Fantasy Top-10: Players Who Will Turn It Around

by Tom Collins on December 4, 2017

It’s never too late to count on someone when it comes to fantasy hockey.

Players are known to go into extended slumps. It’s tough when it’s at the start of the fantasy hockey season, but you never know when a guy will rebound. Alex Galchenyuk had two points in his first 10 games and was stuck playing on the fourth line. Now he has 14 points in his last 18 games.

Sam Bennett is another good example. He went pointless in his first 15 games, but now has eight points in his last 11 games.

Below you’ll find 10 players who are set to rebound. Many of them present a good opportunity to buy low before they start piling up the points and wins.


10. Tyler Johnson

Much of Johnson’s fantasy success is dependent on his line mates. The Lightning forwards had only four goals and 11 points in the first 25 games of the season. Then he was bumped to a line with Steven Stamkos on Saturday. He responded with two goals, his first goals in 16 games. His 19:04 of ice time was the highest for him since Nov. 4. If he can stick with Stamkos, expect an uptick in his production.


9. Roberto Luongo

The man with the best Twitter account in hockey has had a tough start to his season with a 6-6-1 record. That doesn’t look great, but some of his other numbers look much better. He has eight quality starts in 14 games. He has a .928 SV %, seventh best in the league. He’s also third in the league for goals saved above average, which basically compares a specific goalie to the league average.


8. Justin Faulk

Faulk has been frustrating to own as he has seven points, and they’ve come in only five games. It looked like he was turning the corner a few weeks ago when he had four points in three games, but has been pointless in four games since. Instead of dwelling on the negatives, let’s look at the positives: He’s on pace for a career high in shots, the top option for the #1 power play unit, starting in the offensive zone on almost 60 percent of his shifts, and he’s scored at least 15 goals and 37 points for three straight years. It would be too early to get rid of him.


7. Cam Atkinson

Dobber darling Atkinson is on pace for his worst season since becoming a full-time NHLer five years ago. He’s missed four games and is on pace for 31 points in 78 games. This is after four straight seasons of offensive improvements. He is on pace for a career-high 241 shots and despite having zero power play points, he’s a mainstay on the squad’s top unit. Goal scorers tend to go in slumps. Once he starts scoring, looking for a long streak where he’ll get back to a 65-point pace.


6. Oscar Klefbom

Everything about Klefbom’s play screams that a bounce back is coming. He’s starting in the offensive zone on 54.7 per cent of his shifts. His PDO is a low 939 (1,000 is average). His corsi for percentage is a strong 54 per cent. He’s on pace for 237 shots, which would be a career high. He plays 65.7 per cent of his team’s power play minutes. Until Andrej Sekera comes back from injury, there’s no one to challenge Klefbom as the team’s top offensive d-man.


5. Dustin Byfuglien

There’s been much written about Brent Burns, but Big Buff should be ranked right up there as the most disappointing d-man this season with zero goals and 13 points. There is a lot to like about his game. He’s on pace for another 200-plus shot season. He’s on the top power play unit. He also has a bit of a track record for slow starts. He didn’t score his first goal last year until 19 games in, but finished with 13 goals. In 2013-14, again he didn’t score his first goal until the 19th game and wound up with 21 markers. It will come around for Byfuglien this year. You just need to be patient.


4. Brent Burns

There’s a discussion on the forum about whether Burns is done as an elite fantasy defender. I’m easily in the no camp. He’s already started turning it around with a goal and five points in his last six games. He’s on pace for 321 shots and even better, his underperforming teammates are starting to turn it around (Joe Pavelski has five points in last six games and Joe Thornton has six in six). He mans the Sharks top power-play unit, starts in the offensive zone almost 65 percent of the time, and plays 25 minutes a game.


3. Max Pacioretty

Pacioretty is on pace for 23 goals and 44 points, far below the 35 goals and 65 points many poolies anticipated. There are still plenty of reasons for optimism. He’s on pace for 343 shots, he’s starting in the offensive zone 57.5 per cent of the time, he’s getting more power play time than normal and his corsi for percentage is above average. He’s a notoriously streaky shooter. Eventually he’ll catch fire and get 40 points in 40 games (last year it started on Dec. 4).


2. Cam Talbot

Oilers fans and Talbot owners are hoping the couple of weeks off will do the same thing for Talbot that it did for Carey Price. However, there’s a small secret that many poolies may not realize: Talbot had already started turning his season around before he was injured. In his last three games, he had a 3-0 record with a .923 SV % and a 1.95 GAA. On the season, he has a .919 even strength save percentage. That’s not too far off from his .927 even strength save percentage last year. It’s on the penalty kill where his numbers get pulled down to a .903 SV overall. Once he comes back rested, he’ll be back to the same Cam Talbot as last year.


1. Erik Karlsson

This may be your best chance to buy low on Karlsson. Even then, it won’t be that low. If you want to convince an owner to sell, you could bring up the fact he’s pointless in nine games, is at his worst shots-per-game mark since 2010-11, his ice time is the lowest since 2010-11, has only four power play points and only has one goal (when he’s normally a shoo-in for at least 15). There’s no reason to worry. Looking at positive statistics, his total shots attempted is the highest of his career, his corsi for percentage is the highest it’s been since 2012-13 and his offensive zone starts percentage is at the highest mark since his 2009-10 rookie season. He’s the world’s best offensive defenseman who is probably still recovering from having “half his ankle bone” removed this summer, and is on a squad that played two games in Sweden in November and returned to North America to play 10 of their next 13 on the road.