Fantasy Hockey Top-10: Disappointments for 2017-18

by Tom Collins on August 14, 2017

Every fantasy season is going to have its own set of disappointments.

Some disappointments are injury related. Other disappointments come from trading away an underperformer before he breaks out. But the most common disappointment is when your draft day darlings turn into duds.

Most of the drafting disappointments is because you reached too early for a player. Below are 10 players that have been getting plenty of love this offseason that I believe will be disappointing for fantasy general managers.


10. Nicklas Backstrom

Backstrom has always been an elite player but there’s a lot of question marks when it comes to the Capitals this year. What if Alexander Ovechkin does go to the Olympics? That’s at least nine games missed during the Olympics, more if he gets suspended for his going. What type of distraction will that be for the Capitals? If Ovi is allowed to play, would Backstrom be allowed to represent Sweden? Aside from the Olympics, can the soon-to-be 30-year-old Backstrom and the rest of the Caps survive the loss of several key pieces? There’s too many questions and not enough answers.


9. Jonathan Marchessault

Put me in the camp of not being a big believer of Marchessault. A lot of things had to go right for him to hit 51 points last year. But he could be a second-line winger in Vegas, with James Neal, Reilly Smith, David Perron and Alex Tuch battling him for ice time (not to mention longshots Cody Glass or Nick Suzuki making the squad and playing as a winger). Vegas will struggle to score and I wouldn’t count on Marchessault as being the guy to lead this squad.


8. Mitch Marner

Many poolies believe the Leafs are ready to take the next step forward, but I believe they’ll actually due for a step back. The Leafs were extremely lucky last year with injuries. Their top 11 point-getters missed a combined 10 games. Nine of those games came from two players. You can’t expect that same type of luck again this year. A couple of their players will also hit sophomore slumps, and I expect Marner to be one of those.


7. Alex Galchenyuk

There are plenty of positive signs when it comes to Galchenyuk and a potential for an excellent season. But there’s even more warning signs. It hurts that the Montreal coaches don’t trust him as centre on a squad that is bereft of top-line centre talent. I thought it would change with Claude Julien, but Galch found himself on the fourth line down the stretch and in the playoffs. There’s no reason to believe those things will change this year.


6. Kevin Shattenkirk

Shattenkirk has an excellent 2016-17 season, but he will not repeat that and will probably wind up with 45 or less. The best thing to do with Shattenkirk to draft him as a 50-point guy but trade him before the halfway mark of the season. In his last four years:

2013-14: 31 points in the first 40 games, 14 in the last 41

2014-15: 35 points in 40 games, nine in the last 16 (injury season)

2015-16: 27 points at the 40-game mark, 17 in his next 32

2016-17: 26 points in his first 40 games, 30 in his last 40

Despite the hot starts, only in a contract year did he break the 50-point mark. Expect him to return to his old ways with the Rangers.


5. Scott Darling

Hopefully fantasy GMs came to their senses in the weeks after Darling was traded to Carolina. Many are anointing Darling as the next great goalie and believe he can lead Carolina to fantasy relevance again.  But remember that Darling will be playing in front of one of the league’s youngest defenses, has a career 75 games of experience (all with the powerhouse Blackhawks) and has never played more than 32 games in a season. Also, Carolina loves Cam Ward and it wouldn’t be surprising to see a time-share, especially with the Hurricanes having 18 back-to-back games this year.


4. John Carlson

Just like teammate Backstrom, Carlson could be another guy who would be impacted if Ovechkin decides to bolt for the Olympics. Away from that storyline, is Carlson really the right guy to lead the Caps power play? He hasn’t been above 16 power play points in the past three seasons despite Ovi and Backstrom routinely hitting 25-plus. He had an excellent 2014-15 with 55 points overall but that’s been his only significant campaign. Let someone else reach for Carlson.


3. Tyson Barrie

Barrie just came off a disappointing season and fantasy general managers should brace themselves for another one. The Avalanche are a mess and there’s still rumours that the team could deal Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog. That takes away even more offense. Barrie will be lucky to get to 40 points and his plus/minus is going to be awful.


2. Andrei Vasilevskiy

There seems to be a lot of love for Vasilevskiy, but let’s wait until we see what he can do with the pressure of carrying a team before anointing him as the next elite goalie. Vasilevskiy appeared in 50 games last year and posted a 23-17-7 record with a 2.61 GAA and a .917 SV %. Those numbers are adequate, but I’ve seen some people believe Vasilevskiy will be a top-five goalie this year. If you draft him based on those projections, you’re in for a world of hurt.


1. Matt Murray

Yes, Murray can get to 40 wins easily this season if he can stay healthy. But the biggest concern with Murray has been staying healthy (which makes him the perfect fit in Pittsburgh). Murray missed time with four different injuries in a 12-month span, starting with a head injury to start the 2016 playoffs, to a broken hand and a lower-body injury last season, and then another injury in the playoffs that cost him a couple of rounds. You can’t trust his health. 


  • Thomas

    Overall I think this is ok. I feel like there could have been some stronger choices out there, but there are valid arguments for all of Marner, Gally, Shatts, Darling, Carlson, Barrie being disappointments, and there are more than enough question marks around Vasilevsky that I’m weary.

    Marchessault could really go either way, he’s a huge question mark right now. Additional opportunity could help him improve on last year, or he could prove to be a one hit wonder.

    If Murray falters, I can’t see it being on him or due to skill. Possibly due to injury as he’s shown a penchant for them so far, but more likely to me, a playoff hangover from Pittsburgh waring down the team in front of him resulting in his numbers looking bad. No ones played more hockey over the past two year then the Penguins.

    Backstrom I can’t see though. The guy is elite. He has produced through stretches without Ovi in the past, and remains relatively consistent whether Ovechkin is at the top of his game or not. He’s a guy who will make his own offense regardless of who he plays with and this is the only really poor choice I see on the list.

  • player44

    I don’t comment very often, just read, enjoy and move on, but some of the criticisms of this piece are not well said at all. Calling something garbage is unnecessary. Tom is clearly more than open to a discussion if someone disagrees with his opinions/predictions.

    There’s a lot of great points in the article and it’s nice to see names on a list that aren’t the exact same names that are being trotted out by every other expert. Good food for thought. If you disagree, good for you.

    The only point I disagree with is Marchessault (although I don’t have any real numbers…). I like Marchessault because in my opinion/prediction:
    1. I think he’ll be on the top line and top PP unit with Shipachyov and Neal.
    2. He’s in a contract year and putting together a another 50+ season will seriously increase his next contract (Huge incentive).
    3. He put up good numbers for a Florida team that had gone through serious injuries to their top players and he was basically their only shooter left on the roster, which I believe is similar to his situation in Vegas.

  • tocanadafan

    John Carlson is a very tough call for this year. The opportunity is there for him to be the go-to PP1 guy. But, there are many past factors to suggest why John Carlson may not be a fantasy stud this season – 2 of which were brought up by the author (only once has he been above 16 PPpts and only once had more than 39 pts). Another factor that I have not read is the loss of Karl Alzner – will Carlson be counted on to eat up more of the shut-down minutes?
    You can make cases for both sides of most arguments, it’s all about what stats / facts / reasons that you will strongly attach to. In this author’s opinion, he has given valid reasons / facts / stats to suggest players HE feels may be disappointments, so not sure why there was so much negative feedback.

    • Tom Collins

      Alzner is a good thought. They lost Schmidt as well. Plus Shattenkirk kind of. Their top four defense is going to look completely different than what it was the last few games of the season.

  • Adam Wolfson

    This is one of the most poorly written articles I’ve ever seen on this site. I come every day! There is no real analysis here or data… Just looks like some sloppy and lazy quick choices.

    1. Sophomore slumps have been shown to be somewhere of a myth

    2. Murray as the #1 disappointment? Garbage

    3. It’s highly doubtful galchenyuk plays anything other than a top six role with the team they have and the contract he just got. Mentioning trust and some garbage about him playing on the fourth line a bit of the season isn’t real analysis. Show some numbers

    4. Backstrom being a disappointment because ovie may be gone for nine games (he won’t)? That’s a joke

    5. Darling in a true time share? Highly unlikely after wards horrible showing last season and then trading for Darling and then signing him for real money. Yes back to back games will have time shares but unless Darling stinks the net is his to lose

    • matthewmcinnis

      Should probably hold off on calling something poorly written when your first point doesn’t even have the right word you were trying to use.

      This is an opinion piece relax.

    • Tom Collins

      1. As I mentioned in another comment, take out the word sophomore of the paragraph if it helps.

      2. I have Murray in a points-only keeper pool. I traded up in the draft last year to get him. I need him to do well to be successful in my pool. But he’s been way too injury prone. If he misses a bunch of time and wins just 30 games, that’s a disappointment.

      3. I’ll just repeat what I posted below: In the first 12 games under Julien, Galch averaged 16:25 per game. In the next and final 12 games of the season, he averaged 15 minutes. He only played more than 15 minutes twice in the final eight games. He obviously lost the coach’s trust.

      4. Not sure what to add to Backstrom. We’ll just have to wait to see how all of that plays out.

      5. I think Ward starts at least 30-35 games this year. So that would be a time-share.

  • josh

    I’m pretty disappointed with this article. I’ve kept coming back to Dobber because it has be continually excellent in writing, and in analysis. This article really misses the mark on analysis.

    Maybe a third of these names have reasoning, and almost none of them have any sort of numbers to back up the analysis.

    Backstrom is a disappointment because Ovie might leave for nineish games and the Caps have some question marks? at the very least try and show that Backstrom might have some underlying numbers to suggest he’ll take a step back or that his play when Ovie isn’t there is weak.

    Marner is a sophomore and might have a slump because of the Leafs aren’t likely to be as lucky with injuries? Come on. The sophomore slump is a bit of a myth as it is, and there’s no reasoning why Marner would slump outside of you picking a popular name out of hat.

    Barrie is a disappointment because the Avs and maybe they’ll trade some rumored players?

    Gally won’t be trusted so he’ll disappoint? So everyone says. But his ice time averse under Julien only fell by twenty seconds, and then rose in the playoffs.

    This article left me wanting more, a lot more, from a site that generally has pretty strong articles

    • matthewmcinnis

      Then go write an article lmao the entitlement in here.

    • Tom Collins

      Lots to chew on here. But some counterpoints:

      Galchenyuk: Don’t look at ice time in the playoffs. The Habs played six games, two of which went into OT. Everyone on the Habs would have seen their ice time increase in the postseason because they played almost two extra periods. As for coaching, in the first 12 games under Julien, Galch averaged 16:25 per game. In the next and final 12 games of the season, he averaged 15 minutes. He only played more than 15 minutes twice in the final eight games. He obviously lost the coach’s trust.

      Marner: Just take out the word sophomore. Not all of the rookies from last year will see an improvement. Some will slump. Marner will be one of them.

      Barrie: Not sure what else to say. The Avs are awful and I don’t think Barrie will get to 40 points. So far I’ve seen projections in the high 40s. I don’t agree with it.

      Backstrom: On- and off-ice issues should be taken into consideration. Not much else to add here.

      • matt maroney

        Galchenyuk was injured last year. And when came back from injury he was terrible. He wasn’t ready and ended up having 2 comebacks in the end (bad sign).

        There was no point in playing him at No. 1 C if he sucked at faceoffs and had no confidence. What’s funny to me is that the bloggers and writers claim there must be something wrong in Montreal because he wasn’t the No. 1 C all year, but if they left him there to fail you would be saying Montreal was unfair because they hung Galchenyuk out to dry. There is no winning. You can twist it into a failure or controversy any way you want. He was injured. Danault excelled as a replacement. They could take their time.

        Before injury he was their best offensive player, ahead of Radulov and Pac.

        “He obviously lost the coach’s trust.”

        This is a made up story. He played out the rest of the season while almost everyone else took a break before the playoffs. Maybe he was center on the 4th line for some of that, but those were some of his better games before the playoffs, and he still played on the PP and potted multiple OT goals in the final 5? games. Then he played a more important role in the playoffs.

        To think he won’t out-do the 44 pts he had in an injury season is thoughtless analysis. People that sleep on Galchenyuk must not watch him play. Which is a lot of people apparently.

  • Frode Lyshaugen

    Carlson is a bit of a strange choice for me. Should come at a discount this year after a rather poor year last season. With Shattenkirk out of the way he will get top power play time on one of the best teams in the NHL, even if they may be regressing a bit.

    • Tom Collins

      He had top power play time with the Caps last year before Shattenkirk got there. It didn’t help him.

  • Ommmzzz

    Is there a place to easily find each team’s back-to-backs?

    • Tom Collins

      In Dobber’s guide. First or second story. All the teams are broken down.

  • NoDoughty

    I really don’t think Ovi is going to the Olympics when his own country won’t allow it:

    • Tom Collins
      • NoDoughty

        I’m sure he does, but that doesn’t mean the IIHF will make him eligible (which is the only thing that matters here).

      • NoDoughty

        My understanding is the the IIHF rules who is and who isn’t eligible to play in the Olympics. If they did allow Ovechkin to play in spite of the NHL’s wishes they are essentially not honoring his NHL contract. Meaning the NHL does not need to honor a KHL contract or any other league’s, allowing them to cherry pick anybody they want at will. That’s a dangerous precedent I don’t think anybody wants.