New Jersey Devils: Players to draft
Yes, forwards Nico Hischier and Taylor Hall are both obvious candidates that fantasy hockey owners should consider selecting in their respective drafts, but there are two other New Jersey skaters that are set to offer value for owners’ lineups.
Steven Santini – Defenseman
The Devils were a pleasant surprise last season and in large part to the team’s future all-star caliber skaters.
While defenseman Steven Santini wasn’t a regular in the Devils’ lineup in 2017-18, the 22-year-old proved just how dynamic he can be with an up-and-coming New Jersey squad. After only dressing in 36 games last season, the second-round draft pick finished in the top five for hits (113) and blocks (76).
Considering that defenseman John Moore departed for the Boston Bruins in unrestricted free agency this past offseason, Santini’s role in the lineup will significantly increase.
Fantasy owners that passed on Santini in drafts will soon learn that the 6-foot-2 blueliner has upside across the board for a majority of fantasy hockey leagues. Santini has the offensive capabilities to blossom into one of the better offensive-defenseman in the Eastern Conference, and don’t be surprised to see No. 34 inking his name on scoresheet — especially on the power play — often for New Jersey.
Kyle Palmieri – Forward
It’s probably best to avoid New Jersey Devils forwards in 2018-19 for fantasy hockey other than Hischier and Hall, but forward Kyle Palmieri is an exception for the upcoming campaign. Last season, the New Jersey native proved just how valuable he can be for fantasy hockey owners after he netted 11 power-play goals and chipped in five game-winning goals.
Those two categories alone separate Palmieri from the rest of pack come draft day.
While the 27-year-old finished the season with fewer than 50 points for the first time since joining the Devils back in 2015, he was limited to 62 games in 2017-18 (24G-20A – 44PTS). A healthy Palmieri, who’s also entering his prime, could have a career-season in 2018-19 and is worth selecting off the board sooner rather than later on draft day.
No. 21 for the Devils also finished the 2018 campaign with 94 hits, and the chances are that he’ll finish 2019 with over 100. All of those factors should cancel out any concerns that owners may have about his plus/minus ratings, too.