Fantasy: 5 Late-round keeper league players to target

Keeper leagues aren't for the faint of heart.

Careers get put on hold, friendships are temporarily - and sometimes permanently - suspended, and spouses across the country moan and groan while their significant others spend hours pouring over stats and projections in the hopes of landing the next Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews.

However, those types of players only roll around every couple decades. Unless you've been blessed with multiple top first-round picks, the likelihood of those generational talents being available for selection is slim to none. But that doesn't mean you can't nab a productive dynasty league piece in the later rounds.

The five guys listed below might not be destined for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, but they should be targeted in the tail end of your draft as potentially key fantasy assets down the road.

Adrian Kempe, Los Angeles Kings

The prototypical power forward, Kempe is a physical force who can also provide a boost of offensive production when needed. Despite being somewhat buried on the Kings' depth chart over the last season and a half behind established star centermen in Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter, Kempe is just starting to scratch the surface.

Regardless, the Kings' 2014 first-round pick would be a nice peripheral piece to a dynasty squad in need of that little bit of extra offensive flair.

Kempe's 16 goals and 21 assists won't exactly have you trading up in the draft to select him, but his speed, 6-foot-2 frame, and offensive potential make him a clear late-round name to target in keeper formats. He also racks up hits and penalty minutes, should your league include those categories.

If Kempe can manage to carve out a little bit more of a role on the Kings next season and earn more minutes than his average of 13:20 per game from last year, don't be surprised if Kempe turns in a 20-goal, 50-point-type campaign.

Juuse Saros, Nashville Predators

Another player biding his time while waiting in the wings, Saros is perhaps the best-kept secret among backup netminders in the entire NHL. Unfortunately for him, Saros has been playing behind one of the best goalies around with Pekka Rinne in Nashville.

It doesn't seem like Rinne is ready to cede his crease to Saros just yet, so projecting his value as a No. 1 option is clearly foolish. But his numbers last year indicate that he can be a valuable fantasy asset. In 26 games last season, Saros registered a respectable 11-5-7 record to go along with a 2.45 goals against average and a solid .925 save percentage.

Banking on an injury is a slip, but if Rinne were to go down to injury, Saros' value would skyrocket. Regardless, he remains a very intriguing late-round target that could be worth his weight in gold if he can win the crease away from his perennial Vezina-winning mentor.

Don't sleep on Saros' No. 1 potential; he'll be holding down a starter's job before long.

Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes

Necas used a stellar showing on the international stage last season to establish himself as one of the most talented young prospects outside of the NHL. The versatile Czech forward put up 11 points in seven games at the World Junior Championship, and followed that up with five points in seven games at the World Championships.

The 12th overall pick from the 2017 draft played in only one game for the Hurricanes last season, so his fantasy value will take a hit if he's not able to crack the Canes' lineup out of training camp. But he's already proven to have the soft hands and slick finishing abilities required to hang in the show.

Also, don't forget that Carolina is seriously lacking in forward depth, especially up the middle. So it isn't that much of a stretch to expect the speedy Necas to be an NHL regular next season with at least 50 or 60 games under his belt. Roll the dice on Necas this season in the later rounds before his value skyrockets.

Timo Meier, San Jose Sharks

Potentially the player with the biggest chance of being taken in the earlier rounds of your draft, Meier is a forward who started to show flashes of his true potential last season for the Sharks.

He showed that he belongs in the NHL during his first full season last year, registering 21 goals and 15 assists. His silky mitts and relatively large frame (6-foot, 215 pounds) make Meier a very attractive prospect on a Sharks team that regularly finishes in the top half of team scoring every season.

San Jose isn't done augmenting its roster this summer, but the 21-year-old will be set to play a bigger role next season, which will undoubtedly include more power-play time. He did hold down a spot on the Sharks' second unit last season, producing three goals and one assist.

Meier's name might not be one that gets tossed around a lot, but as a late-round fantasy add, he could be very valuable should he continue to develop into a consistent offensive threat who can both score and dish the biscuit.

Danton Heinen, Boston Bruins

(Photo courtesy: Getty Images)

Heinen plays on the Bruins behind some of the most talented forwards in the entire league in Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak, so you can't really blame the guy for not getting the credit he truly deserves as an underrated scorer on the rise.

But the versatile forward can play either wing and showed last season that he can score at the highest level, tallying 16 goals and 31 assists for 47 points in 77 games for Boston.

The Bruins have been mostly silent in terms of offseason additions to their forward group, so Heinen should have even more opportunities next season to continue to prove that he can hang with the big club and produce on a consistent basis.

If you can nab him in the late rounds, Heinen could be a massive steal.

Copyright © 2018 Score Media Ventures Inc. All rights reserved. Certain content reproduced under license.

Read more at NHL | theScore >>>

Leave a Reply