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Fantasy: 5 players with long-term value to target in keeper leagues

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Get ready for your season with theScore's fantasy hockey draft kit.

The following players likely won't be fantasy relevant during the 2020-21 season, but they could become incredibly valuable in keeper leagues down the road.

Most of these phenoms will need to be designated as not active (NA), so be sure to check your league's settings before drafting any of them.

Marco Rossi, C, Wild

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It seems unlikely that Rossi, the ninth overall pick during the 2020 draft, makes the Wild this season. However, he's worth stashing with your NA spot.

When he does eventually debut in the NHL, there's a coveted first-line center job waiting for him. The Wild's system sorely lacks high-impact pivots, and Rossi could immediately be fantasy relevant while playing between the likes of Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov in a year or two.

Rasmus Sandin, D, Maple Leafs

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After playing 28 NHL games last year, it may come as a surprise that Sandin will be hard-pressed to crack Toronto's lineup this season, but that's the truth. There are at least seven Maple Leafs defensemen ahead of the young Swede on the depth chart, so it'll likely take some injuries (or COVID-19 cases) for him to get into the lineup.

However, the Maple Leafs could easily lose Travis Dermott or Justin Holl in the expansion draft next year, and Mikko Lehtonen and Zach Bogosian might depart as unrestricted free agents. That would likely open the door for Sandin, who would be valuable in fantasy as part of Toronto's high-flying offense. Sandin produced an impressive 15 points in 21 AHL games as a 19-year-old last season.

Jamie Drysdale, D, Ducks

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Defensemen tend to take longer to develop, so it may be a couple more years until Drysdale is a full-time NHLer. However, he could quickly become a fantasy producer upon his arrival.

Unlike Drysdale's world-juniors defense partner Bowen Byram (who was also considered for this list, but will probably make the NHL this year), the Ducks prospect has an opportunity to be his team's power-play quarterback of the future. Kevin Shattenkirk will likely fill that void for now, but the job should be Drysdale's once he emerges. That gives him a higher fantasy upside than Byram, who's behind Cale Makar in Colorado.

Jake Oettinger, G, Stars

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Ben Bishop is likely out until March, so Oettinger is projected to begin the season as Anton Khudobin's backup and thus won't be eligible to be designated as NA. But he should start regularly, and Dallas' defensive system is fantasy-friendly for goaltenders. The 22-year-old was a first-round pick in 2017, and he posted strong AHL numbers last season, recording a 2.57 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in 38 games.

Oettinger is undoubtedly Dallas' goalie of the future. But even though Bishop and Khudobin are both 34 years old, they're signed for three more seasons each. Unless one of them is traded or selected in the expansion draft, it may take some time before Oettinger ascends the depth chart. Patience could pay off, though.

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, Sabres

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Luukkonen lost some of his prospect shine after a rough AHL rookie season last year when he posted an .874 save percentage and a 3.15 goals-against average over 10 games. However, that happened coming off hip surgery. The 2017 second-rounder performed better overseas in Finland this season, registering a 2.64 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage in 12 contests.

The 6-foot-4 Finn is intriguing for fantasy purposes because of his relatively easy road to the NHL. Linus Ullmark and Carter Hutton are both on one-year deals with Buffalo, and the latter is unlikely to return next season. Ullmark has looked promising at times, but he's by no means locked in as the team's No. 1 goalie moving forward. If Luukkonen bounces back with a productive campaign in the AHL, he could contend for an NHL job as early as next season.

Josh Wegman has been theScore's resident fantasy hockey expert since 2015. Find him on Twitter @JoshWegman_.

Fantasy: 5 players with long-term value to target in keeper leagues
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