As the fantasy season is approaches, today we’re taking a look at the some of the NHL’s best rookies from last season, along with the top candidates to provide serious fantasy value as first years entering the league in 2018-19.
Let me preface this by saying absolute weapons like Brock Boeser and Mathew Barzal won’t be included in this list because their production from last season will see them chosen pretty early in the majority of drafts. If you have a chance to hop in and grab one of these guys, you damn well do it. You hear me?
But make sure to give these young whipper-snappers a look too while you’re at it.
Alex DeBrincat (Blackhawks) The man they (probably) call Brinksy was a sneaky Rookie-of-the-Year candidate for a good chunk of last season in a class littered with elite freshman. DeBrincat finished third among first-years with 28 tucks and 52 points last year and will start the year on the top unit alongside Jonathan Toews and Chris Kunitz. Someone on that line has to score, right?
Jake DeBrusk (Bruins) Unlike his father Louis, who mostly used his hands for plowing opponents’ skulls, young DeBrusk has some buttery-soft mitts and put those on display time and time again in 2017-18. Despite finishing outside the rookie Top 10 in scoring, the soon-to-be 22 year old had maybe hottest late-season and playoff run out of any rook in 2017-18.
Mikhail Sergachev (Lightning) With 40 points in fairly limited minutes last season, the 19-year-old finished first among rookie blue-liners and 30th among all NHL defenceman last season. Sergachev could find himself making the jump to the team’s top-pair alongside Victor Hedman at some point in 2018-19, which will drastically increase his ice-time and could see the young blue-liner explode offensively. He’s no pylon in his own end, either.
Kyle Connor (Jets) Winnipeg’s 17th overall pick in 2015 was the only schmelt to crack the 30-goal mark last season and finished second on the Jets, behind only Patrik Laine, with 31 snipes on the year. He puts a tonne of biscuits on net — his 192 was second-most among all rookies — and scored at a 16.1-percent clip in his first NHL season. A delicious fantasy combination, to say the least.
Clayton Keller (Coyotes) The only rook to put more pucks on net than Connor last season was Coyotes star freshy Clayton Keller, who may not have received the accolades he should’ve during his first NHL campaign due to the fact he plays hockey in a literal desert. Don’t let the lack of exposure fool you, though, Keller is a legit playmaker with a goal-scoring touch who will see lots of ice time on an emerging Coyotes team this season.
Andrei Svechnikov (Hurricanes). The former star of the OHL club which plays out of the greatest city in the world, Barrie, was selected with the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft. He has a rocket of a shot and the combination of his NHL-ready frame and skill set along with the Hurricanes likely being hot garbage again will see the rookie granted a big role and lots of ice time off the hop.
Brady Tkachuk (Senators). With Grit Stats like hits providing solid value, the type of multi-faceted players who can put up points but also enjoy running around the ice like a lunatic and smashing people are always worthy of a long look when drafting your squad. Ottawa, as you may have heard, has like two good players at the moment, so Tkachuk will have a chance to thrive in a top-six role right away.
Rasmus Dahlin (Sabres). The fourth phenom to be selected first overall in the last five years has all the talent in the world and is projected by many to be be an Erik Karlsson-calibre defender when he hits his stride in the NHL. The smooth-skating defenceman has mass offensive upside and there’s a strong likelihood he’ll emerge as the Sabres No. 1 guy before he even turns 19. Keeper leaguers, especially, scoop this guy up.
Elias Pettersson (Canucks) The 2017 fifth overall pick might have the highest ceiling for any forward entering the league this season. The 19-year-old led Sweden’s top league — one of the best leagues in the Europe — as a teenager with 56 points in 44 games, and has looked pretty damn nasty in camp so far. The kid will likely start the year slotting into the Canucks’ 2C spot and will have tons of opportunity to create his own offence.
Casey Mittelstadt (Sabres. The Sabres not-so-suddenly suddenly have arguably the deepest prospect pool in the NHL now, and the large Minnesotan sits right near the top of the pack. The Mitt (please let his nickname become ‘The Mitt’) got a chance to wet his feet in the league over six games with the Sabres last season, where he posted five points. With the Sabres likely to be pretty trash again, he’ll be seeing lots of ice, too.