Welcome to 2023, fantasy hockey managers. We are at the halfway point of the fantasy season and managers should be looking for ways to build and improve their teams for the playoffs. Part of that involves finding players who may be undervalued and taking advantage of what they can bring. Certain players out there should have a better second half of the season. Whether through trade or through the waiver wire, let’s explore which of these players managers should consider adding.
Alex DeBrincat, LW, OTT
Ottawa is not a good hockey team, and it’s not really a secret. However, their forward group is much better than their defence. With the new faces of Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat joining the group, there is no doubt an adjustment period that has to be gone through. However, DeBrincat should begin to pick up his scoring soon.
This season, DeBrincat has shot at only 9.6%, which is well below his career average of 14.8%. On top of that, DeBrincat is still averaging 0.95 points per game this season, which was the same rate that he averaged last year. DeBrincat is not having a bad season for fantasy, but a fantasy manager may be frustrated with his lower goal scoring total. DeBrincat is somebody I would absolutely try and trade for.
Nikita Kucherov, RW, TB
Don’t get me wrong, Nikita Kucherov has not been bad during the first half of the season. He has been very good. But, just like Alex Debrincat, Kucherov is shooting well below his 14.6% career average, at just 9.8%. It would be pretty hard to trade for such a talent, but if you are a fantasy hockey manager who owns Kucherov, and you are struggling with getting goals, it might not be worth trading for a different player. But if you don’t own Kucherov and you somehow end up being able to trade for him, well consider yourself the Lucky One.
Kucherov could pick up his goal-scoring at any point of the second half of the season, and knowing the talent Kucherov has, I would say it is pretty likely. Kucherov is a franchise talent, and I believe he will be back to his 30+ goal self in no time.
Ondrej Palat, LW, NJD
Ondrej Palat just came back from injury on January 5, and he put up 2 shots, 3 hits, and 2 blocks. Palat is skating on the top line with Nico Hischier and Jesper Bratt. He is also skating on the second power play unit. So it is very safe to say that Palat will have lots of opportunities to put up points. His value is as low as it is going to be this season, so it might be worth capitalizing on it now and picking him up. Palat would be an excellent value addition off the waiver wire.
Jacob Markstrom, G, CGY
Honestly, there isn’t really a stat that is backing this up, so take this with a grain of salt. But simply put, Jacob Markstrom is too good of a goalie to end the season with .895 save percentage. He was a Vezina finalist last year. Has he been disappointing during the year? For sure. But no matter how rough this season has gone, I just can’t see someone with his skillset having a down season like this. Especially considering the talent that the Calgary Flames have on their roster.
The whole team needs to figure out how they are going to address their problems, but I still think both Markstrom and the team will be fine come the end of the year. The stakes are simply too high for it to end any other way.
New year, new them
Now is the time to be making a run for the playoffs, and preparation for the playoffs should already be underway. Capitalizing on adding players who may have lower value than they should is critical in order to build a championship-contending team. Start working the phones and monitoring the waiver wire, and get ready for a long run.