Training camp roster cuts have been crowding transaction lists across the NHL, but there are plenty of lineup questions that still require answers prior to the start of the 2022-23 season. Let's take a look at some of the more important position battles, which are still ongoing, that fantasy managers should keep a close eye on before the puck drops on Opening Night.
Maple Leafs: Matt Murray/Ilya Samsonov
Toronto's revamped goaltending situation provides fantasy managers with an intriguing high-risk, high-reward opportunity. Consistency has been a problem for Murray and Samsonov in recent years, but playing behind a Toronto squad that defends much better than each netminder's previous team should prove to be beneficial in 2022-23. Of course, it also doesn't hurt that the Leafs have one of the top offenses in the league, which will help both goaltenders earn wins even when they're not at their best. Samsonov has been attracting most of the attention in fantasy drafts and seems like the safer bet. However, it wouldn't be a surprise to see Murray get more looks early on, although his injury history is a major concern.
Avalanche: Alexandar Georgiev/Pavel Francouz
Colorado's goaltending situation also changed drastically this offseason. Darcy Kuemper joined the Washington Capitals as a free agent, leaving his former backup Francouz to battle newcomer Georgiev for playing time in 2022-23. Georgiev, a former Ranger and understudy to Igor Shesterkin, is expected to get every opportunity to prove he can be a No. 1 netminder this season. The Avalanche have expressed plenty of faith in Georgiev and believe he can take the next step. He has a lot of fantasy upside, but there's also some doubt that Georgiev can be a team's go-to option between the pipes. Francouz has done well in the backup role before, but he hasn't been able to make the leap to full-time starter, either. Georgiev has been garnering most of the attention in fantasy drafts, but Francouz should make for a great insurance policy or a solid depth option this year. It wouldn't be surprising to see this evolve into a full-blown timeshare -- both goalies could end up seeing similar usage this year.
Kings: Jonathan Quick/Cal Petersen
Los Angeles will enter the 2022-23 season with the same goaltending duo it trotted out in 2021-22, so there isn't nearly as much uncertainty surrounding this situation as the other puck-stopping tandems on this list. Still, it's a situation worth monitoring since the Kings racked up 44 wins last year and should be similarly successful if not better this season. Quick made 46 starts in 2021-22 compared to Petersen's 35 because the former was much more consistent. However, Petersen's potential and Quick's age should keep the competition going this season, and it wouldn't be surprising to see the two split the workload evenly. Quick remains the better option for fantasy managers heading into the campaign, but Petersen offers plenty of value as a depth option.
Red Wings: Alex Nedeljkovic/Ville Husso
Detroit's goaltenders struggled last campaign. Nedeljkovic logged the vast majority of the starts and didn't fair particularly well outside of an impressive stretch in November. The Red Wings sought some help in the offseason and ended up trading for Husso, who outperformed Jordan Binnington with the Blues last year. Husso was brought in to help carry the load with Nedeljkovic, but he stands a good chance of wrestling away the Red Wings' No. 1 job in 2022-23 just like he did with the Blues in 2021-22. Husso has been favored by fantasy managers in this year's drafts, but an improved Red Wings roster has helped improve Nedeljkovic's outlook as well.
Other battles to monitor
Blue Jackets: First-line center
Columbus made a big splash this summer during free agency, signing Johnny Gaudreau to a seven-year, $68.25 million contract. It was a move that shocked the hockey world and provided the Blue Jackets with a big jolt of offensive upside. Pairing a playmaker of Gaudreau's caliber with a goal-scoring sniper like Patrik Laine was an obvious match, but the choice of which center will play between them has proven to be much more difficult. Boone Jenner is expected to get the first crack at that role, but he'll face competition from Cole Sillinger and Jack Roslovic. Perhaps even Kent Johnson will get a turn on the top line at some point this season. Nonetheless, Jenner still makes the most sense. He's the team's captain, he's an excellent defender, and he was on pace for an outstanding season last year before suffering a back injury. Whoever ends up landing the top-line center role will get a significant fantasy boost.
Maple Leafs: Second line
Toronto went into camp with an open wing spot alongside John Tavares and William Nylander on the second line. However, Tavares suffered an oblique injury during the preseason and is slated to be sidelined for the beginning of the year. Alexander Kerfoot was already a top contender for a spot on the second line and became a virtual lock once Tavares went down thanks to his ability to play in the middle or on the wing. Jason Robertson, Denis Malgin and Calle Jarnkrok have emerged as favorites for the other wing spot thanks to impressive performances during camp. Robertson may have the inside track, though, because of his scoring upside. He could be worth taking a chance on in deeper fantasy leagues if he's able to secure that role.
Hurricanes: Second-line center
Carolina's second-line center position was left vacant in the offseason when Vincent Trocheck signed with the New York Rangers as a free agent. The Hurricanes added Paul Stastny in free agency this summer, but had expressed interest in using Jesperi Kotkaniemi in the second-line center role before that signing. Stastny is far more proven than Kotkaniemi, but the Hurricanes could also turn to Jordan Staal. Staal could very well be the one who ends up with the job, but Kotkaniemi should be expected to fill the role to begin the campaign.
Avalanche: Second-line center
Colorado was left with a void on the second line when Nazem Kadri chose to sign with the Flames as a free agent this summer. Alex Newhook has emerged as the top candidate to fill that spot during training camp, so he has intriguing fantasy potential. However, he could face competition from J.T. Compher, who has filled in on the second line before. Mikko Rantanen has also shown that he's more than capable of playing in the middle in the past, so he could emerge as another option along with newcomer Evan Rodrigues. The second line, which appears as though it could be a mix of Newhook, Rodrigues and Valeri Nichushkin based on training camp combinations, will likely be shaken up once Gabriel Landeskog is healthy enough to return from a lower-body injury -- he's slated to miss the start of the 2022-23 campaign.