Unless it’s your netminder getting a shutout, there’s almost nothing worse than seeing a zero in a box score next to the fantasy players you own. It reminds me of the frustration that former Toronto Raptors coach Sam Mitchell showed with some of his players in 2004. “We had guys with stats lines that read zero, zero, zero, zero.”
What makes it even worse is when you look at the season stats for some of the players you own in fantasy hockey, and you still see that zero sticking out like a sore thumb. It’s not a game or two, it’s been about 20 games, and these players aren’t contributing anything to a category that you may be needing help with.
Below are 10 categories where some fantasy-relevant players have been zero help to your fantasy squad. For some of the categories, I list a few of the players that qualify but focus on one player. Suffice to say, I could have easily done a top-10 list on four or five of these groupings.
To give us a baseline, I looked at skaters that have played a minimum of 10 games and goalies who have played at least five games.
I will give a freebie as well. Not too many leagues count this statistic, but I was once in a league that counted shootout saves and shootout goals against. For those that may be in similar leagues, Martin Jones has allowed zero goals on 10 shootout shots. It’s only been two shootouts for him, but a zero is a zero.
10. Games Played
Going into the season, Dustin Byfuglien was, on average, the seventh defenseman selected in Yahoo drafts. Now, that number may be slightly skewed because of the timing of the announcement that he was taking time off, but most leagues would have had their draft after the Sept. 13 announcement. There was much optimism that it would be a temporary hiatus, but it’s since become complicated. Surprisingly, he’s still owned in 31 per cent of Yahoo pools as of Sunday.
Of all the goaltenders who have played at least five games, Ryan Miller is the only one with zero regulation losses. It’s only been six games, and he has lost two in overtime. In leagues that still award points for an overtime loss, that still gives some value. It also means that he’s given an excellent streaming option for fantasy general managers who have been forced to find spot starts. His overall numbers aren’t the greatest (2.61 GAA and a 0.919 SV %), but outside of saves, he’s been a much better option than many other netminders, such as Juuse Saros.
Loui Eriksson is only rostered in the deepest of leagues, and even then, he’s still mostly a bench player. I’m in a 24-team league that rosters 25 players (with an extra three IR spots) plus 15 minor spots, and I dropped Eriksson last week because he’s just not producing. It would be different if he was producing in a few categories, but in 11 games so far, he has zero goals, zero assists, zero hits and zero power-play points. He’s the only player in the league with at least 10 games played and zero hits.
7. Blocked Shots
You normally don’t draft a forward for blocked shots, but they can provide extra value if you have the right set of forwards. Ryan Getzlaf, Brendan Lemieux, Tom Wilson, T.J. Oshie and Pierre-Luc Dubois are all averaging at least one blocked shot per game. However, four players have at least 10 games and zero blocked shots: Tyler Toffoli, Carter Verhaeghe, Ondrej Kase and Kaapo Kakko.
Four goalies have at least five games and zero wins: Elvis Merzlikins, Michael Hutchinson, Malcolm Subban and Cory Schneider, and of the group, Schneider is the most disappointing. He was the only one who was really counted on to be a number one netminder, and he will go down in history of one of the most disappointing fantasy goalies. Ever since becoming a full-time goalie in New Jersey, he hasn’t been able to win or stay healthy, and his save percentage and goals against average have been getting worse each season. This year he’s winless in six games, and Mackenzie Blackwood has usurped Schneider. You would like to think that Schneider will eventually pick up a win, but remember that he had just six wins in 26 games last year, so there’s no point in even bothering to roster him.
There are 30 NHLers with 10 games and zero PIM. Most don’t have any interest in fantasy leagues, but some who do include Alex Galchenyuk, Justin Schultz, Vladimir Tarasenko, Brad Hunt, Jared McCann, Josh Bailey and Cale Makar. The most surprising name has to be Brendan Gallagher. The pesky Habs forward has zero penalty minutes in 20 games, which is crazy for the style of game he plays. Surprisingly, he hasn’t picked up a penalty for goalie interference or something after the play. There has been a movement for fantasy leagues to move away from PIM, but there are still quite a few who count that stat. For those that do, Gallagher has to be a bit of a disappointment. By the way, Gallagher also pops up later on this list for another zero, which takes away even more value.
Before I start talking about Aleksander Barkov, let me start with this caveat. Yes, I know there are plenty of fantasy leagues moving away from plus/minus, and yes, I know a high or low plus/minus on its own is not necessarily proof of anything. However, there are still plenty of leagues that include it. Aside from points-only pools, I am in four leagues that count other stats, and all four include plus/minus. Barkov has 25 points this season, the most among any that has a plus/minus of exactly zero. Other notable zero plus/minus players include Travis Konecny, Nikita Kucherov, Patrik Laine and Morgan Rielly. Technically, it could be worse, as zero is not the worse mark you can get for plus/minus. The two worst plus/minuses are Andreas Athanasiou at minus-21 and Brent Burns at minus-16.
Most fantasy-relevant players have scored at least one goal, with some of the exceptions being Alex Galchenyuk, Charlie McAvoy, Rasmus Ristolainen and Mikhail Sergachev. However, one of the most disappointing has to be Tyson Barrie. In 2017-18 and 2018-19, Tyson Barrie scored a total of 28 goals, tied for sixth-highest among defensemen. This year he has yet to bulge the twine. Barrie leads all the non-scorers with 58 shots, which is on par with what he has averaged the previous three seasons in Colorado.
2. Power-play goals
This list is so disappointing to read: NHLers yet to score a goal with the man advantage includes Jonathan Huberdeau, Logan Couture, Cale Makar, Taylor Hall, Morgan Rielly, Tyler Seguin, Dylan Strome, Jeff Skinner, Clayton Keller, Torey Krug, Blake Wheeler, Pierre-Luc Dubois and Thomas Chabot. The worst offender? Brayden Point, who led the league with 20 power-play goals a year ago, has yet to score one this season. Yes, he missed some time due to injuries, but it’s another thing going wrong in a disappointing season for the Lightning. Point’s 12 points in 14 games is below expectation, and he has just one power-play point this season, compared to 35 a year ago.
1. Power-play points
Not producing a power-play goal is one thing, but not getting a power-play point yet is extremely frustrating. Guys with zero power-play points include the aforementioned Brendan Gallagher, plus Mikael Granlund, Aaron Ekblad, Colin White, Craig Smith, Nikita Gusev, P.K. Subban, Ondrej Kase, Kevin Fiala, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli. However, let’s focus on Brady Tkachuk, who is already a great fantasy hockey player as he contributes in almost every single category that you can imagine. Unfortunately, he has yet to pick up a power-play point despite averaging 3:28 per night on the man advantage. Much of it has to do with how bad the Sens are, considering they’ve only scored six power-play goals all year (just one better than the league-worst Ducks). Tkachuk is already a top-75 player in basic Yahoo leagues. Imagine how much higher he would be ranked if he had picked up a few power-play points.