Eastern Edge: Players to avoid in your 2019-20 fantasy hockey drafts

by Brennan Des on August 20, 2019
  • Eastern Edge
  • Eastern Edge: Players to avoid in your 2019-20 fantasy hockey drafts

 

Okay before we start, let’s get one thing out of the way. When I say you should avoid drafting these players, it’s not because they’re in store for awful fantasy seasons. In reality, everyone on this list is pretty good – it’s just that they’re being drafted a little too early for my liking. A championship can be won or lost on draft day, so you have to get the best bang for your buck in every single round. Without further ado, let’s get into the players I think are being overvalued. Feel free to add to this list in the comments or tag me on Twitter @BrennanDeSouza with your thoughts.

 

Chris Kreider

So, I’ve seen Kreider ranked ahead of guys like Nino Niederreiter and Nikolaj Ehlers – a crime which varies in severity depending on your league settings. Don’t get me wrong, Chris Kreider is a talented power forward, but his range of offensive production seems lower than both Niederreiter and Ehlers. I get it, the Rangers made a few huge additions in Artemi Panarin, Jacob Trouba, and Kappo Kakko, but doesn’t that leave a smaller role for Kreider? I’m concerned because I don’t think Kreider gets exposure to Panarin or Mika Zibanejad at even strength and he might not even play on the top power-play if coach David Quinn decides to deploy Zibanejad, Kakko, Panarin, Trouba and Pavel Buchnevich together. Kreider is 28 and has had about six seasons to show us what he can do, but we all we’ve really seen is a 50-point player. He’s not someone I’d take in the top-150.

 

Kappo Kakko

If you’re in a one-year league, please draft prospects based on who they are right now instead of who they’re going to be in the future. Look, I get it. Kappo Kakko is an excellent young player who comes with an element of exhilarating risk since we’ve never seen him play at the NHL level. But is he worth the risk? Sure, it’s possible that he plays a portion of the season with Panarin and Zibanejad on the top line and produces at an insane level. However, a much more likely scenario sees him playing on the second line and producing at a modest pace beside someone like Chris Kreider. Not every big-name rookie can come in and produce like Elias Pettersson, Matthew Barzal, Auston Matthews or Connor McDavid did in their inaugural seasons. Kakko could very well put up 50-60 points as a product of his immense talent and exposure to a number of high-skilled guys. However, he’s being ranked and drafted ahead of proven guys like Dylan Larkin! NHL.com has Kakko ahead of William Nylander, Clayton Keller, Elias Lindholm, Mike Hoffman and Anze Kopitar in their rankings for the 2019-2020 season. At this point, the hype surrounding Kakko is making it almost impossible to maximize value when you draft him. 

 

Seth Jones

Again, this one is less about the talent of the player and more about where they’re currently being ranked and drafted. NHL.com has Jones ranked at #64 in their top 250 rankings for the 2019-2020 campaign. Ahead of Mark Giordano, Torey Krug, Brock Boeser, Jamie Benn and Logan Couture. With all due respect to NHL.com, what in the H-E-double hockey sticks is that? Jones has only had one real season (2017-2018) that supports the argument for him being a top fantasy hockey defenseman and it was inflated by a career-high 24-power-play points. The Blue Jackets aren’t known for having an effective power-play as they capitalized on just 15.4% of opportunities last year and it’s hard to see that getting any better with Panarin gone. Jones possess a high degree of real-world talent, but for this upcoming season I can’t justify drafting him within the top-100.

 

Tyson Barrie

As Michael Clifford (the handsome and talented editor at DobberHockey who also happens to be reviewing this article for me) pointed out in this year’s fantasy guide, Barrie has gone from Colorado where he had the lion’s share of power-play ice time, to Toronto – where he actually has to share with Morgan Rielly. Speaking of the fantasy guide, go ahead and pick up your copy here so you can read 166 pages of fantasy goodness written by people much smarter than myself. Okay, getting back on track, Barrie was averaging about four minutes of power-play time a game during the 2018-2019 campaign, but he won’t have the same opportunity in Toronto. Barrie’s most productive seasons were supported by strong outputs with the man advantage as he tallied 25 PPP in 2018-2019 and 30 PPP in 2017-2018. While the Leafs have a plethora of offensive talent for Barrie to work with, I think we have to temper our expectations a little bit here because his utilization is going to be different. Barrie is being treated as a top-50 fantasy asset and I don’t see any value in drafting him that high. I’d be much happier selecting him around the 75-100 mark.

(editor’s note: I swear I didn’t pay Brennan to call me handsome and talented)

 

Kris Letang

Okay, this is going to sound really stupid considering the Penguins have Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Alex Galchenyuk, but part of me is concerned that the team’s power play will be slightly less effective next year thanks to the departure of Phil Kessel. His 36 PPP had him in the top-five for league power-play production last year and now he’s in Arizona. Now, Kris Letang is very much capable of producing at even strength and is always surrounded by offensive talent, so it’s probably not a huge deal – just something to think about. My main concern with Letang is his injury history as he’s missed considerable time in seven of the past eight seasons.  I just can’t justify drafting someone in the top-50 when there’s a good chance they sit out for a 10-game stretch during the fantasy playoffs. Now I know injuries are a pretty random occurrence, so maybe you don’t believe in planning for them on draft day. However, I find it’s easier to forgive yourself when you draft someone who’s typically healthy and they get injured, compared to when you draft a band-aid boy and they get injured. At that point, you should have known better.

 

Position Notes

As I was looking through Yahoo’s draft rankings, I noticed a number of players had their position eligibility updated from last year. Obviously, these are subject to change during the course of the season but two of the most notable adjustments were made to Sebastian Aho and Pierre-Luc Dubois. As an Aho owner last year, I can’t tell you how convenient it was to set my lineup as he could fit in any of the forward positions with his C, LW, RW eligibility. However, it looks like he’ll begin this season with only center eligibility which certainly makes him a less enticing option on draft day. There’s clearly an abundance of talent at the center position in the NHL when compared to either of the wing slots. So, it’s also important to mention that Dubois lost his LW eligibility and is now only listed as a center. Just a couple of changes you should keep in mind!