Fantasy hockey – Why things are looking up for Barzal, Boeser and more

He shoots he hits! Right? At least that’s how it’s supposed to work, if only 10% of the time. Well, occasionally a particularly unlucky one, turns out he shoots – fairly consistently – and doesn’t hit as often as one might reasonably expect. With that in mind, here’s a rundown of some of the forwards who turn the puck on the net often enough but don’t reap the rewards of scoring due.

At least until today.

That is, in accordance with the law of averages, the following individuals must see their fate turn around. This could benefit managers looking to bolster their lineups with fantasy assets in the scoring upleg. For added fun, I also include each player’s current (unusually low) shot percentage and (negative) goals over expected integers, compliments from MoneyPuck.


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Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (listed in 73.1% of ESPN.com leagues): The Capitals’ second-line center and power-play asset has two goals — both scored in the same game — in 20 games to his credit. That’s it. One less than supporting actor Sonny Milano, who has only participated in nine competitions so far. The 10-year veteran may be better known for his contributions to the assists column, but he’s still good for scoring more than 20 goals in a full season. That means fantasy managers should recognize that he has some catching up to do. (3.6 shooting points/-2.3 GAE)

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Mathew Barzal, New York Islander (76.6%): I have some difficulty imagining the opaque shadow of fantasy thrown in Barzal’s path this year considering he’s picking up a point/game pace in 21 competitions with two goals and 21 assists, including 10 power play points. I suppose the meager pair of goals is in question. (But still 21 assists and 10 power play points!) Considering the Isles forward is still shooting enough, the goals should pile up too. (3.9 shooting percentages/-3.8 GAE)

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Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seattle Kraken (66.8%): GM Ron Francis after the Kraken sent two 2023 draft picks to the Blue Jackets in exchange for the scoring forward: “We’re excited to welcome Oliver to our organization. He comes off a career year playing top minutes offensively at Columbus. His creativity and flair for hockey will complement our forward group well.”

Well, not yet. Nineteen games have gone by and Bjorkstrand has scored two goals with his new club, scoring the second just this Wednesday. But again, I’m not too worried. If he can score 28 points in Columbus, 20+ is more than possible in Seattle. The 27-year-old, who shoots regularly, leads his club in the shooting department at 57. I suspect that the goals will slowly fall. And a place in the top six will be his again. (3.5 RPM/-3.9 GAE)

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Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks (55.4%): Raise your hand if Bo Horvat edged his teammates by 14 goals a week before December. Everyone? At this rate, the Canucks captain is on track to finish the season with 66 goals while Boeser only has 10 goals. It is clear that both outer arcs will converge closer to the mean as the season progresses. It’s not like the prolific forward doesn’t contribute in valuable fantasy ways, either. Since returning from injury, Boeser has been on an eight-game points streak with two goals and seven assists on 23 shots. This equates to an average of 2.1 fantasy points/game across ESPN.com standard leagues. Grab him before it (i.e. more goals) starts to really pile up. (6.3 shooting points/-0.2 GAE)

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Sam Bennett, Florida Panthers (67.8%): Averaging nearly 18 minutes/game, the Panthers second-line center has five goals in addition to his 10 assists in 20 contests. Not a terrible record, but not great either. And not in step with his 66 shots so far. Bennett scored 28 goals in just 71 games last season, his first full campaign in Florida. There’s no reason why he can’t flirt with this character again. A little more puck luck is all you need. It’s also worth noting that Bennett leads his forward corps in both hits (51) and blocks (14). It all adds up. The score will soon increase as well. (7.6 shooting points/-4.1 GAE)

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Frank Vatrano, Anaheim Ducks (6.1%): The new duck, who is second only to teammate Troy Terry in this category, has just four goals with his 62 shots in the net. This number will increase even more – guaranteed. Especially when Vatrano sticks to a goal line with Ryan Strome. With his fourth NHL roster, the 28-year-old has the makings of a deep-league fantasy gem with a club willing to play nearly 20 minutes a game against him. (6.5 shooting points/-0.4 GAE)

https://www.espn.com/fantasy/hockey/story/_/id/35107621/espn-nhl-fantasy-hockey-improvement-barzal-boeser-kuznetsov Fantasy hockey – Why things are looking up for Barzal, Boeser and more

Emma Bowman

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