One month into the 2022-23 campaign, defensemen Rasmus Dahlin, Erik Karlsson, Cale Makar, and Brandon Montour sit atop the value table, averaging at least 3.0 fantasy points/game in ESPN.com standard leagues. With the exception of Makar’s inclusion, not exactly how most (all) of us thought the first 30 days would roll out. Which only goes to further emphasize how important it is to make roster adjustments at regular intervals.
So unless your blue line consists of Dahlin, Karlsson, Makar, Montour and/or others of that ilk, here’s a round-up of some underappreciated assets to peruse in the ESPN.com fantasy fold. Or in Daily Fantasy competition, if that’s more your jam.
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (Rostered in 71.2% of ESPN.com leagues): More like Charlie McA-coy, am I right? After “no commenting” his way through morning practice, the Bruins’ top defenseman is indeed confirmed to make his debut Thursday after undergoing “complex shoulder surgery” in the offseason.
Great news for the Bruins, hockey fans in and outside of Boston, and – for our focussed purpose – invested fantasy managers alike. Somehow available in nearly 30% of ESPN.com leagues, McAvoy should be retained immediately as a top-tier asset. Ticking boxes across the board, the 24-year-old averaged 2.2 points/game in ESPN’s standard league through 2021-22. Just give him a minute to get back up to speed.
In the meanwhile, keep a grip on Hampus Lindholm (71.4%) for now. McAvoy’s top-pair partner shouldn’t see too great a dip in opportunities to contribute, particularly at even-strength. While he was never going to maintain this point/game pace all season long as it was, the former Duck remains a useful commodity in all but the shallowest of fantasy leagues.
Check out Charlie McAvoy’s biggest plays from last season ahead of his return to the ice after shoulder surgery.
Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues (43.7%): The Blues are better than their miserable 3-8-0 record, and current eight-game losing streak, suggests, implying a turnaround is in order. Hopefully, according to Krug, “sooner than later”. The same applies to the offensive-defenseman as an individual, who remains in position on the club’s top power play. Averaging 0.64 points/game over his 10-year (and counting) career, the former Bruin earned 43 in 64 contests this past, inaugural season in St. Louis, including 19 with the extra skater. He’ll be fine once the tide turns.
Ryan Graves, New Jersey Devils (20.7%): Plus/minus royalty of only a few years ago (2019-20), Graves is up to his old positive integer tricks in floating a plus-12 through 13 contests. Plus-16 through 11, if we lop off the first two warm-up duds of the regular season. The former Avalanche blueliner is also blocking shots, shooting here and there, and scoring on occasion. To the tune of three goals and three assists in his past 11 contests. There’s value there.
Calen Addison, Minnesota Wild (13.6%): Still finding his NHL feet, the second-round draft pick (2018) seems nonetheless affixed on the Wild’s top power play. After launching 2022-23 with six assists in four matches, Addison just snapped a five-game point-less streak in Anaheim on Wednesday. That’s a good sign. Without question, the 22-year-old year merits roster inclusion in deeper leagues – particularly ones that treasure points scored with the extra skater. Six of his eight assists on the year have counted on the power play.
Caleb Jones, Chicago Blackhawks (2.8%): The other Jones sibling is stepping up nicely while big bro Seth continues to recover off-ice. Since sitting as a healthy scratch Oct. 23, Caleb has six assists in seven games, including two with the extra skater, while averaging 2.4 fantasy points/contests in conventional ESPN.com leagues. “He’s done a great job and he’s added a lot on the offensive side,” according to head coach Luke Richardson. He sure has. With Seth (thumb) not due back for another couple of weeks, minimum, give the 25-year-old a fantasy whirl as a streaming option or Daily Fantasy asset. Especially if he continues to stick on the Blackhawks’ top power play.
As any manager engaged in fantasy competition that rewards blocked-shots can tell you, those points add up in a hard hurry. Find one – or more – of the game’s more self-sacrificing types, who also contributes in other fantasy facets, and you’re in good shape.
David Savard, Montreal Canadiens (53.1%): While Vegas’s Alec Martinez tops the blocked-shot table with a whopping 61, Savard’s hold on second place is respectable and secure. Unlike Martinez, the Canadiens defender is available in nearly half of ESPN.com fantasy leagues. He also has four more assists than the Golden Knight – a total that should continue to grow with regularity. With 188 regular-season points in his career, Savard is proven capable of contributing in that vein as well.
Radko Gudas, Florida Panthers (24.8%): Come for the hits, then stay for the shots, blocked-shots, and handful of points. Ranking fifth on the NHL blue line with 46 hits, Gudas also boasts 32 shots, 27 blocked-shots and four points on his fantasy resume. It all adds up. The 32-year-old is an underrated gem in fantasy competition that counts the rougher and tougher stuff (including penalty minutes).
Josh Brown, Arizona Coyotes (6.6%): Often swinging between two extremes value-wise, the club’s new blueliner is prone to offer up a serving of feast or famine on the fantasy front. But when he dishes out his best – a hearty helping of blocked-shots, hits, and even the odd point – get ready to tuck in. To illustrate, Brown earned an average of 3.5 fantasy points in his five best contests to date, and only 1.1 through the other seven. A considerable gamble in DFS play, he’s a steadier force for managers engaged in the long game.
Fantasy hockey – Defensemen updates and pickups
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