Fantasy: 5 sleepers to steal near the end of your draft

Icon Sportswire / Getty

When it comes to winning fantasy hockey championships, quality depth is just as important as securing stars. With the season around the corner, here are five sleepers to target late in the draft that can push your team over the top.

Average draft position and lineup eligibility courtesy: Yahoo!

5. MacKenzie Weegar, D, Panthers

Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images Sport / Getty

2020-21 stats: 6 G, 30 A, 3 PPP, 101 SOG, 118 HIT, 83 BLK
ADP: 111.5

Weegar broke out in a big way for the Panthers last season, posting career bests across the board while taking on a larger role in the club's top four. He's not a power-play cornerstone you can build a team around like Cale Makar, but there's a lot to like about what Weegar brings to the table.

The 27-year-old led all defensemen with 31 even-strength points last season, and his sterling underlying metrics indicate he likely won't regress. Additionally, Weegar provides steady hits and blocks if you participate in a banger league.

4. Cal Petersen, G, Kings

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

2020-21 stats: 35 GP, 9 W, .911 SV%, 2.89 GAA
ADP: 170.8

Petersen's numbers from last season don't exactly scream "No. 1 fantasy goalie," but he could be a perfect late-round target to stabilize the second half of your tandem in the crease. The 27-year-old is taking the reins as Los Angeles' top goalie with a better team in front of him following the Kings' quality offseason. In theory, L.A.'s new roster, along with playing in a weak Pacific Division, should prop up Petersen's win totals.

When considering Petersen, take into account he's posted a .916 save percentage across 54 career appearances for a Kings team that's been rebuilding his entire career. There's lots of potential here.

3. Drake Batherson, RW, Senators

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

2020-21 stats: 17 G, 17 A, 15 PPP, 111 SOG, 102 HIT, 29 BLK
ADP: 175.1

Now's the time to invest in Batherson's stock after he finally showed signs last season of being the player the Senators have been hoping to see. The 23-year-old was Ottawa's third-most prolific scorer in 2020-21, and he's going to be a staple in the club's top six going forward. In fact, he was one-third of an impressive top line, featuring Josh Norris and Brady Tkachuk, that managed a 54.9% expected goals rate in 247 five-on-five minutes together.

Additionally, Batherson throws his weight around a fair amount, which bodes well for his value if your league includes hits. His shot totals are also decent, and they're likely to increase considering he averaged only 16 minutes per contest last season.

2. Conor Garland, LW/RW, Canucks

Norm Hall / National Hockey League / Getty

2020-21 stats: 12 G, 27 A, 10 PPP, 135 SOG, 26 HIT, 19 BLK
ADP: 174.1

Garland has been hiding in the desert in recent years, but he now has a chance to break out in his debut season with the Canucks. A skilled, play-driving winger, Garland has an opportunity to play with better players than ever before following Vancouver's blockbuster trade with the Coyotes this summer.

Whether he's stapled to Elias Pettersson's flank - provided Pettersson signs soon - or Bo Horvat's, Garland is a strong candidate to produce career highs this season. He won't bring much in terms of hits and blocks, but his boxcar stats and shots should be enough to warrant your attention.

1. Jack Hughes, C/LW, Devils

Elsa / Getty Images Sport / Getty

2020-21 stats: 11 G, 20 A, 7 PPP, 142 SOG, 15 HIT, 15 BLK
ADP: 143.1

Consider us aboard the Hughes hype train. The 2019 No. 1 pick saw a significant boost in ice time last season and ended up second on the Devils in scoring. He also showed signs that his newfound footing in the big leagues is sustainable, finishing on the positive side of goal share, shot attempts, and expected goals at five-on-five.

Perhaps most importantly from a fantasy perspective, New Jersey got significantly better this offseason. Hughes - who should share major minutes with Dougie Hamilton and potentially Tomas Tatar - now has the supporting talent he's been missing during his career. Some eager general managers may be willing to take a risk on Hughes early in the draft, but if he slides in your league, be sure to pounce.

Honorable mentions:

  • Jonathan Toews, C, Blackhawks
  • Josh Norris, C, Senators
  • Neal Pionk, D, Jets
  • Ilya Sorokin, G, Islanders
  • Sam Bennett, C/RW, Panthers

Advanced Stats Courtesy: Evolving-Hockey

Comments
Fantasy: 5 sleepers to steal near the end of your draft
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox