With the World Cup of Hockey currently underway, fans are starting to get excited about the regular season which is right around the corner. With that excitement comes one thing, fantasy drafts. It seems inevitable that you’re going to make really good picks and selections that’ll have you scratching your head on the way home, but this is the beauty of it all.
Heading into this season, there are a variety of questions that 'poolies' will ask themselves. Is Crosby worth taking number one? Will Ovie score 50 again? Is it too soon to take McDavid in the first round? Can Price stay healthy? Will Matthews score 20? Are the Jets young guns worth taking so early?
That's just a sample of the questions heading into the 16-17 fantasy drafts around North America. In this article, we will attempt to make your life a little bit easier by highlighting a list of individuals you should probably avoid selecting. All positions will be documented from goalies, defensemen and forwards.
Enjoy this list of 15 potential fantasy duds you should avoid drafting this season!
15 Jimmy Vesey
The 2016 Hobey Baker Award winner was one of the most talked about players this off-season, with several teams making some big pitches to the 23 year old Harvard product. The likes of Patrick Kane, Sidney Crosby, Auston Matthews and John Tavares all took a part in pitches in order to entice the forward onto their squad. Finally, after weeks and weeks of meeting teams and contemplating his future, Vesey chose New York as his new home.
Fans on Broadway are excited to see what the Boston native has up his sleeves heading into his first season. Like every first year player, the NHL has proven to be a different animal. Whether it be the speed of the game or the size of the players, the game is played on a different level.
Vesey will learn exactly that heading into his first season. We’ve seen it time and time again with University players jumping into the NHL prematurely and not living up to the hype. With the likes of Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan and Mats Zuccarello all expected to lead the way, Jimmy will likely be brought into the mix gradually. If he’s still on the board late in the draft, maybe he’s worth a risk. However, picking him before the final two rounds would be in sane.
14 Bobby Ryan
Even though he just had another lackluster season with the Sens, some fantasy poolies can’t help but take a risk on a player that has scored over 30 goals four times in his NHL career.
Having that thought process is certainly valid, but when you stop and take a look at Ottawa’s depth and priorities upfront, you'll see that Ryan will likely see third line minutes heading into the 2016-17 campaign.
Mike Hoffman was just awarded with a new deal that he deserved, as the 26 year old forward has put up incredible numbers over the last two seasons, scoring 27 and 29 goals. Not to mention his breakout AHL year in the 13-14 season, which saw the winger put up 30 goals in 51 games.
The Sens will put a major emphasis on him and his linemates, Mark Stone and Kyle Turris, to lead the way this season. The team also plans on giving Pageau and Lazar an enhanced role, which will see the duo earn more ice time. Considering these variables, Ryan’s stock might take another major hit this season.
13 Dan Hamhuis
After six seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Dan Hamhuis finally parted ways with the club, entering the free agent market. With the Canucks looking to get younger, the 33 year old embraced a new opportunity to play elsewhere.
The Dallas Stars opted to pick up the d-man and the move was partly done for John Klingberg to have a veteran presence by his side and further his development into a premier defenseman in the NHL.
It makes some ssense, but the Stars may have been a step too late when acquiring the defenseman. Some would argue that Hamhuis is way past his prime and on the downswing. His numbers really don’t help his case, as the d-man has scored four goals in the last two seasons combined, playing in 116 games over that sean. His health is another major concern as well, as he's dealt with major injuries in the last two seasons.
Overall, he might be a major bust on your team and you're better off looking elsewhere. Don't be attracted by his defense parter, as it likely won't lead to much.
12 Kyle Okposo
Terry Pegula and the Buffalo Sabres reached deep into their pockets this off-season signing. Kyle Okposo to a giant seven year deal worth $42 million. For a guy that has never scored 30 goals in his career, the price tag seems rather steep.
Disregarding the massive contract, Okposo has proven to be a liability defensively throughout his career. If plus/minus counts in your league, get ready to lose some points. Okposo has only been a plus player once in his career (a season where he played 38 games) and his career low was a -23 during his second season. He’s been a minus player in the last five campaigns.
Signing with Buffalo, you can expect that number to only get worse with a franchise that is generally thin at the back. Also, factor in that Okposo will take on the opposition's best every night while playing top line minutes. Not having John Tavares to hide behind might prove to be a major burden for Kyle. His bust status seems to very probable.
11 David Backes
It was an emotional goodbye for the 32 year old captain when he left the St. Blues after ten seasons with the club. With an influx of youth, the Blues organization felt like it was the right time to part ways with David Backes.
To Backes' credit, he cashed in quite nicely during this past off-season, inking a large $30 million dollar deal over five years with the Bruins. The price was pretty steep, especially when you consider the fact that Backes is set to turn 33 and put up his lowest point totals last season since the 2007-08 campaign, which was his first full season at the time.
With the Bruins' depth at center, Backes will likely find himself playing a third line role on the team. Bergeron and Krejci are pretty much a lock for the top two lines, which leaves Backes as the odd man out. Unless he changes to the wing, his minutes will decrease.
If you’re expecting a $6 million per year type of player, you'll be very disappointed.
10 Mikkel Boedker
Looking at the Sharks roster, you can expect another great run from the team heading into the 2016-17 season. Their roster is pretty much identical, though they added a nice piece in Mikkel Boedker, who signed a four year deal with the team this past off-season.
The Sharks signed the sniper with the intent to bolster their goal scoring up front. Though, what the Sharks might have forgotten is the fact that Mikkel is yet to score 20 goals in a season since making his NHL debut in the 2010-11 season. To make matters worse, his plus minus stats were a league worst minus 33 proving he’s a defensive liability as well.
The Sharks take great pride in their two way game, young Sharks stars like Couture and Donskoi take their defensive abilities quite seriously. With a stacked depth chart, Mikkel could find himself playing anywhere between 12 to 14 minutes a night, along with a spot on the second PP unit and not the first, which boasts Marleau, Thornton, Couture, Pavelski and Burns.
His projections look rather questionable at this point, making him a potential bust on a highly skilled team.
9 Ryan Miller
If you selected Ryan Miller last season, you're certainly are not surprised to see his name on this list of potential duds. He had a stellar first season with the Canucks, only to see his stock plummet last year, putting up a career low record of 17 wins and 24 loses. At the age of 36, we find it hard to believe that his play will improve heading into next season.
If you want a goalie that starts, Miller isn’t a good option. Like we said, he just turned 36 and the Canucks are emphasizing their young players. Backup Jacob Markstrom will almost surely split time in the crease with Miller, as the 26 year old was used regularly down the stretch last year.
With all this in mind, Miller is a player you should definitely avoid picking up.
8 Andrei Markov
Heading into the 2016-17 season, you can expect the Habs to rise once again with a healthy Carey Price, along with their off-season acquisitions in Alexander Radulov and Shea Weber. No doubt, this team will once again contend this year, if they're aren't struck by injuries.
With Andrei Markov set to turn 38 at the end of the calendar year, the Habs will hopefully plan on reducing the blueliner's workload this season, which will surely lead to a drop in his numbers. Weber is an absolute horse and will play the bulk of the minutes, averaging anywhere between 25 to 30 minutes a night. Weber thrives on speed and mobility by his side to make up for his lack of speed, so the Habs will more than likely place Nathan Beaulieu on his flank. Jeff Petry is another d-man that will play a heck of a lot, leaving Markov with limited minutes.
We applaud Markov’s lengthy career, but his numbers might dip this season.
7 Dustin Brown
If losing his “C” this off-season wasn’t bad enough, Dustin Brown might be out of a job before the season is over because of his awful $5.8 million cap hit which is set to roll on until the 2021-22 season.
Playing for his career, some would want to take a chance on Brown. The sad truth is that it’s simply not even worth the risk, seeing as the forward will most probably play fourth line minutes this season.
His numbers have been dreadful over the last two years. He's scored 11 goals in both campaigns and had a combined plus/minus rating of -22. In addition, he hasn’t scored more than 20 in the last four years. Not sure much else needs to be said.
Still want to take the chance?
6 Niklas Kronwall
At the age of 35, the Red Wings blueliner finally seems to be slowing down and eating way too many minutes on a nightly basis. Finally, down the stretch last season, the Wings opted to roll back his minutes. However, at that point, the damage was already done statistically as Niklas Kronwall had his worst season, finishing the year with three goals and a -21 rating in 64 games.
His power play performance also suffered and the Wings eventually counted on Mike Green as the power play quarterback on the first unit. This is more than likely set to stay the same and, in addition, the Wings will be playing other d-men much more this season, particularly Danny DeKeyser who blossomed into the team’s top defenseman last year.
We can still expect several opponents to get “Kronwalled” next season, but statistically, he’s in line for a marginal year at best.
5 Steve Mason
There isn’t a goalie colder than Steve Mason heading into the 2016-17 season.
Not only did he let in one of the worst goals of all time last season, but he followed that up with a horrific playoff run, losing all three games of the games he played, while posting a terrible 4.09 goals against average and a save percentage of .852. Yikes.
Michal Neuvirth came in and stopped the bleeding, as he was reliable and made the Flyers exit the postseason with their heads held high. The goalie situation is 50/50 at the moment, but you've got to believe Neuvirth is the front-runner at this point. Mason is simply a risk you don’t need to take heading into your fantasy draft.
4 Shane Doan
Set to turn 40 before the season begins, Shane Doan is coming off a spectacular year where he netted 28 goals. It was remarkable and something every hockey fan must respect, especially with the way he plays the game every night.
Expecting the same this season is just flat out unreasonable. Doan will once again play third line minutes and his ice time might role back even further with Max Domi and Anthony Duclair gaining more responsibility.
Managing Doan’s ice time is key, as when he played a boatload in the 2014-15 season, the team suffered and he ended the year with a -29 rating. Last year, however, the team finally played him wisely and it worked out beautifully. Even if they keep this formula, we still don’t see Doan matching last year's numbers. Realistically, Doan will find himself scoring around 15 goals in the upcoming 16-17 season.
3 Jaroslav Halak
It's hard not to feel bad for Jaroslav Halak. He seems to always be in competition for a starting job, whether it is because of an injury or a goalie simply playing better than him. This was the case during his days as with the Habs, Blues, Capitals and now Islanders.
After playing only 36 games last season, Halak lost his starting job to long time NHL backup veteran Thomas Greiss. The German goaltender thrived in his new role as a starter, picking up 23 wins and 11 loses. He was also called upon as the starter during the post-season.
Halak has also started off this year poorly with some lackluster pre-season starts with Team Europe at the World Cup of Hockey. Early projections show Halak and Greiss splitting time over the course of the year.
If you’re looking for a reliable starter and 30 win goaltender, Halak will be a bust.
2 Marc-Andre Fleury
With a 22 year old stud in Matt Murray leading the Pens to a Stanley Cup victory, it seems rather likely that he’ll be given a starting role this season. The Pens have said that they plan on using both goalies, but this usually doesn’t work out well when looking at history.
With that in mind, it could be a rocky year for Fleury with trade speculations swirling all over the place. With an expansion draft set for next season, the Pens might see their former number one walk away for absolutely nothing. This makes the likelihood of a trade that much more possible.
It’s going to be quite the year for Fleury. If you want to win your pool, don’t waste time on him as a goalie in your rotation, as it’ll only lead to frustrations throughout the year.
1 Evander Kane
When the Jets parted ways with Evander Kane, some Winnipeg fans were upset due to all the potential he possesses. Well, fast forward to this year and the Jets look ready to take the league by storm with an influx of young talent.
The Sabres, on the other hand, seem to be regretting the transaction. Kane once again found himself in hot water after he was arrested at a bar in Buffalo during the summer for charges pertaining to an incident which saw Kane apparently choke a waitress in a bar.
Whatever the case may be, his leash will be short and his head just might not be in the game any longer (his -14 rating last year proved that), making him a potential bust this season and one you should avoid at all costs.
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