Ramblings – I’ve Identified 16 Disappointing Key Fantasy Players I’m Confident Will NOT Bounce Back (May 25)
Announcement: The Fantasy Prospects Report (13th Edition) will be released on Friday June 12. I have decided to go ahead and release this on that date because I didn't want to delay the announcement any longer. If the Draft is on June 26 then you will be able to use this with plenty of time to prep. If the Draft is in October after the 24-team playoffs that is forthcoming, then instead of posting an update on June 19 with a Mock Draft, I will post this update in October. Basically whenever the draft order is set, then we will update the Fantasy Prospects Report. I will have the Packs and this Guide up for pre-sale in a few days.
I hope you're enjoying the new website with all the new features! I really love those new widgets and I can't wait to see them in action in real time when there's actual hockey. This was two years in the making and about nine months late. But we got it up. Now to focus on DobberProspects – this relaunch should be up within a month.
The NHL and NHLPA agreed on a playoff format involving 24 teams. I can only assume that this means the other seven teams (Detroit, Ottawa, Anaheim, Buffalo, New Jersey, Los Angeles, San Jose) will participate in the draft lottery. Here is how Elliotte Friedman says things may look:
I think this is as close to fairness as you can get, not everyone will be 100% happy, but whatever idea the unhappy party comes up with I am pretty comfortable in my belief that it would be deemed a worse idea by more clubs. Who voted against this format? Tampa Bay and Carolina. I'm not really sure Tampa's motive, as there has to be some way to go for the Cup and no matter which method is chosen, Tampa will be a favorite. Fighting it just delays the process and takes from your planning. Carolina, a team that is underrated in my books, may have seen the likelihood of playing another underrated team in the Rangers and balked – I get that.
UPDATE: According to The Athletic the Lightning voted against the playoff proposal because a) teams that normally wouldn’t make the playoffs would now have a chance, and b) with a bye the Lightning wouldn’t be as ready for playoff series as team that just played one.
This will make playoff pools a lot of fun, as it looks like more games will be played, with more players to choose from. But how will the new format impact the regular season stats? Will games be rolled back to 68 or are they taking a percentage of wins to date and using that for the standings (thereby leaving regular season stats intact, as they should)? Do the round robin and play-in games count towards playoff pools…or do those stats become a part of the regular season? (I suspect it will be the former). Still lots of things up in the air…
Tyler Seguin was missed in last week's list of disappointing fantasy players who I think will bounce back. He had a run of four points in his last 10 games that dragged his overall pace down to 59 points and I had no idea he had slid to such levels. He's 28 and in his prime, with a skill level that is still Top 20 in the league. So I'm on the higher end of confidence that he's bouncing back – say 85%. I think he's a 75-point player who can get 85 with the right situation.
On the heels of that article from last week, how about a list of disappointing fantasy players who do not think will bounce back. I came up with a list of 16. These are in the order of certainty that they will not bounce back. A certainty of 100% would mean that I am absolutely positive that this player will not rebound…
16. Blake Wheeler (55%)
Mr. Consistency was on a 75-point pace after back-to-back 91-point seasons. He'll be 34 years old in August, but that's not too old for continued 75-point dominance. I just don't think he has 90 points in him again. It's worth noting that he had 53 points in his last 50 games, which while still falls short of a 90-point place, it comes close. And that's why he's lowest on this list in terms of certainty.
15. Shayne Gostisbehere (60%)
For three years after Ghost burst onto the scene it seemed as though he couldn't miss. In two seasons since then, it seems like all he does is miss. As a former 65-point defenseman, he's going to get (and has already gotten) a ton of leeway. Still in his prime at 27, I think he still has gas in the tank to hit 60 again. But not in Philadelphia. Better options there now, and he's already made his impression on his coach. If he doesn't get traded, he's not rebounding.
14. Devan Dubnyk (60%)
Dubnyk just turned 34 years old and his numbers have been declining for three consecutive years now (0.923, 0.918, 0.913 and 0.890). But for five years he was very steady and those big goalies (he's 6-6) tend to have staying power. He also had serious family issues to tend to (and distract him) this season. So while I think he's on the decline, my confidence in him being unable to rebound isn't as strong as it is with the rest of this list. I think he can be a 0.910 goalie on a .500 team, for whatever that's worth. I just don't think he'll ever be a Vezina candidate again.
13. Mats Zuccarello (65%)
Despite being Minnesota's prize free agent signing and $6 million man, Zuccarello was given the lowest average ice time of his entire career (15:56 per game). And he didn't start out with a lot and then see it go downward as his production dwindled. No, he was given that right out of the gate and fairly steady since. The signing didn't make any sense to begin with, since the Wild were seemingly on a rebuild.
12. Matt Duchene (65%)
Is his contract up next year? No? Well, then he won't rebound. This guy is going to be paid $8 million per year to put up 55 points. Yikes.
11. Alexander Radulov (65%)
Radulov is highly talented and had he stayed in the NHL I have no doubt he would have put up a couple of 90-point seasons. Perhaps a place in the Hall-of-Fame, too. But his stint in the KHL cost him at least 500 or even 600 career NHL points. He'd be sitting at around 900 right now instead of 334. Anyway, he'll be 34 in a couple of months and while I think he can be a 65-point player, I believe his days of 70 are now over and with the injuries he now seems to get – count on him for no more than 60.
10. Jeff Skinner (70%)
Skinner is better than this and he has also been the victim of some weak puck luck. And his big season last year saw him with an inflated shot percentage. I don't think he'll get to 63 points ever again, though I do think he can be that 45- to 50-point guy again. He needs better linemates to do it, but his ugly contract ($9 million per year for six years!) should see that he gets the opportunity.
9. Pekka Rinne (70%)
The 37-year-old now has Juuse Saros finally coming into his own and taking over the starting job. That's not a temporary thing, that's the future of the Predators. Rinne will make a fine mentor and backup.
8. Evgenii Dadonov (70%)
Dadonov's production decline this year is concerning because next year he's (probably) on a new team. I think that, even though it's stumbled a bit this year, his chemistry with Jonathan Huberdeau and Alex Barkov has been fantastic. To expect similar chemistry on a different team is asking a lot.
7. Brent Burns (70%)
Not only is Burns now 35, but Erik Karlsson has had a very real impact. In 2018-19 his PP time dropped by 24 seconds per game. In 2019-20 it has dropped another 31 seconds (i.e. down 55 seconds from two years ago). That's per game. So a good 80 fewer minutes on the power play each season. That only will shave eight or 10 points per season off his total. So don't count on him seeing the happy side of 65 again.
6. Nino Niederreiter (75%)
After witnessing the amount of time he got to spend on the Sebastian Aho line, and still fall flat, I have very little hope for this guy. However, on the flip side – if he does rebound, then we may have a Vinny Prospal thing going on here. That's right – low 2015-16, high 2016-17, low 2017-18, high 2018-19, low 2019-20… high 2020-21? It's my hope that this cool phenomenon happens that probably skews this down to 75%. Check out Prospal's career stats here – it's something to behold.
5. Eric Staal (80%)
Now 35, and likely 36 before 2020-21 kicks off late, I think this time Staal's decline will stick. He had a resurgence four years ago because he doubled-down on his offseason training regiment. I don't know if that can work again at his age. At least, I wouldn't gamble my fantasy fortunes on it. He was on a 58-point pace this year, which is pretty solid. But he was also helped along by some pretty good puck luck (16.8% S% and 11.3 5on5 S%).
4. Phil Kessel (80%)
I'm convinced that Kessel is one of the few naturally elite athletes in hockey. He is blessed with a talent that is so vast, that it could have been spoken in the same breath as a Crosby or McDavid. But… he didn't work at it. And while his training regiment isn't exclusively eating hot dogs like we all joke… I don't think it's nearly as rigorous as it is with the other stars. I think Phil Kessel was used to waltzing into training camp, picking up a stick and being the best out there despite little training in the summer compared to his teammates. Now that he's 32 (33 in October), he's finding that it doesn't work that way anymore. He can't dominate anymore without rigorous training. Does he have it in him to step it up? Again, I am only guessing here from what I've heard and seen around the league. I haven't actually met him, nor have I watched what he does in the summer. This is just the impression that I get and it's strong enough for me to have doubts about his fantasy future.
3. Martin Jones (85%)
Sorry, I know this one was a bit of a layup. Jones has been secretly bad for years, he just had a great team in front of him so getting 30 wins was guaranteed and reaching 35 was almost guaranteed. But now the team in front of him is weak. Alas, I don't think the 30-year-old will ever get 30 wins in this league again.
2. Ryan Getzlaf (85%)
Getzlaf, who turned 35 just a couple of weeks ago, had a pro-rated 59 points in 2018-19 and this season was on pace for 50. The team around him is in a full-blown rebuild so he has very little in the way of support. He may slow or stop this steady decline, but he's probably not going to reverse it. And certainly not to the extent where he'll be a fantasy hockey stud again.
1. Kevin Shattenkirk (95%)
Well worth the buyout by the Rangers and well worth the $1.75 million cap hit the Lightning gave him. But he didn't earn a raise and in fact next contract he might even make less. Shattenkirk actually started the campaign with 15 points in 15 games! But that just means he had just 19 in his last 55. And the latter is where I see him at for production moving forward.
Key players who didn't make either list, such as the Claude Giroux of the world, I think it could either way (i.e. I'm 50-50 on the matter).
On the way for the Dobber Sports Network: Our own Eric Daoust is working hard on incorporating my player rankings into the Frozen Tools player profiles! Imagine – all the great information that you already see in there, from line combos, to custom-made (for fantasy owners) game logs, to advanced stats with trend indicators, to salary, to player calculators (to calculate stats within a window)…and soon it will have their ranking from the various monthly rankings that we post!
Work on DobberProspects relaunch is underway and it will have some cool new features as well. A loose ETA on that is one month from now…but you know how the last relaunch ETA went, so take that with a grain of salt.
See you next Monday. Be safe. Thanks for continuing to support the website, and if you're bored and need a fantasy hockey fix – visit the gang in the forum here.
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