Fantasy Hockey 2022-23: Second-year players primed to break loose

By Corey Abbott, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

Several members of the 2020-21 rookie class had big sophomore campaigns in 2021-22, including Kirill Kaprizov, Jason Robertson, Josh Norris, Tim Stutzle, Igor Shesterkin and Ilya Sorokin. There should be plenty of similar standout sophomore performances in 2022-23.

Moritz Seider - D - Red Wings

Seider ran away with the Calder Trophy vote after establishing himself as Detroit's No. 1 defender last season. He showcased his all-around ability and became a multi-category monster for fantasy managers. Seider supplied 43 assists, 50 points and 187 shots on goal through 82 games in 2021-22. He was also credited with 161 blocks and 151 hits. Seider paced all rookies with 23:02 of ice time per game and topped all first-year players with 21 power-play points. The 21-year-old blueliner will enter his second season with lofty expectations, and he should live up to them. Seider should surpass the 50-point plateau for a second straight campaign in 2022-23, and you can count on him to provide valuable contributions in several other categories as well.

Trevor Zegras - C - Ducks

Zegras created plenty of buzz with his creativity and highlight-reel plays in 2021-22. He ended the season with 23 goals and 61 points to go along with 181 shots on net through 75 games. Zegras averaged nearly 18 minutes of ice time per contest last year, and that should increase in 2022-23 following the retirement of Ryan Getzlaf. The Ducks added Ryan Strome as a free agent this summer and Mason McTavish should become a mainstay in the lineup this year, but Zegras will be the focal point of the offense as the team's top center alongside Troy Terry, who led Anaheim in scoring last season. Zegras could emerge as a point-per-game player this campaign.

Michael Bunting - LW - Maple Leafs

Bunting excelled in his first season with Toronto in 2021-22, potting 23 goals and amassing 63 points to lead all first-year players in scoring. Bunting took advantage of his opportunity to play alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner during even-strength situations, finishing third in the Calder Trophy voting. He was also credited with 175 shots on goal and 85 hits through 79 games. Bunting compiled 39 points, including 14 goals, through his final 40 outings. Operating at a point-per-game pace may not be in the cards for the soon-to-be 27-year-old forward in 2022-23, but he still finds himself in a great spot to succeed. Bunting played alongside two of the top 10 point producers in the league last season and is expected to maintain that role this year.

Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting could be a sophomore standout this season. Will that reflect in fantasy hockey?
Maple Leafs forward Michael Bunting could be a sophomore standout this season. Will that reflect in fantasy hockey? (Photo by Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)

Lucas Raymond - RW - Red Wings

Raymond finished third in scoring among Red Wings with 57 points through 82 games during his introduction to the NHL in 2021-22. He also finished third on the team with 23 goals, earning a spot on the top line alongside Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. The bulk of his offense came prior to the All-Star break, picking up 11 goals and 35 points through the first 47 games of the season. Raymond notched 12 goals, 10 helpers and an ugly minus-30 rating thereafter. Detroit made a number of strong additions in an attempt to improve the team's forward depth this summer. However, Raymond's place as an integral part of the Red Wings' offense remains intact heading into 2022-23. He could flirt with the 70-point mark.

Cole Caufield - LW/RW - Canadiens

Caufield showcased his immense scoring upside in 2021-22 despite having a brutal start. He wrapped up the season with 23 goals and 43 points through 67 matches after finding the back of the net just once through his first 30 appearances with the big club. Caufield spent some time in the minors, but when he came back up, his play reached another gear. Caufield, who is slated to play on the Canadiens' top line and first power-play unit this year, has 30-goal and 60-plus-point potential.

Matthew Boldy - LW/RW - Wild

Boldy drew into 47 games with Minnesota last season and made a sizeable impact. He racked up 15 goals and 24 assists to top all first-year players in points per game among skaters who appeared in at least 20 contests. He also had 113 shots on goal, 10 power-play points, 24 blocks and 23 hits. The Boston College product spent most of his time alongside Kevin Fiala, who was traded to Los Angeles in June. Fiala's departure won't diminish the high expectations for Boldy, who should see an increased role in 2022-23. He has 60-point upside as a sophomore NHLer.

Anton Lundell - C - Panthers

Lundell flashed his two-way ability in 2021-22, chipping in 18 goals and 44 points through 65 contests. He concluded the campaign with an impressive plus-33 rating, which led all first-year players. He spent most of his time on the third line, playing with the likes of Mason Marchment, Sam Reinhart and Carter Verhaeghe. However, Marchment left for Dallas via free agency this summer, and Reinhart and Verhaeghe are expected to move up the depth chart to fill the holes left by Jonathan Huberdeau, Claude Giroux and Anthony Duclair, who will be sidelined for an extended period because of an Achilles injury. If Lundell sticks on the third line in 2022-23, fantasy expectations will need to be tempered, especially with the Panthers lacking the offensive depth that helped them lead the league in goals a year ago.

Dawson Mercer - C/RW - Devils

Mercer emerged as a top-six forward for New Jersey last season, recording 17 goals, 42 points and 154 shots on net while averaging 16:32 of ice time through 82 appearances. He spent most of his time alongside Jack Hughes, who is poised for superstardom in 2022-23. Mercer has plenty of upside and should be a fixture on one of the Devils' top two lines during his second NHL campaign. He has 50-plus point potential this season.

Devils forward Dawson Mercer has plenty of fantasy hockey upside.
Devils forward Dawson Mercer has plenty of fantasy hockey upside as a second-year player. (Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tanner Jeannot - RW - Predators

Jeannot led all rookies with 24 goals while picking up 41 points through 81 games in 2021-22. He quickly became an excellent addition for fantasy managers in leagues that value the rough stuff, as he racked up 130 penalty minutes and finished second overall in the NHL with a whopping 318 hits. Jeannot's offensive production stalled down the stretch, as he notched just one point in his final 15 outings, but the 25-year-old forward's rookie season was nonetheless a major success. Jeannot's offensive upside remains somewhat limited, but he'll still have plenty of value in "banger" leagues.

Seth Jarvis - LW/RW - Hurricanes

Jarvis notched 17 goals and 40 points in 68 games last season. He also added 110 shots on net and 69 hits despite averaging just 13:53 of ice time per contest. However, Jarvis' average ice time increased to 15:19 in the final 15 games of the regular season. His expanded role continued in the playoffs — he posted eight points in 14 postseason appearances before suffering a concussion. Jarvis is expected to be ready for training camp, and should once again spend most of his time skating alongside Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen in 2022-23. He has 50-point potential this year.

Honorable Mentions:

Jeremy Swayman - G - Bruins

Swayman shared starts with Linus Ullmark last season and finished fifth in the Calder Trophy voting. He posted 23 wins with a 2.41 GAA, a .914 save percentage and three shutouts through 41 games played. Swayman still has solid fantasy value despite the fact he'll likely once again be sharing time with Ullmark in 2022-23.

Alex Newhook - C/LW - Avalanche

Newhook generated 13 goals and 33 points in 71 games last season, and he should get a chance to serve as Colorado's second-line center in 2022-23. That makes him worth monitoring at the very least.

Bowen Byram - D - Avalanche

Byram was limited to 30 games last season, but the 21-year-old defender made his mark with five goals, 17 points, 49 shots on goal, 26 blocks and 53 hits while averaging 18:48 of ice time per game. Byram has plenty of potential if he can stay healthy, but concussion concerns will follow him into the season.