A sleeper can be classified as someone who can or is very likely to hit above their own weight in the average draft position. From experiencing the classic bounce season to finally living up to expectations to appearing completely unexpected (see Troy Terry), there is no shortage of factors that can lead to a sudden increase in player productivity.
At the end of the day, it’s all about finding value. With that in mind, here’s a list of 10 sleep goals:
The ratings below are drawn from Sportsnet’s top 250 fictional season ratings and are measured based on previous production, projection, age and potential.
1. Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, Detroit Red Wings (SN Ranking: 106) – ADP: 166.1
In a total of 37 games with Detroit scattered over parts of two seasons, the qualifying double winger scored 21 goals and 30 points. It is distributed over 82 matches, which is a segment of 47 goals and 66 points. Even if Frana scored half that pace, that’s a bargain – especially considering where he’s been going in the record drafts. At least, the 26-year-old laid the foundation for a career year. Going into the season, Vrana is expected to skate on the second line and also the first unit of play.
2. Alex Tuch, RW, Buffalo Sabers (SN Ranking: 151) – ADP: 164.9
In 50 games with his hometown Cypress after off-season shoulder surgery and trade from Vegas, Tooch scored 12 goals and 38 points. In short, the 26-year-old was well on his way to gaining 62 points. Needless to say, the striker validated the idea that he was ready to increase the responsibilities after being deployed mostly to the bottom six with the Golden Knights. In the blink of an eye, Tuch blossomed into a top six and first PU player.
3. Miro Heskanen, D, Dallas Stars (SN Ranking: 155) – ADP: 98
With John Klingberg out the door, it’s time for Heiskanen to take the next step offensively. In 70 matches last season, the 23-year-old scored five goals and scored a career high of 36 points. With that in mind, realistically, 50 points – at least – should be an attainable number for the art to achieve this season as it continues to advance. Of course, Heiskanen put the entire hockey world informed in the 2020 bubble playoffs when he racked up 26 points in 27 games in Dallas’s run to the Stanley Cup Final.
4. Tyler Toffoli, LW/RW, Calgary Flames (SN Ranking: 161) – ADP: 165.1
After being acquired from Montreal last February, Toffoli was largely used in a third line role by Darryl Sutter for the remainder of the season. Well, that is about to change. In case you missed it, the bonfires were busy this summer. Suddenly, the park bench next to Elias Lindholm became available. Enter Toffoli, who not only has first-line experience, but also the credentials to support the upgrade. Since the start of the decade, the 30-year-old has scored 61 goals and 114 points in a total of 153 regular season games. At this point, it’s very likely that Sniper will start the season on a streak with the aforementioned Lindholm and newcomer Jonathan Huberdeau.
5. Ilya Samsonov, J., Toronto Maple Leafs (SN Ranking: 173) – ADP: 116.6
Given Matt Murray’s recent record of inconsistent play and health issues, there is no denying that the door is open for Samsonov to land his first job in Toronto. However, the 25-year-old, who signed a one-year deal in July, is emerging from a horrific campaign with Washington. In 44 games, he scored 3.02 goals against average and 0.896 savings percentage. Samsonov will probably start the year as a backup, but again, he’ll definitely get a chance to prove his worth.
6. Oliver Bjorkstrand, right wing, Seattle Kraken (SN ranking: 202) – ADP: 167.3
To make way for Johnny Goudreau’s brutal contract, Columbus had no choice but to forgo the salary, paving the way for Seattle to acquire Björkstrand. Simply put, both advanced metrics and eye tests check the 27-year-old winger, who will emerge from a season in which he achieved the highest level in goals (28) and points (57). Bjorkstrand is expected to start the year on line number one in Seattle. That means exposure to tons of Calder competitor Mattie Penners – which is pretty cool.
7. Connor Brown, LW/RW, Washington Capitals (SN Rank: 215) – ADP: N/A
With Tom Wilson on the shelf to start the season due to off-season knee surgery, Brown will be given every chance of staying on the top streak in Washington alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin. The 28-year-old winger, who was signed from Ottawa in July, scored 10 goals and 39 points in 64 games last season. More importantly, Brown is set to become an unrestricted free agent next July, so there’s a full financial motivation as well.
8. Seth Jarvis, LW/RW, Carolina Hurricanes (SN Ranking: 230) – ADP: 168.8
From the start, Jarvis has been a revelation in his rookie campaign for Canes. In 68 regular season matches, the 20-year-old scored 17 goals and 40 points. Furthermore, all he did in order to appear in the Stanley Cup playoffs was to score eight points (three goals and five assists) in 14 games. More importantly, as the season progressed, Jarvis became a mainstay in Carolina’s first streak with Sebastian Aho and Teofu Terravinen. Look out for more this season, they’ve had some serious chemistry.
9. Phil Kessel RW Vegas Golden Knights (SN Ranking: 243) – ADP: 179
After three seasons with Arizona, Kessel stayed in the desert this summer and chose to sign a one-year contract with Vegas. While it would be unfair to expect the 34-year-old to return to his point in the game’s glory days, there is no doubt that his fantasy stock could only be positively affected by a move to Sin City. Having said that, everything will depend on how it is used by the new head of the Golden Knights, Bruce Cassidy. At the very least, Kessel could help provide a boost to playing the corrupt power in Vegas, one who ranked 25th in the NHL last season under Pete DeBoer.
10. Adam Buckvist, DE, Columbus Blue Jackets (SN Ranking: Unavailable) – ADP: N/A
This one is a deep sleeper but given the rarity of the position and its potential, it might be worth taking a trip on Boqvist. For starters, the 22-year-old has seen production increase in each of his first three NHL seasons from 13-16 to 22 points in 2021/2022. In fact, he was running at a 35-point pace a season ago. In terms of the expected deployment, Boqvist will almost certainly receive the top four minutes of equal power in addition to his role in running the second PU. Of course, that could also mean Zach Werenski’s juice show is there, too.