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NHL Fantasy: Biggest surprises at the quarter mark of the season

Every year in fantasy hockey there is a group of players who come out of nowhere and smash their preseason expectations. Just like in the real world, these players can have massive impacts in fantasy hockey. Picking up a player near the very end of your draft only for them to perform like a top-50 pick drastically improves your odds of having a successful season.

This year we’ve seen a ton of names come out of nowhere to be top-end fantasy options. Whether it’s young players finally undergoing breakout seasons, or former stars who have rediscovered their form, here’s the top 5-fantasy surprises from the first quarter of the NHL season.

Troy Terry RW – Anaheim Ducks

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Without a doubt the biggest surprise in fantasy this season has been the play of Troy Terry. A 2015 fourth-round pick, Terry had a career-high of just 20 points coming into the 2021–22 season. Understandably, this meant he went undrafted in every league. A couple months can change a whole lot though.

Terry has been outstanding for a surprise Ducks team this season, as he passed his career-best 20 points just 16 games into the season. Now at 25 points in 23 games, Terry leads the Ducks in scoring and ranks 10th in the NHL for points. His 15 goals are tied for fourth in the NHL. He’s also providing some decent category coverage with seven power play points and 53 shots.

After starting the season essentially unowned in fantasy, he now sits at 85% owned on Yahoo! and has become one of the top players in fantasy hockey. If you were the lucky one to scoop him up in your league, you couldn’t be more happy right now.

Ryan Hartman C/RW – Minnesota Wild

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One of the most shocking coming out parties of the season is Ryan Hartman. A career bottom-six player, Hartman has come out of nowhere for the Wild. After putting up a career-high 31 points twice in back-to-back seasons in 2016–17 and 2017–18, Hartman had failed to surpass 25 points and 10 goals in the four seasons since.

This year however, Hartman is on pace to smash both of those totals. His 13 goals already this season are his most since the 2016–17 season. As it stands, Hartman is on pace for 46 goals and 75 points. Now the odds Hartman hits both of those totals is very slim as his production is set to slow down eventually, however it’s essentially a lock he establishes new career-highs in goals, assists and points this year.

He’s also provided great category coverage with 84 shots and 23 hits to along with his points. Hartman was undrafted to start the year as he’s never been relevant in fantasy, but he now sits at 73% owned in Yahoo! and is a top-50 option for the time being.

Jordan Kyrou C/RW – St. Louis Blues

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Jordan Kyrou’s long awaited breakout season finally looks like it’s here. A favourite breakout pick for the last couple years, Kyrou finally showed signs of what made him the 35th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft last season with 35 points in 55 games. Despite that, he was still being drafted with an ADP of 160, placing him right around the 14th round in fantasy. In Yahoo! leagues he was drafted in only 3% of leagues.

For those who took a late-round gamble on him, he’s paying you back in full so far this season. Kyrou sits at a point-per-game pace with 23 points in 23 games thus far and he’s also tagged on seven power play points as well. His 23 points currently rank 21st in the NHL.

Playing on the Blues’ top line and top power play unit, Kyrou is finally realizing his full potential and has turned into a must-own player in fantasy. At just 78% owned, Kyrou is still criminally underrated in fantasy.

Lucas Raymond LW/RW – Detroit Red Wings

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Future tip for fantasy drafters: if a first-round pick drafted by Steve Yzerman is making his rookie season debut, draft him. Making the jump to the NHL for the 2021–22 season, Lucas Raymond was being drafted at an ADP of 154, placing him in the 14th round. He was only drafted in 3% of Yahoo! leagues.

Two months into the season and fantasy managers who passed on him are kicking themselves. After a solid but unspectacular 18 points in 34 SHL games last season, many predicted Raymond to ease his way into the NHL, especially playing on a bottom feeder Red Wings team. That hasn’t been the case at all as Raymond has flown out of the gate with 10 goals and 22 points in the first 24 games of his career.

Finding a home on the Red Wings’ top line and top power play unit, Raymond has already established himself as one of the league’s most exciting young talents at just 20 years old. His 22 points rank 32nd in the NHL, and first among all rookies.

Now sitting at 75% owned and climbing by the day, Raymond has already established himself as a premier fantasy option far sooner than many anticipated.

Matt Duchene C/RW – Nashville Predators

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Unlike Terry who is in the midst of a breakout season in his young career, Matt Duchene has instead found second life in his and has returned to the form that made him one of the NHL’s best offensive players in the 2010s. After a brutal season with just 13 points last year, Duchene is back to doing what he does best: putting up points.

Duchene passed his 13-point mark in 34 games from last year in just 14 games this season. Now at 24 points in 23 games, Duchene is on pace to have the best season of his career offensively—simply stunning turnaround that no one predicted. Duchene was an afterthought during fantasy hockey drafts as he went undrafted in most leagues, but he’s now sitting at 82% owned in Yahoo! leagues.

Whether or not he can keep up this torrid pace is a big question mark, but regardless Duchene is once again a must-own player in fantasy right now after a season of being completely irrelevant.

Quick on the draw

Every season there are players who come out of nowhere to light up the scoresheet in fantasy, and the fantasy managers quickest to claim them on the waiver wire reap massive rewards throughout the season. This season has seen even more surprises than most years with some veterans and rookies going from irrelevant to fantasy must-owns in a matter of weeks. If you were lucky enough to claim one of these five players, well done. If they’re still available, grab them now.

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