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NHL Fantasy: Biggest surprises at the halfway mark of 2022–23

With the 2023 NHL All-Star voting underway, it marks the unofficial halfway mark of the NHL season. Most teams have officially entered the second half of their 82 game season, which means fantasy leagues are nearing the stretch run before the playoffs. By now, hot or cold starts from players have materialized into sure things.

Every year there are surprise players who come out nowhere to greatly outperform their preseason ranks. Drafting one or multiple surprise players or perhaps even snagging one off the waiver wire typically puts you in a great spot going into the fantasy playoffs. Let’s take a look at the biggest surprises and disappointments in fantasy thus far.

Erik Karlsson – San Jose Sharks – D

ADP: 140 | Current rank: 14

I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted the season Erik Karlsson is having right now. Karlsson has turned back the clock this year to when he was one of the premier offensive defenceman in the NHL. His 56 points thus far are his most in a season since the 2017–18 season and he’s only played 44 games. His current pace puts him on track for 104 points which would be a career-high, smashing his previous high of 82 points from 2015–16.

At 32 years old and with a long injury history, it seemed like Karlsson’s days as a top defenceman in fantasy were behind him, which led to an ADP of 140. He was the 39th defenceman off the board, yet currently ranks first for points and assists by defencemen, as well as eighth for shots. If you snagged Karlsson late in your draft you’re laughing right now.

Tage Thompson – Buffalo Sabres – F

ADP: 141 | Current rank: 6

You could probably include at least four different Sabres on this list but I went with the obvious choice. Tage Thompson came out of nowhere last season with 68 points in 78 games after having a career-high of just 37 points before that so it’s fair if fantasy managers were a little cautious when drafting him this year. Thompson hasn’t just matched his output from last season though, he’s taken it to another level. He currently sits with 57 points and 31 goals in just 40 games. He’s only 11 points off his 68 points last year in 38 fewer games. He ranks sixth in the NHL for points and third for goals.

His current pace of 116 points and 63 goals crushes last years output and puts him up there with the very best forwards in the entire NHL. Thompson went from being drafted around the 12th round to being a top-ten forward in fantasy. He’s become a truly elite option in fantasy and proven last year wasn’t a fluke.

Josh Morrisey – Winnipeg Jets – D

ADP: 167 | Current rank: 36

Josh Morrisey went from fantasy irrelevance to one of the best defencemen in fantasy this season. Last season Morrisey posted a career-high 37 points in 79 games, which ranked 41st in the NHL among defenceman. So far this season he’s already set a career high in points with 47 through only 43 games. His current pace of 89 points is more than double his previous career-high. He’s also on pace for 15 goals which would also be a career-high.

He currently sits third in the NHL among defenceman for points, second for assists, and ninth for goals. At an ADP of 167 he was being drafted at the tail end of most drafts, but is currently producing like a first-round pick. He’s posted more points than elite fantasy options like Cale Makar, Adam Fox, and Victor Hedman to name a few.

Travis Konecny – Philadelphia Flyers – F

ADP: 164 | Current rank: 22

Despite the team around him crumbling, Travis Konecny is playing the best hockey of his career right now. Everyone expected the Flyers to be terrible, so their players weren’t exactly big targets in drafts this year. Despite that, Konecny currently sits with 24 goals and 46 points in 36 games. For context, last season he had just 52 points across 79 games. He’s only six points off that total in 43 fewer games. He’s already tied his career-high in goals of 24, and is only 15 points off his career-high point total of 61.

At his current pace, he’s set to put up 97 points and 50 goals. He currently sits 25th in the NHL for points, and 11th for goals. Considering the low expectations around him and the Flyers coming into the season he was being drafted with an ADP around 164th but is currently a top 25 option in fantasy.

Linus Ullmark – Boston Bruins – G

ADP: 148 | Current rank: 17

Among goalies with at least 30 games played in 2021–22 Linus Ullmark ranked 18th for wins, 10th for save percentage, and 24th for GAA. By the end of the year he was in a full on split with Jeremy Swayman. Going into 2022–23 most expected the younger goalie in Swayman to take over as starter. As such Swayman was being drafted with an ADP of 75 while Ullmark was all the way down at 148 as the 25th goalie drafted.

This season Ullmark has blown past any expectations of him as he sits first in the NHL for wins, and first for both save percentage and GAA among starters. Through his first 27 games he’s lost a grand a total of three games and sits with a ridiculous 22–2–1 record. He’s only allowed 49 goals all season. Ullmark has completely taken over the Bruins net and has helped guide them atop the NHL standings. There’s no goalie more valuable in fantasy right now than Ullmark.

Martin Jones – Seattle Kraken – G

ADP: N/A | Current rank: 99

Martin Jones wasn’t even being drafted coming into this season, and rightfully so. He put up a 12–18–3 record last year, didn’t have a season with a save percentage over .900 since 2017–18, and signed with the Seattle Kraken who finished 30th in the NHL in 2021–22. No goaltender in fantasy has rose higher than Jones this season. He’s gone from waiver wire fodder to must-own in the span of a couple months.

Jones currently ranks fourth in the NHL in wins and holds a record of 20–5–3. His save percentage and GAA are rough, but when he’s racking up wins at the rate he is it softens the blow. He has more wins than plenty of the top goalies in fantasy. His 20 wins are already the most he’s posted in four years and the season is only halfway over.

Brandon Montour – Florida Panthers – D

ADP: 171 | Current rank: 81

Brandon Montour has never been known as an offensive defenceman. His career-high is just 37 points which he set last season. This year however he’s producing points at an elite rate that has him sitting among the best defencemen in fantasy. He currently has more points than Roman Josi, Miro Heiskanen and Tyson Barrie among others.

Halfway through 2022–23 Montour has posted seven goals and 34 points in 41 games. He’s just three points off his career-high with 41 games to go in the season. He’s also only 45 shots off his career-high of 160 with half the season to go. At his current pace he’d put up 14 goals and 68 points which seemed unthinkable before the season started, thus his ADP of 171. He currently ranks eighth among defencemen for points and 10th for shots and is one of the best defencemen in fantasy this year after having little relevance in fantasy in years prior.

Bo Horvat – Vancouver Canucks – F

ADP: 153 | Current rank: 20

Like Konecny, Bo Horvat is producing huge numbers for a bad team. Horvat has been all over the scoresheet this season and is producing at a rate much higher than the rest of his career. Coming into the season Horvat’s career-high in points was 61, while his career-high in goals was 31. He’s on pace to breeze by both of those totals.

Horvat currently has 46 points and 29 goals in 41 games. He’s just two goals and 15 points off his career-highs with 41 games to go. On his current pace he’d put up 92 points and 58 goals. He currently ranks 27th in the NHL for points and fifth for goals. Last season he finished the year 118th for points and 41st for goals. He’s never been known as a high-end producer but he’s been one of the best forwards in fantasy this year after being drafted at an ADP of 153.

Surprising fantasy dominance

There will always be players who step up and outperform expectations. This season has a healthy mix of young talent as well as older players stealing the spotlight with impressive outings. Fantasy managers who took bets on these players are reaping the rewards and can look towards the playoffs with confidence.

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