In the last few rounds of my draft, the best strategy is to take players with high ceilings. Odds are, even if you take the “safe” guy, you end up cutting that player to stream somebody else at some point, so you might as well target somebody who could turn into a hold. Today, I’m going to tell you the ten guys that I like the most as dart throws at the end of your draft. Last season, among the notable late hits I highlighted were Rasmus Andersson and Noah Dobson, with Victor Olofsson‘s rookie breakout a big win from the past. I’m going to use players whose ADP is after 180, which is 15 rounds in a 12 man league, and they’re in no particular order. Let’s get to it!
1) Rickard Rakell – Rakell is getting first crack at playing with Crosby and Guentzel this season. That alone makes him worthy of a late round gamble, but it’s not like Rakell is some unknown. Yes, it’s been a while, but he’s a two time 30 goal scorer. The one downside is he won’t be on the top power play unit, but he should be the first guy to bump up if somebody is injured. There’s a chance for Rakell to pot 25 goals with close to three shots per game, with upside from there if things break right. Or, he flops, in which case, we pick someone else up. Upside!
2) Dylan Cozens – Homer alert! Cozens made some strides last season, but nothing massive for fantasy, with 38 points in 79 games. The improvements came on the defensive end, which is big for his career in general. He went to the World Championship to work on his offense, and scored seven goals playing a big role for Team Canada. His mission this summer has been to work on his offense and the former 7th overall pick has the pedigree to take a big leap. I love him playing with Quinn and Peterka in camp as they should be able to get easy minutes. You’ll definitely be able to get Cozens with your last pick, but I can see a 60 point season here.
3) Victor Olofsson – A player who was formerly in this spot as a rookie, Olofsson struggled horribly in the middle of last season due to a wrist injury. He missed time, and then his lethal shot wasn’t the same upon return. Olofsson finished the season well to still reach 20 goals. Granato is playing him with Skinner and Thompson to open the season. Now, those two also like to take a ton of shots, so I don’t think we see crazy shot volume, but Olofsson is capable of shooting 15% in a season. He doesn’t take penalties or hit so he’s not for banger leagues, but in scoring-centric leagues, I love him late because he could pop 30 if he has the role.
4) Alexis Lafreniere – Lafreniere scored 19 goals last season and they were all at even strength. That’s a better season than most people give credit for. There are three reasons to like Lafreniere this season. The first is natural growth. He’s about to turn 21 and his third season could see the true jump into playing at a top line quality. Second, it’s his workload. He’s been at 14 minutes per game in his first two seasons, which could easily increase. Lastly, there is some chance he works his way onto a top five power play unit. I expect that Trocheck will get the first crack, but if he doesn’t fit as well as Strome did there, Lafreniere should be the first to bump up. He also could move up due to an injury. Taking a first overall pick this late is a worthy gamble.
5) Cole Perfetti – Perfetti showed well in his games last season as a rookie. Now, he’s locked into the top six for a Winnipeg team full of great offensive players. His shot rate was poor, but it’s natural for it to take a big jump in year two. He has the lowest floor out of anyone on this list, but he was a great play driver last season on a team that struggled to control the puck. That should turn into offensive value given the surrounding talent, especially if he’s with, say, Dubois and Ehlers.
6) Artturi Lehkonen – Lehkonen has consistently come up big in the playoffs in his career. Now, he’s going to have the most optimal regular season role from a fantasy perspective. Lehkonen will surely be in the top six for the Avalanche. With Landeskog out to open the season, Lehkonen could slot in with MacKinnon and Rantanen. Maybe he goes onto the second line with Rantanen for balance with Big Val going with MacKinnon. Regardless, top six minutes on a powerhouse Colorado team can provide great value. In 16 regular season games with the Avs last year, Lehkonen put 45 shots on goal. He should also start on PP1 with Landeskog out. Lehkonen is in great position for a hot start, and then you can go from there.
7) Jakub Vrana – Why is Vrana ranked so low? Yes, he had a bad injury, but it should be a thing of the past. In his 37 games with the Red Wings, he has 21 goals. Now, he gets two much improved linemates in Perron and Copp, which should also increase his time on ice. He may also keep his spot on the point of the top power play. His ceiling is as high as anyone’s on this list, right there with Rakell.
8) Calen Addison – I was in on Addison once they completed the Kulikov trade, but all indications are that Addison is running the first power play unit in Minnesota. Sign me up. His shot rate has been poor in his career so far, but the power play points could be great on that unit. Even if he’s on the third pair in a limited role, Addison should be able to crush easy minutes, especially since Minnesota has as much depth as anyone in the league. Something similar to Andersson last season, where he puts up 50 points with a lot on the power play, is in play.
9) Gustav Forsling – “Forsling was quite good for Florida last season scoring 37 points in 71 games. That was despite 0 PPP and 21 minutes per night. There’s no guarantee he gets the power play time now, although I think there’s a chance he takes that spot from Montour. Either way, his minutes are bound to go up now that he should be on the top pair with Ebklad. The shot rate has been average for a defenseman, which is fine, but could see an uptick. We’re close to the point where I want to gamble on upside for defensemen in 12 man leagues or shallower, so I like Forsling quite a bit as a dart throw.” And that’s me quoting me from the Top 40 defensemen post! The power play time looks more likely now so I love Forsling late.
10) Pavel Francouz – I don’t have any expectation that Francouz will start 50+ games in Colorado barring an injury to Georgiev. That said, unless you need volume late based on your league settings, I’m looking for quality starts late in the draft. Francouz has a 2.46/.921 in 57 career games. He’s won 36 games, starting only 48. Maybe Georgiev struggles and Francouz ends up in a full split, or is the 1A with a marginal edge. Regardless, he’ll be worth starting in every single matchup. I love taking him in roto leagues where you have a set number of starts for the season, but even in head to head, I’d be pumped to get Francouz as my third goalie.
That’s all for now guys. I’ll be back with some bold predictions before the season starts. As always, feel free to ask any questions, leave any comments, or give any suggestions below. Thanks for reading, take care!