Top 10 players to worry about in fantasy hockey right now…
It's early in the season, but there is plenty of concern when it comes to a few players and how badly they've played so far.
Some guys are notoriously slow starters. Brad Marchand is one of them, but he generally rebounds to a 50-point season. Other guys overcome the occasional slow start to end up with fantasy-productive seasons (think Anze Kopitar last year).
But for some guys, a slow start can be a sign of things to come. Alexander Semin turned a slow start last year into healthy scratches before being bought out in the summer. While none of the guys on this list may be that extreme, there are numerous reasons why some of these guys may not be able to recover from a poor start.
Here are the top 10 players you need to worry about as of today.
10. Jeff Skinner
Skinner is not the usual suspect for a slow start to a season. In the first month of his previous five seasons, Skinner has 33 points in 40 games. This year he has two points in eight games. So he's not even at the stage of the season where he normally goes into a slump. While Skinner is getting plenty of power play time, overall he is averaging just 16:15 per game. Carolina is going to struggle all season. That is going to impact Skinner. He's going to have trouble hitting 35 points.
9. David Perron
I hoped you listened when I listed Perron as the third most likely player to disappoint. Last year in Pittsburgh, Perron had 22 points in 43 game, despite regularly playing with Sidney Crosby. This year he has zero points in eight games. Sure, every player not named Evgeni Malkin is struggling on Pittsburgh. But Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist etc. aren't in danger of losing their top six role. Perron simply isn't good enough to stick in the top six.
8. Tyler Myers
At this stage, I've lost all hope in Myers ever being fantasy relevant again. Last year he notched 15 points in 24 games with the Jets. I thought he was finally fulfilling the promise he showed as a rookie in Buffalo. But despite the second most ice time and second most power play ice time with the Jets this season, he has a miserable two points in eight games. He's just not worth the hassle when you add the fact that he usually misses around 20 games a season due to injury.
Gaborik was the original Kris Letang. Gaborik was excellent when he played, but he was injured so often that he was one of the most frustrating players to own. Things looked to be turning around when he went to the Kings several years ago. He tallied 16 points in 19 games and 22 points in 26 playoff games. It's been fair to say he's struggled since then. Forty-seven points in 69 games last year was one of his worst ever seasons points-per-game wise. This year he has just one goal and no assists in eight games. Plenty of the Kings players are struggling, but this is the beginning of the end for Gaborik's fantasy career.
A huge sleeper pick before the season started, there are plenty of red flags when it comes to Nichushkin's fantasy outlook. He's been a healthy scratch twice already. When he is in the lineup, sees just under 13 minutes of ice time per game. He also isn't seeing any power play time (just 51 seconds a game). With the Stars on-ice success, there's less incentive for the coaches to move Nichushkin higher up the pecking order.
Despite being the Rangers' top defenseman, McDonagh's fantasy value has taken two major hits over the past couple of years thanks to the signing of Dan Boyle and the trade for Keith Yandle. Those two handle most of the Rangers offensive duties, especially on the power play. That frees McDonagh to shut down the other team's top lines, which explains his zero points in 10 games. He averages 3:09 shorthanded ice time per game, but just 1:23 on the power play. By comparison, Yandle averages zero shorthanded minutes per game and 2:31 on the power play. McDonagh won't be fantasy relevant as long as the ice time is doled out like that.
4. Mike Green
We all knew Green wouldn't be as successful in Detroit as he was with Washington. But we were all expecting more than this. Green has been completely disappointing with Detroit. The Wings are rolling with four forwards and one defenseman on the power play. Unfortunately, that defenseman is Niklas Kronwall. This helps explain Green's one measly assist in seven games. Maybe things will change when Pavel Datsyuk gets in the lineup as that will bump better players onto the second power play unit. But I wouldn't pin a bounce back from Green on it.
Advanced stats experts who were predicting the downfall of the Calgary Flames must be jumping with glee now. Calgary has notched 16 goals in eight games. The Flames seem intent on making sure none of their top defensemen are alienated, but it's affecting the fantasy hockey seasons for all of them. Hamilton is averaging just 1:47 power play time on ice per game, behind Dennis Wideman (2:47), Kris Russell (2:14) and Mark Giordano (2:05). It's hard to have success when you're basically the fourth defenseman on the power play.
2. Matt Duchene
There's three main reasons why fantasy owners should be worried about him: 1) He's not getting enough power play time. Nathan MacKinnon, Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Gabriel Landeskog all average more than three minutes a game while Duchene is at 2:28. 2) The Avs have played five of their first seven games at home, and have played struggling teams like Carolina, Anaheim, Boston and Columbus, and Duchene still can't produce. It's only going to get harder as Colorado plays more on the road and against tougher teams. 3) His linemates. The 38-year-old Iginla is his most frequent even-strength linemate, followed by Blake Comeau, Mikko Rantanen, and Cody McLeod. That's not a recipe for success.
1. Tuukka Rask
Rask's season is obviously going to get better. He sits with a 1-3-1 record, an .854 save percentage and a 4.40 GAA. He's going to get some wins. He's going to get some shutouts. His GAA and save percentage numbers will improve. But they're not going to become elite. Rask is playing behind a team with horrendous defence. They don't give up a ton of shots, but the ones they do are tough to save. There's no help coming anytime soon. Zdeno Chara has lost a step or five. Torey Krug is a liability defensively. Dennis Seidenberg isn't close to returning, and even if he were, it's not like he's an elite player that can stop the bleeding. It's going to be a long season for Rask owners.
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