Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. In this one I’m going to throw out some sleeper or late round dart throws that could pay off big for your fantasy teams. Before I do that, I want to take a second to invite you to join the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon where I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about Oliver Wahlstrom, Blake Lively, or anyone else that I’m infatuated with.
NSH: Eeli Tolvanen
Tolvanen burst onto the scene in 2021, re-energizing a moribund Predators power play with his heavy shot from the top of the circle. It will be difficult for nearly anyone in Nashville to have significant fantasy production in 2021/22, but if Tolvanen can build off last season’s start he could very well be a power play point specialist in cats leagues and flirt with 25 goals. The key thing to watch here will be an increased even strength role, as Tolvanen did not get significant minutes despite maintaining PP1 usage for most of the season after his breakout.
NJD: Yegor Sharangovich
Sharangovich went under the radar in a lot of places but put up some very nice rate stats and fulfilled a solid role alongside Jack Hughes in 2021. If he can build off this season and maintain his top line deployment, Sharangovich could sniff 25 goals. A spot on the top power play unit with the newly acquired Dougie Hamilton quarterbacking could really boost Sharangovich’s stock to the point where he becomes an every day fantasy starter.
NYI: Oliver Wahlstrom
If you’ve been following Apples & Ginos for even a short time you already know that I am a huge fan of Wahlstrom and am projecting a second-year breakout for him. Wahlstrom has size, a plus shot, draft pedigree, and a recently vacated top line winger spot awaiting him next to Mathew Barzal. If Wahlstrom can cement himself in that role, he has real 30 goal and 60 point upside as soon as this season. His ability to drive scoring chances as a rookie was unparalleled, even by Calder nominees Kirill Kaprizov and Jason Robertson.
NYR: Alexis Lafreniere/Kaapo Kakko
One of Alexis Lafreniere or Kaapo Kakko is going to take a big step forward next season but I am not sure which one it’s going to be. Kakko was starting to flash some very nice advanced stats and get some looks on the Artemi Panarin line before both he and Panarin missed sizeable chunks of the season. All in all it was a lost season for Kakko but I do believe he’s talented enough to make a big step up into a fantasy-relevant role as soon as this season. Lafreniere did not impress me much last season, but other #1 overall picks have needed a season to get their feet wet before going on to dominate (Steven Stamkos comes to mind). I’ll be watching both wingers closely to see who can capitalize on Pavel Buchnevich’s departure the most and become a player to roster this season.
OTT: Josh Norris/Drake Batherson/Tim Stutzle
It’s a fairly easy prediction to make, but one of Josh Norris, Drake Batherson, or Tim Stutzle will break out to a 65+ point level this season. The Brady Tkachuk/Norris/Batherson line saw extensive work together last year especially in the latter half, and all three seemed to benefit from the partnership. Stutzle could be the odd man out playing with lesser teammates here, but should still see plenty of time with the top power play unit. For bangers leagues especially Batherson is a very appealing target as a hitting machine capable of that breakout season.
PHI: Travis Konecny
I was off Konecny last year due to some impending regression I saw coming, but he went even further back than I anticipated. Konecny is still a rising star in an aging Philadelphia forward corps that needs his production. If people are going to be out on Konecny and let me snap him up late I’ll be more than happy to do so this year. Konecny should be a lock for 55-60 points.
PIT: Kasperi Kapanen
Malkin’s injury and likelihood of missing multiple months of the NHL season put a bit of damper on Kapanen’s 5v5 outlook. But he very well could become the 5th member of a terrific Pittsburgh power play headed up by Sidney Crosby, which comes with its own fantasy potential. If Kapanen can approximate the Jared McCann role in this power play from the 2021 season, there is reason to hope he could crack 55 points. I’m not actively targeting Kapanen until I’m assured he’s got that role or until Malkin is close to returning.
SJS: Timo Meier
Timo Meier has consistently put up terrific rate stats and proven himself a legitimate goal scorer in the league, but for some reason he remains buried on the second line and especially second power play which has led to a lot of fantasy managers sleeping on his talent. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to see 30-goal Meier back again as long as Bob Boughner is coaching in San Jose, but if he ever saw 17+ minutes a night including top power play 30 goals would be a foregone conclusion. Meier offers significant thump in the bangers categories as well, making him an attractive later-round pickup in those leagues.
SEA: Vince Dunn
I am very interested in Vince Dunn and his ability to run a power play. Many have assumed that Mark Giordano will handle PP1 duties, but I don’t believe that would be in Seattle’s best interests in the short or long term. Dunn has been an efficiency monster despite never becoming a favourite in St. Louis, and a 20 minute a night role with PP1 usage could easily turn him into a 45 point defenseman, even on a weak Seattle roster. Make no mistake though, the PP1 usage is key – this Seattle roster isn’t deep enough to sustain a lot of even strength scoring for its defensemen.
STL: Jordan Kyrou
Jordan Kyrou lit the NHL on fire for two weeks to start the 2021 season and then faded to nothing over the rest of the year. An odd season to say the least, but Kyrou was putting up monstrous chance for rates and at least showed himself capable of getting hot. It’s unclear what St. Louis might do with their top two lines especially considering disgruntled star Vladimir Tarasenko’s request to be traded. If Kyrou gets and makes good on a top six role, there’s real scoring upside to be had here.
TBL: Alex Barre-Boulet
Barre-Boulet signed a sweetheart three year deal at league minimum, an interesting choice to say the least but one that makes him very valuable to the cap-strapped Lightning. Barre-Boulet should find his way into the Tampa Bay top six at some point, and it would be completely unsurprising if he found chemistry with one of the Lightning stars and put together a strong offensive run in the second half. I don’t see Barre-Boulet cracking the 50-point barrier in 2021/22 barring an early injury that forces him up the lineup, but he could certainly pace above that mark if and when he gets into the top six.
TOR: Nick Ritchie/Ondrej Kase/Michael Bunting/Nikita Gusev
Toronto threw three darts in free agency at finding two top six left wingers to play with Matthews, Marner, Tavares, and Nylander. Ritchie was paid the most and as a physical net front presence fits the Hyman mold that worked so well with Matthews and Marner over the past couple of years. Ondrej Kase has seen his once-promising career derailed by concussions, but is likely the most talented of the three if fully healthy. Michael Bunting took a hometown discount to come to Toronto and flashed real skill for Arizona last season, scoring 10 goals in 21 games. He may be the most intriguing of the three options. Complicating this is the arrival of Nikita Gusev on a professional tryout, who put up some impressive rate stats in the league before falling out of favour in New Jersey. Unfortunately the most likely option is a rotating cast of characters play those two spots and none really cement a season-long role on either line, but that won’t stop me from taking my shot on whoever is playing there to start the season.
VAN: Nils Hoglander
I’m very interested in what Hoglander may be able to do as a cemented piece of Vancouver’s top six alongside Bo Horvat and new acquisition Conor Garland. While the Canucks may not play stellar defense, they should be able to score in bunches with both of their top two lines. Hoglander put up some very nice rate stats in his rookie campaign and if he takes another step in 2021/22 he could benefit from the Garland acquisition to the tune of 50-55 points.
VGK: Chandler Stephenson
Chandler Stephenson will begin the 2021/22 season as the de facto #1 center for the Vegas Golden Knights, facilitating elite wingers Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone. Stephenson is not a terrific player in his own right and struggles to even put pucks on net most nights. But Pacioretty and Stone are undeniably more than capable of carrying the line on their own and Stephenson is at least an able distributor of the puck to his more talented linemates. He won’t be much for goals, but Stephenson should easily eclipse 50 points over the course of the season tagging along with his star teammates.
WSH: Anthony Mantha
Mantha is a big question mark this season. Will he play on the top power play? Could he play on the Ovechkin line and reap those benefits? Will he show up on most nights or sleepwalk his way through another season? Inside Mantha is a 70-point beast waiting to be awoken, but it’s far from certain that we’ll see it this season. His fantasy potential is absolutely tantalizing and I won’t hesitate to give him a shot in the 8th-10th round range if he’s falling in drafts (I was able to get him in the 10th round, 135th overall in my KKUPFL draft this year). Not many have his kind of upside in that range.
WPG: Pierre-Luc Dubois
I’ve never been a Dubois believer but I am interested to see what PLD is capable of given a full offseason in the Jets system. Ehlers is a stud and Dubois should see most of his even strength time alongside him. Dubois has always shown flashes but has been inconsistent. This year, it’s all on him to show that he can be a true top center in the league. Given what is likely to be a significantly reduced price tag in your drafts this year, I’m interested in giving this car a test ride for the first few weeks of the season.
That’s all for this one folks! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter, on TikTok, and join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!