Top 10 star players sure to disappoint in 2016-17 (i.e. bar is raised so high they're bound to fall short)
Although this may seem like the slowest time of year for NHL hockey, it's one of the busiest for dynasty leagues. Many fantasy general managers have already had to submit their list of dropped players and some have even started drafting. So there's already lots of talk and lots of hype for many NHL players. But general managers are always optimistic this time of year. Every breakthrough player is scheduled for top-six ice time (or so it seems).
But there are always disappointments. This year will be no different. Here are the top 10 soon-to-be disappointments for the 2016-17 season.
Again – This is not a list of 'busts'. It is a matter of setting the bar of expectations so high that these players are bound to fall short…
10. Matt Murray
Many GMs are expecting a lot from Murray this season. They believe the Pens have all but decided to go with Murray in the long run and Marc-Andre Fleury will either be traded or taken in the expansion draft. But expectations need to be tempered. Fleury has at least 34 wins in seven of the last eight seasons: the lone exemption is the lockout-shortened season. And Fleury is starting a three-year deal that has a cap hit of $5.75 million annually. And he has a no-movement clause. I'm not saying there won't be a goalie battle in Pittsburgh. But even if Murray does win it, there will be no hesitancy to switch back to Fleury if needed.
I believe he'll finish in the 60 to 70 point range, which will be a disappoint for anyone expecting 80-plus points again. New coach Guy Boucher will be a big reason. Former Sens coach Dave Cameron was a big fan of Karlsson and was fond of saying that EK always had the green light to go on the offense. And Karlsson responded with an 82-point season this year and a total of 128 points in 138 games under Cameron. But now he'll be asked to keep it reeled in just a little and that will affect his point totals a little.
8. Auston Matthews (his prospect profile is here)
There's a lot of hype for Matthews being the savior in Toronto. It's almost become too much. There are plenty of GMs that are wondering if Matthews can be as good as Connor McDavid. Plus playing in Leaf-land is going to build up expectations. But what happens if he has a slow start? How many games until we get the whole "What is wrong with Matthews" type of stories? Of the last 10 first overall picks, only Patrick Kane and Nathan MacKinnon got 55-plus points in their rookie season. Don't expect a great season from Matthews just yet.
7. Jimmy Vesey (his prospect profile is here)
The college graduate hasn't even signed anywhere yet — he can't do so until Aug. 15 except for Buffalo — but there's lots of hype. But college free agents don't have the greatest record in the NHL. Just look at Justin Schultz. Remember Vesey will still be a rookie no matter where he signs and there will be growing pains.
Galchenyuk is another name I see out there as being ready to have a breakout season. But I can sum up why he might not be ready in two words: Michel Therrien. Therrien loves to juggle lines and putting plugs up on the first line in favour of others (remember how time Dale Weise would get with Max Pacioretty?). Galchenyuk could start on the top line and be demoted to a line with Torrey Mitchell and Brian Flynn before the third game of the season.
5. John Gibson
A lot of poolies were very excited when Frederik Andersen was finally dealt out of Anaheim. No more goalie time share! And then the rest of the deal was completed weeks later and Anaheim wound up with Jonathan Bernier. And while Bernier hasn't been fantasy relevant in, well, ever, he can still steal starts. Plus Gibson is a Band-Aid boy. And new coach Randy Carlyle loved Bernier in Toronto. So there's a lot of worries with Gibson.
Draisaitl had an excellent season with 51 points in 72 games. Many expect that he will build on that. But I think he'll hit a bit of a wall. His best linemate — Taylor Hall — was shipped to New Jersey. Hall was on the ice for 44 of Draisaitl's 51 points. The other issue is that Draisaitl is a centre and could be on the third line behind Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins instead of a top-six role.
3. Robby Fabbri
There's been a lot of talk about how Fabbri will have a breakthrough season as there's plenty of extra ice time since David Backes and Troy Brouwer left the Blues through free agency. But let's not forget that the Blues were riddled with injuries all season. Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund, Paul Stastny and Alex Steen all missed time because of various ailments. Throw in Jori Lehtera, Vladimir Tarasenko, Dmitrij Jaskin and the newly-signed David Perron, and that's eight of your top nine. There's not a lot of extra ice time for Fabbri.
Fantasy owners are drooling after Drouin had an excellent playoff. But let's not lose sight of what is happening in Tampa. He got plenty of ice time thanks to Steven Stamkos being out with a blood clot. But in the regular season he had a slow start, a trade demand, being sent to the AHL, not reporting to the AHL, finally reporting and then suspended for a game for being late to a team meeting. You think head coach John Cooper is automatically going to start Drouin on the top line and give him 20 minutes a game after his performance last year? Not a chance. He'll have to earn it and keep it up all throughout the season.
I'm a little surprised by the hype Eriksson has been getting after his 63-point season. Now he's signed in Vancouver and people expect him to have instant chemistry with the Sedin twins. But that's no guarantee. Let's put some things into perspective. He just had his first 30-goal season since 2008-09, and his first 60-point season since 2011-12. And it was a contract year obviously. I don't like the odds of him having back-to-back 60-point seasons when it's the first time he's done it in five years.
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