The Ottawa Senators are a stronger team today than they were for most of the first half of the season after bringing back one of their most prolific forwards. Josh Norris, out since October 22 with a shoulder injury, made his much-welcomed return to Ottawa’s lineup against the Penguins on Wednesday. The 23-year-old, who centered a goal line with Alex DeBrincat and Claude Giroux, logged more than 19 minutes and looked his old, effective self outside of work in the faceoff circle. Give him a few games and the 2017 first round player should get back to those old draw tricks too.
After notching 35 goals and 20 assists in just 66 games last season, Norris will start accumulating points in a hurry. If your fantasy team isn’t riddled with stalwart gems, the Senators Forward deserves careful consideration as a worthwhile addition.
Guaranteed he won’t be available in more than a third of the ESPN.com leagues for long. If Norris is indeed already taken, consider the following bevy of injectable forwards (and a goalie) ready to give your fantasy squad a valuable boost.
Max Pacioretty, Carolina Hurricanes (44.9%): He is back again. Again. Eliminated a few games with a New Pacioretty will return to Carolina’s lineup Thursday along with top center Sebastian Aho. After missing the first half of the season with Achilles surgery, the veteran scored three goals in three games before picking up a fresh injury last week.
I fully realize that Pacioretty’s tendency to fall injured is worrying and annoying, but his advantage is too great to ignore. The number of shots he puts into the net alone deserves his inclusion in most conventional leagues. And suppose he strings together two healthy months? The dynamic 34 year old is worth the fantasy gamble in my opinion.
Brandon Hagel, Tampa Bay Lightning (58.4%): One hundred days into the 2022-23 season, the Lightning forward still doesn’t command the fantasy respect he so much deserves. Why? A little weak in the name recognition department? Disappointing professional resume to date? This is only Hagel’s third full season, so maybe give the boy a minute.
Coincidentally, the 24-year-old has scored a point/game since October 22. He plays on a top line and power play with Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. He has nearly 35 goals and more than 40 assists. pick him up
Artturi Lehkonen, Colorado Avalanche (65.6%): The Avalanche are starting to resemble the defending Stanley Cup champions they are of late, thanks in part to Lehkonen’s recent streak of five goals in three games. After a sluggish December and early January, Nathan MacKinnon’s top linemate seems to be getting his mojo back. Along with several other Avalanche competitors. Lehkonen’s other linemate, Evan Rodrigues (13.6%), also plays with fantasy value in the lower leagues.
Scott Laughton, Philadelphia Flyers (17.4%): And not just because he’s a cool cat who’s specifically trying to make the league and the sport more inclusive. Also because he runs on Philadelphia’s top power play and scores a lot of goals. With even strength and with the additional skater. Since December 15, Laughton has registered seven goals and ten assists in 15 competitions. That’s an average of 2.8 fantasy points/game. Only Travis Konecny - whose current production rate is ridiculous – is serving as a more valuable asset with the Flyers right now.
Scott Laughton scores power play goal against Capitals
Scott Laughton scores power play goal against Capitals
Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins (17.0%): Exuding some strong 2017-18 vibes, the speedy winger reminds us he once had 33 goals and 31 assists for the Minnesota Wild. Zucker, who finishes in the top-6 with Evgeni Malkin and Rickard Rakell, has recorded four goals and two assists in his last six games. If Rakell (68.4%) is already voiced in your lower fantasy league himself, you might be considering this other prolific penguin.
With his current contract expiring at the end of the season, the 31-year-old should feel a little more inspired to make the most of these past few months.
Kirby Dach, Montreal Canadiens (12.2%): Consider the young Canadian this week’s deep league special; maybe not the most reliable asset but with tons of upside and potential. The still just 21-year-old, who is currently in line with Josh Anderson and Mike Hoffman (escaped from the press box), has three goals and three assists on 14 shots in his last six competitions. His resulting average of 2.7 fantasy points/game is top of the team and even surpasses Cole Caulfield. Remember, Dach was drafted third overall in 2019 for a reason.
Jack Campbell, Edmonton Oilers (62.1%): now This is the Campbell Oilers fans they were hoping for after the team signed the goalie in a $25 million deal over the summer. The puck stopping, game winning version of the last two weeks. With the calendar switched to 2023, Campbell stands at 5-1-0, with a SV% of 0.919 and a GAA of 2.01. He has won four times in a row. Even with Stuart Skinner back in the herd after the birth of his child, trainer Jay Woodcroft should be inclined to – most of the time – run hot hand in the net. Also, as mentioned in Sean Allen’s Daily Notes, Edmonton’s schedule after hosting the Lightning Thursday again includes meetings with the Canucks, Blue Jackets, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Flyers, Senators, Canadiens and Red Wings. They will not face a team in a potential playoff berth again until February 17. Lots of opportunities for some W’s on the horizon.