Looking ahead at the best schedules in fantasy hockey for Week 18.
Early-round fantasy selections should be the centerpieces of any successful fantasy squad. They are blessed with prodigious talent, they boast track records of production at the NHL level and they win fantasy championships… or at least that's what their supposed to do. Sometimes the best players disappoint, and the following four skaters have been fantasy flops so far this year. That being said, let's look ahead and see if brighter days are coming for these guys.
Taylor Hall, C/LW, Edmonton (Yahoo Original Ranking: 21) – Prior to the 2014-15 NHL season, Hall totaled 130 points in 120 games during his previous two seasons in the NHL, thanks in no small part to his ability to score at even strength. According to Hockey Prospectus, Hall's 3.02 even-strength points per 60 ranked among the best in the league. This season has been a disappointing one for the top overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. A dip in his shooting percentage (.087 this year, compared to .111 for his career) and a complete inability to convert on the power play (no goals and three assists in 42 games this season) have caused his fantasy value to crater. Hall is more 60-point player than 80-point player right now, and it's difficult to imagine his fortunes will change for the better as one of the lone bright spots on a mostly moribund Edmonton squad.
Nathan MacKinnon, C/RW, Colorado (Yahoo Original Ranking: 39) – Hockey fans and fantasy owners could not have asked for much for from a then-18-year-old MacKinnon during his rookie season a year ago. The top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft suited up for every single game, scored 63 points and totaled 10 points in seven postseason contests. Then this year happened. MacKinnon is seeing less than 17 minutes of ice time per game, his shooting percentage dropped from .100 to .057, and there have been times during the season in which his role on the Colorado offense has fluctuated. MacKinnon is a franchise cornerstone, but his superb rookie campaign caused fantasy owners to expect too much out of a 19-year-old second-year player on a so-so team. For MacKinnon to improve over the final few months of the season, Colorado coach Patrick Roy needs to find a way to get more production out of his 29th-ranked power play.