done with Jason Robertson before the season starts. This may not bode well for the Stars, but it will for Marchment, who should get a look on the top line (from ‘New Roope Hintz line could give Stars scoring depth,’ Dallas Morning News, Sept. 24, 2022).
Even if Robertson is signed, Marchment will be playing on the second line and will be able to produce a lot of points. Though the Florida Panthers were a dominant offensive team, he was excellent in a third-line role, scoring 18 goals and 47 points in 54 games while averaging 14 minutes a night. With more time and opportunity, he has the talent to score at a great rate and boost his team’s offensive production this season.
Chandler Stephenson – 174.3 ADP
Though the Vegas Golden Knights missed the playoffs for the first time in their history last season, they still have a couple of great sleeper options available. Some may predict that Chandler Stephenson will regress from his career year in 2021-22, but he should have an opportunity to put up just as many points.
He won’t be the team’s number one centre this season with Jack Eichel on the team and healthy, but Stephenson will still be the second-line centre, playing alongside Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone who are very good and can put up points. Stephenson is no slouch either and won’t just rely on his linemates to hit the scoresheet; he finished last season with 21 goals and 64 points. He will also get the opportunity to line up on the top power-play unit, which should increase his value.
Carter Verhaeghe- 175.6 ADP
Carter Verhaeghe was the Panthers’ MVP in the playoffs. While others disappeared, he stepped up and led the team in goals and points by a wide margin. In 2021-22, he regularly played with Aleksander Barkov on the top line. Not only should he get that opportunity again, but he could also be playing alongside a 100-point player in Matthew Tkachuk.
Like many Panthers, Verhaeghe had a great season offensively, and the team still has a few weapons that should allow for the winger to have a repeat performance. He scored 24 goals and 55 points last season in 78 games, and if the playoffs were any indication, we’ll see the same from him this season, which makes him very valuable in fantasy.
Ivan Barbashev – 178.4 ADP
The St. Louis Blues again have one of the deepest forward groups in the NHL. They had their entire top-nine score at least 20 goals last season, including Ivan Barbashev, who scored 26 goals and 60 points in a breakout season. Even if he doesn’t start in the top-six, he is an option.
Barbashev will likely line up on the third line with Brayden Schenn and Jake Neighbours to form a very underrated group with a realistic chance of hitting 20-plus goals and 50-plus points for Barbashev. For a player who may not get drafted in some leagues, that’s considerable production.
Phil Kessel – 179.0 ADP
The second Golden Knights player among this group is Phil Kessel. He may be a little older, but Vegas picked him up for cheap this offseason. He is slated to play on the top line alongside Eichel and Reilly Smith. Seeing that both of these linemates can put the puck in the net, his playmaking ability will come in very handy.
Last season, Kessel recorded 44 assists and 52 points on the lowest scoring team in the NHL, the Arizona Coyotes. Not only that, but they were rebuilding with very little talent surrounding the veteran to help him produce. He is still a speedy winger with a great shot. Just because he only scored eight goals last season doesn’t mean he didn’t score 20-plus goals in 11 consecutive seasons in his career. He has the opportunity to return to being an excellent fantasy producer.
If you’re looking for the best value deeper into your fantasy draft, look no further than these players. They will get lots of minutes, great opportunities on special teams and the top line, and will be available for the taking.
ADPs courtesy of Yahoo Sports Fantasy Hockey.
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Rob Couch is a THW freelance writer covering mainly the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames. He covers everything you need to know about fantasy hockey. He will also keep you up to date with NHL Stats News and trade talks.
You can find more of his work here.