Hello everyone and welcome in for another article. This is the first instalment of a weekly article I’ll be writing all season long in which I try to determine the truth about puzzling players. I pull suggestions for which players to write about for these articles from the Apples & Ginos community on Discord and the Apples & Ginos Patreon members. Be sure you check out those spots to catch up with me and I would be more than happy to answer any questions you have about John Carlson, Jack Hughes, or any other stars who have had slow starts to their seasons. Let’s get it!
John Carlson, D – WSH
Carlson is an open and shut case for me. You spent a third round pick on him, you’re not dropping him or trading him away low. He’s been a top 5 fantasy defenseman for what feels like a decade at this point and is still getting the elite even strength and power play time on ice to back that expectation for another season. Carlson was averaging 6 individual Corsi For (iCF) per game prior to Monday night, and while he hasn’t cracked the scoresheet yet I have no worries that he will (probably while I finish writing this sentence). If you can acquire Carlson at any sort of reduced cost right now I would absolutely love to make that move.
*Edit: Carlson scored a goal and an assist literally while I was writing this article*
Tyler Toffoli, RW – CGY
Toffoli hasn’t had the start we would have liked through his first couple of games, but don’t forget that this is basically an all-new Calgary top six and that unfamiliarity may affect certain players more than others. Certainly the likelihood of Toffoli losing either or both of his top line and top power play deployment has increased with the slow start (2 shots, 8 iCF, and 4 individual scoring chances for through two games), but the latest lines out of Flames practice have Toffoli reprising that role for another game at least. Until Toffoli loses some of that prime deployment I will continue to ride with him.
Tim Stutzle, C – OTT
Stutzle was a trendy breakout pick this year, given the hot finish to his 2021/22 season and the offseason acquisitions of Claude Giroux and Alex DeBrincat to bolster the Ottawa top six. It’s early, but I didn’t have a terribly bullish projection on Stutzle despite the additions so it’s tough for me to say that I think Stutzle is a smash the rest of the way. If you’re looking for positives Stutzle has averaged over nineteen and a half minutes per game in the early going. The problem with Stutzle is really that some of the expected breakout was already priced into his cost in drafts, making these early returns all the more frustrating. I still think he’ll be very fantasy relevant this year, but I do question whether he’s got the ceiling we were all hoping for.
Jack Hughes, C – NJD
I don’t want to be overly reductive here, but Hughes has eight shots, 18 iCF, and 11 iSCF through two games. I’m probably more bullish on Hughes now than I was in the offseason. If the Hughes manager in your league is panicking already, I’m in there like a dirty shirt trying to make that trade happen. Nothing to see here folks, Hughes is a star. Next.
Tage Thompson, C – BUF
Thompson has had a very slow start to his season, no doubt. The deployment is there, averaging just under 18 minutes a game through the first two. But Thompson has zero points and more worryingly just four shots and four iSCF on the young season. I believe two things are true about Tage Thompson: last year was not a fluke and he could not quite have such a storybook season this year as last. If Thompson is more of a 12% shooter than a 15% shooter and his linemates don’t convert as efficiently as they did a season ago there’s definitely a chance that Thompson is more a 55-60 point player than the 70ish point player he was. Because Thompson had a Cinderella season last year I’d expect that his fantasy managers will be a little on edge if he continues to be cold out of the gate here; I’d be willing to buy if his current manager is getting squirrely.
That’s all for this one folks, I hope you had as much fun reading it as I had writing it! Make sure you follow Apples & Ginos on Twitter and join the Apples & Ginos Discord server for more content and to ask any fantasy hockey questions you may have.
Thanks for reading, you are appreciated!