I'm a week late, but below are my choices of players to avoid (if you can) on draft day. This is written after the DobberHockey Experts Draft, which was one of the more challenging drafts I've participated in, and some of the players who I would rather have not touched with a ten-foot pole…well, I had to take one or two. If you can avoid them, here's who I think you should steer clear of and why.
Tim Thomas – Goalie – Boston
Much like Ryan Ma described Corey Perry's situation, it's not that I don't want Tim Thomas on my team. It's that I know he is going to have nearly an impossible time replicating last year's Vezina-winning (and just about every other trophy-winning) performance. In 57 games played, Thomas had a .938 save percentage. Sit back and think about that for a second. It's superhuman! Thomas will almost certainly be drafted much earlier than I'm willing to take him and as a fantasy GM, I'd be very uncomfortable having the more-than-capable Tuukka Rask waiting to take over as well.
Jordan Leopold – Defense – Buffalo
Leopold had his best NHL season last year with Buffalo, but he still only scored 35 points. This year he will have a much harder time replicating that success with the budding Marc-Andre Gragnani in the lineup. Gragnani is a much more lethal offensive weapon and should emerge as one of Buffalo's top scoring defensemen in 2011-12.
Shawn Matthias – Center – Florida
Although Matthias was once a promising prospect, it's hard to ignore the facts. Matthias has not scored more than 20 points for the same team in a single year of professional hockey. In all fairness, he had a respectable 13 points in 27 AHL games in 2009-10, but all in all, the production has simply not been there. It's clear the team is looking to Santorelli as their number-two center and Matthias, still without a contract, is not likely to reward fantasy owners any time soon.
Scottie Upshall – Right Wing – Florida
Although Upshall is Florida's third-highest paid forward, his 34-point year in 2010-11 was a career high. This is coming from a guy who was drafted sixth overall in 2002. It is likely that the Panthers have a stronger offense in the upcoming season, but don't expect much coming from Upshall. He is a streaky player that could lose a spot in the top-six for extended periods of time if he cannot find the back of the net.
Ed Jovanovski – Defense – Florida
Since the lockout, Ed Jovanovski has averaged only 62 games played per season. In those six years, he's only scored higher than 36 points once. Last year, Jovocop dressed for 50 games and scored a paltry 14 points. If you're looking for a Panther defenseman to draft, go for the emerging Dmitry Kulikov, who is in a contract year and is adored by Panthers coaching staff and management.
Scott Gomez – Center – Montreal
It's hard to put Scott Gomez on this list, considering last year's output of 38 points was the lowest total of his NHL career. He's still only 31 years old so you have to think he will rebound better this year, but he has a firecracker in David Desharnais ready to take over. Personally, I'd rather find a center elsewhere.
P.A. Parenteau – Right Wing – New York