It’s September folks, time to start ramping up that mock draft participation in prep for the real thing. As part of our preseason coverage, we felt it prudent to put some names in your brain that have lost their luster. Thus, I present to you my 2023-24 Fantasy Hockey: Overlooked Veterans.
And these are the type of overlooked veterans that in my opinion win championships. Some are steady Eddie’s if you will, and others are knocking on the door of the next tier of production. Maybe they won’t score seventy-plus points but their collective contributions more than compliment your core. Most of these players garner more value in multi-cat setups but are by no means slouches for points only.
Year in and year out I watch fellow managers drool over the potential a new, young player may have. Said fascination leads them to completely disregard already established, proven, in-the-midst of their prime players.
This year you will see it in absolute overdrive with the arrival of Connor Bedard. At some point in your draft, one of your competitors is going to select him in the relatively early going. Using twelve team mock drafts for reference, I have seen him drafted over the likes of Mark Scheifele, Dylan Larkin, and Adrian Kempe repeatedly.
While Bedard may very well usurp them in his rookie season, you shouldn't be willing to bank on his potential over a gray beard's proven track record. Especially since Chicago is still very much a dumpster fire squad. Enough Bedard talk. Let's get to the 2023-24 Fantasy Hockey: Overlooked Veterans.
2023-24 Fantasy Hockey: Overlooked Veterans
Logan Couture, C, San Jose Sharks
Entering his age-34 season, Sidney Crosby lite bolstered his fantasy draft value with 67 points in 82 games in 2022-23. Regardless, going into ‘23-’24 I would be drafting him with fifty-point expectations. Highlighting a player to select but projecting a points decline for your first suggestion Chris? Bold move Cotton.
Logan’s value lies in the peripherals on top of the points and the quintessential guaranteed top six/PP1 deployment. He will flirt with 200 shots on goal, play over 18 minutes, win over 600 faceoffs, lay the body 100 plus times, and eat the puck in a healthy fashion. This is your Swiss army knife. Do not load up a roster full of players from bad teams, though sometimes it’s better to have a relied-upon one than another from a deep contender.
Erik Karlsson’s departure will have other owners avoiding San Jose like the plague. Those same owners will not consider Mike Grier bringing in Mike Hoffman, Filip Zadina, and Anthony Duclair for additional firepower to feed.
Lawson Crouse, LW, Arizona Coyotes
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Crouse will be entering his age-26 season, with a prototypical power forward build following a prototypical power forward development curve. Now with over four hundred games played, Lawson quietly had himself a solid campaign last year with 45 points in 77 games played.
With a nice even split of goals and assists, he is ready to enter the next tier. Crouse’s average time on ice per game has risen steadily since ‘17-’18, now close to 18 minutes. I am projecting his first cross of the 50-point plateau this season with over 200 hits as the Coyotes continue to improve. It’s still plausible in smaller leagues he’ll go undrafted. Use a late pick on him and reap the rewards.
Owen Tippett, RW, Philadelphia Flyers
Tough to put a 24-year-old in here but the team he plays for will make him somewhat of an afterthought for now. Playing for a rebuilding squad, no one realistically has great expectations for the Philadelphia Flyers. Regardless, Broad Street fans have to be excited about what Owen could do next year, with me firmly believing a star is about to be born.
He has the poise, the skill, the shot, the creativity, and the confidence. The thirty-goal boundary seems imminent this campaign. Last season he provided 200-plus shots with an entirely sustainable sub-12% shooting. He fell one point short of 50 last year while providing 125 hits and 69 blocks. If he flirts with 60 points and similar peripherals, you have yourself a later round gem.
Mike Matheson, D, Montreal Canadiens
This was my very last pick in a redraft league last season. I stuck with him through countless IR stints in the first half, eventually couldn’t stomach them, dropped him, and then naturally watched him skyrocket for another team. Though he carries injury risk, Matheson is the uncontested number one option on the Montreal blue line.
In the 48 games he played last year, he scored 34 points; high tier production for defense. In said games he also provided 80 blocks and 53 hits, making for a savvy later consideration. Earmark him now for a middle rounds snag, if he can remain relatively healthy, you’re looking at a potential 50-point season.
Brock Nelson, C, New York Islanders
Brock Nelson days away. pic.twitter.com/csjPX4uWFH
— New York Islanders (@NYIslanders) September 15, 2023
Nelson attained his final form last year, collecting 75 points in a full 82-game slate. This is one of the most dangerous shooters in the world who flies under the radar year in and year out. His ADP will surely rise now that he’s cleared the 70-point plateau but because of where he plays, he’ll still undoubtedly be drafted beneath his end-of-season rank.
Clearing 200+ shots on goal for the first time in his career along with almost 500 faceoff wins makes him an excellent option beyond round 10. While 16% shooting may make some fearful of regression to the mean, he scored one more goal the season prior with an almost 22% rate. Premier shooters like Brock are sustainable, case in point he’s been very near or above 14% for six seasons now.
Jared McCann, LW, Seattle Kraken
The Kraken are another example of how when it comes to becoming a serious Stanley Cup contender quick, it helps to be an expansion team. The Vegas Golden Knights took less than a decade from inception to glory and Seattle is very well on their way to a similar trajectory. A key component to their success is former Pittsburgh Penguin, Jared McCann.
The former Sault Ste. Marie Greyhound attained the prestigious 40-goal tier in his age-26 season, looking more than primed to repeat this campaign. McCann has a five-star release, is a great skater, and he's in his prime. This is a four-line team, so although he bounces around the lineup, he often sees time in the top six and on the primary powerplay.
He shot 19% last year so some regression to the mean is expected but I honestly don't see a tremendous fall off. Even with slight regression, I would still pencil him in for 35 goals. West Coast obscurity will make him a steal somewhat later in drafts.
Adrian Kempe, LW, Los Angeles Kings
Like McCann in Seattle, Kempe also attained the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career last season. The Kings "Marion Gaborik" of the current era, there may not be a player more locked into his deployment. I owned McCann and Kempe in both my leagues last year, paying much attention to deployment. While Jared could go from third line to first line overnight, Kempe was set it and forget it status.
Top line and powerplay unit one are all but assured this year despite Pierre Luc Dubois' arrival. A textbook sniper such as Adrian will not have his feathers ruffled being their primary goal-scoring threat. West Coast obscurity also applies here.
Rasmus Andersson, D, Calgary Flames
Rasmus Andersson is the winner of the Clayton H. Riddell Award!
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) September 12, 2023
NHL.com has him ranked #34 out of the top-50 fantasy defenseman in an early August column. Beneath names such as Bowen Byram who has yet to clear twenty-five points and Luke Hughes who has not so much as had a sip of coffee in the league to this point in time.
Calgary’s top offensive defender however has been a fifty-point producer for two straight campaigns under painfully defensive-oriented Darryl Sutter. If you can produce like that under him, any new regime can’t possibly be worse.
The smooth-skating Swede has all the ability in the world to get to the sixty-point threshold, especially if Jonathan Huberdeau regains his prior form. The return of Oliver Kylington poses a threat to his minutes but Rasmus' right-handedness has me thinking he'll prevail from a deployment standpoint. Like the two above, he is entering his age-27 season. Expect great things at a great draft price.
Nick Schmaltz, RW, Arizona Coyotes
Returning to Arizona for what is one of the more underappreciated point producers in the league with 117 over 126 games played in the prior two campaigns. You are going to be hard-pressed to find a better points-per-game ratio beyond round 10 in a 12-team draft. Understand his only value is points as he barely shoots, doesn't hit, and is atrocious at draws.
If you count takeaways he has some added value. Arizona is improving year over year and Logan Cooley will be a big boost to this team's formality down the middle. Like a couple I've highlighted, this will be Schmaltz's age 27/28 season.
Perhaps you won't land all of these players but at the very least have them earmarked on your lists for that conundrum pick where time dwindles pondering options. Good luck in your selections and hopefully these 2023-24 Fantasy Hockey: overlooked veterans serve you well throughout the season!
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