Top 10 Overrated Players of the Decade in Fantasy Hockey
As a special gift for Dobber readers, later this week, this web site will be running a feature on the top fantasy players of the decade.
Contributors to the site will be looking at the top 10 wingers, centers, defensemen, goalies, multi-cat beasts and overall fantasy players of the decade. My contribution to the series will be looking at the top 10 underrated fantasy players of the past 10 years. But that got me thinking, who would be the most overrated?
To figure it out, I had to come up with a quick set of criteria. I decided it couldn’t be simply prospects who were busts, and it also had to be players who fantasy general managers would have drafted or kept on their rosters for a good chunk of the decade. That immediately ruled out players such as Valeri Nichushkin, Nikita Filatov, Cody Hodgson, Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Cam Barker, Griffin Reinhart, Jack Campbell and Nail Yakupov.
Before I begin I wanted to quickly talk about Jonathan Toews. When I asked on Twitter for people’s opinions, one of the most popular answers was Toews. You may notice he is missing from this list. Simply because I disagree that he was overrated. Sure, if you were expecting 80-point seasons every year, then he was overrated. However, out of all centers in the last 10 years, Toews is 10th in points, fifth in even-strength goals, fourth in even-strength points, second in plus/minus and was one of the best faceoff guys. Most years, he was well worth his draft position, so it was difficult to say he was overrated for the decade. However, I’d love to hear in the comments why so many people believe he was overrated.
On to the list:
10. Cam Fowler
Fowler jumped onto the fantasy scene in 2010-11 when he posted 10 goals and 40 points as a rookie defenseman. Only 11 defensemen (seven of which are hall of famers) have been able to meet that mark as a teenager, and Fowler was the second to accomplish that feat since the 1992-93 season (Tyler Myers did it a year earlier, and Zach Werenski has done it since). The problem is, since his rookie season, Fowler hasn’t been able to reach 40 points, a benchmark that many use to decide whether to keep a defenseman. People keep hoping, however. In my points-only keeper pool, which began in 2009, Fowler had been kept every season until this year. Even more frustrating, outside of the injury battle, was that he didn’t contribute in other categories such as shots, PIM, hits or even power-play points.
9. Alexander Semin
Semin had an excellent few years leading into this decade, posting 79 points in 2008-09 and following that up with a 40-goal, 84-point season. When the wheels started to come off after that with back-to-back 54-point seasons, there was still plenty of hope as he was with the powerhouse Capitals. When he left Washington and signed with Carolina as a free agent, he posted 44 points in 44 games and everyone got excited again. He then had 42 points in 65 games, and then 19 points in 57 games in 2014-15. He signed with Montreal and played just 15 games before getting waived. That was the last time anyone has seen Semin in the NHL. With recency bias in effect, it’s easy to forget how hyped he was in the early years and how overrated he was.
8. Rick Nash
Nash was 25 years old when 2010 rolled around, and he had racked up a reputation as one of the league’s best goal scorers. With a goal-scoring title already under his belt, he had two 40-goal campaigns, and had posted at least 30 goals in every season except for his rookie season and his fourth-year campaign when he potted 27. However, the oneties were not as kind for someone who was expected to be hitting his prime. Aside from a couple of campaigns here and there, he had a pretty forgettable decade, only reaching 60 points twice (although he also almost had a point-per-game pace in the lockout-shortened season).
7. Dougie Hamilton
To believe this one is properly ranked, you have to forget anything happening this year. Yes, he’s finally coming through as a big-time point producer, thanks largely to finally getting regular minutes on the power play, but this is the production most of us were waiting for during most of the decade. He was normally relegated to the second power-play unit, a move that baffled almost everyone, but half of a great season this year isn’t enough to make up for the previous years. Don’t get me wrong, he was still a strong fantasy player with the peripherals and a consistent 40-point player, but definitely overrated for what people were expecting year in and year out.
6. Cory Schneider
It was a long fall from grace, culminating with a demotion to the AHL in November, but he came into the decade as the goalie of the future with so much promise. In the end, he never had more than 27 wins in a season. The first few years were decent as he split starts in Vancouver with Roberto Luongo. Schneider had a great win-loss record, a low goals against average and a high save percentage, but he never got enough games to be a big fantasy contributor. The trade to New Jersey allowed him to be a number one netminder, and he just couldn’t hack it as his goals against and save percentage consistently got worse each season.
5. Oliver Ekman-Larsson
One thing I was sick of this past decade was the constant hype around OEL every preseason, especially once he reached 55 points in 2015-16. Every year, we would hear that Phoenix/Arizona is much improved offensively, which would benefit OEL as he was the Coyotes’ top power-play defenseman. Aside from that one season, it just never happened. There were a bunch of seasons where he reached 40 points, but he had just one where he had more than 45. He was consistently good, but rarely great. Throw in an awful plus/minus, and it was really difficult to keep him on your roster.
4. Ryan Johansen
It’s easy to say now that Johansen was never going to be that great, but try to remember what expectations were like for the first half of the decade. He was Columbus’ fourth overall draft pick in 2010 after rocketing up the draft standings. He was most often compared to Eric Staal, who at that point was a 25-year-old with three 35-goal seasons, a 100-point season and led the league in playoff points while winning a Stanley Cup. After a slow start to his career, Johansen had a 71-point season in 2014-15 and was then traded to Nashville, where offense goes to die and he never cracked 65 points again.
3. Matt Duchene
I have covered Duchene so extensively in this column over the last few years that people are probably pretty tired of hearing it. My argument is that fantasy general managers treated Duchene like a 70-point player, even though he would only hit that mark once every few seasons (and always in contract years). Supporters of Duchene talk about how Duchene was never the clear-cut number one guy in Colorado, or how he was on a bad team in Ottawa. How many 55-point seasons does a player need to get before people start treating him like a 55-point player? Maybe it’s time to realize that he can’t make his linemates better and doesn’t produce on the power play. People are finally coming around to it, but it took years for people to figure it out.
2. Matt Murray
I almost forgot about how overrated Murray was until someone on Twitter reminded me. Maybe I blocked it out. Back in 2016, I made a points-only keeper pool trade where I dealt away Mark Scheifele and Shayne Gostisbehere for Max Domi, Derek Stepan and the fourth overall pick so I could draft Murray. Eighteen months later, I was already tired of Murray and traded him and a first rounder for Connor Hellebuyck. In another pool, I didn’t wait that long to move him. He is one of the biggest Band-Aid backstoppers in the NHL, which is frustrating in itself. Even when he does play, his stats aren’t that great. He’s reached 30 wins just once, and normally has a GAA over 2.50 with an average to below-average save percentage, while rarely picking up shutouts.
1. Drew Doughty
Back in September, I put together a top-10 list of players who are overvalued because of their name. Number one on that list was Doughty. When I asked on Twitter who was overrated, many votes went to the Kings’ defenseman, so I am glad I am not alone in my thinking. in the last 10 seasons, Doughty has had point totals of 40, 36, 22 (lockout season, but points pace of 38), 37, 46, 51, 44, 60 and 45. That 60-point season sticks out as an anomaly. On the bright side, he does contribute in shots, hits and blocked shots, but you can get those stats from other defensemen at a much lower draft pick.
The Top 10 lists for the fantasy hockey decade begin in full force on Christmas Day – be there!
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