Florida Panthers 2022-23 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers
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With the 2022-23 NHL season quickly approaching, it is officially fantasy hockey draft season. So why not draft a couple of Florida Panthers players?
The Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy last season and a big reason why they did so was because of a supporting cast full of players who flew under the radar ahead of the season.
Surprisingly, some players still remain overlooked by fantasy hockey rankings.
While Florida has a good contingent of players near the top — Sasha Barkov, Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart among them — their depth pieces provide serious value to fantasy hockey owners.
Here are a few players to look out for during your draft:
LW Carter Verhaeghe
ESPN: 214; Yahoo!: 220
Ever since he arrived in South Florida, Carter Verhaeghe has been tied to the hip of Barkov. That looks unlikely to change this season, with Verhaeghe being featured on a line with Barkov and a rotation of Anton Lundell and Rudolfs Balcers throughout training camp.
Verhaeghe has turned into a bonafide goal scorer since joining the Panthers, scoring 42 goals and 91 points in 121 games.
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The only downside with Verhaeghe is that he does not get much time on the top power play unit but with Anthony Duclair out with injury, that could change during the season. For now, he is on the second power play unit.
Depending on your league, Verhaeghe could be available between the 13th and 17th round and could be a great addition to add depth scoring to your team.
D Gustav Forsling
ESPN: 328; Yahoo!: 257
With MacKenzie Weegar now in Calgary, Gus Forsling is now set to take on a bigger role with the Panthers.
He will be on the Panthers’ top pairing with Aaron Ekblad and will also be quarterbacking Florida’s second unit. His ability to create chances in transition with his passing and skating should make for a boost in his assist numbers with his heightened role.
Forsling ranked first among NHL defensemen in goals from March 20 up until the end of the season last year. He became a more confident shooter throughout the season and could see more growth in that department next year as well.
Like Verhaeghe, Forsling should be available in the later rounds of the draft but could end up being one of the best defensemen on your team come the end of the season.
D Brandon Montour
ESPN: 304; Yahoo!: 301
Brandon Montour’s value will likely soar due to his promotion to the Panthers’ No. 1 power play unit.
After putting up eight points on the power play while quarterbacking the second unit last year, Montour gets the nod to quarterback PP1 this season. He will also likely receive second-pairing minutes alongside Lucas Carlsson after being given a reserved third pairing role in 2021-22.
Depsite his reserved role, Montour had 11 goals and 37 points. With a bigger role on both the power play and 5-on-5 those numbers could see a significant raise this year.
He is a solid option between the 18th and 22nd rounds depending on how deep your league is.
F Rudolfs Balcers
ESPN: 317; Yahoo!: 453
While Rudolfs Balcers’ 11 goals and 23 points from last season do not jump out on paper, he could potentially be put in a position to shatter those numbers this season.
Throughout training camp, Panthers coach Paul Maurice has given him opportunities to play on Barkov’s line. While it is not set in stone that he will be playing there — Lundell has also gotten time on that line — he has shown a lot of improvement throughout camp.
Last season, Balcers was able to get himself in the right positions to score but often found himself hitting the post or missing the net. He has shown a lot more confidence in his shot throughout training camp and more of his shots have been going in.
If you are in a 16 to 20 man league or a league with a deep bench, Balcers could be a solid option in the later rounds. Otherwise, he could be a good waiver pickup early in the season if he does end up on Barkov’s wing.
Potential Waiver Watch: C Eetu Luostarinen, F Colin White, D Lucas Carlsson
FLORIDA PANTHERS PRESEASON
Tampa Bay Lightning at Florida Panthers
Where, When: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise; Thursday, 7 p.m.
Tickets: CLICK HERE
2022 Preseason — Sept. 26: Florida 4, @Nashville 3 (OT); @Nashville 4, Florida 0. Sept. 29: Carolina 5, @Florida 2. Saturday: @Carolina 4, Florida 3. Thursday: vs. Tampa Bay, 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 8: at Tampa Bay, 4 p.m
Regular Season Opener: Oct. 13 at New York Islanders
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Colby, been playing fantasy hockey for about 10 years now. I’m drafting my second team of the year this afternoon. You should get a “Florida hockey now” League going, I would be the first to join.