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Fantasy Hockey 2022-23: NHL players primed for breakout seasons

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By Ryan Dadong, RotoWire

Special for Sportzshala Sports

Young players develop at different rates. Some are successful in the NHL right away, but most take time to reach their potential. Selecting a player in the mid to late rounds with an advantage is a great way to get some extra value, and every player listed below has a chance to make a big step forward in the 2022-2023 season.

Bowen Byram, D, Colorado

Bayram may have already had a breakthrough in 2021/22 if not for his injury problems. He missed most of the campaign with a head injury, but was effective when healthy, scoring five goals and 17 points in 30 regular season games and then adding nine more assists in 20 playoff games. Bayram is a talented shooting guard, and while the Avalanche’s blue-line embarrassment will limit his role, he could threaten the 40-point mark this year if he can avoid injury.

Alexander Georgiev, G, Colorado

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The opportunity for Georgiev in 2022-2023 will be fantastic. He has had some difficulties over the past four years, as well as some decent results as a backup goaltender for the Rangers. Henrik Lundqvist as well as Igor Shesterkin, there was never much hope of Georgiev becoming a long-term NYC starter. However, Georgiev will have a chance to establish himself as Colorado’s main goal player this year.

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Despite having a tough season during which he posted a 2.92 GAA and .898 save percentage in 33 contests, the reigning Stanley Cup champions will back him up this campaign. Georgiev’s current career is 17 victories, but if he can hold onto his opening performance in Colorado, he should have more than double that number this year.

Seth Jarvis, C, Carolina

Jarvis had a strong rookie season with 17 goals and 40 points in 68 games in 2021/22 and he has the potential for much more. First, it’s important to keep in mind that in the last campaign he played a modest 13:53 per game on the ice. To put it into context, he linked Corey Perry for the title of top scorer among players who averaged less than 14 minutes on the ice. Unlike Perry, the role of Jarvis will increase significantly this year. We already saw some of this towards the end of the 2021-2022 campaign, and he took full advantage of the opportunity. Jarvis averaged 15:03 on the ice over the last 22 games, scoring nine goals and scoring 20 points. Jarvis is only 20 years old and has a lot of reasons to be worried about Jarvis’ future.

Kirby Dutch, C, Montreal

Duch never developed as the Blackhawks had hoped after taking him with the third overall pick in the 2019 draft. Chicago leaned too heavily on him, so perhaps part of his problem is that he was given too much responsibility too quickly. Although Dah is a big and talented young centre-forward, he has some important red flags. He doesn’t throw a lot of punches despite his size, and he was terrible at the draw, so if your league includes any of those categories, then Daha’s value will suffer a lot. Then there’s his offensive output that has yet to come to the surface. His nine goals and 26 points in 70 games last season were his career highs. However, the change of scenery he’ll get with the Montreal acquisition this summer should do him good. Canadiens forwards shone once Martin St. Louis took over as head coach in February and will now have the opportunity to help Dahu. As with Montreal, any fantasy manager who chooses Dacha is taking a risk, but it’s not a bad risk considering his potential.

center forward
Now playing for Montreal, Kirby Dutch carries risks—and rewards—for fantasy hockey managers. (Photo by Fred Kfury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, New York Islanders

Wahlstrom represents one of the riskiest options on this list. His 13 goals and 24 points in 73 games last season left a lot to be desired, but then again, he only averaged 12:04 per game on the ice, so it’s not like he had many opportunities. It’s getting even more disheartening as his average time on the ice has dropped to 10:27 over his last 33 games. All hope is that the new head coach Lane Lambert will give young Islanders prospects more leeway than Barry Trotz did. Wahlstrom is also nearing the end of the last year of his entry-level contract, so he will likely enter the season with more motivation. However, Wahlstrom still has a lot to prove, and while there is potential, there is also a lot of uncertainty.

Cole Cofield, RW, Montreal

Caufield is a breakthrough candidate who is easy to recommend. He started the 2021/22 season with high hopes and ended it with 23 goals and 43 points in 67 games. Anyone who paid attention to the Canadiens last season knows that these numbers don’t tell the whole story. Cofield wrestled under the head coach Dominique Ducharme, but the interim coach St. Louis seemed to know exactly how to get the most out of the diminutive winger after taking over as team bench chief. Under St. Louis, Cofield scored 22 goals and 35 points in 37 games. A full season with St. Louis at the helm should be the key to Cofield’s success.

Cole Sillinger, center, Columbus

Sillinger’s 16 goals and 31 points in 79 games last season weren’t anything special for a rookie, but those numbers are much more impressive when you consider he jumped straight to the NHL at age 18 when he was only 13 years old. : 42 ice time per competition. With a year of NHL experience under his belt, he should play a bigger role in the 2022-23 season. One thing to keep a close eye on in the coming weeks is how the Blue Jackets’ earnings will pan out. Plan right now for Johnny Gaudreau as well as Patrick Lane play together on the first line of the team, but it remains to be seen who will serve as the center of this pair. Boone Jenner is an obvious candidate, but Sillinger will likely look into the spot during preseason. Sillinger is a candidate to take a step forward no matter how this situation turns out, but his value will increase significantly if he teams up with Gaudreau and Lane.

Alexis Lafrenière, LW, New York Rangers

With 31 goals and 52 points in 135 career appearances in his first two campaigns, Lafrenière did not achieve what one would expect from a first overall pick. Be aware, however, that the Rangers’ offensive depth often saw Lafrenière play a supporting role. He averaged 13:59 per competition on the ice last season, almost unchanged from the 2020–21 season, and lacked consistent linemates. He should have the opportunity to take a place in the top six right away in 2022/23, but that could depend on his transition from the left flank to the ring. If he can make that transition, this season could be an important one for Lafrenière.

Kaapo Kakko, RW, New York Rangers

Speaking of the Rangers’ lack of a proven high-scoring right winger, the team’s lack of depth in that position makes it highly likely that Kakko will start the season in one of the team’s top two spots, even if Lafrenier also serves on the right flank. This may come as a surprise to some, given that Kakko was a good player in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals, but Frank Vatrano as well as Andrew Kopp Leaving free agency opened the door for Kakko to move into a permanent role in the top six. This does not mean that the Rangers dug into the hole, believing in Kakko. It’s true that he didn’t live up to the high expectations placed on him in his first three seasons – he was limited to just seven goals and 18 points in 43 games in 2021-2022 – but he also suffered from injuries last year. Plus, he’s only 21 and still has the tools to be an offensive force. It is risky to bet on him, but Kakko has every chance of success in 2022-2023.


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