Top 10 Bounce-Back Candidates

Tom Collins


One of the things I’ve often been curious about is in regards to how long fantasy general managers will continue drafting a player believing this will be that player’s bounce-back year.

I am guilty of this. In my points-only keeper league, I drafted Ryan Kesler three years in a row, always in the last round with my last pick, hoping he would bounce back. He did in two of those years when he posted back-to-back seasons of 50-plus points with the Ducks.

I wonder how many of us feel an affinity to those players we’ve rostered when that player struggled. How big does emotion play a role in our drafting? Does that emotional attachment make us more likely to draft that player again the next season? Or do we remember the pain of the struggle and are less likely to draft them, even though signs point to a bounce-back campaign?

Below are 10 players who are candidates to have a bounce-back season.

10. Brendan Gallagher

While many Habs players saw a massive improvement in production last season when Marty St. Louis took over the head coaching duties from Dominique Ducharme, Gallagher had a more modest improvement despite less ice time.

Ducharme: 27 games, four goals, 10 points, minus-nine, 28 PIM, three power-play points, 65 shots, 15:20 per night

St. Louis: 29 games, three goals, 14 points, plus-two, 41 PIM, four power-play points, 77 shots, 14:43 per night

The biggest takeaway from Gallagher’s struggles last year was his shooting percentage. He finished with a 4.9 per cent shooting percentage, a major drop from the previous season of 13.2 per cent and the lowest of his career. He still needs to stay healthy, but it wouldn’t be unthinkable for Gallagher to get back to a 20-goal, 50-point season this year.

9. Elvis Merzlikins

With a 27-23-7 record last year, Merzlikins picked up points in the majority of his games, but many of his underlying numbers weren’t great. He can be forgiven for his tough season, as it couldn’t have been easy to play so soon after the loss of Matiss Kivlenieks, his best friend and fellow Latvian goaltender in the Blue Jackets organization. Columbus has worked to make its team better this season, which will have a big impact on their netminders. Having Johnny Gaudreau will create more offense, which will lead to more wins for Merzlikins.

8. William Karlsson

Last year was easily Karlsson’s worst as a Golden Knight, as he put up only 12 goals and 35 points in 67 games. His shoo