A month into the 2022-23 campaign, defenders Rasmus Dahlin, Erik Karlsson, Cale Makar and Brandon Montour sit atop the value chart, averaging at least 3.0 fantasy points/game in the ESPN.com standard leagues. With the exception of Makar’s inclusion, not exactly how most (all) of us thought the first 30 days would go. Which only further emphasizes 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 roundup of some underrated assets to wade through in ESPN’s fantasy fold. .com. Or in the Daily Fantasy competition, if that’s more your thing.
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins (registered in 71.2% of ESPN.com leagues): More like Charlie McA-shy, am I right? After “no comment” during morning practice, the Bruins’ top defenseman is indeed confirmed to make his debut on Thursday after undergoing “complex shoulder surgery” during the offseason.
Great news for the Bruins, hockey fans in and out of Boston, and – for our focus – the fantastic managers invested. Somehow available in almost 30% of ESPN.com leagues, McAvoy should be picked up immediately as a top-tier asset. Ticking boxes across the board, the 24-year-old has averaged 2.2 points/game in ESPN’s standard league through 2021-22. Just give him a minute to pick up the pace.
In the meantime, keep a grip on Hampus Lindholm (71.4%) for now. McAvoy’s top pair partner shouldn’t see too much of a drop in contribution opportunities, especially at even strength. Although he was never going to maintain that point/game pace all season, the former Duck remains a useful commodity in all but the shallowest 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 the current eight-game losing streak suggests so, implying a turnaround is in order. Hopefully, according to Krug, “sooner than later”. The same goes for the attacking defender as an individual, who stays in position on the club’s best power play. Averaging 0.64 points/game over his 10-plus-year career, the former Bruin had 43 points in 64 games 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 from just a few years ago (2019-20), Graves lives up to his old positive integer tricks by floating a plus-12 to 13 contest. Plus-16 at 11, if we remove the first two regular-season warm-up misses. The former Avalanche defenseman also blocks shots, shoots here and there and scores occasionally. Up to three goals and three assists in his last 11 games. There is value in that.
Calen Addison, Minnesota Wild (13.6%): Still finding his feet in the NHL, the second-round pick (2018) nonetheless seems affixed to the Wild’s best power play. After kicking off 2022-23 with six assists in four games, Addison just ended a five-game pointless streak in Anaheim on Wednesday. It’s a good sign. Without a doubt, the 22-year-old deserves to be included in the list of deeper leagues – especially those that cherish points scored with the extra skater. Six of his eight assists this year have come on the power play.
Caleb Jones, Chicago Blackhawks (2.8%): The other Brother Jones is progressing well while big brother Seth continues to recover off the ice. Since sitting healthy on Oct. 23, Caleb has had six assists in seven games, including two with the extra skater, while averaging 2.4 fantasy points/contest in ESPN.com leagues conventional. “He did a great job and added a lot on the offensive end,” said head coach Luke Richardson. He certainly did. With Seth (thumb) not due back for a few more weeks, at the very least, give the 25-year-old a fantasy whirlwind as a streaming option or Daily Fantasy item. Especially if he continues to stick to the Blackhawks power play.
Well-balanced shot blockers
As any manager engaged in a fantasy competition that rewards blocked shots can tell you, those points add up very quickly. Find one – or more – of the most dedicated types in the game, who also contribute to other fantastic facets, and you’re in good shape.
David Savard, Montreal Canadiens (53.1%): With Vegas’ Alec Martinez leading the blocked shots chart with a whopping 61, Savard’s stranglehold on second place is respectable and secure. Unlike Martinez, the Canadiens defenseman is available in almost half of ESPN.com’s fantasy leagues. He also has four more assists than the Golden Knight – a tally that should continue to grow with regularity. With 188 regular season points in his career, Savard is also capable of contributing in this vein.
Radko Gudas, Florida Panthers (24.8%): Come for the hits, then stay for the shots, blocked shots and a handful of runs. Ranked fifth on the NHL blue line with 46 hits, Gudas also has 32 shots, 27 blocked shots and four runs on his fantastic resume. Everything adds up. The 32-year-old is an underrated gem in the fantasy competition that counts the toughest and toughest things (including penalty minutes).
Josh Brown, Arizona Coyotes (6.6%): Often oscillating between two extremes in terms of value, the club’s newest defender is inclined to offer a portion of feast or famine on the fantasy front. But when he does his best – a healthy portion of blocked shots, hits and even odd runs – get ready to go home. To illustrate, Brown has averaged 3.5 fantasy points in his best five contests to date, and just 1.1 across the other seven. A sizable bet in the DFS game, he’s a more stable force for managers committed to the long game.