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Slappers and Bangers: Fantasy Hockey Analysis of Gustav Forsling and Tom Wilson

Hey folks, welcome back to another installment of Slappers and Bangers.

This week we’ll take a look at two very different fantasy hockey players. The first, Gustav Forsling, has come into his own with the Florida Panthers. I chose him because he is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season and will likely command more than the Panthers can afford to pay. He’s a player to watch this summer

The other is Tom Wilson—a fantasy hockey multi-cat darling who has struggled mightily offensively this year. We’ll pop the hood and see if we can identify what has happened up to this point.

Let’s dig in.

Fantasy Hockey Analysis of Gustav Forsling, D, Florida Panthers

For the third season in a row, Forsling finds himself on pace for at least 40 points. The vast majority of which, have come at even strength.

With Aaron Ekblad and Brandon Montour chewing up the majority of power play ice-time, Forsling finds his offensive opportunities suppressed. Not to mention, while Montour was on injured reserve to start the season, Oliver Ekman-Larsson received the lion’s share of power play ice time. This season, Ekman-Larsson has more than doubled Forsling’s ice time with the man advantage.

Yet, Forsling leads the Panthers’ defense in scoring with 28 points. Montour has 22 points in 15 fewer games.

As a prospect, Forsling was described as undersized, toolsie, and sound defensively. High-end offensive skills didn’t ooze off his stick like Cale Makar or Erik Karlsson. Instead, he was seen as a smooth-skating, responsible defenceman, who played with his head on a swivel. He skated above average and had a strong first pass. In a nutshell, nine years ago, he was a little small but did everything very well. He was projected to become a solid second-pair defenceman with a good offensive upside.

He is currently skating alongside Aaron Ekblad on the Panthers’ top pairing. I guess you could say he has fulfilled expectations.

Forsling still isn’t electrifying offensively. He uses his smooth skating and hockey IQ to make smart plays and passes a high percentage of the time.

Few defencemen reach 40 points in a season without regular exposure on the power play. This season, Forsling has only received a 10.7% share of the Panthers power play. Yet, he finds himself on pace for a second straight 40-point season. He also needs just one more goal for a third straight season with 10 or more goals.

For folks in multi-cat leagues, he is doing it all. He’s averaging over two shots per game and has already set a career-high in hits, with 79 (112 hit pace). If your league is old school and still uses penalty minutes, Forsling is increasing his relevance, as he is on pace to hit 60 for the first time in his career. He also leads the NHL in plus/minus at +39.

Last year, Forsling averaged 1:23 on the power play (23.8% share) and produced seven power-play points. A large portion of that ice time came on the second power-play unit.

In the four years he has played in Florida, Forsling has produced strong goals above expected goals for numbers. So far this year, Forsling holds a 58% GF% 5×5. His Corsi For (CF%) is equally as strong at 58.3%

Forsling has played 574 minutes with Aaron Ekblad this year, 285 with Ekman-Larsson, and over 40 minutes with each of Brandon Montour, Niko Mikkola, and Dmitri Kulikov. His lowest CF% is with Ekblad at 56.2%, with Montour, it is at 70%, and with Mikkola and Kulikov, it’s over 60% with both. It doesn’t matter who he plays with, they control the play.

At 27, and 375 career games played, he will hit his breakout threshold (for defencemen) at the start of the 2024-25 season. Forsling could be a sleeper to hit 50 points if he signs with a team that utilizes him on the power play.  With hits and blocks creeping over 100 per season, Forsling is emerging as a really solid multi-cat option.

I’ve already started to buy Forsling (now own him in two pools). He just needs a team to give him a bigger opportunity in prime offensive situations.

Fantasy Hockey Analysis of Tom Wilson, LW, Washington Capitals

After averaging a 55-point pace over the last five years, Wilson finds himself in a seemingly endless slump and on pace for 37 points.

He’s been a multi-cat stud since 2017-18. At age 29, I’m convinced this is a down season, not a reflection of Wilson falling off a cliff. Look no further than the majority of his teammates who are also having down years, offensively.

With five points in 2024 (17 games), things haven’t gone Wilson’s way this year, and they don’t seem to be improving.

Let’s be honest though, you don’t own Wilson because he scores a ton or puts up a bunch of points. The 55-point potential is just the icing on the cake. Few players in this league provide annual peripheral totals like Wilson.

You can close your eyes and know, with confidence, that Wilson will give you two shots per game, three (or more) hits per game, and break 100 penalty minutes. The fact that a banger like Wilson also receives two minutes a game on the power play, and has notched three 20-goal seasons makes him stand out.

It doesn’t take a lights-out point streak to get Wilson back on track to reach career averages.

His hits per game (3.11) are the highest they have been in five seasons (3.72 in 2019-20). His shots on goal per game (2.33) and average power play time on ice (2:17), are the second-highest of his career.

So what gives? A shooting percentage (9.8%), six percent lower than his average over the last three seasons doesn’t help. Neither does an ice-cold Alex Ovechkin, who he has spent 51% of his ice time with. His five-on-five shooting percentage is half of his average over the last six years.

His CF% is 49.4%, while not great, is directly in line with previous years. It looks as though Wilson and the Capitals have been victims of a lot of bad puck luck.

There could be a strong final quarter for Wilson, although, I hesitate to buy in on that statement.

Our real concern should be his peripheral value. That is all on target to meet expectations. We can live with a down offensive season as long as he continues crunching opponents into the boards and continues to chalk up time in the ‘sin bin.’

There should be a couple more seasons at a 55-point pace in line for Wilson. We need to ride the wave and not panic.

That’s all for this week. Thanks for reading.

Follow me on X (Twitter): @doylelb4

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