Tom Collins gives you his top 10 players he believes are sure to disappoint
Every season in the NHL, there's always going to be players that will surprise and disappoint. Knowing who will fall into which category is what separates the champions from the also-rans.
Part of the key is looking at who other GMs are over-valuing right now, but delving deeper to see whether anything has really changed. Who is being set up to be a disappointment?
Before last season, one simply had to look at Eric Staal. The team around him was getting worse, and Staal's shots and shooting percentage was slightly on the decline from where it was five years previous. Those trends continued last year, and he put up his worst season since he was a rookie. The signs were there, but someone needed to look at them with a pessimistic point-of-view (hard to do in fantasy hockey).
Of course, whether many of the guys on this list will disappoint has to do with your expectations. Maybe you do suspect a couple of these guys to struggle, and therefore they won't be a disappointment to you. But a lot of these players have higher-than-normal expectations this season, and a lot of poolies may be in for a shock by the end of the season.
Here are the top 10 players sure to disappoint.
10. Tuukka Rask
Last year, Rask was seen as the goalie to own in hockey pools. Many fantasy GMs used a first round pick on him in one-year leagues. It's too early to tell if he'll be ranked high in one-years this season, but in keepers, there's still plenty of optimism. He was the third goalie chosen in two keeper leagues drafts I participated in this past summer. But there's not much reason for hope. I can see Rask being this year's Corey Schneider: a great goalie, but his numbers will be hampered because of the team in front of him.
9. Jack Eichel
Whether it's in spite of, or because of, Connor McDavid, Eichel has been getting plenty of hype this offseason. And many fans are expecting Eichel to be the franchise saviour in Buffalo. But it's pretty difficult for an 18-year-old to have an impact on his hockey team. He'll be good in the future, but for now, he could be lining up with Brian Gionta and Matt Moulson. That's not a recipe for a lot of rookie success.
8. Keith Yandle
Judging by some responses on the forum, it seems like half of poolies believe that Yandle will struggle this season, and the other half think he will continue to rack up points like he did in Arizona. He wasn't all that impressive early on in New York, racking up just two goals and 11 points in 21 games. That would equate to a 43-point pace, which would tie his lowest point-per-game pace of the past five seasons. For whatever reason, players seem to struggle with the Rangers (with Marty St. Louis, Brad Richards, and Ryane Clowe being the most recent examples). With plenty of quality defensemen in New York, Yandle could be struggling in the Big Apple.
A lot of this may be directed to Habs fans who also play fantasy hockey, but there are plenty of poolies out there who are expecting big things out of Alexander Semin. But we need to keep things in check. He's coming off two straight seasons where he has struggled, and it's not like he's going to an offensive powerhouse. Montreal was 20th in the league last season in goals for per game, and their power play was 23rd. He's going to struggle in Montreal, and to expect Semin to regain his old magic is setting yourself up for a hard fall.
6. Nail Yakupov
I'm usually defending Yakupov in the column, thinking he's going to have a bounce back season. But this is the one year when I think the opposite will happen. Everyone seems to be thinking with the arrival of Connor McDavid in Edmonton, all of the Oilers will see huge increases in their point production. But there's only so many points to go around. Yakupov will still be on the third line, and second power play unit.
5. Robin Lehner
There's a reason why the Ottawa Senators decided to go with a 34-year-old often-injured goalie and a 27-year-old backup over a 24-year-old player labelled as the goalie of the future. Lehner is just too inconsistent to be worth the risk. Last year, he was just 9-12-3 with a .905 save percentage and a 3.02 GAA. The season before, he was 12-15-6 with a .913 save percentage and a 3.06 GAA. He had a concussion last year, and at this stage, hasn't proven he can handle being a backup, much less a number one goalie.
4. Jiri Hudler
Hudler was the most surprising 70-point player of the 2014-15 season, as his 76 points beat his career high by 19, and his 31 goals was the first time he cracked 30. Hudler was a man possessed in March and April, netting 28 points in his final 19 games. Many poolies are hoping for a repeat, as they expect the 31-year-old will continue to play with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan. But there are lots of regression warnings. Not only are the advanced stats geeks pointing to the Flames not being able to repeat what they did last season, but Hudler had a career high in shots last year, and his shooting percentage of 19.6 per cent was four points above his career average.
3. David Perron
When it comes to the top-six in Pittsburgh, it will be Perron who will be on the outs. Playing with Sidney Crosby last season, he only had 12 goals and 22 points in 43 games. Now, there will be a healthy Pascal Dupuis, a newly-traded-for Phil Kessel and newly-signed Sergei Plotnikov to compete with for minutes, both on the top-six and on the top power play. Expecting Perron to be any more than a 40-point player will only lead to disappointment.
2. Petr Mrazek
I was in two drafts this summer for brand new start-up dynasties. In both of them, Mrazek was drafted much higher than Jimmy Howard (in one league, Mrazek was taken 77th overall, Howard 216th; and in the other, Mrazek was selected 41st overall, and Howard 201st). That's a pretty big disparity, especially considering Howard is the golden boy in Detroit with a long-term, big-money contract, and in reality, their season numbers weren't too far apart (Howard was 23-13-11 with a 2.44 GAA and .910 save percentage, while Mrazek was 16-9-2 with a 2.38 GAA and a .918 save percentage). It could be a few years before Mrazek is the true number one in Detroit.
1. Andrej Sekera
The Oilers paid Sekera big money to be the team's number one defenceman this season, but let's not forget one small fact: he's not a number one defenseman. He's only had one season when he broke 30 points, and has only scored five goals on one occasion. Take away the 2013-14 season, when he had 11 goals and 44 points, and he's been pretty pedestrian. There's no reason to think that one season is any more than a fluke rather than what will be the start of a trend.
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