2019-20 Fantasy Hockey: Finding Value on Draft Day

Updated: September 25, 2019 at 4:59 pm by Brock Seguin

Earlier in the Fantasy Hockey prep season, Brady Trettenero looked at his Early Fantasy Hockey Sleepers.

As we head into the busiest Fantasy Hockey Draft weekend of the year, I took a deep dive into Yahoo’s Average Draft Positions and found some of the biggest discrepancies between ADP and the DFO Rankings.

Below I’ve listed four centres, eight wingers, three defensemen and two goalies that are going significantly later than I think they should be.

Using this post, you should be able to find tremendous value on Draft Day.


Centres

Dylan Larkin — DET (C)

  • Yahoo ADP: 124.2

  • DFO Rank: 55

Larkin finished ninth in the NHL in shots (287), tied 35th in goals (32) and tied for 42nd in points (73) last season but is dropping into the 11th round this year?

Entering his fifth-year, Larkin is set to play huge minutes atop the Red Wings lineup. He ranked ninth in ATOI (21:51) among forwards last year and will see similar usage in 2019-20.

When you have elite usage and elite shot volume it makes it very easy to project 30-plus goals and 40-plus assists for Larkin once again. Playing a full season with Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, who were fantastic late last season, will help Larkin’s on-ice SH% and make him a 50-assist and point-per-game candidate.

With so few high-end wingers, you can confidently pass on the top centres and take wingers in the early rounds. After that, you can take centres like Larkin after the fifth-round and could get No.1 centre value in return.

Sean Couturier — PHI (C)

  • Yahoo Rank: 112.9

  • DFO Rank: 56

This one makes just as little sense as Larkin dropping. Couturier has posted back-to-back 30-plus goal and 40-plus assist seasons—tying for 22nd in goals (64), tied for 29th in assists (88) and tied for 25th in points (152) over that span. That is tremendous production for a centre that you can currently get in the 10th round.

Like Larkin, you don’t have to worry about Couturier’s production going anywhere. He is locked onto the top-line next to Claude Giroux and likely Travis Konecny. That trio had a dominant 61.1 CorsiFor% with an elite 30 ScoringChancesFor/60, making them one of the best lines in hockey last year.

With strong shot volume (228 shots per-82) and strong linemates, pencil Couturier in for another 75-point season.

Mika Zibanejad — NYR (C)

  • Yahoo ADP: 87.3

  • DFO Rank: 58

I fully expected to see Zibanejad drafted too high this fall, but the opposite is true. Following a 74-point (30G / 44A) season, Zibanejad is going in the eighth-round on average. He was able to do that while playing over 55 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with Chris Kreider and this year he will be playing with Artemi Panarin. No offence to Kreider, but he is nowhere near the calibre of player that Panarin is. He is a cerebral winger with tremendous playmaking ability but is equally capable of scoring goals—30 goals per 82-games throughout his career.

Both of those skillsets are good news for Zibanejad’s investors. Zibanejad shoots at a great rate (230-plus shots) which make him a 30-goal threat every year. Adding Panarin into the mix gives him added goal potential and should allow Zibanejad to maintain the 40-assist pace that he set last year.

If you draft wingers/defensemen/goalies in the early rounds, you can comfortably head into the season with 2/3 of Larkin, Couturier and Zibanejad as your centres.

Nico Hischier — NJD (C)

  • Yahoo ADP: 170.3

  • DFO Rank: 128

When Taylor Hall is healthy, Hischier is a great centre option. The duo have posted a 51.5 CF% while averaging 3.99 GF/60 and 29 SCF/60 in over 1,100 TOI together. When Hall was healthy last season, Hischier had 23 points (9G / 14A) in 31 games—24-goal, 37-assist (61 points) per 82-game pace.

His 15th round ADP is likely a reaction to Jack Hughes being drafted to New Jersey, but that shouldn’t be a concern. Early indications are that Hall and Hischier will be together on the top-line and Hughes will centre the second-line with Nikita Gusev.

You can’t undersell how good Hall is and there is a good chance that Hischier is ready to take a step forward in his third season (age 21). The former No.1 overall pick is a great No.3/4 fantasy centre option and he’s only being drafted in 26 percent of leagues right now.

Wingers

Jonathan Huberdeau — FLA (LW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 64.9

  • DFO Rank: 27

I’ve already mentioned that there aren’t a lot of point-per-game wingers, so how is Huberdeau, who is a near-lock for a point-per-game with 90-point upside, dropping into the sixth-round?

Huberdeau has played around 19 minutes per game over the last two seasons, and over 60 percent of those 5v5 minutes are with Aleksander Barkov. Along with Evegenii Dadonov, the Panthers have one of the most electric top lines in the NHL but it seems like people are still overlooking them.

Huberdeau is an elite playmaker on a great line and great power-play, making him a safe No.1 left-winger. The only concern surrounding Huberdeau is a potential dip in PPA, but there’s no reason not to expect him to score close to 30 goals with 50-plus assists. If you can get him in the fifth/sixth round, it’s an absolute steal.

Mark Stone — VGK (RW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 60.1

  • DFO Rank: 36

Stone is probably dropping a bit because he wasn’t great following his trade to Vegas last season. He was limited to 11 points in 18 games because of a career-low 9.3 SH%  and 7.8 on-ice SH%. The opposite was true during their first-round exit, as Stone scored six goals with six assists (12 points) in seven playoff games.

Overall, he had 11 goals and 12 assists (23 points) in 25 games with Vegas and that extrapolates to 36 goals and 40 assists over a full 82-game season. Entering his first full season with the Golden Knights, Stone is their first-line right-winger and will have great linemates regardless of how Gerard Gallant elects to set his lines.

He has averaged 43 assists per 82 games over the last five seasons, so expect 30-plus goals and 40-plus assists in 2019-20. Currently being drafted in the fifth/sixth round represents tremendous value for the 27-year-old.

Timo Meier — SJS (LW/RW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 74.9

  • DFO Rank: 46

Meier is one of my favourite players as we head towards the 2019-20 season. Meier hit 30 goals with 36 assists in his second full season and comes into this season ranked 29th in the NHL in shots (460) over the last two seasons. His elite shot volume will make him a 30-plus goal threat for years to come and he has room to grow into a 40-goal scorer.

Meier was 10th among Sharks skaters in PP TOI/gm, but the hole left by Joe Pavelski on the top-unit is expected to be filled by Meier. That should boost his power-play production considerably (10 PPP in 2019) and would make Meier a huge fantasy asset.

He should see a bump in 5v5 and PP TOI and was already great last year, so if he sees the usage I am expecting, the sky is the limit for Meier in 2020.

Nino Niederreiter — CAR (LW/RW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 171.8

  • DFO Rank: 82

I thought it was a mistake when I finally found Niederreiter in Yahoo’s ADP section. Nino is a player that I have been hyping up for a few seasons, clamouring for the Wild to give him more playing time. It never happened and they eventually traded him to the Hurricanes. Niederreiter is the perfect Hurricane. He is dominant at 5v5 and comes into 2020 with massive breakout potential.

Upon arriving in Carolina, Niederrieter scored 14 goals with 16 assists (30 points) in 36 games—32 goal, 36 assist pace. Niederreiter finally got the playing time (18:17 ATOI) he deserved and he made the best of it. Now he is set to play an entire season next to Sebastian Aho and 30 goals, 35 assists should be easy for him—there’s 70-plus point upside too.

Nino’s current ADP makes absolutely no sense, so don’t wait that long but there is evident mid-to-late round value here if he drops into the eighth round and beyond.

James van Riemsdyk — PHI (LW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 164.4

  • DFO Rank: 100

Few seem to be as high on van Riemsdyk as I am, but it’s difficult to find this kind of reliable goal-production in the late-rounds. Though he ran into injury issues last year, van Riemsdyk still nearly topped 30 goals for the third time in his career.

JVR has averaged over 3.0 shots per game over the last six seasons and that kind of shot volume will put him around or above 30 goals every season. Getting a new centre in Kevin Hayes and returning to a spot on the Flyers top power-play unit makes van Riemsdyk a 30-to-35 goal and 25-to-30 assist threat in 2019-20.

Good luck finding others who have as safe of a 30-goal floor as JVR in the 14th round.

Anthony Mantha — DET (LW/RW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 152.9

  • DFO Rank: 118

Like Larkin, there is no reason not to get excited about Mantha this season. Last year’s numbers won’t jump off the page at you (25G / 23A) but he had a tremendous finish to last season, scoring eight goals with seven assists (15 points) in his final eight games. After the regular season, he went and dominated the World Championships with 14 points (7G / 7A) in nine games.

People will be nervous about Mantha and Larkin because the Red Wings aren’t supposed to be very good. However, the Bertuzzi-Larkin-Mantha line is good and they should have a great campaign. Mantha is a terrific post-hype candidate who should finally crack 30 goals and 30 assists.

Sam Reinhart — BUF (C/RW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 168.4

  • DFO Rank: 126

Reinhart was another name I was surprised to see so low in ADP. Coming off of a career-high 65 points (22G / 43A) in 2019, Reinhart is set to build off of that on the Sabres’ top-line. Reinhart is a reliable fantasy commodity thanks to his durability and usage—he’s missed just six games in four seasons and has played more than 17:00 ATOI in the last three years.

Reinhart played over 60 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with Eichel last season and that trend will likely continue in 2020. The duo had a 52.0 CF% and averaged over 30 SCF/60 last season and Eichel seems poised for a breakout this season.

Reinhart won’t be a great source of goals, but if Eichel turns himself into the 40-goal scorer he looks like he could be, then Reinhart has a chance to post 50-plus assists and 75 points for the first time in his career. He has fantastic upside for a player who is being drafted in the 14th round right now.

Nikita Gusev — NJD (LW)

  • Yahoo ADP: 166.2

  • DFO Rank: 130

Gusev is coming to the NHL with a lot of hype after dominating the KHL for the last three years. In 2019, he led the league in assists (65) and points (82) and comes to the NHL to play with this summer’s No.1 overall pick. Pre-season isn’t always the best indicator of regular-season success (see Rattie, Ty) but it looks like Gusev and Hughes are developing pretty good chemistry early on.

Normally you have to give an arm and a leg for players with this much hype (see Shipachyov, Vadim) but for every Shipachyov there is, there’s a Panarin. I’m not saying Gusev is Panarin, but a 14th round price tag is not a lot to pay for a player with this much upside.

Defensemen

Thomas Chabot — OTT (D)

  • Yahoo ADP: 99.2

  • DFO Rank: 74

Are the Senators going to be bad this year? Yes. Is Chabot going to be back this year? No. Someone has to score in Ottawa, Matt Duchene was great last season before being traded even though the team was terrible. Plus, they have more weapons than you might think and even though they only won 29 games last season, their power-play ranked 13th in the NHL.

Chabot is the undisputed best player in Ottawa, will play close to 25 minutes per night and is the force behind their top PP. Chabot had 55 points (14G / 41A) in just 70 games last year and will look to build on that in year-3. When it comes to fantasy defensemen, all you are looking for is opportunity and few will have as much usage as Chabot in 2020. Regardless of who he plays for, Chabot should score 15 goals with 40 assists and that makes him a borderline No.1 fantasy defenseman and he’s currently being drafted as the No.21 blueliner. There is a lot of upside and value as he enters his third NHL season.

Zach Werenski — CBJ (D)

  • Yahoo ADP: 123.1

  • DFO Rank: 95

Seth Jones is the best defenceman in Columbus but he is going 63 spots earlier the Werenski right now. Since Werenski came into the NHL, he has one more goal and just 17 fewer points than Jones and also averaged more PP TOI/gm than his D partner. I have no problem with where Jones is being drafted, but Werenski is going far too late.

If Jones is a low-end No.1/high-end No.2 fantasy defenseman, then so is Werenski. He has missed just nine games in three seasons and has scored double-digit goals each year. With the Blue Jackets losing some key pieces this offseason, they will lean heavily on Werenski and Jones to carry them and Werenski has 15-goal, 35-assist upside.

Shayne Gostisbehere — PHI (D)

  • Yahoo ADP: 146.0

  • DFO Rank: 124

The emergence of Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim has eaten into Gostisbehere’s even-strength ice-time but his power-play usage is unwavering. Gostisbehere ranked sixth among NHL defensemen in PP TOI/gm (3:29) last year and will likely see the same usage in 2020, despite dropping to third-pairing minutes at 5v5.

Gostisbehere’s presence on the top-unit with Couturier, Giroux, van Riemsdyk and Jakub Voracek should be enough for him to get back above 40 points in 2020. He probably isn’t as good as he was in 2018 or as bad as he was in 2019, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.

He is currently being drafted as a low-end No.3 blueliner despite playing significantly more PP ice-time than many players going before him. Gostisbehere is an excellent bounce-back candidate.

Goalies

Devan Dubnyk — MIN (G)

  • Yahoo ADP: 89.4

  • DFO Rank: 69

I’ve been a big fan of Dubnyk since he arrived in Minnesota. Dubnyk has averaged 64 starts per season over the last four years and leads the NHL in that category (254) over the same stretch. His massive workload has led to Dubnyk being tied for second in the NHL in wins (138) while also ranking tied for fourth in GAA (2.41), tied for 10th in SV% (.918) and tied for sixth in shutouts (17).

Dubnyk has been a No.1 fantasy netminder year-in and year-out but this year he is the No.17 goalie being taken. People are expecting the Wild to be bad this year, but you can’t deny that they have one of the best top-4 on the back-end and they’ve given up the ninth fewest shots against per game (30.3) in three years under Bruce Boudreau.

Dubnyk is a low-end No.1/high-end No.2 fantasy netminder that is being drafted as a low-end No.2.

Cory Schneider — NJD (G)

  • Yahoo ADP: 175.4

  • DFO Rank: 144

Everyone is high on the Devils after their busy offseason but no one seems to be interested in Schneider. Granted, he went a full 365 days without recording a win at one point and hasn’t posted a SV% above .910 since 2016. With that said, Schneider also had a .926 SV% in the six previous seasons.

Injuries caught up to Schneider in recent years, but he comes into 2020 fully healthy and has had a strong preseason (.935 SV%). Not that you can put a lot of stock into it, but you also don’t have to put a lot of draft stock into getting Schneider. He is a low-risk, high-reward option and is worth pairing with his “backup,” Mackenzie Blackwood, who is getting all the recognition heading into the season.



Anthony Mantha, Cory Schneider, Devan Dubnyk, Dylan Larkin, Fantasy Hockey, James Van Riemsdyk, Jonathan Huberdeau, Mark Stone, Mika Zibanejad, Nico Hischier, Nikita Gusev, Nino Niederreiter, Sam Reinhart, Sean Couturier, Shayne Gostisbehere, Thomas Chabot, Timo Meier, Zach Werenski