The 2022-23 National Hockey League (NHL) season gets underway in less than two weeks, so now is a better time than any to start diving deep into fantasy hockey research. You’re going to need to find hidden gems to win your league and these players fit that criteria.
A popular pick to win the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie last season, and a great fantasy hockey draft pick, Cole Caufield struggled under Montreal Canadiens head coach Dominique Ducharme. The diminutive yet speedy sniper had just one goal by February and had only eight points in 30 games with Ducharme as the Canadiens bench boss. He also averaged only 14:42 minutes of ice time.
However, Caufield was a much different and more confident player under new Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis. The former Tampa Bay Lightning winger clearly understands what he has in Caufield and played a similar game during his career, so he knows what Caulfield needs to do to excel in the NHL.
The early results were positive. Caufield scored 22 goals and added 13 assists in 37 games with St. Louis as Montreal’s head coach. He also played nearly four minutes more per game with increased opportunities on the power-play.
Jamie Drysdale was one of the most unheralded rookies last season, largely because he plays in Anaheim where he didn’t really receive much attention. Yet, the former sixth overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft finished third on the Ducks in scoring with 32 points in 81 games.
Drysdale is one of the smoothest skaters in the league and has great offensive instincts, which would make him a great fantasy hockey draft pick. He’ll receive a noticeable bump in ice time this season and is poised to produce between 40-50 points. He was near a point-per-game player in junior with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League.
Adam Gaudette isn’t as young as Caufield or Drysdale and doesn’t exactly have the pedigree as either of those players, but the Maple Leafs need to find value in lesser-known players and Gaudette has already been heralded by management and coaching staff and someone who can provide that – similar to how Michael Bunting transformed to a little-known player in Arizona to finishing second for the Calder Trophy playing alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner in Toronto.
Gaudette could have a similar opportunity. He was playing with John Tavares and Marner early in training camp and will be given lots of opportunities moving forward.
“Gaudette is a guy who we want to give a good opportunity with good players. We think he can really score,” Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said last week. “He is a worker. He is hard on the puck. We need some guys to come in and pop, if you will, not unlike the way Bunts did last year. We see Gaudette as a candidate who could do that. We are going to give him an opportunity to do so.”
Gaudette has 70 points through 218 regular season games. He only had 12 points in 50 games last season, but scored a career-best 33 points with the Vancouver Canucks in 2019-20. He was a prolific scorer in college, recording 142 points in 116 games at Northeastern University.
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