It’s Valentine’s Day and as Stephen Stills says it: “If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you are with.” The same goes for fantasy hockey owners.
We all wish we had Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane and Jamie Benn on our teams. However, it isn’t possible, so what better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than to appreciate those fantasy studs you selected later in the draft or even picked up on the waiver wire.
Here are five non-All-Star hockey players all fantasy owners should be in love with this Feb. 14.
Joe Thornton, C, San Jose
Technically, I could have chosen Sidney Crosby for our center on this list because for some odd reason, he didn’t make the All-Star roster, but I still felt like that was cheating. Fantasy owners with Crosby have loved him for years.
Thornton is the forgotten man up the middle that owners should appreciate this Valentine’s Day. With fellow Sharks center Joe Pavelski and defenseman Brent Burns on the All-Star roster, there was no room for Thornton in Nashville.
But Thornton is still posting some great numbers. He has 12 goals, 47 points and a plus-16 rating in 53 games. He is ranked in the top-10 centers in points and plus/minus.
Not bad for a guy who had an preseason ADP of 119.0 according to Fantasy Pros.
Artemi Panarin, LW, Chicago
As expected, NHL fans have seen an absolutely fantastic rookie class in 2015-16, yet the Blackhawks winger could very well be the frontrunner for the Calder Trophy.
Panarin leads all rookies with 18 goals and 52 points. He is also in the top five among rookies in plus/minus, shots on net and power-play points.
Overall, he is tied for seventh in the league in scoring.
Mats Zuccarello, RW, New York Rangers
Arguably the Rangers’ best player, Zuccarello is right up there with Panarin as the top fantasy sleeper of the season. Zuccarello had an ADP of 202.0 before the season.
He got off to an absolutely terrific start with 10 goals, 21 points and a plus-10 rating in the first 20 games. His 19 goals this season have already tied a career high, and he is also on pace for his first ever 60-point season.
John Klingberg, D, Dallas
Even though there are some absolutely great defensemen in the Central Division, it is still hard to believe Klingberg didn’t make the All-Star team.
He has 10 goals and 46 points in 55 games this season. Among defensemen, only Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns have more.
In his rookie season last year, Klingberg averaged 0.62 points per game. In 2015-16, he is scoring 0.84 points per game. Assuming he stays healthy, he has a chance to eclipse the 70-point plateau.
Petr Mrazek, G, Detroit
Anaheim Ducks netminder John Gibson was a very strong candidate for this position on our list, but he is kind of like that girl the guy went on a date with once or twice in late January and early February.
Valentine’s Day rolls around and the guy is left to wonder, “Do I send flowers? Do I get a gift? Is it too soon to celebrate Valentine’s Day or is she expecting something?”
Mrazek’s relationship with fantasy owners has had more time to grow, and boy has it ever. The 23-year-old has taken over the net in Detroit, and owners are reaping the benefits. He is 21-10-5 with a 1.94 GAA, .933 save percentage and four shutouts. He leads the league in GAA and save percentage.