With draft season rapidly approaching in NHL fantasy, fantasy managers have begun their draft prep for the 2021–22 season. Scoping out your picks in the early rounds is important, but just like in the NHL draft, the real work is done in the later rounds. Whether or not you bring home a fantasy title usually isn’t determined by your first few picks, it’s determined by the hidden gems you pick up in the later rounds.
Every year there are players who are drafted in the later rounds who go on to have huge breakout seasons. Let’s take a look at five players set for breakout seasons in fantasy this year who could be potential steals given their current average draft position.
Andrew Mangiapane LW/RW – Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames two-way dynamo continues to be one of the most underrated players in the entire NHL. His two-way prowess has been well-documented, however up to last season he never had the point totals to make him relevant in fantasy leagues. I believe that changes in a big way this season.
Andrew Mangiapane had his best season to date points wise in 2020–21, putting up an impressive 32 points, including 18 goals, in 56 games. This put him on pace for 47 points and 26 goals in a full 82 games season. Last season continued a trend for Mangiapane as he’s seen his point totals climb each season since entering the league. His points per game has gone from 0.3 in 2018–19 to 0.47 in 2019–20, and then to 0.57 last season. It’s no coincidence that his average ice time in those three seasons has gone from 10:33 in 2018–19, to 13:42 in 2019–20, and then to a career high 16:40 last year.
Mangiapane was one of the best even strength producers in the entire NHL last year. He ranked second on the Flames and 54th league wide for even strength points, getting 26 of his 32 points at evens. His 15 goals at even strength ranked 14th in the NHL last year, ahead of fantasy studs like David Pastrnak, Brayden Point, and Leon Draisaitl. He achieved this despite not playing regular top-six minutes for the Flames. Mangiapane’s most common linemates last year were Mikael Backlund and Milan Lucic on the Flames third line.
Mangiapane’s point totals have increased every year he’s been in the league, and that should continue this season especially playing full-time in an improved Flames top-six that now features Blake Coleman. Expect Mangiapane to take on a huge role for the Flames under new coach Darryl Sutter.
He will continue to produce at an impressive rate at even strength, but if he can finally get some increased ice time on the power play it would take his point totals to the next level. He ranked seventh among Flames players in power play ice time last year yet ranked fourth on the team for points.
Mangiapane was unranked on NHL.com’s top 250 fantasy rankings and was ranked 207th by Yahoo which is insane. He was on pace for 26 goals last year playing limited power play minutes on the team ranked 20th in the league for goals. The Flames should no doubt be better this season offensively with Sutter behind the bench and Coleman in the top six and Mangiapane should benefit. His breakout is a matter of when not if. 55+ points and 30 goals is a very real possibility for Mangiapane and he could be a steal later in your draft.
Yegor Sharangovich LW/RW – New Jersey Devils
Yegor Sharangovich flew under the radar last season playing on the lowly Devils, but he should be a household name among fantasy managers going into the 2021–22 season as a prime breakout candidate. He made his rookie debut last year after an impressive year in the KHL and didn’t look out of place in the NHL
Sharangovich posted a solid 30 points and 16 goals in 54 games for the Devils, putting him on pace for 46 points and 24 goals in a full 82 game season. His 30 points were third on the team behind Jack Hughes and Pavel Zacha while his 114 shots were also third on the Devils. He achieved this while getting limited special teams time as he played just 53:54 on the power play last season, which was ninth among Devils forwards.
His even strength production is what was most impressive. Sharangovich led the entire Devils roster in even strength production with 21 points while his 10 even strength goals were second on the team. He ranked third league wide for rookies in terms of even strength production last year behind only Jason Robertson and Kirill Kaprizov, while his 114 shots ranked fourth among rookies.
The Devils weren’t exactly a hotbed of offense last season either, sitting 26th in the league for goals. That should change this year as the Devils look to be one of the more improved teams in the NHL. With Tomas Tatar now in the mix the Devils top six should be much stronger which will benefit Sharangovich. The addition of an elite offensive defenceman in Dougie Hamilton will also provide a boost to Sharangovich’s value, especially if he plays on the power play.
Sharangovich is locked in as a top-six player for the Devils and will play alongside one of the Devils’ talented young centres in Hughes or Nico Hischier. Last year he spent most of the season alongside Hughes, so I would expect him to start on the Devils top line again. Sharangovich was ranked 207th by NHL.com and 210th by Yahoo, placing him right around the end of the draft. Given his upside and potential linemates, he could be a great pickup with one of your last picks.
Eeli Tolvanen LW/RW – Nashville Predators
Fresh off signing a bargain three-year extension with the Nashville Predators, Eeli Tolvanen is set for a big second full-time season in the NHL. After a slow start to the 2020–21 season, Tolvanen found his footing and was lighting up the scoresheet before an injury brought his breakout to a halt.
During a stretch of one month from March to April, Tolvanen was on fire, putting up seven goals, and eight assists for 15 points in 17 games. Unfortunately he suffered a lower body injury in the beginning of April which cost him two weeks and he struggled to match his torrid pace when he returned.
Overall he was able to put up 22 points and 11 goals in 40 games on the season. He also put up six goals on the power play which led the Predators. In a full 82 game season that would be a pace of 45 points and 22 goals. Now his 17 game hot streak was obviously a small sample size, but before his breakout Tolvanen was suffering from some bad luck at even strength.
At even strength his shooting percentage from the start of the season until March 5th was just 6.6%. During his hot stretch it rose to 12.5%, and 26% overall as everything he touched went in. He led the Predators in overall points during the 17 game stretch, and also dominated on the power play with eight points tallied on the man advantage, which was first on the Predators and tied for fourth league-wide.
He may have been the benefactor of some good shooting luck last season, but he’s an elite shooter who should only continue to get better as he just turned 22 in April. With both Viktor Arvidsson and Calle Jarnkrok leaving Nashville in the offseason it opened up the door for Tolvanen to get full-time minutes in the top six and on the top power play unit.
He should get a ton of minutes on the Predators’ top power play unit, and will most likely start the year on their top line alongside Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene. He also offers solid category coverage, as he was fourth on the Predators last year with 78 hits.
Tolvanen be heavily relied on to help with the loss Arvidsson and Jarnkrok and should get every opportunity to light up the scoresheet on a Predators team looking to have a bounce back offensively. Coming in at 196th on NHL.com and 206 on Yahoo, Tolvanen offers some nice value as a late round pick to round out your bench.
Late-round fantasy value
Picking up value players in the later rounds of your draft is a surefire way to be one of the favourites to contend in your league. If you’re able to find solid value near the end of the draft you’re setting yourself up for surefire success in fantasy. With each year comes new breakout gems found in the later rounds, and these three forwards fit that category for the coming season.