2023-24 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers

by Justin Cheng
2023-24 Fantasy Hockey Busts

With the preseason well underway, the buzz of NHL action is in the air. With most fantasy drafts just around the corner, it is time to highlight the 2023-24 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers who can take your team to the next level.

Maybe a bad 2022-23 season has caused their stock to plummet. Or maybe a key injury or trade has the average GM nervous, causing their ADP to fall. Finding a late-round steal can often make or break your whole fantasy season.

Without further ado, here are three players who are being drafted significantly later than is justified.

If you are looking for help on Draft Day, check out Michael's 2023-24 Fantasy Hockey Rankings here. Also, make sure to check out my preview of the Central and Pacific Divisions, and Michael's Eastern Conference Preview before your draft gets underway.

2023-24 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers

Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Minnesota Wild (ADP: 153.5)

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If you are looking for good late-round value, one of the best positions to look at is at center ice. With such a depth of centers in the league, there is value to be had in each and every draft.

This year, the greatest value I have come across has been Joel Eriksson Ek. The 26-year-old first-round pick has been slowly improving as his NHL career has progressed. In 2020-21, JEE scored 19 goals and added 11 assists in 56 games in 17:03 of average ice time. The next year, he put up 26 goals and 49 points, averaging 18:34 TOI. In 2022-23, he enjoyed a bit of a breakout year, notching 23 goals and 61 points in 78 games. He also averaged a career-high 18:59 TOI per game.

This year, there is reason to believe he will take another step forward. The young forward is centering the first powerplay unit alongside Russian phenom Kirill Kaprizov. Further, the Wild have been rotating JEE and Ryan Hartman in first-line reps, indicating that he will most likely see at least some time on the top line.

All things considered, I expect JEE to finish this season with a career-high 30 goals and 65 points. He also is one of the highest-volume shooters in the league, and hits at an above-average rate, giving him added value in bangers leagues.

Kris Letang, D, Pittsburgh Penguins (ADP: 121.4)

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Often, the acquisition of a star boosts the draft stock of players on the acquiring team. However, when you are an aging right-defenseman who is a bit of a powerplay specialist, and your team goes out and acquires a younger version of you, your draft stock is bound to take a hit.

Enter in, Kris Letang.

Over the past decade, Kris Letang has been one of the most valuable fantasy defensemen on a per-game basis. Injury troubles limited his value on an overall basis, which always prevented Letang from entering conversations as a top-tier defenseman option.

However, over the past few years, Letang has quietly outperformed his draft position as he has been able to stay healthy.

This season, Fantasy GMs are bracing for a decline in production with the acquisition of Erik Karlsson. Despite the acquisition and some inevitable age-related decline, I think Letang still offers good fantasy value in the ninth or tenth round.

As of preseason, Letang is lining up on the first powerplay unit alongside Karlsson. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Rickard Rakell round out the rest of the unit. When Jake Guentzel returns from injury around Christmas, this may be the best powerplay the Pens have ever seen. If Letang can keep his position on the first unit and can stay healthy, I would expect him to put up around 50 points this season. On top of the hits and blocks that he is reliable to deliver, Letang is a solid mid-round option.

Mark Scheifele, C, Winnipeg Jets (ADP: 145.6)

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Recency bias is a real thing.

After six straight seasons of scoring a point per game or better, Mark Scheifele had a bit of a down year. Last season, he only managed to put up 68 points in 81 games. It is worth noting that of his 68 points, 42 were goals.

Part of the increase in scoring was due to an increase in shots. Scheifele registered a career-high 206 shots last season. He also shot at 20.4%, which is higher than his career average of 16.8%, but not absurdly unreplicable.

This season, he should find some more consistency in linemates with Pierre-Luc Dubois and Blake Wheeler skipping town. He should enjoy a full year alongside Kyle Connor which will boost his assist totals. And in one pre-season game so far, newly acquired Gabe Vilardi seems to have developed some good chemistry to round out the trio.

The final factor to consider is the fact that Scheifele is in a contract year. He reportedly is seeking $9+ million on his next contract. With his defensive warts that are well-known around the league, he will need a monster campaign to sniff anything close to $9 million. Count on a motivated Scheifele to outperform some of the centers drafted before him like Bo Horvat, Dylan Cozens, Sam Reinhart, and Matty Beniers.

Check out more Fantasy Hockey advice from the F6P team.

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