By Corey Abbott, RotoWire
Special to Yahoo Sports
The majority of teams across the league have played in at least a handful of games, but it's still very early in the 2023-24 season. Still, fantasy managers may be starting to grow a bit impatient at this point with some underperforming stars, while others may not realize the potential that some players could unlock as the season progresses.
Filip Forsberg, LW, Nashville Predators (75% rostered)
Forsberg has collected one goal, four assists and 29 shots on net through six games this season. He racked up 19 goals and 42 points in 50 appearances last year before being forced to miss the final 32 contests due to a concussion. Despite some decent production so far this campaign, the 29-year-old winger is capable of reaching another gear. After all, Forsberg piled up 42 goals and 84 points in 69 games during the 2021-22 season. Additionally, Nashville's offense has been slightly better in 2023-24, scoring 3.00 goals per game compared to 2.72 in 2022-23.
The team will get another boost once Forsberg starts taking advantage of his scoring opportunities. He currently has a career-low 3.4 shooting percentage, which is bound to improve. Forsberg's success rate on his shots over his 12 NHL seasons sits at 12.7%. He also ranks seventh in the league in individual scoring chances (iSCF) and sixth in individual expected goals (ixG), according to Natural Stat Trick. It should be only a matter of time before Forsberg shakes off the rust, especially if he keeps playing over 19 minutes per contest. Per Money Puck, his line with Ryan O'Reilly and Juuso Parssinen ranks second in the league with a 76.5 xGoals percentage.
Artturi Lehkonen, LW, Colorado Avalanche (58% rostered)
Lehkonen has accounted for two goals, six points and 22 shots on net over five games this campaign. Prior to registering one goal and three helpers in a 6-4 win over Carolina on Oct. 21, it had been a sluggish start to the season for the 28-year-old forward. However, he's getting back on track now with at least one point in each of his past three outings. The time to scoop him up is now.
Lehkonen ranks sixth in the league in individual high-danger scoring chances (iHDCF), per Natural Stat Trick. The combination of Lehkonen, Ryan Johansen and Valeri Nichushkin ranks first in the league with a 78.8 xGoals percentage according to Money Puck. Lehkonen was promoted to the top line with Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen recently, which is where he spent the vast majority of the 2022-23 season en route to posting personal bests in goals (21), assists (30), points (51), blocked shots (43) and power-play points (20).
Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Minnesota Wild (84% rostered)
Eriksson Ek finally broke out offensively in 2022-23 with 23 goals and 61 points across 78 appearances. He has picked up right where he left off this season, notching four goals (three on the power play), three assists and 16 shots on net through five outings. Eriksson Ek's 3.20 shots per game is a bit over his career high of 3.17 from last campaign. The 26-year-old forward is also well on his way to surpassing 100 hits for the sixth time in his career.
Eriksson Ek has continued to produce despite losing valuable linemate Matthew Boldy, who has been out of action due to a lower-body injury. The good news is that Boldy could be back before Minnesota wraps up a three-game road trip this week. Eriksson Ek has received praise in the past for his defensive work, but his offensive ability should have plenty of fantasy managers interested in bringing him on board.
Joseph Woll, G, Toronto Maple Leafs (50% rostered)
Woll had some sneaky fantasy value going into the 2023-24 season. Ilya Samsonov played well last year, posting a 27-10-5 record with a 2.33 GAA and a .919 save percentage, but Woll was still expected to see his fair share of playing time. Samsonov has struggled out of the gate this campaign, allowing 14 goals on 83 shots over four starts, which has opened the door for Woll to string together some starts.
Samsonov, who is a pending unrestricted free agent, will more than likely have a long leash and he will be presented with numerous chances to get back on track. However, Woll stands a very good chance of cutting into that playing time in a meaningful way. The 25-year-old Woll has been solid in small sample sizes at the NHL level when he has been called upon, and a time will come when he gets the opportunity to run with the No. 1 role for an extended period.
Brady Skjei, D, Carolina Hurricanes (79% rostered)
Skjei was red-hot at the beginning of the 2023-24 season, generating one goal and five assists over a four-game point streak. Unfortunately, he has already started to cool down offensively, which shouldn't come as a big surprise. Skjei hasn't been able to get to the 40-point mark yet during his NHL career. He has ended up with 39 points twice and had 38 points, including a career-high 18 goals, in 81 games last season.
Skjei finds himself behind Brent Burns, Tony DeAngelo and Jaccob Slavin in terms of fantasy appeal on the Carolina defense corps. His durability has made him a decent multi-category performer for intermittent stretches of the season, but he typically ends up back on waivers because of consistency problems. He's a superb sell-high candidate.
Thomas Chabot, D, Ottawa Senators (76% rostered)
Chabot only hit the scoresheet once across his first five appearances this season. He had 11 goals and 30 assists in 68 games last season, including 20 points on the man advantage. Chabot and Jakob Chychrun, who has been the better of the two offensively to start the 2023-24 campaign, have been usurped by Jake Sanderson on the point of the Senators' top power-play unit.
Ottawa's offense has been successful so far this campaign, but Chabot's role has been reduced and he isn't having the same impact he's had in previous years. As long as he can avoid the injuries that have sidetracked him in the past, Chabot has fantasy upside in multiple categories. That should help facilitate a good return in a trade, and the time to try to move him is now.
Taylor Hall, LW, Chicago Blackhawks (35% rostered)
Hall has two assists and seven shots on goal through five outings this season. He is back on the sidelines after aggravating a shoulder injury that he originally sustained in the second game of the season. Hall returned after only a one-game absence the first time he went down, but he's expected to miss at least a few games following his placement on the injured reserve list.
Hall has been a popular drop from fantasy squads recently, so getting a good return may prove to be difficult. Still, he is a big name and will probably be back alongside Connor Bedard on Chicago's top line once he is cleared to rejoin the lineup. He may be an attractive stash option for some fantasy managers. At this point in time, cutting your losses and moving on from him is probably the advisable move. Hall is giving off 2022-23 vibes with his start to 2023-24, battling injury concerns and not being very productive when he has been in the lineup.
Nicholas Paul, C/LW, Tampa Bay Lightning (30% rostered)
Paul notched two power-play goals and added an even-strength assist in Tampa Bay's season opener. He went three straight games without a point afterward before registering another power-play goal and adding one assist in 4-3 win over Vancouver on Oct. 19. Paul was promoted to the second line recently, which adds some intrigue to his fantasy value. He had been skating on the third line previously while seeing time on the top power-play combination.
Paul remains a wild card who may be better suited as an occasional waiver-wire addition. That could make him a viable option in the trade market, but the longer you wait, the more difficult it could become to secure a significant upgrade in return. Paul still hasn't reached the 20-goal plateau nor has he surpassed 32 points in a season during his NHL career. His improved roles with the Lightning will probably help him achieve new personal bests, but it's unlikely to be a meteoric rise.