Every Monday, Last Word on Hockey will survey the Fantasy Hockey landscape and select a handful of players to assist in your weekly match. We will attempt to select “Studs” who may be available in your league as opposed to who we know are already owned by other teams. The “Duds” will most certainly be taken and will serve as a warning when you have “who do I start/sit” questions. The “Sleepers” will be almost exclusively available in most leagues. We will also attempt to have a mix of players that will apply to traditional leagues as well as banger leagues. All ownership numbers are based on Sunday research and may be slightly different at the time of publication. Here are our selections for Week 9:
2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Studs, Duds, and Sleepers: Week 9
Goalies are a funny thing in fantasy hockey. You can find yourself with a great one who is not winning or a mediocre one who is. A couple per season will be both great, and his team will score to help provide the win. Ullmark is that goalie this season. The Boston Bruins are playing out of their mind under new coach Jim Montgomery. But very few expected this performance from the netminder. Currently leading the NHL in wins, GAA, and save %, Ullmark is a stud fantasy hockey option. In his last seven starts, he is 6-0-0 (he left a 3-2 victory with an upper-body injury against the Carolina Hurricanes) and has a .955 save %.
Boston plays four games this week, and it is likely Ullmark starts two of these. There is the possibility he starts three, so consider this a bonus if he does. They will be tough with two games against the Vegas Golden Knights and one against the Colorado Avalanche. The third opponent is the lowly Arizona Coyotes. But Ullmark and the Bruins just destroyed Colorado, and Vegas has lost three of their last five. Expect more solid outings from Ullmark going forward.
Not much is going well for the Ottawa Senators. But fantasy hockey value can be found on this team. Stützle has been one of these cases. Currently sitting second on the Senators in points and leading all forwards in ice time, he is getting ample opportunity to be the team’s scoring threat. His best fantasy value is coming on the power play, where he co-leads the team in points and goals on the man advantage. Over his last five games, he has turned up the heat. Three goals, three assists, five power-play points and a game-winner. This will remain the angle for Week 9.
Three games for Ottawa this week. Two teams in the bottom half on the penalty kill should give the ninth-ranked Senator power play some good looks. The third opponent, the Dallas Stars, will present a challenge as they boast the third-best kill. But Ottawa did go 1 for 4 on the power play against Dallas earlier this season, so it is still an opportunity. Currently rostered by 89% and 92% of Yahoo and ESPN fantasy hockey leagues, he is still available for someone. Grab him while you can.
What a mess the New York Rangers are right now. Having lost five of their last six, and rumours of internal issues have certainly raised concerns for fantasy hockey owners. Over Shesterkin’s last four starts, he is 1-2-1 with a 3.5 GAA and a .902 save %. While the numbers are not great, it is also how the goals are allowed. In a 4-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers, the Rangers began the third up 3-0. After this, in a 3-2 OT loss to the Senators, Shesterkin allowed the tying goal with under a minute to play. In a 5-3 loss to the New Jersey Devils, the Rangers led 2-0 early.
This week does not get easier for Shesterkin. Three games on the docket for the Rangers. The two road games will be against two of the best teams in the Western Conference. One home game against the St. Louis Blues could be a favourable matchup, but that is IF Shesterkin gets the start. Having recently struggled in net, it is not a stretch to see him get only one start this week. He is 100% owned in Yahoo and ESPN fantasy hockey leagues. For right now, if you need some goalie starts, be very cautious here.
The struggles have been real for Weegar on his new Calgary Flame team. Coming off a career year with the Florida Panthers and part of the major trade involving Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary believed in him. Fantasy hockey owners did as well. The latter has started to lose faith, and rightfully so. No goals thus far this season, a mere six assists, and no power play points are far below expectations. His current PDO of 84:29 is his worst production since his rookie season. The lone decent fantasy hockey production is in hits, averaging 2.4 per game. But 13 of those came in two outlier games.
This week provides decent matchups for the Flames. But that has not translated well for Weegar this season. The last 12 games have provided two assists. Of those games, nine have been against bottom-half defensive teams. That does not equal confidence for fantasy hockey owners. Some have begun to figure out there are better options available, with ownership numbers dropping considerably. However, he still shows 80% in both leagues. ESPN has him ranked 68th at the position, meaning your league better be deep if you hold him. Even then, we can almost guarantee better options are available to you.
Time to Panic?
With Shesterkin, probably not yet. He is 10-4-4 on the season. This, of course, hinges on no other decent goalie being available to you. He and the Rangers are in a rough patch and could turn things around. But for the next little while, there could be better options. In the case of Weegar, the answer is yes. He is not providing much at all. The team also is scoring below the league average. If Weegar provided more banger value, then it would not be the worst move to keep him. Take a look at what is available in your league, and do not be afraid to make the switch to help a category you keep losing in.
Perhaps he is no longer a sleeper, as his ownership is skyrocketing, but he is still under the 50% mark to qualify as of today. Paul has been on fire lately. He had five goals and two assists in his last seven games, two of those goals coming on the power play. His hits have dropped off as of late, but he does have at least three in three of the last seven games. The scoring has been a major shock for the winger, who is currently tied for second on the Tampa Bay Lightning in goals with 11. That, by the way, is just five off from his career high for a season. Paul’s ice time is increasing; as a result, seeing his average close to four more minutes per game over his career numbers.
This week could be a huge one for fantasy hockey owners of his. Three games for Tampa will all be at home. On the season, eight of his eleven goals have been there. Two of the three opponents are bottom half in goals allowed per game. From a power play standpoint, all three opponents are under 80% on the kill. That should have quite a few owners racing to the waiver wire to get their hands on him. In ESPN and Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues, his ownership has increased by at least 17% this last week. But he is owned by only 32% and 44%, respectively. This could be a sneaky good pickup.
It is time to recognize the breakout year Cozens is on pace for. He should shatter his career highs from last season in goals, assists, and power play points. The 21-year-old Buffalo Sabre is getting hot right now. He had five goals and two assists in his last five games, with two of those points coming on the power play. With his sheltered ice time, that is close to a PDO number of 11.5 over that stretch. Expect his shifts to increase. Also, his oZS% of 49.8 should start to increase as well. (As of writing this, Cozens currently has two assists, one on the power play, early in the second period against the San Jose Sharks).
This coming week is another great opportunity for Cozens to continue his strong play. Three games against bottom-half defensive teams, including the 31st-ranked. The week ends with a home-and-home against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Odd stat for Cozens, in four games played on zero days’ rest, he has five points and his only power-play goal thus far. Some of that probably has to do with how much better he is on faceoffs with no rest. Currently, at 57.6%, expect his line to start with the puck more often in the second game against Pittsburgh. Currently rostered by 38% of yahoo and 26% of ESPN fantasy hockey leagues, this is a great pickup for your week 9.
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