A couple of days ago, we dropped our first NHL content for the 2023-24 season, and we’re back just 48 hours later to keep the ball rolling.
We covered 2023-24 fantasy hockey busts on Tuesday, and we’ll follow up that piece with some sleepers to watch out for on draft day. While these players may not put up superstar numbers, they’ll offer value on draft day and contribute to your roster throughout the season.
Let’s dive in and see who can quietly step up and help lead you to a fantasy hockey championship this season!
NHL Fantasy Hockey Sleepers (2023-24)
2022-23: 82 GP | 16 G | 29 A | 42 PIM | +1 | 126 SOG | 5 PPP | 182 Hits
Ivan Barbashev, in reality, is a nice player to have, as he can play any position on any of the four lines up front. He has some offensive touch, physicality, and responsibility to his game. He’s a coach’s dream.
He could end up being a fantasy manager’s dream, as well as Barbashev projects to take a step forward this season. Let’s keep in mind that Barbashev tucked 26 goals with 60 points with the 2021-22 St. Louis Blues. He didn’t produce well with the Blues last season but notched six goals and 16 points (0.70 P/GP), which equates to a solid 21-goal, 57-point season in 82 games.
Additionally, there’s a real chance he skates with Jack Eichel to begin the season. That’s what Daily Faceoff has projected before the start of camp, but that is certainly something to monitor over the next couple of weeks.
His value skyrockets in leagues that count hits as he should push about 200 of those this season if he’s in a top-six role.
2022-23: 51 GP | 17 G | 26 A | 8 PIM | +5 | 93 SOG | 12 PPP | 9 Hits
In all honesty, I’m avoiding the Predators in general this season (save for Roman Josi). However, Novak is a nice option later in drafts, as he should get a big opportunity in Nashville this season.
He lacks experience, with just 78 career games played. Novak is 26 years of age and has notched 18 goals and 50 points in those 78 contests while logging 13:40 of ice time per game. The ice time will increase on a thin Predators offense as Novak will certainly see top-six center minutes as well as first-unit power play duty. If he finds a way to skate with Filip Forsberg, we could be cooking here.
He’s not going to shoot the puck a ton, he doesn’t hit, and his plus/minus should suffer on what projects to be a poor Predators club. However, he’ll score, rack up assists (especially with Forsberg), and offer a solid amount of power-play points.
He’s not a superstar, but he could serve as a nice depth center if you snatch him up late in drafts this fall.
2022-23: 35 GP | 7 G | 9 A | 32 PIM | +5 | 70 SOG | 1 PPP | 50 Hits
Oliver Wahlstrom, taken with the 11th overall pick in the 2018 NHL draft, has yet to live up to the hype. He’s appeared in just 161 career games across parts of four seasons and played just 35 a season ago. He has 32 goals and 61 points in those 161 contests. However, at the age of 23, he has plenty of time to live up to his draft billing, and 2023-24 could be his coming-out party.
Goal-scoring wingers need to play with top-six centers, and Daily Faceoff currently has Wahlstrom projected to skate on the Islanders’ top line with Bo Horvat and Mathew Barzal. That is a home run for Wahlstrom’s fantasy hockey upside as it would increase his ice time significantly- he played just 12:10 per game last season- and put him with the team’s best two offensive players.
He likely won’t see top-unit power play time to start, but if he indeed plays with — and produces with — Horvat and Barzal, don’t be surprised to see the youngster get PP1 reps.
Like Barbashev, Wahlstrom’s value increases in leagues with hits as he averages more than one hit per game while he shoots the puck a decent amount while offering a solid amount of penalty minutes to boot. If he skates with Horvat and Barzal, it would be on the left side, so he could even gain left-wing eligibility during the season.
2022-23: 77 GP | 27 G | 22 A | 16 PIM | -17 | 231 SOG | 12 PPP | 125 Hits
I included Tippett in one of my later-season waiver wire pieces for FantasyPros, and he made me look brilliant. Obviously, he’s more established than Wahlstrom above, but he will get a major role with the Flyers this season.
Tippett finished strong last season, notching 10 goals and 17 points across his final 21 games of the regular season while firing a whopping 82 shots on goal in that time. He also averaged in excess of 20 minutes per game across March and April and should certainly see that type of ice time throughout the 2023-24 campaign.
Just 24, Tippett is a potential fantasy star for many years to come. He can certainly score goals, but he also offers a wealth of shots on goal and hits. One area where he will struggle — although it’s anything but his fault — will be in the plus/minus department on a poor Flyers team. That said, if he skates with the elite two-way play of the returning Sean Couturier, he could actually surprise in that department while also offering what should be a quality amount of power-play points.
Do not sleep on Owen Tippett this season.
2022-23: 58 GP | 2G | 27 A | 18 PIM | -18 | 69 SOG | 9 PPP | 29 Hits
Sometimes, all it takes is a change of scenery, and that’s what Droin gets in a shift to Colorado.
It seemed like a match made in heaven for Drouin to play in his home province of Quebec for the Montreal Canadiens, but it ended up being a tough go for Drouin both on and off the ice. However, don’t be surprised to see his career rejuvenated with a familiar face in Denver.
Yes, sir, Drouin and Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon were teammates with the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads when they won the Memorial Cup in 2013, and they are not only re-united in the NHL but could very well begin the season on the same line. That’s what is currently being projected by Daily Faceoff, and if you add in Mikko Rantanen on the other wing, Drouin is skating with a pair of top-10 NHLers to begin the season.
Obviously, his stats have taken a dive in recent seasons, but Drouin approached 200 shots a season when going well earlier in his career. He isn’t a liability in the hits department; his plus/minus projects to thrive in his new home, and he should hit the scoresheet with regularity should he see top-line duty.
2022-23: 82 GP | 13 G | 28 A | 40 PIM | +19 | 209 SOG | 5 PPP | 69 Hits
Aside from your typical superstars, Gustav Forsling should be one of the more sought-after blueliners in fantasy hockey drafts this fall.
Aaron Ekblad suffered a plethora of injuries during the Panthers’ march to the Stanley Cup Final, and Panthers general manager Bill Zito recently stated Ekblad will be out until sometime ‘between November and January.’ That’s a wide net being cast for his potential return, but I would personally be shocked to see Ekblad return before December, while I believe he could very well be out until after Christmas.
Enter Forsling as the club’s No. 1 defenseman at this juncture. Even with Ekblad around for most of last season, Forsling put up rock-solid offensive production while delivering quality numbers across the board. He’s currently being projected to receive PP1 minutes, even with the club bringing Oliver Ekman-Larsson aboard.
This guy has the potential to be a fantasy stud across the board.
2022-23: 82 GP | 11 G | 39 A | 34 PIM | -4 | 196 SOG | 10 PPP | 112 Hits
I realize Justin Faulk isn’t a true sleeper, as he has long been a productive NHLer and put up 50 points just last season. However, he makes the cut as I really want to push readers to draft Faulk sooner rather than later.
Why? Because Torey Krug is dealing with a foot injury, he suffered while training. It’s completely unknown what the timetable is other than the team said he would be reevaluated on Oct. 1. That obviously puts his status for the club’s Oct. 12 season opener in doubt, but this, to me, sounds like it could be a serious issue given the lips-sealed approach from the Blues.
As a result, Faulk takes over PP1 duties, opening up a wealth of offensive opportunities in addition to his fantastic cross-category production. This is a guy who has scored as many as 17 goals in a season and at least 15 goals on three occasions. His 50 points from last season were actually a new career high, but he is certainly in line for another career year if Krug misses significant time.
2022-23: 7 GS | 5 W | 2.94 GAA | .905 Sv% | 0 SO
Look out for this kid.
21-year-old Devon Levi appears set for stardom in the NHL. He appeared in just seven games with the Sabres last season, as he didn’t join the club until his season was over at Northeastern University, where he turned in a stellar 2.24 GAA and .933 Sv% with six shutouts across 34 games played. In fact, as a 19-year-old freshman in the 2021-22 season, Levi posted an eye-popping 1.54 GAA with a .952 Sv% alongside a hefty 10 shutouts in 32 outings.
Obviously, he will share reps with Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen in the Sabres’ crease, but, in all honesty, true No. 1 goaltenders are rare in the league these days. This is a Sabres team that expects to win right now, and they will give the young Levi every opportunity to be the lead netminder this season, regardless of his age.
He could be a fantasy hockey steal between the pipes if he’s up to the task.
2022-23: 56 GS | 26 W | 3.11 GAA | .896 Sv% | 4 SO
Husso’s 2022-23 results leave plenty to be desired, but let’s rewind one season.
In the 2021-22 season with the St. Louis Blues, Husso appeared in 40 games and turned in a 2.56 GAA, a .919 Sv%, and two shutouts. He wrestled away the starting gig from Jordan Binnington and even finished seventh in Vezina voting despite starting the season as a backup.
The Red Wings brought in veteran James Reimer this offseason, but the No. 1 job in Detroit is Husso’s to take. The 28-year-old has an improved Red Wings club in front of him, one that has its eyes geared toward the postseason.
Don’t get startled if Husso bounces back and resembles his 2021-22 form this time around.