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 17:
The NHL All-Star festivities are over and it is time to get going again. Before the league’s first game tonight, let’s take a look at part two of our week 17 selections for your fantasy hockey team.
2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Studs, Duds, and Sleepers: Week 17, Part 2
This writer has been watching Eriksson Ek for a few weeks now. It is now time to sound the alarm. He is on pace to have a career year for the Minnesota Wild. He is also on pace to surpass last year’s power play numbers, proving it was not a fluke. In the last five games, he has two goals and three assists on the man advantage. He now sits second in goals on the Wild’s 9th-ranked power play with this recent trend. But fantasy hockey owners have been getting added value from his strong even strength play. He sits third on the team in even strength points. What’s impressive about that is at even strength, he has a 60.8 dZS%. If he does not win the faceoff, he throws his body, gets the puck back, and transitions nicely up the ice. This all should continue this week.
Four games for Eriksson Ek this week. Fantasy hockey owners love the bonus game, and you are getting it. All four games provide a different opportunity in the fantasy columns. He will face the 26th-ranked penalty kill, another team that has allowed at least four goals in five of their last eight, and two other teams who play high-event hockey. One of those high-event teams is the Dallas Stars, who he has scored against already this season. He is rostered by 83% and 72% of ESPN and Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues, respectively. He’s been hot lately with nine points in as many games. If this continues in these matchups, he is worth the add.
Let me start by saying this is not a dud. Oettinger has been one of the best netminders in the league this season. He is second in GAA at 2.26, second in Sv% at .923, and second in shutouts at four. Yes, he has lost three straight, all in overtime, but that is more indicative of the play in front of him and not the reason for concern. The opponent is the reason for the caution, and on paper, it seems like any other week. Of the three games this week (and do not expect Oettinger to start them all) the easiest is tonight’s game against the Anaheim Ducks. However, the Ducks just recently shut out Oettinger’s Stars. That is Anaheim’s only shutout thus far. The next matchup is against the Minnesota Wild who kept the scorekeeper busy against the Stars earlier in the year. That was in Dallas as well, which will also be the site of this game.
Then there is the final match of the week. It is another home game, this time against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This team hung five goals on Oettinger earlier this season en route to an overtime victory. In his short career, he has only earned a victory against the Lightning one time. He has given up at least five goals against them more times than he has beat them. Tampa has had Dallas’ number for a few years now and that should give you reason to be cautious here. As a whole, it would not be a shock to see Oettinger either lose all of his starts or get torched in the process making a victory carry very little fantasy hockey value in points leagues. When faced with a “sit/start” decision this week, be wary of the Stars netminder.
At the beginning of the fantasy hockey season, this writer listed three players who would be mid-round pickups that perform better at the end of the season. One of those was Bjorkstrand. It has been a tough year for him. Currently, he is nowhere near last year’s production. But as mentioned, when the calendar flips, he takes off. Coming out of December, Bjorkstrand had 17 total points. In January he had four goals and five assists for nine points. That is more than half of his total production in the first three months of the season. He is also on a three-game point streak.
Here is the best part for fantasy hockey owners, if he does do what he normally does. The Seattle Kraken have played the fewest games in the Pacific Division. There are no weeks left where Bjorkstrand gives you less than three games. Three more times this season he will give you four games. These will all be meaningful games as the Kraken look to win their first division title, and perhaps the conference. He is turning it on at the right time for you. The ownership numbers are baffling. ESPN has him at 60% rostered, while Yahoo has him at 9%. He is probably worth the pickup if he is available.
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