Fantasy: 5 players poised for bounce-back seasons in 2022-23
The following five players disappointed in 2021-22, but we're projecting them to bounce back in a big way this season.
Note: Goalies were omitted from this post because we covered them here.
Jack Eichel, C, Golden Knights
Eichel's stock is down after posting his lowest points-per-game mark (0.74) since his rookie year. However, several factors affected his performance. Not only was he working his way back from artificial disc replacement surgery, but he also played the final six weeks of the season with a broken thumb. Meanwhile, he had to adjust to his new surroundings in Vegas, where plenty of his teammates also missed time with injuries.
With a full training camp under his belt, look for Eichel to not only return to his 2019-20 form - when he finished eighth in Hart Trophy voting with 78 points in 68 games - but to explode for a career year.
It's easy to forget how immensely talented Eichel is after back-to-back injury-marred seasons. If he plays all 82 games, he'll contend for 100 points, especially if Mark Stone - the best linemate Eichel has ever had - stays healthy.
Dougie Hamilton, D, Devils
Hamilton's first year with the Devils didn't go as planned. New Jersey's prized free-agent signing missed 20 games due to injury and recorded only 30 points, his fewest since 2013-14.
It's not uncommon for players to take time - sometimes a full year - to adjust to their new surroundings, and it appears Hamilton is no exception. In his last two stops with the Flames and the Hurricanes, Hamilton was unspectacular in his first season before taking off in his second one.
That apparent trend could be a fluke, but regardless, the Devils are an ascending team with lots of young talent. A breakout year from Jack Hughes gives this offense plenty of upside. And Hamilton, a high-volume shooter who will quarterback the top power play, will be heavily involved. Hamilton, who's still just 29, could reach 60-70 points in a career year.
Mathew Barzal, C, Islanders
Barzal is simply too talented to stay quiet. He's coming off the worst season of his career after registering 15 goals and 44 assists in 73 contests, and he hasn't posted better than a point per game since his 85-point Calder Trophy campaign in 2017-18.
Unfortunately, the situation around Barzal doesn't appear to have improved: He's still stuck on the Islanders, who failed to add any talent around him.
It is possible, though, that the departure of head coach Barry Trotz could help unleash Barzal. It's true that Lane Lambert is a Trotz disciple, but he may be willing to open up the offense a bit - or, at the very least, play Barzal more than 18 minutes per game.
Barzal is one of the most gifted playmakers in the NHL. At 25 years old, he should just be coming into his own. Overlook his situation and bet on the talent in the later rounds of your draft.
Brent Burns, D, Hurricanes
Burns is coming off a very respectable 54-point campaign, but the two seasons prior were letdowns considering how elite he'd been. An offseason trade to the Hurricanes gives Burns an excellent chance to turn back the clock for one more spectacular season.
Yes, Burns is 37, but Carolina is the perfect fit for him. The Hurricanes love taking point shots and crashing the net, and that's well-suited to Burns' strengths.
Additionally, Burns gets to pair with one of the most underrated defensemen in the league in Jaccob Slavin. Not only will Slavin help push play up the ice, but his exceptional defensive awareness will allow Burns to run wild offensively. Considering how often Burns shoots the puck, the 60-70 point range is within reach.
Anze Kopitar, C, Kings
Kopitar tallied a respectable 67 points in 81 games last season, but it was still his fewest on a per-game basis since 2018-19. Kopitar is 35 years old now, so a large portion of the fantasy community is likely writing him off, but he could be in for one of his best offensive seasons in recent memory.
Offseason addition Kevin Fiala could make a massive difference for the Kings captain. Kopitar has had some stellar linemates, but none were as dynamic as Fiala is (and yes, that includes Marian Gaborik's successful but past-his-prime run in Los Angeles).
If Fiala can elevate Kopitar, the Slovenian could return to his point-per-game form - or better.
(Analytics source: Evolving-Hockey)
Josh Wegman has been theScore's resident fantasy hockey expert since 2015. Find him on Twitter @JoshWegman_.
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