Fantasy Hockey: Undrafted Pre-season Pickups

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      Injuries are starting to pile up to fantasy-relevant stars, so Fantasy owners will be moving their draft picks to IR and opening up spots on their roster. Finding an undrafted gem to start the season can go a long way toward creating a championship team.

      Managing Fantasy Editor Brock Seguin and Fantasy Analyst Michael Bondy give you their favourite post-draft pickups that are available in at least 65 percent of Yahoo Leagues.

      Logan Couture (SJS – C) – 34% Owned

      It’s rare to come out of a draft and be able to add a centre that has perennially put up 60-to-70 points and 200 shots, but you can with Couture this season. With San Jose having an early two games in Europe on October 7th and 8th, he makes a sneaky preseason scoop as he contributes across the board in all fantasy categories and could give teams a nice early lead. In addition, Couture is one hot streak away from returning to the 30-goal, 70-point form fans saw in 2018-19, making him a great trade piece if he can get going right out of the gate. – Michael Bondy

      Andrei Kuzmenko (VAN – LW) – 31% Owned

      Kuzmenko is one of my favourite last-round picks this year, and he’s still available in 69 percent of leagues. The 26-year-old Russian winger was highly sought-after following a 53-point (20G / 33A) season with St. Petersburg SKA (KHL). Kuzmenko chose to sign a one-year deal with the Canucks and has been stapled to Elias Pettersson’s hip during the preseason. Additionally, with Brock Boeser injured, Kuzmenko is filling in on the Canucks’ top power-play unit. A highly-talented, slick skating winger should excel with this type of usage.

      Don’t get it confused; he’s not Artemi Panarin, but he should make an immediate fantasy impact and has plenty of upside for a player you can find on the waiver wire. Brock Seguin

      Rickard Rakell (PIT – LW/RW) – 27% Owned

      Rakell enjoyed success after changing scenery and moving from the Anaheim Ducks to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline in 2021-22. Scoring four goals and 13 points on 48 shots in 19 games, Rakell became an integral part of the Penguins’ top-6. Across a full season, his Pittsburgh production would have been good for 56 points and 207 shots in 82 games, strong production for a waiver wire target. The 29-year-old may not find himself on the Penguins’ top power-play unit yet, but being the third cog amongst their first line next to Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel isn’t a bad place to find yourself fantasy-wise in the meantime. Rakell once had a 34 goal, 35 assist season, and if he can return to even three-fourths of that production, he will make a great lineup filler while he finds himself inside the Penguins’ still lethal top-6. Michael Bondy

      Phil Kessel (VGK – RW) – 23% Owned

      After three years in Arizona, Kessel inked a one-year, $1.5M contract with the Golden Knights in August. He’s spent the preseason on Jack Eichel’s wing, and the duo has performed tremendously in an admittedly small sample size. Eichel has three goals, and Kessel has picked up assists on all of them.

      Kessel’s elite shot volume has also returned (11.4 SOG/60), and the two are averaging 3.5 xGF/60. Of course, it would be foolish to buy into such a small sample, especially in the preseason, but these are two players with outstanding track records and seeing the early chemistry is an indicator that Kessel could hit the ground running in Vegas. Brock Seguin

      Nick Schmaltz (ARI – C/RW) – 11% Owned

      Much like Couture, Schmaltz is a rare free agent piece who is a lock to occupy both his team’s top power-play and top line heading into the 2022-23 season. Besides hurting your plus/minus, Schmaltz is solid in almost all other statistical categories as he finished 2021-22 just under a point-per-game with 59 points (23G / 36A) in 63 games played. His numbers were fueled by his elite second half of the season, which saw him score 18 goals and 26 assists in 39 games to close out the year. The 26-year-old finds himself leading the Coyotes in seemingly the same situation as he did a season ago alongside the skilled Clayton Keller. You can rarely grab a player with point-per-game potential immediately after your draft is completed, making Schmaltz a diamond in the Arizona desert. Look for the C/RW eligible asset to fill out your roster post-draft. Michael Bondy

      Alex Newhook (COL – C/LW) – 9% Owned

      If you have the chance to roster a player from the Avalanche’s top-6 in fantasy, it’s usually a smart idea. Nazem Kadri proved how fantasy efficient the Avalanche’s second-line centre spot could be as he enjoyed a career-high 87-point season in 2021-22. Kadri has left town for Calgary, leaving a glaring hole that the 21-year-old, first-round pick, will be looking to fill. In his first full season in the NHL, Newhook scored double-digit goals (13) and assists (20) while consistently finding himself in the bottom-6. If he can lock down the highly coveted second-line centre spot, he should take a fantasy jump forward. Newhook posted 58 points in 46 career college games with Boston College, so there’s undoubtedly offence to unlock. Newhook is a low-risk, very high-ceiling free agent scoop that could potentially go on to occupy your fantasy roster all season. His C/LW eligibility makes him an easy target to fit into your lineup as well. Michael Bondy

      Jack Quinn (BUF – RW) – 8% Owned

      Quinn had 61-points (26 G /35 A) in 45 games AHL season in 2021-22, and it looks like he may find himself on the Sabres’ top line to start the 2022-23 season. This makes him worth more of a look than most other players on the waiver wire at the start of the season.

      The 2020 No.8 overall pick has enjoyed success early on this preseason, amassing two goals and an assist in his first three preseason games. If similar products can be secured while playing atop the Sabres’ lineup, he could make a great scoop as the 21-year-old has one of the higher offensive ceilings of all rookies entering 2022-23. Michael Bondy

      Frank Vatrano (ANA – LW/RW) – 8% Owned

      Vatrano has been a consistent producer over the last four years, averaging 23 goals and 16 assists per 82 games while playing just 14:20 ATOI. We finally got to see what he might be able to do in an elevated role following a midseason trade to the New York Rangers. Vatrano spent some time in the top-6, scoring eight goals with five assists (13 points) in 22 games while playing 15:18 ATOI. He turned that into a three-year contract with the Ducks in the offseason, and he’s expected to be Trevor Zegras’ linemate to open the season if Zegras is 100 percent. We saw Zegras help turn Troy Terry into a 37-goal scorer last year, so it’s easy to connect the dots and expect a breakout campaign from Vatrano. Brock Seguin

      Calen Addison (MIN – D) – 7% Owned

      Addison was originally a second-round pick (No.53 overall in 2018) of the Penguins and was traded to the Wild as a part of the Jason Zucker trade in 2020. Addison has put up outstanding numbers in Iowa (AHL) since and appears set to become a full-time NHLer in 2022-23. Addison may not play significant minutes at 5v5, but he’s been quarterbacking the No.1 power-play unit in the preseason, so he figures to be an excellent source of PPP. If you waited to draft a No.4 defenseman or have Charlie McAvoy going to IR, Addison is the perfect high-upside free agent pickup. Brock Seguin

      Dylan Holloway (EDM – C) – 4% Owned

      Holloway was the No.14 overall pick in 2020 and turned pro last season, scoring eight goals with 14 assists (22 points) in 33 AHL games with Bakersfield. He made his NHL debut in the postseason. He entered the preseason as a roster hopeful but has quickly climbed the Oilers’ depth chart and is making a case for top-6 minutes. In four preseason games, Holloway has scored four goals with two assists, including a hat-trick on Monday.

      Holloway skated with Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman in that game, and while Ty Rattie taught us the preseason doesn’t mean anything, it’s exciting to think of Holloway’s upside if he plays in the Oilers’ top-6. He’s worth picking up to start the season, and if everything goes right, he’ll be a high-upside winger for the rest of the season. Conversely, you can drop him if he lands at the bottom of the depth chart. – Brock Seguin

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