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 15:
2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Studs, Duds, and Sleepers: Week 15
Beniers made our Sleeper list last week, and his production catapulted him into the Stud category. The Seattle Kraken are on a roll right now, winners of eight straight. They also became the first team in NHL history to sweep a road trip of at least seven games. As we mentioned, Beniers is a stud on the road. Six goals and five assists, with two points on the power play, gave the Kraken and fantasy hockey owners great production during that stretch. Seattle now returns home for six of their next seven. Beniers has struggled at home, but we see an ability for him to keep rolling this week.
The increased production for Beniers coincides with the Kraken claiming Eeli Tolvanen from the Nashville Predators. The forward lines immediately improved and caused opponents to deploy differently against them. Now being at home, Seattle has the benefit of deploying their lines in more favorable matchups. That said, this is not an easy week for Seattle. They do play four games, so fantasy hockey owners will get the bonus game of production. But three of those opponents are allowing less than three goals per game this season. Two of those teams are bottom third on the penalty kill though. It will be fun to watch how Beniers plays at home now with the increased forward-line chemistry. He is still vastly available in both Yahoo and ESPN fantasy hockey leagues.
The Philadelphia Flyers have been really good lately prior to Monday’s game against the Boston Bruins. They are winners of seven of their last eight games, and five of those were on the road. Konecny has been a major part of this streak. In those eight games, he has registered nine goals and five assists. Three of those points came on the power play. Konecny continues to build towards a career year. He has already matched his career high in goals by the midway point. It is not out of the question that he scores 50. He has also provided insane special teams value for fantasy hockey owners with five shorthanded points. A look at this coming week provides more opportunities for stud production.
Konecny will have four more games this week after Monday. Yes, five games this week. Three teams are bottom third defensively, and two of them are bottom five. They are also bottom third on the penalty kill, with two of them bottom eight. Konecny has been very productive on the power play, co-leading the team in points and goals while averaging 3.2 minutes per game. Just for a little more fantasy hockey value, two of his opponents have allowed the third most shorthanded goals this season. All the numbers point to continued success. He is rostered by 89% and 83% of ESPN and Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues, respectively. If he is available, go get him.
It is probably too early to say there is a goalie controversy in the Calgary Flames future, but it could turn out that way. Markstrom has not been what he was last season. It has been a struggle at times, and the more disturbing stat is when he is allowing goals. He was pulled on Jan. 8 against the Chicago Blackhawks after allowing three goals on eleven shots. He started Calgary’s next game and took a 3-1 lead into the third period. Calgary would lose in overtime 4-3. Third periods and overtime have been rough for Markstrom, especially lately. In his last six games where he has played a third period and overtime, Markstrom has allowed eight goals on just 50 shots. That’s a .862 save percentage. Overall, Markstrom has a subpar .893 save percentage, good for sixth worst of all goalies with at least 20 starts.
Daniel Vladar has started Calgary’s last two games. The first was a gem in allowing just one goal on 26 shots. The second, while a win, was not impressive. It is unclear what direction Calgary will go this week, but fantasy hockey owners of Markstrom should proceed with caution. It is likely he gets two starts, but those opponents do not favor him. The Flames will face four players who rank in the top eleven in third-period goals scored. As a whole, all three teams are top half defensively while Calgary is bottom half offensively. The numbers do not look appealing for fantasy hockey owners of Markstrom. If you have a day where a decision must be made, benching him is probably the right call.
It is not that Burns is having a bad season. On the contrary, he is having his best statistical year since his 2018-19 season. However, there is a difference between on-ice success and fantasy hockey success. Seeing Burns owned by at least 97% of leagues in both ESPN and Yahoo is a tad puzzling. From a banger standpoint, he provides very little. He hovers just above .5 hits per game and just above one block per game. To start the season, he was crushing the power play points, which is why he was owned by such a large number of leagues. But his last eleven games have produced just two goals and four assists, with only three points on the man advantage. With the coming week, he most likely continues to disappoint fantasy hockey owners.
There are only two games on the docket for the Carolina Hurricanes. Those games are against two top-ten defenses in the league. The penalty kill units for these opponents are top third with the New York Islanders being the sixth best this season thus far. There is opportunity against the Minnesota Wild, who cut ruts to the sin bin at an alarming pace. But even a power play assist is not worthy of being owned by essentially all leagues. As far as any other value, Carolina leads the league by a large margin in CF% at 59.6 while the Wild and Islanders are bottom half. Expect hits and blocks to remain non-existent. There are better fantasy hockey options on your bench and most likely on the waiver wire as well. Proceed with caution.
As mentioned up top in the Beniers section, Tolvanen has been wonderful for Seattle’s success. Nashville is very much regretting trying to sneak him through waivers. For whatever reason, fantasy hockey owners have not been paying attention and it is the type of mistake that costs you the season. Since coming to Seattle, Tolvanen has five goals and two assists in eight games. Two of those goals have been on the power play, and two of those goals have been game-winners. He has also been a banger category darling with at least three hits in three straight games, and multiple games with multiple blocks. Again, it is a tough week for Seattle, but Tolvanen stands to have a productive week.
We already mentioned the scoring difficulty Seattle will have this week, so instead, the focus on Tolvanen comes from the added value that Beniers does not offer. All four opponents for Tolvanen are top half in CF% and three of them are top nine. Seattle is below them all. The more those teams have the puck, the more blocks and hits he can amass. Two of those teams happen to be bottom half in percentage of shots blocked, with the Colorado Avalanche coming in at third with 28.18%. Expect banger value to be wonderful. If he can add a couple of goals and/or power-play points, he stands to be one of the most productive fantasy hockey players for the week. He is owned by just 14% and 7% of the Yahoo and ESPN leagues respectively. Go get him.
Last week’s Hail Marry sleeper did not produce much, but this week feels a bit safer. Kostin has four goals in his last three games. Two of those were game-winners. He recently was moved up to the third line alongside Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and the extra ice time is proving effective for the Edmonton Oilers. The offensive mindset lately has affected his banger categories, but if he continues to produce goals fantasy hockey owners will not be upset.
It’s a three-game week for the Oilers and Kostin. The main matchup fantasy hockey owners should look at is the late-week game versus the Vancouver Canucks. In a losing effort in late December, Kostin had no points but produced nine hits. It is not unreasonable to expect another hard-hitting game between these division rivals. There is also a game against the Seattle Kraken who he torched for two goals earlier this season. If Kostin can stay on the third line, which all signs point to, there is ample opportunity for him to contribute. If you have an injury to cover with a cheap rental, this could be a great option.
Have a fantasy question? Have a Mailbag idea you would like to see deeper analysis on? Follow me on Twitter @GromJoshua or leave a comment for me below