A frustrating aspect of fantasy hockey is owning a few players who have yet to score a goal.
Every time you check the game highlights, these guys are putting up goose eggs. It’s even more frustrating if your league includes categories based on goal scoring, such as overtime goals, power-play goals or hat tricks.
Some owners felt a sigh of relief this past weekend. Patrick Maroon — who has netted 17 and 27 goals in each of the last two seasons — scored his first goal of the year on Saturday. Noah Hanifin, who potted 10 goals last year, scored his first two as a Flame on Sunday.
Here are 10 players who have yet to score a goal this year.
10. Julius Honka
Honka has been high on the radar for many fantasy general managers for a number of years, but so far, he hasn’t been able to produce in the NHL. Sure, some of it is opportunity, but guys with less ice time have potted more goals. Honka is scoreless in 19 games this year and has just two goals in 82 career games. He needs to shoot the puck more, but right now, he is fantasy irrelevant in every fantasy league.
9. Dion Phaneuf
After an impressive rookie season when he posted 17 goals, Phaneuf never again matched that total, and his goal-scoring numbers the last few seasons haven’t been that impressive. Fantasy general managers would be hopeful for a few goals to go along with his numbers in other peripheral categories (he’s normally a solid fantasy option for hits, blocked shots and power-play points). Unfortunately, to go along with his zero goals, he only has one assist and zero power-play points.
Nielsen doesn’t have much fantasy relevance but it should be noted that he has the most points without a goal with 12. Despite the goalless drought, he’s actually not having that bad a season. He’s on pace for 47 points, he plays about half of Detroit’s power-play minutes and his ice time is up about 1:30 from last year. He’s never been a big scorer, but is usually dependable for 15-20 goals. If you believe he will hit that mark this year, now would be a good time to pick him up.
Is it safe to say Nichushkin’s foray back into the NHL has been a complete bust? The 23-year-old has never really been that impressive, but plenty of fantasy general managers have fallen in love with the Russian and he was a popular sleeper pick for many. Instead, Nichushkin has been battling on the third line with little power-play time and just four assists in 19 games. He could be back in the KHL by next season.
6. Duncan Keith
A goalless streak to start the season is not new territory for Keith, and the frustration that comes with it isn’t new for fantasy owners either. Last year, it took 58 games until Keith finally potted a goal. He’s only at 24 games so far this year, so there could be lots of frustration still to come. What is going to hurt Keith owners more is the fact he keeps losing power-play time to younger players, but it doesn’t seem to matter as the Hawks have the worst power play in the league.
Jokiharju was cruising along for the first part of the season. The 19-year-old rookie defenseman had five points in his first three games and started to take over the power-play quarterback duties from the aforementioned Duncan Keith. Then Jokiharju stopped putting up points and lost the power-play duties. Now his ice time is declining (16 minutes a game average his last four games) and he’s still scoreless.
It’s a little surprising that Rieder hasn’t scored yet, considering he’s normally a double-digit goal scorer and he’s playing with his offensive-minded teammates. His most frequent line mate before Sunday night’s game was Leon Draisaitl (about two-thirds of all Rieder’s even strength minutes are with Draisaitl). He’s getting some power play time (last year he had none), but he still hasn’t been able to bulge the twine.
A year ago, Sergachev was a surprise rookie hit, scoring four goals and 12 points in his first 15 games. This year he has no goals and seven assists in 24 games, despite playing an extra minute and a half per game. His shot rate is down slightly from last year while his power-play usage is the same. This could just be a matter of poor puck luck, or other teams figuring him out a little more.
If Klefbom was on any other team, he wouldn’t be worth owning in fantasy hockey circles. However, he’s still a must-own as long as he is easily manning that top power-play unit with the Oilers. Going into Sunday’s game, Klefbom was averaging 3:48 with the man advantage, fifth highest in the league. Next highest Oiler is Jason Garrison with 1:10. Regardless, Klefbom has the most shots without a goal with 67.
1. Torey Krug
One thing missing from Krug’s season this year was the annual forum posts about how he’s starting slow and whether people should drop him. Part of that has to do with the fact he has eight assists in 12 games. However, the 27-year-old is goalless so far, a bit of a surprise considering he potted 14 goals a year ago. He’s good for at least 50 points, and my guess is he does reach double digits in goals.