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NHL.com identifies a fantasy hockey sleeper candidate from each team for the 2020-21 season.

NHL.com identifies a fantasy hockey sleeper candidate from each team for the 2020-21 season. For more fantasy coverage, visit NHL.com/Fantasy and subscribe for free to the NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast.MORE FANTASY COVERAGE: Top 250 rankings | Mock draft | Cheat sheet
STAT PROJECTIONS: Forward points | Defensemen | Goalie/team wins
NOTES
: Sleepers are players taken in the late rounds who can vastly outperform their average draft position (ADP). … The following factors were taken into consideration when selecting each skater: potential linemates, past production and power-play exposure; for goalies: expected start volume, wins and save percentage.
Anaheim Ducks: Forward Max Comtois (LW/RW; undrafted on average in fantasy) has been productive at the NHL level and scored 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 31 games for San Diego of the American Hockey League last season. Comtois could be part of the youth movement in Anaheim’s forward group with rookie center Trevor Zegras and is an underrated fantasy target in keeper and dynasty leagues. — Pete Jensen
Arizona Coyotes: Forward Conor Garland (LW/RW; undrafted on average in fantasy) led the Coyotes with 22 goals in 68 games last season and had 158 shots on goal, tied with Derek Stepan (now with Ottawa Senators) for their second-most behind Clayton Keller’s 184. Garland is likely to maintain his top-six role and could increase his goal and power-play point totals with a consistent spot on the first unit (10 PPP last season). Garland could return value in deeper leagues or off the fantasy waiver wire playing for Arizona, which is an overlooked team in fantasy. — Rob Reese
Boston Bruins: Right wing Craig Smith (average draft position: 155.1) could play on the second line with exposure to center David Krejci, who can be an unrestricted free agent after this season. Smith could also potentially fill in on the top line with center Patrice Bergeron if David Pastrnak (hip, shoulder surgeries) is not ready for the start of the season. Smith scored at least 21 goals and had at least 199 SOG in five of his eight full seasons with the Nashville Predators. — Pete Jensen
Buffalo Sabres: Veteran center Eric Staal (ADP: 177.1) is a solid bench option with top-six exposure to at least one valuable forward in either Sam Reinhart or Victor Olofsson. Staal was third on the Wild with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) in 66 games last season and is a safe late-round selection in standard leagues. Staal will also be reunited with left wing Jeff Skinner, who is a potential bounce-back candidate. — Rob Reese
Calgary Flames: Forward Andrew Mangiapane (LW/RW; undrafted on average in fantasy) has sneaky appeal with even-strength exposure to elite wing Matthew Tkachuk (top 30 in NHL.com’s fantasy rankings), who led the Flames in scoring last season with 61 points in 69 games. Mangiapane scored 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in his final 19 regular-season games last season, and over that span, he was tied for second on the Flames in goals and even-strength points (16) behind his other linemate, center Mikael Backlund (10 goals, 17 EVP). — Pete Jensen
Carolina Hurricanes: Forward Martin Necas (C/RW; undrafted on average in fantasy), who was tied for fifth on the Hurricanes last season with 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 64 games, has a higher ceiling in his second full NHL season with a chance to earn the fifth spot on the first power play with valuable skaters Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov, Dougie Hamilton and Teuvo Teravainen. Necas and the Hurricanes also gain fantasy appeal after moving to the Central Division for this season because their top competition, the 2020 Stanley Cup Final teams in the Tampa Bay Lightning and Dallas Stars, each are dealing with long-term injuries (Nikita Kucherov, Ben Bishop, Tyler Seguin). — Pete Jensen
Chicago Blackhawks: Defenseman Adam Boqvist scored 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 41 games last season. He could see additional time on the top power-play unit this season, bringing exposure to elite right wing Patrick Kane, who remains a top 10 selection in fantasy despite centers Jonathan Toews (medical condition) and Kirby Dach (wrist) being out. Boqvist is an intriguing deep sleeper selection in the last round of a standard 12-team league at a thin position. — Rob Reese
Colorado Avalanche: Forward Brandon Saad (LW/RW; ADP: 162.8) is one of the best fantasy sleeper options in the NHL for the Avalanche, who have three players ranked among NHL.com’s fantasy top 20 in center Nathan MacKinnon, right wing Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar. Saad, who has scored at least 20 goals in five of his past seven seasons, would also be a great fit on the second line with center Nazem Kadri and wing Andre Burakovsky, and could score the most goals of any player who changed teams this offseason. — Pete Jensen
Columbus Blue Jackets: Forward Oliver Bjorkstrand (LW/RW; ADP: 173.7) was having a breakout fantasy performance last season prior to sustaining an ankle injury Feb. 20. He still finished as Columbus’ leader in goals (21) and points per game (0.73). Bjorkstrand should have favorable lineup placement with either Pierre-Luc Dubois (10 points in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games) or bounce-back candidate Max Domi (72 points in 2018-19), who boosts Columbus’ fantasy forward outlook compared to previous seasons. — Pete Jensen
Dallas Stars: Right wing Joel Kiviranta (undrafted on average in fantasy) scored five goals, including a hat trick, and was plus-7 in 14 games during the 2020 postseason. His shooting percentage (23.8) will likely regress over a 56-game season, but Kiviranta could take on a big role offensively with center Tyler Seguin (hip) expected to miss significant time. Kiviranta is one of the top 10 fantasy rookies in NHL.com’s rankings and worth selecting in deeper leagues with potential exposure to goal-scoring forwards Denis Gurianov (led Stars with 20 last regular season) and/or Roope Hintz (19; tied for second). — Rob Reese
Detroit Red Wings: Forward Filip Zadina (LW/RW; undrafted on average in fantasy) scored 15 points (eight goals, seven assists), including four goals and seven points on the power play, in 28 games last season. Zadina could capture a spot on Detroit’s top power-play unit, which would bring exposure to valuable fantasy forwards Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, and another deep fantasy sleeper in defenseman Filip Hronek. Zadina is an intriguing late-round selection in deep and keeper leagues and should be monitored on the waiver wire in standard formats. — Rob Reese
Edmonton Oilers: Right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (ADP: 172.0) could skate in a top-six role with either elite center Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl (second and third, respectively, in NHL.com’s fantasy rankings) this season, and is off to another strong start with Karpat (12 points in 16 games) after he tied for fourth in Liiga in scoring last season. Because of his potential exposure, Puljujarvi is worth selecting as a sleeper pick in late rounds of standard 12-team drafts. — Rob Reese
Florida Panthers: Forward Anthony Duclair (LW/RW; undrafted on average) is ranked among the top 50 fantasy right wings after signing with the Panthers. He will compete with the veteran Patric Hornqvist and rookies Grigori Denisenko and Owen Tippett for a spot on the top line with center Barkov and left wing Huberdeau, one of the top 10 fantasy duos. Duclair, who has started training camp in that coveted spot, is worth considering in the final round of a standard, 12-team fantasy draft with the chance to skate with much better linemates than last season in Ottawa, where he set NHL career highs in goals (23) and SOG (184). — Pete Jensen
Los Angeles Kings: Goalie Calvin Petersen (ADP: 167.3) burst onto the fantasy scene as a late-season waiver-wire pickup, going 4-0-0 with a .947 save percentage over his final four games. Petersen cut into veteran Jonathan Quick’s playing time and has the ceiling of emerging as their starter as early as this season with the Kings set to integrate multiple prospects during their promising rebuild. Petersen, who has a .923 SV% in 19 NHL games, is worth stacking with Quick as a sneaky goalie tandem that should be attainable in late rounds for this condensed season. — Pete Jensen
Minnesota Wild: Goalie Cam Talbot (ADP: 182.2) is expected to be the Wild’s No. 1 option after they traded Dubnyk and with Stalock missing some time. Talbot shared starts with David Rittich with the Flames last season and emerged as Calgary’s No. 1 goalie in the postseason, where he was 5-4 with a 2.42 GAA, .924 SV% and two shutouts in 10 games. He should have plenty of goal support with the Wild, who have intriguing young forwards Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov. Talbot also brings security playing behind one of the deepest defenses in the NHL and is worth drafting among the top 175 overall players. — Rob Reese
Montreal Canadiens: Right wing Josh Anderson (ADP: 177.6) was limited to 26 games last season because of a shoulder injury, but the right wing brings rare category coverage of goals (NHL career-high 27 in 2018-19) and hits (2.2 per game in six NHL seasons) when healthy. In 2018-19, Anderson and Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin were the only NHL players with at least 25 goals and 200 hits. Anderson has renewed fantasy appeal after being traded to and signing with the Canadiens, and has a high fantasy ceiling (finished 35th overall in 2018-19) playing among Montreal’s deep forward group. — Pete Jensen
Nashville Predators: Forward Viktor Arvidsson (LW/RW; ADP: 160.1) is coming off an underwhelming fantasy performance with 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists) and 127 SOG in 57 games last regular season but scored three goals on 16 SOG in four games during the 2020 postseason, a sign he could bounce back this season. Arvidsson, a fixture on the top line with valuable left wing Filip Forsberg in the past, scored at least 29 goals in each of his prior three seasons (2016-17 to 2018-19) and averaged 3.2 SOG per game in that span, making him a potential hidden gem in late rounds of a fantasy draft. — Pete Jensen
New Jersey Devils: Goalie Mackenzie Blackwood (ADP: 179.3) could start the season as part of a timeshare with veteran Corey Crawford but proved last season that he’s capable of being New Jersey’s No. 1 goalie now and in the future. He led rookies in wins (22) and was second in shutouts (three) behind Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets (five). Blackwood also had a .915 SV%, seventh in the NHL among those who played at least 40 games (47) and is a deep fantasy sleeper on a team that will be overlooked in fantasy. — Pete Jensen
New York Islanders: Left wing Anthony Beauvillier (undrafted on average in fantasy) was tied with linemate and center Brock Nelson for the Islanders lead in postseason goals (nine) and was second in postseason SOG (67) behind left wing Anders Lee (72). Beauvillier has captured a top-six role at even strength and could earn a spot on the first power-play unit this season, making him an intriguing late-round selection in standard leagues. — Rob Reese
New York Rangers: Right wing Kaapo Kakko fell short of lofty fantasy expectations as a rookie but will now be available much later in drafts (ADP: 163.3) ahead of a potential reclamation season. Even with rookie left wing Alexis Lafreniere on the Rangers, fantasy managers should not sleep on Kakko, who has a realistic chance to play on the opposite wing of elite left wing Artemi Panarin on the second line after the departure of right wing Jesper Fast (signed with Carolina Hurricanes) in free agency. — Pete Jensen
Ottawa Senators: Center prospect Josh Norris (undrafted on average in fantasy) was tied for third in AHL scoring last season and could play a top-six role this season with exposure to valuable forwards Brady Tkachuk (52nd in NHL.com’s fantasy rankings), Evgenii Dadonov and/or fellow rookie Tim Stuetzle. Norris is worth selecting as a deep sleeper from the Senators. — Rob Reese
Philadelphia Flyers: Center Kevin Hayes (ADP: 180.2) led the Flyers with 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 16 postseason games. Hayes is a lock to skate on the second line at even strength with potential exposure to wings Travis Konecny and either Oskar Lindblom or Joel Farabee, who are each worth drafting in most fantasy leagues, and should be among the better options at center in late rounds. Hayes ranked second on the Flyers in goals (23) last regular season behind Konecny (24), his frequent linemate. — Rob Reese
Pittsburgh Penguins: Forward Kasperi Kapanen (LW/RW; ADP: 161.0) scored 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 69 games for Toronto last season in mostly a bottom-six role but had NHL career highs in goals (20) and points (44) the previous season. The potential elite exposure to forwards Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel with Pittsburgh makes Kapanen one of NHL.com’s top 10 sleeper candidates and worth a selection in the late rounds of a standard 12-team draft. — Rob Reese
San Jose Sharks: Forward Ryan Donato (C/LW; undrafted on average in fantasy) set an NHL career high in goals (14 in 62 games) last season in mostly a bottom-six role. Now he has a chance to round out the Sharks’ top-six forward group, either on a line with valuable center Tomas Hertl or Logan Couture for one of the potential bounce-back teams of the season. Donato, who will also bring even-strength exposure to high-scoring defensemen Brent Burns and Erik Karlsson, is a deep fantasy sleeper who could shatter his NHL career highs across the board. — Pete Jensen
St. Louis Blues: Forward Robert Thomas (C/RW; ADP: 173.7) scored an NHL career-high 42 points (10 goals, 32 assists) in 66 games last season. Thomas could be elevated to a consistent top-line role this season with Tarasenko (shoulder) expected to miss most of the season. The potential lineup placement with valuable forwards Brayden Schenn, Jaden Schwartz and/or Mike Hoffman (professional tryout contract) coupled with Thomas’ rising career trajectory make him an intriguing final-round selection in standard 12-team leagues. — Rob Reese
Tampa Bay Lightning: Left wing Ondrej Palat (ADP: 159.6) scored 18 points (11 goals, seven assists) in 25 postseason games skating mostly on the top line with elite forwards Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point. Palat’s fantasy ceiling is not nearly as high with Kucherov (hip surgery) out for the entire regular season, but Palat could still be a difference-maker on a unit with Point and potentially another elite forward in Steven Stamkos. Palat should make up for any dip in offensive production with his strong hits coverage (145 in 69 games last season). — Rob Reese
Toronto Maple Leafs: Left wing Nicholas Robertson (ADP: 170.5) is one of the best late-round fantasy targets, with a chance to land in Toronto’s top-six forward group with exposure to either elite center Auston Matthews (fifth in NHL.com’s fantasy rankings) or John Tavares. Robertson, a left wing who scored one goal in four games with the Maple Leafs during the 2020 postseason and led the Ontario Hockey League in goals last season with 55 in 46 games, could finish among the top five fantasy rookies this season. — Pete Jensen
Vancouver Canucks: Defenseman Nate Schmidt (ADP: 146.7) is worth prioritizing late in a standard draft with potential exposure to new teammate Quinn Hughes. Schmidt’s 0.53 points per game last season were the highest in his seven NHL seasons, and he ranked second on the Golden Knights in SOG (66 in 20 games) last postseason behind Shea Theodore (80). — Rob Reese
Vegas Golden Knights: Forward Alex Tuch (LW/RW; ADP: 162.8), who scored an NHL career-high 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) in 2018-19 but missed significant time because of injury last season, should take a bigger step forward this season. He had a solid 2020 postseason, leading the Golden Knights with eight goals and scoring 12 points in 20 games. Vegas is deep at wing, leaving Tuch likely on the third line to start the season, but there should be plenty of opportunity to produce. He is a solid bench option in standard fantasy leagues and could have a breakout season with a top-six and/or first power-play role. — Rob Reese
Washington Capitals: Defenseman Justin Schultz (undrafted on average in fantasy) is likely to be their second most valuable option at the position behind Carlson (first in NHL.com’s defenseman rankings). Schultz was fantasy-relevant for most of his five seasons with the Penguins, combining for 123 points (25 goals, 98 assists; 50 power-play points) in 279 games and filling in on the first power-play unit whenever Kris Letang was out. Schultz’s points-per-game average in that span (0.44) was tied for 42nd among defensemen (minimum 250 games played), and going to Washington is a lateral move in terms of moving from one proven fantasy team to another. — Pete Jensen
Winnipeg Jets: Rookie defenseman Ville Heinola (undrafted on average in fantasy) was fantasy-relevant during his NHL trial (five points in eight games) last season and has a ceiling of emerging as the Jets’ power-play quarterback and best fantasy option at the position over Neal Pionk and Josh Morrissey as early as this season. Heinola also had five assists in seven games for Finland at the 2020 World Junior Championship. — Pete Jensen

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