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Fantasy hockey picks: The top 6 to watch and skip, including Mattias Ekholm

Fantasy hockey
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2022-23 NHL season in full swing, fantasy hockey leagues are also heading into the playoffs. Many are looking to make the right moves to improve in the standings. Checking spreadsheets, comparing stats, and deciding how to build a lineup comes with challenges and hiccups — especially with the news that key players are out with injuries.

While there are surprises in every season, each competitor puts forth their best effort to pick the surefire winners, who put up points across all categories. More than that, though, deciding who to skip can be equally as valuable, dodging the spectacular failures that result in goose eggs across categories and cost precious victories.

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Check out our list of which players to pick — and skip — in fantasy hockey below.

Fantasy hockey picks

Pavel Dorofeyev, Vegas Golden Knights

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Seattle Kraken
Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

While the young forward has only played in seven games on the season, he already has five points in that frame. His impressive stat sheet includes two multi-point appearances, and the Knights are rewarding him as a result. He’s seeing second-line ice time with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith, and averages over two shots a game. Dorofeyev even sees power play minutes, and has capitalized on the opportunity, collecting a pair of special teams points. As long as he stays this hot, Dorofeyev is worth a fantasy hockey roster.

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Mattias Ekholm, Edmonton Oilers

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Edmonton Oilers
Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

With the Oilers on a red hot streak, the veteran defenseman–who was a trade deadline acquisition for Edmonton–is enjoying a huge amount of success. He offered a two-goal showing in his last appearance, and a three-assist contest in the game before that, for a total of seven points in his last five games. He plays roughly 20 minutes a night and adds a bunch of shots on net–he recorded five in his last appearance–and plays a physical game that sees him sure to populate secondary scoring sheets as well. While he’s still available in most Yahoo fantasy hockey leagues, he is certainly worth the roster move.

Matt Murray, Toronto Maple Leafs

NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Ottawa Senators
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The Leafs have a blue paint battle of sorts on their hands, as they’ll have to decide whether to use Ilya Samsonov or former Stanley Cup-winner Matt Murray as the starting goalie in the playoffs. As Murray is the more readily available goalie in fantasy hockey, he’s worth the roster addition as he competes for the starting spot. In his 23 starts this season, he’s collected 13 wins and a .905 save percentage with a 2.96 goals against average.

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Fantasy hockey skips

Alexis Lafrenière, New York Rangers

NHL: New York Rangers at Montreal Canadiens
David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports

The former first overall pick is just not living up to the hype. He has just 32 points in 69 games, and no points in his last five contests, despite the fact that the Rangers are red hot. What’s more, in two of those last five appearances, he didn’t even take a shot on net. He’s seen a steady decrease in ice time this season and his role increasingly diminished for the third season in a row. He doesn’t really contribute much to the Rangers’ offense, and therefore is a fantasy hockey skip.

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John Klingberg, Minnesota Wild

NHL: Boston Bruins at Minnesota Wild
Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

While many thought a change of scenery would be good for the veteran defenseman (and former power play specialist), Minnesota has only seen a three-game point streak come from the acquisition of John Klingberg. He has an expiring contract at the end of the year and should be looking to make an impression, but has little to show points-wise for roughly 20 minutes of ice time a night. He’s consistent in shots on net, but registers little in terms of secondary scoring. As long as he’s not putting up goals and assists, he’s not worth a fantasy hockey roster spot.

Craig Anderson, Buffalo Sabres

NHL: Buffalo Sabres at Philadelphia Flyers
Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

This fantasy hockey skip is not about Anderson’s netminding abilities, but rather a skip because of opportunity. With the Sabres planning to roster Devon Levi for the remainder of the season, it seems that duties will be split between Anderson, Levi and rookie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, and the Sabres will likely favor the younger two to prepare them for next season.

While Anderson has been solid–carrying a .913 save percentage and a 2.89 goals against average–he’s an expiring UFA and could retire at the end of the year, meaning Buffalo will likely leave him on the bench for the majority of the end-of-season stretch.