Anton Forsberg Ottawa
Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Alex Killorn (17) scores past Ottawa Senators goaltender Anton Forsberg (31) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

FANTASY HOCKEY- FIVE PLAYERS TO PICK UP THIS WEEK

Mike Shara

With the NBA season on a hiatus after the All-Star Game, the NFL finished for another year after the Super Bowl and MLB continuing to do everything it can to ruin whatever smidgeon of goodwill that sports fans have left for it, it dawned on me that I may have been neglecting my hockey pools the past few weeks. As it turns out, I had been! I did some digging around, though, and found a few players that are currently under-appreciated in fantasy hockey that might provide your lineup with a little extra punch as your league heads towards the playoff season. Have a look at this list and see if there are any players that can help you as 2021-22 starts to wind down in the NHL.

ANTON FORSBERG, G, Ottawa
He’s been more of a streamer this season than a guy you’d necessarily want to hold onto all year long, but lately he’s made himself into a bit more of an ownership commodity. He has a .943 save percentage and is undefeated in his last five games and starter Matt Murray is currently nursing a mysterious injury. The Senators are not worried about being a playoff contender this season, so there may be a chance that they give Forsberg more of a run as things wind down. He’s 29 (two years older than Murray) and has never started more than 30 games in an NHL season, so don’t expect too much, but he’s one of the only goalies currently on the waiver wires worth picking up at the moment. If Vitek Vanecek or Jeremy Swayman are free agents in your league, you might want to consider them, too.

COLE CAULFIELD, RW, Montreal
It’s kind of amazing what a new Head Coach can do to restore a struggling player’s confidence. Look at what Bruce Boudreau has done for Brock Boeser in Vancouver since taking over for the Canucks. Now we’re starting to see the effect that new bench boss Martin St. Louis is having on his rookie Caulfield. After coming out of nowhere to give the Habs a boost during last year’s run to the Stanley Cup final, Caulfield started this season with high hopes that soon fell to earth with just 9 points in his first 30 games. He now has scored 8 points in the 6 games since St. Louis stepped in to replace Dominique Ducharme. The Canadiens look reinvigorated as a team, too, and their top line of Nick Suzuki, Caulfield and Josh Anderson is starting to really gel. Look for him (and the team) to finish what has been a disappointing season with a bang rather than a continued whimper. 

JOSH MORRISSEY, D, Winnipeg
Yet another Canadian team with a player on the rise! Still not yet 27 despite winding down his sixth full NHL season, Morrissey is starting to turn things around lately after starting the season relatively slowly. He has 5 points in his last 6 games and is averaging over 23 minutes of ice time per game on the season. He is now half of the Jets’ top defensive pairing along with Dylan Demelo and is seeing a lot of power play time, too. Playing regularly on the man advantage alongside such a skilled group of forwards as Winnipeg’s, he’s starting to rack up more points and shots on net. Added bonus : if your league uses hits as a counting statistic, he dishes plenty of those out, too. 

SCOTT LAUGHTON, C, Philadelphia
I knew I’d get to an American team eventually. The poor Flyers are suffering through one of the worst seasons in their illustrious franchise’s history. Their current points percentage would be their second-lowest since they played their inaugural NHL season over 50 years ago. With all that losing, change is bound to happen. Head Coach Alan Vigneault was fired after 22 games and it now looks likely that team captain Claude Giroux will be traded at the deadline after playing 15 seasons in Philly. Laughton was recently bumped up to being a top six forward when Sean Couturier went down for the rest of the season with an injury and he has responded with 8 points in his last 8 games. Despite being a first round pick in 2012, Laughton has never scored more than 20 goals in a season (and he’s only done that once), but with more opportunities over the next few months, he may be able to find more playing time and more scoring chances. 

MORITZ SEIDER, D, Detroit
The Red Wings’ rebuilding project is slowly starting to bear fruit with the team’s on-ice performance appearing to be turning a corner this season. They’re hardly a Stanley Cup contender at the moment, but the bulk of their key nucleus going forward is young and improving and that group certainly includes Seider, the big German who Detroit selected with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft. He has become a reliable force at both ends of the ice, averaging just under 23 minutes a game – including plenty of time on the power play, scoring 35 points in 51 games while maintaining a positive plus/minus rating – all before he has even turned 21. He has also blocked nearly 100 shots, taken over 100 shots on net and dished out nearly 75 hits, putting up valuable numbers in the less ballyhooed categories as well. Hockeytown has been a bit of an NHL wasteland over the last 5 or 6 years but Seider is proving that he will be a big part of its renaissance over the next 5 or 6 (or 10). 

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