It’s frustrating when you own a player that is in the midst of a season-long funk.
Many times, there’s nothing you can do but sit back and hope they snap out of it.
Some guys will bounce back to have a great second half (we covered those players last week). But there are other guys who will continue to disappoint you for the rest of the year.
Below are 10 players that aren’t going to significantly rebound from their poor start. Maybe they’ll get a little better, or go on a hot streak for a few games, but they’re not going to get back up to the lofty goals us poolies envisioned back in September.
10. Jack Eichel
Many were expecting big things out of the 21-year-old centre, but reports from some Sabres fans is that Eichel looks disinterested. Can you blame him? He’s stuck playing with a 35-year-old Jason Pominville and Evander Kane. The Sabres are so terrible, how do you shake it up to get him playing with better teammates? Maybe shift Eichel to the wing to let Ryan O’Reilly centre him? That’s pretty much it because the rest of the squad is awful right now. It’s going to be another long season for Sabres and Eichel fans.
There are many disappointed fantasy general managers expecting big things after last year’s 72-point breakout, but at this point we should consider last year an outlier. From 2013-14 to 2015-16, he averaged 0.65 points per game (54 points over 82 games). This year, he’s on pace for 48 points. It sounds a little low, but a two-point game in his next outing puts him at a 52-point pace, so he’s not far off. He’s right on the mark for things like offensive zone starts, shots and PDO. The big difference between this year and last is that Steven Stamkos and Mikhail Sergachev have been stealing his power play production.
Zetterberg doesn’t have the same worship in fantasy hockey he once did, but this is still turning into a disappointing season for the Wings forward. He started off the season with nine points in eight games, but has eight points in 21 games since. His shots-per-game has been declining each year since 2012-13 and his current mark of 2.28 is the lowest since 2003-04. There are too many factors against the 37-year-old.
7. Duncan Keith
If the NHL were sending players to the Olympics this year, Keith would be a shoo-in for 60-plus points, as for some odd reason, his most productive seasons have been Olympics years. Until this one. Keith has no goals and 14 points in 31 games. His 0.47 points-per-game is his worst since 2007-08. His overall ice time is down 1:30 a game from last year. He’s on pace for 11 power play points. Not only would that be his lowest since 2012-13, but it would mark a drop every season for four straight years.
6. Mitch Marner
There are a few reasons to be pessimistic about Marner’s season. The main ones are that he’s stuck on the third line and the second power play unit. He had three assists on Saturday (his first in eight games), but he played under 12 minutes for the whole game. Last night, only three forwards on Toronto played less even-strength ice time than Marner, and he’s played under 15 minutes in 12 games this season. Overall, his ice time is down 1:20 from a year ago. He’s not shooting the puck as much as he did and coach Mike Babcock has bristled at the suggestion of playing Marner with Auston Matthews on a regular basis.
The 36-year-old Anderson has a tendency to alternate good and bad years. This is a bad year as Anderson has a 7-10-3 record with a 3.11 GAA and a 0.895 SV %. He’s let in at least three goals in 11 games, and at least five goals five times. He’ll eventually go through a hot streak, but the Sens are a mess and the team isn’t good enough to score.
4. Nick Foligno
Many of the Blue Jackets are suffering this year, but the Columbus captain is the one of the least likely to bounce back. His power play time has been decreasing as the season wears on and he has a single power play point. When he was having 50-plus point seasons, he was getting 20-plus power play points. He’s now starting in the offensive zone 52.3 per cent of the time, down from 57.4 per cent a year ago. He’s also gone from playing with Artemi Panarin and Josh Anderson to playing with two struggling linemates, including …
After seasons were he continuously improved his points total, Wennberg has crashed hard this year. His 0.46 points per game is his lowest since his rookie season in 2014-15 and is way below last year’s 0.74 points per game. The most concerning thing about when a player like Wennberg starts to go through a prolonged dry spell is that he doesn’t shoot enough to get out of it and he’s on pace for 111 shots.
This was supposed to be the Hurricanes’ year. The team was hypothetically going to take that next step forward, and Darling was going to be the missing link to getting to that next level. It hasn’t worked out that way as Darling has led the Hurricanes to the bottom of the Metro division. His .905 SV % is the second worst of any goalie that has played 20-plus games. He’s allowed at least three goals in 12 games, including five of his last seven. In the meantime, I expect Cam Ward, who has a 4-2-1 record, to steal more starts if this keeps up.
1. Matt Duchene
I’ve gone on record both in this column and on the forums that Duchene is simply a 20-goal, 55-point player that had a couple of really good years half a decade ago. Since the start of the 2014-15 campaign, he’s averaged 23 goals and 53 points (prorated to an 82-game season). He’s not a power play juggernaut, is horrible for plus-minus, doesn’t hit and doesn’t contribute much outside of fantasy hockey except for faceoffs. There’s no reason to believe that will change in Ottawa., He’ll go on point binges, especially once Erik Karlsson gets back on track, but on the whole, you have to peg him at a 55-point guy until he can consistently show us he’s not.
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