He shoots, he scores! Right? At least, that’s how it’s supposed to work, if only 10% of the time. Well, turns out, occasionally a particularly unlucky he shoots – a fair bit, even – and doesn’t score as often as you might reasonably expect. In that view, here’s a roundup of a few forwards who, while rifling the puck on net frequently enough, aren’t reaping their due scoring rewards.
At least, to date.
Meaning, in adherence to the law of averages, the following are bound to see their fortunes turn. Which could benefit managers looking to bolster their lineups with fantasy assets on the scoring upswing. For extra fun, I’m also including each player’s current (unusually low) shooting percentage and (negative) Goals Above Expected integer, compliments of MoneyPuck.
Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals (Rostered in 73.1% of ESPN.com leagues): The Capitals’ second-line center and power-play asset has two goals – both scored in the same game – to his credit through 20 games. That’s it. One fewer than supporting cast member Sonny Milano, who’s played only nine contests thus far. While more recognized for his contributions in the assists column, the 10-year veteran is still good for 20-plus goals through a full season. Which means fantasy managers should realize he has some catching up to do. (3.6 shooting pct./-2.3 GAE)
Mathew Barzal, New York Islanders (76.6%): I’m having some difficulty wrapping my head around the opaque fantasy shade thrown Barzal’s way this year, considering he’s bettering a point/game pace with two goals and 21 assists, including 10 power-play points, in 21 contests. I suppose the measly pair of goals is at issue. (But still, 21 assists and 10 power-play points!) Nevertheless, considering the Isles forward is still shooting plenty enough, the goals should start piling up too. (3.9 shooting pct./-3.8 GAE)
Oliver Bjorkstrand, Seattle Kraken (66.8%): GM Ron Francis, after the Kraken sent two 2023 draft picks the Blue Jackets’ way in trading for the “scoring” forward: “We’re excited to welcome Oliver to our organization. He’s coming off of a career year offensively playing top minutes in Columbus. His creativity and hockey sense will be good additions to our forward group.”
Well, not so far. Nineteen games in, and Bjorkstrand has all of two goals with his new club, scoring the second just this Wednesday. But, again, I’m not terribly concerned. If he can score 28 in Columbus, 20+ is plenty achievable in Seattle. Shooting with regularity, the 27-year-old is actually leading his club in the shots department with 57. My guess is the goals will start to come in bunches. And a spot in the top-six will be his once more. (3.5 shooting pct./-3.9 GAE)
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks (55.4%): Raise your hand if you had Bo Horvat leading his teammate by 14 goals a week before December. Anyone? At this rate, the Canucks’ captain is on pace to finish the season with 66 goals while Boeser is in line for only 10. Clearly, both outlying arcs will settle more near the mean as the season wears on. Also, it’s not like the productive forward isn’t contributing in valuable fantasy fashion otherwise. Since returning from injury, Boeser is riding an eight-game point streak, with two goals and seven assists on 23 shots. That works out to an average of 2.1 fantasy points/game in ESPN.com standard leagues. Grab him before it (i.e. more goals) starts to really pile up. (6.3 shooting pct./-0.2 GAE)
Sam Bennett, Florida Panthers (67.8%): Averaging nearly 18 minutes/game, the Panthers’ second-line center has five goals on top of his 10 assists through 20 contests. Not a terribly tally, but not great either. And not in step with his 66 shots to date. Bennett scored 28 in only 71 games this past season, his first full campaign in Florida. There’s no reason he can’t rebound to flirt with that figure once more. A little extra puck luck is all that’s needed. It’s also worth noting that Bennett leads his corps of forwards in both hits (51) and blocked shots (14). It all adds up. Soon the increase in scoring will too. (7.6 shooting pct./-4.1 GAE)
Frank Vatrano, Anaheim Ducks (6.1%): Second only to teammate Troy Terry in the category, the new Duck has just four goals to show for his 62 shots on net. That number is going to rise at a greater rate – guaranteed. Especially if Vatrano sticks on a scoring line with Ryan Strome. With his fourth NHL squad, the 28-year-old has the makings of a deep-league fantasy gem with a club that’s willing to play him nearly 20 minutes/game. (6.5 shooting pct./-0.4 GAE)
Fantasy hockey – Why things are looking up for Barzal, Boeser and more