This is a great time of year for fantasy general managers, as every player they own/draft is guaranteed to have a great year, according to the GM who drafted them.
Of course, real life doesn’t work this way. There are always disappointments (think of Patrik Laine, Jamie Benn, Shayne Gostisbehere and Clayton Keller last year), but it’s tough to see most of them coming. We always assume the best for the players we own.
Below are 10 players who are setting up owners for disappointment this season. Note that I am not including any unsigned RFAs, although many of them could be disappointments if they decide to sit out for a couple of months.
10. Jeff Skinner
Skinner must be some kind of magician, because this off-season, he turned a hot first half into $72 million over the next eight years. He had 30 goals and 44 points in his first 45 games, and only 10 goals and 19 points in his last 37. If you think about Skinner’s production last year, everything went perfect for him: He played with an elite linemate for the first time ever, was on the first power-play unit for the first time in years, had a career high in shooting percentage and started in the offensive zone for two-thirds of all his shifts. With all that in his favour, he finished with 63 points in 82 games. What exactly are fantasy general managers hoping for? Can you truly bank on everything going perfect for him again this upcoming season?
9. Will Butcher
I figured a lot of projections would be sour on Butcher, but that hasn’t been the case. So far, I’ve seen most experts believe Butcher that can still crack 35 points (a few have Butcher in the mid-40s for points), which I find hard to believe. In his first two years in the league, Butcher has made a career out of being a power-play specialist, as 37 of his career 74 points have come with the man advantage. Even though New Jersey is adding Jack Hughes, Nikita Gusev, Wayne Simmonds and a healthy Taylor Hall, the team is also adding P.K. Subban. Expect Butcher to be knocked down to the second power-play unit, and will struggle to reach 30 points. In leagues with peripherals, he doesn’t provide any other value, so he’s not someone you should be drafting this fall.
If you’re drafting Johansen this season expecting a career year, there are plenty of red flags. Remember that he doesn’t like to shoot the puck much, which is always a big warning sign in my eyes. Plus, the signing of Matt Duchene can only hurt Johansen, as he now has some talented centres to contend with for minutes and linemates. Maybe this will be the season where Nashville becomes an offensive powerhouse and they have finally have a 70-point plus guy, but I just don’t see it. And I don’t think it would be Johansen.
7. Quinn Hughes
You’re going to see a lot of love for Hughes this season, as many project the older Hughes brother to put up 40-plus points. However, Hughes has a lot of competition and may see little power-play time this year. Alexander Edler, who was re-signed this summer, was on the ice for about two-third of Vancouver’s power-play minutes last season. The Canucks also signed Tyler Myers to a huge-money, long-term deal, so he’ll probably get some opportunities with the man advantage as well. Odds are there will be a significant number of games where Hughes doesn’t even get a sniff of power-play time, and that will make it extremely difficult for him to even crack 30 points.
6. Jack Hughes
Yes, both Hughes brothers are making this list. I’ve seen a lot of projections that have Hughes finishing with 70-plus points. Sure, he’s going to a great situation, but it’s really tough for a teenager to have instant success in the NHL. Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby are the only two rookie teenagers of the past 25 years to break 70 points. Odds are Hughes will start the season on the second or third line, with second unit power-play time. People overrate rookies because they come in with plenty of hype, but you’d be better off choosing someone that has been a consistent 70-point threat over a teenaged rookie.
I learned the lesson the hard way: Do not draft Byfuglien anywhere near where he is ranked because he will invariably be injured for a good chunk of the season. Last year, I made Byfuglien my third-round pick in one of my head-to-head leagues that count also count hits, plus/minus, blocked shots and a host of other categories. Of course, Byfuglien missed half the season and was out during fantasy playoffs. The guy is still a stud when he’s in the lineup, but there’s too much risk with using a high pick on him.
4. Carter Hart
You need to have realistic expectations when it comes to Hart. Only four netminders have ever won 30-plus games in his 21-year-old season: The latest was Jim Carey in 1995-96, and the other three are all Hall of Famers (Terry Sawchuk, Grant Fuhr and Harry Lumley). Carey Price and Steve Mason are the only two 21-year-olds in the past 25 years to even reach 20 wins, and their save percentages and goals against averages were both below average in those years. Hart will have his opportunity to be the number one guy, but if he falters, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Brian Elliott starts 40 games.
I am a huge fan of Dubois (I own him in two of three keeper pools), but I feel like he’s going to be in for a tough season. Last year, he put up 51 points in his first 61 games, mostly playing with Artemi Panarin. Then Matt Duchene was traded to Columbus, Dubois moved down the lineup and had just 10 points in his last 21 games. Now he’s expected to go back to being the number one centre, but now there’s no more Panarin on his wing. Columbus is going to have a tougher time scoring this season, and that it will be tough for the 21-year-old Dubois.
Fans of this column (Hi mom!) know that I have been tough on Pacioretty over the last year, but it’s not as if I have a vendetta against him. As a Habs fan, I really like Pacioretty and would love to see him dominate the Western conference. I just don’t think he can. He’s now put up two straight sub-par seasons (scoring just 40 and 37 points), can’t stay healthy (he’s good for 20 missed games a season at this stage), and will go on crazy hot streaks (27 points in 27 games) but even worse cold streaks (two points in 14 games).
It’s interesting to see some projections of 90-plus points for Matthews. He has a career high of 73 points as he spends too much time on the IR. But somehow, Matthews is the 10th player selected in Yahoo drafts so far. There is much better, and less risky, value you can grab in that spot. Let’s not forget that Leafs coach Mike Babcock likes to spread players’ ice time around, so you won’t see Matthews averaging 22 minutes a night. Even with top power-play time, he only averaged around 18:30 last year. Matthews is great for shots and points, but doesn’t contribute much in other categories. There’s no way he should be a late first-round pick in a one-year.
- Ramblings: Updates on Schultz and Kahun; Buchnevich; Bjork; scoring rates - January 21
- Ramblings: Panarin Out Tuesday, Everything Comes Up Moose, Vatrano Explodes (Jan 22)
- Ramblings: Cholowski recalled; Koivu returns; looking back on preseason thoughts - January 23
- Forum Buzz: Nylander or DeBrincat, Hold or Sell Huberdeau, Can Trocheck Rebound?
- Injury Ward: Updates on Rask, Hamilton, Panarin, Tarasenko, and more
- Eastern Edge: Unprecedented hot streaks
- Lining Up - Top lines this season
- Capped: All-Star cap league team