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 those 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 12:
2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Studs, Duds, and Sleepers: Week 12
Batherson has been a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Ottawa Senators. He was having a breakout season in 2021-22 before being sidelined with a lower-body injury. He picked up right where he left off in 2022-23 with almost identical production numbers. If he remains healthy, the fifth-year player should shatter his career highs in just about every category. Where he has already surpassed a career high is on the power play, already with nine and tied for sixth in the league. This has been the majority of his fantasy hockey value. Batherson has five goals and two assists in his last five games, with five of those points on the man advantage. This coming week provides an excellent opportunity to continue his solid play.
Three games for the Senators this coming week. The first is a tough matchup against the Boston Bruins. Batherson lit up the Bruin defence earlier this season with a goal and two assists. Those were all even strength points which are where he does the least amount of damage. The other two opponents he has torched for a combined four power-play goals in three total games. For extra fantasy hockey value, Batherson plays a physical game, not afraid to throw the body around. His ownership in ESPN and Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues is roughly the same, hanging around the high 80% bracket. If he is there, go get him. If you own him, start him.
Here is another player on pace to set career marks across the board. Hyman has also already set a career-high in power-play goals and points. He is earning the respect of the Edmonton Oilers coaching staff and being rewarded. The production number of under 20:00 for the first time in his career has coincided with an average ice time above 20:00 for the first time in his career. Hyman has slowed lately, with just one goal and one assist in his last four games. But some of this is “puck luck” that should turn around. The career 12.2% shooter is riding a very low 5% in his last four games. This week’s matchups should help get Hyman back into better fantasy hockey value.
Two of the three opponents the Oilers will face have a team save percentage below .900, which are bottom nine in the league. Hyman shoots, and he shoots a lot, making this a great matchup. Hyman will also face the second-worst penalty-kill team in the Seattle Kraken. The toughest defence Hyman will see is in the fourth-best Winnipeg Jets, which could provide a challenge. But this game will be on the second night of a back-to-back for the Oilers, and Hyman seems to have another gear most players do not. In four contests this season, Hyman has four goals and three assists with zero days’ rest. Looks like a good week is upcoming for him. He sits at 92% and 87% ownership in Yahoo and ESPN fantasy hockey leagues, respectively. Grab him if you can.
Husso is owned by roughly four of five fantasy hockey rosters. There should be extreme caution with deploying him. For starters, he is 1-2-2 in his last five starts. He has also allowed 17 goals in those five games with a .898 save percentage. Even in his lone victory, he allowed four. The added issue is the banged-up Detroit Red Wings have struggled to provide goal support for their goaltenders. Husso has had moments of stringing together great starts, but this may be difficult for him this coming week.
Husso likely gets two starts this week. No matter which two games it is, you should be very cautious. Two opponents for the Red Wings are top seven in scoring this season. The other team? That would be the Ottawa Senators, who hung five on Husso on 27 shots last week. All three opponents struggle defensively, so there is room for Detroit to give Husso enough support to get a victory. You’ll probably have better options, though, than taking a gamble on that.
Coming off a career year in 2021-22, Nashville Predators fans had high hopes. Forsberg picked up where he left off with 22 points in his first 23 games. Since then? Forsberg has just three points and only one goal in his last nine games. His shooting percentage was probably not going to match last season’s ridiculous 18.2%, but dropping to 8.7% was not expected. He is leading the team in oZS% at 71.7, so the opportunities should keep coming, and to be fair, Forsberg has produced. The slump should turn around, but this week may be tough to accomplish.
There are three games for Nashville this week. The middle game is fantasy hockey owners’ best bet for value. That game will be against the league’s worst defence in the Anaheim Ducks. Nashville has played the Ducks already this season, though, and Forsberg was kept off the sheet. The other two games will be against the top 11 defensive teams. It will be tough sledding for Forsberg, and the Predators and fantasy hockey owners may find better value elsewhere. Forsberg is owned by well over 90% of teams in both ESPN and Yahoo leagues. Someone is going to have decisions to make. Leaving him on the bench should not be a bad choice.
Staal took advantage of Sebastian Aho being out of the lineup for the Carolina Hurricanes. His recent play contributed to the team not losing a game during the absence of Aho. Over the last four games, Staal has had three goals and four assists. He had ten total points in his previous 30 games. His best days are certainly behind him, yet this shot in the arm seems to have secured some much-needed confidence in his game. Aho is back in the lineup, but Staal still has a great shot this week at continuing the production.
Three games this week for the Hurricanes will send two bottom-third defensive units into Carolina. In the little scoring Staal has had before this recent four-game run, he has two goals and an assist against these exact opponents. The third opponent will be the third-best defence in the New Jersey Devils. However, the Devils have struggled as of late with keeping the puck out of the net, allowing at least four goals in six of their last eight games. Added fantasy hockey value will come from Staal’s dominance on the dot and his physical play. He could continue to light up some categories for you. Essentially completely available across the board, this is a great place to look for a sneaky boost.
This could be the largest Hail Mary you make this fantasy hockey season, and it could be a genius move. Laughton is mainly your specialist on the roster. He is decent on the dot, consistently has multiple hits and blocks, and sees some time on the power play. In his last five games, Laughton has three goals and two assists, adding a value not normally seen. Here is the kicker: all five points have been on special teams, four shorthanded. So how do the special teams look going into this week for the Philadelphia Flyers?
There are only two games this week for the Flyers, and both are on the road. That works for Laughton, as his production number is slightly better away from home. One of these opponents is the sixth-worst penalty kill and has allowed the fourth-most shorthanded goals. This game against the Los Angeles Kings is the game you are circling as your “wing and prayer” moment. The San Jose Sharks are the other opponent. While they are the seventh-worst defensive unit, they are currently the best penalty-kill team in the league. But if he can sneak in an even strength point here and a special teams point in L.A., this is a great sleeper pick.
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