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Fantasy Hockey: The Top NHL Rookies to Target in 2022-23

There's a wide-range of good prospects looking to fight for the Calder Trophy in 2022-23. Here’s a look at 15 rookies who can make a significant fantasy impact for the upcoming season.
Matty Beniers

Looking for a Michael Bunting or a Mortiz Seider to help win your fantasy league? Rookies are notoriously hard to project, even those who played a few games late in the season following the conclusion of their amateur careers.

They’re often overlooked but could provide major surplus value in the draft's later rounds. Even if they don’t produce enough to earn a spot on your fantasy team, plenty of them can go on a hot run for a month or two. Trevor Zegras and Lucas Raymond were worth the late-round picks, and Cole Caufield and Matt Boldy were both good sources of goals later in the season. There are always a few surprises, too, including Anton Lundell (44 points, +33 rating), Dawson Mercer and Seth Jarvis (both 40+ points), and a new banger on the block in Tanner Jeannot (24 goals, 130 PIM, 318 hits).

Here’s a look at 15 rookies who can make a significant impact for the upcoming season.

Short List:

Mason McTavish, LW, Ducks

McTavish has the potential to be a multi-category beast. He’s not the biggest player on the ice but he’s hard to miss with his mix of brilliant offensive play and physical edge, scoring three points to go with eight hits and six blocked shots in nine games with the Ducks last season. He’s Canada’s captain at the rescheduled WJC and practically a lock to win a roster spot with the Ducks in the fall. His fantasy value will depend on where he plays in the lineup; if he’s a center (which will help him earn dual-position eligibility), he will be behind Zegras and Ryan Strome, but if he’s a winger, he will get more top-six opportunities.

Matty Beniers, C, Kraken

In what should be a star-studded 2021 draft class, Beniers came into the league as a two-way forward without top-end scoring skill. Yet, in 10 games with the Kraken, Beniers put up three goals and nine points, including four on the power play, on a team lacking wingers who could consistently finish, and also won 39 faceoffs. With consistent top-six minutes at center and some power play time, Beniers is already an attractive asset in keeper leagues.

Owen Power, D, Sabres

Arguably the most hyped defenseman to come into the league, Power is an all-around defenseman who can make a Moritz Seider-like impact for the Sabres. In limited action last season, Power scored three points with 10 shots and nine blocked shots while averaging 22:05 TOI in eight games. He’s worth a late-round pick in most formats, especially in leagues with four ‘D’ roster spots with that kind of usage.

Cole Perfetti, C/RW, Jets

Perfetti’s season was cut short following an upper-body injury, limiting him to just 18 games. He technically qualifies as a rookie and has a chance to win a top-six role right out of camp, and should he do so vaults to the front of the Calder shortlist as well. He is their top prospect currently signed and a big part of their future as the Jets contemplate what to do with their Cup window seemingly closing as Blake Wheeler gets older and Pierre-Luc Dubois' future in doubt. 

Jack Quinn, RW, Sabres

Quinn had an outstanding season, scoring 61 points in just 45 games for AHL Rochester and was named the rookie of the year. His offensive production was surprising because he had never led the Ottawa 67s in scoring. Still, he has quickly ascended to the top of league-wide top prospect lists and certainly has a chance to compete for the Calder.

Andrei Kuzmenko, LW, Canucks

The pitch to land Kuzmenko involved using him on the power play, which will surely boost his fantasy value. Don’t expect him to be a point-per-game player as he was in the KHL last season, but Elias Pettersson, J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat are potential centers Kuzmenko could be paired with, putting him in the best position to succeed among players on the short list.

Long List:

Alexander Holtz, RW, Devils

Holtz had a nine-game audition with the Devils but seems primed for a regular role. He led AHL Utica with 26 goals, and although where Holtz plays in the lineup is a tougher question to answer, if he’s playing next to Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier, Holtz suddenly becomes an under-the-radar fantasy asset for goals.

Simon Edvinsson, D, Red Wings

The Wings’ busy off-season takes some pressure off Edvinsson, especially after Moritz Seider's incredible rookie campaign. Edvinsson and Seider will surely form the backbone of their defense for years to come, and with little pressure to win now, the two youngsters will log plenty of ice time. Edvinsson is likewise an all-around defenseman but is also noted for his mobility and aggressive play on offense. Filip Hronek is back so he’ll take up some power play time but Edvinsson is a name to remember for dynasty leagues.

Juraj Slafkovsky, LW, Canadiens

The most recent first overall pick has a good chance to crack the roster after performing well against veteran pros in international tournaments this past season. The Habs have wingers in spades, but none have the size and skill set as Slafkovsky. My only advice is to not overreach since the past few first overall picks – Rasmus Dahlin, Jack Hughes and Alexis Lafreniere – have had very muted rookie seasons, and the Habs aren’t expected to be very good.

Shane Wright, C, Kraken

Never count out a player with an axe to grind. After slipping to fourth overall, you can be sure the ultra-competitive Wright will have circled the games against the teams that passed on him, especially afer he was caught shooting lasers with his eyes at the Habs’ draft table. His fantasy impact for 2022-23 may be subdued, though, with Beniers ahead on the depth chart and Yanni Gourde, Alex Wennberg and Jared McCann potentially ahead of him.

Marco Rossi, C, Wild

Rossi looked excellent last season leading AHL Iowa in scoring with 53 points in 63 games after sitting out the previous season due to COVID-19 complications. The cap penalties for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter kick in this coming season, taking up roughly 15 percent of their entire cap space. That means the Wild will need players on cheap deals – ELCs and reclamation projects – to stay competitive, and Rossi has a chance to win the second-line role on a team lacking scoring centers. Rossi has the most multi-category upside among players on the long list, putting up points, winning faceoffs and likely play more minutes than the rest.

Longer list

Kent Johnson, LW, Blue Jackets

Johnson was drafted as a center but long-term will likely be a winger in the NHL. He’s a puck wizard who can put up points if he earns a top-six role, but that seems unlikely given the Jackets’ glut of wingers and Johnson’s lack of inexperience and strength. Those shortcomings will be overcome with time, but it’s more likely Johnson plays sheltered limits at 5-on-5 and showcases most of his skill on the power play.

Nick Robertson, LW, Maple Leafs

Robertson still qualifies as a rookie even though he’s made brief appearances over the past two seasons. The 20-year-old winger is known for his scoring prowess, but the Leafs’ top six is very much set and the additions of Calle Jarnkrok, Nicolas Aube-Kubel and Adam Gaudette means competition for ice time in the bottom six.

Jake Sanderson, D, Senators

Think of Sanderson as a Power-lite, a highly-touted prospect who could immediately step in and play big minutes. The Sens blue line is thin beyond Thomas Chabot, crossing their fingers that Nick Holden and Nikita Zaitsev can be dependable in their own end and that Erik Brannstrom can live up to his potential. Note Sanderson is coming off a hand injury which may affect his play.

Thomas Bordeleau, C, Sharks

Bordeleau didn’t score a goal during his eight-game audition but did manage to notch five assists and showcased his high offensive ceiling. The Michigan team Bordeleau played on was stacked, but he was no less impressive than some of the drafted teammates before him. The Sharks seem set down the middle so pick up Bordeleau when he gains winger eligibility, which will probably be sooner than later. The downside: the Sharks hired David Quinn over the summer and his relationship with the rookies while coaching the Rangers wasn’t particularly smooth.

William Eklund, LW, Sharks

It all depends if Eklund makes the team and, of note, he's not participating in the rescheduled WJC tournament, citing a focus on September’s training camp with the Sharks instead. That’s an indication that both Eklund and the Sharks expect him to make a strong run for a roster spot. Drafted seventh overall, he’s the Sharks’ highest draft pick currently signed and possesses a ton of scoring talent, finishing tied second in goals with Djugarden in the Swedish League in 2020-21 as the team’s youngest player in his draft year.

Honorable Mention:

Kirill Marchenko, RW, Blue Jackets

The young sniper inked his ELC in May and expected to make his North American debut this fall. A three-year veteran with SKA St. Petersburg, Marchenko has been one of their top goal scorers over the past two seasons and could find himself in a top-six role. The drawback for Marchenko and all Jackets wingers is the lack of an elite pivot. 

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