2019 Fantasy Hockey Busts
NHL teams will be on the ice this week as preseason fires up and we inch ever closer to the opening games. Finally, we get our first look at some of the players we drafted or are hoping to draft. While the following information is about busts, this does not mean stay away from these players completely.
I wanted to compare information like last season’s production, ADP (average draft position) for this year, coaching changes, and player changes as a whole. All of these variables determine how a season will unfold for a specific player, and it may help or hurt your championship run. A bust to me is simply a player that underperforms compared to other players drafted around him. With so many players being valued so close together, this is a tough grouping to nail down when looking at NHL fantasy, but that’s why it’s so much fun. Let’s start this off with a bang.
Alex Ovechkin (WSH) ADP 4.0
I must stress again this article does not mean “do not draft.” Ovechkin is being drafted as a top-five player. In offensive categories last year, he led in goals, but the top 10 players were only separated by 10 goals. One category does not make a fantasy hockey season.
The Washington Capitals’ offseason was mediocre at best. Veteran defenseman Brooks Orpik retired, and with no big names replacing him, the top-four defenders will be stressed again. Looking at the departing players versus arriving players just doesn’t seem to add up to fantasy significance and we will see Washington on a similar path as last season in a division that as a whole has upgraded in talent and win potential.
Alex Ovechkin is being drafted ahead of players such as Sidney Crosby, Patrick Kane, and Steven Stamkos, all of which had more overall points than Ovechkin last season. Ovechkin was not in the top 50 for assists, nor the top 20 for power-play points (PPP). Crosby, Kane, and Stamkos were all in the top 20 for PPP, with Stamkos at second overall, and all three were also top 25 in assists, with Kane and Crosby finishing sixth and seventh, respectively.
Patrice Bergeron (BOS) ADP 30.8
Bergeron had a career year. With his linemates David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, he was able to eclipse 70 points for the first time since 2006-07. He accomplished this in only 65 games played, which is also impressive. What are the odds of all three members of that line having career years again? I am going to bet against that.
Bergeron is 34 years old, and at times he has shown that. Boston was able to secure a future for the organization with five picks in the draft, but it’s unlikely Bergeron will be around to see any of those faces at the NHL level and Boston was quiet in free agency, perhaps going with the old motto, “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” It’s rare to see a team make minimal adjustments and produce at a similar or higher level than the previous year, which is why Bergeron’s regression is almost certain.
Blake Wheeler (WIN) ADP 31.6
Over the last two years, Wheeler has given us great fantasy production with 91 points in each season along with over 20 goals and more than 65 assists in each of the last two years as well. Wheeler also produced 40 PPP in 2017-18 and 30 PPP in 2018-19. Sounds like some solid production for the price.
Blake Wheeler is now 33 years old and the Winnipeg Jets lost some key pieces this offseason. Pieces that assisted in Wheeler’s point production, such as Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers. The Central Division is loaded once again, which may attribute to more negative game scripts for Winnipeg this year and will not help Wheeler’s fantasy value. If we regress his points to an average of the 2013 through 2017 seasons, the value would be 70.5, which is similar to his career average for full-season play. That mark would bring Wheeler near the 50thoverall ranking for points and possibly outside of that. Factor in goalies and defenseman that should be taken before him at a better value and Wheeler slides even farther.
Mark Giordano (CAL) ADP 69.1
The Norris Trophy winner had an excellent year and anyone who drafted Giordano was grateful and most likely in their fantasy playoffs. Giordano is a common choice among experts at this moment, and quite frankly, he should be. Giordano will be entering his 14thseason and if we remove last year’s outlier of a performance, he has never eclipsed 60 points. In fact, he has only reached 40 or more four times in his career. Last season was exactly that, an outlier of a performance, and when the soon-to-be 36-year-old takes the ice this year, a drastic drop in production will make every fantasy owner regret reaching for him early.
Kris Letang (PIT) ADP 48.9
Defensemen being drafted behind Letang include Morgan Rielly, Erik Gustafsson, Torey Krug, and Tyson Barrie. Rielly, Gustafsson, and Barrie all finished above Letang in points. Kris Letang is a polarizing choice and playing for the Penguins seems to increase his value. However, Letang is entering his 14thseason and has only reached 60 or more points one time in his long career and he’s only finished a season playing 70 or more games five times. Letang is not worth his ADP at this point and would be considered a bust compared to other positions being drafted after him, such as goalie Braden Holtby or forward Jamie Benn.
Marc-Andre Fleury (VGK) ADP 22.7
A popular bust pick this year is Jordan Binnington. If you have followed me at all, you know I refuse to see it that way. Marc-Andre Fleury has had a wonderful career, but it’s time to see the decline.
It may be a slow one, but with his high ADP compared to the players with better upside and a safer floor being drafted behind him, I’m calling him a bust. Fleury has been a model for consistency over the last 15 seasons, but in a Pacific Division that saw both teams above Vegas upgrade in the offseason and both teams behind Vegas also add depth and talent, there is a tough season ahead for the veteran goalie. In a long season, the aging Fleury may see more time split this year with backup goalies Malcolm Subban or even Garret Sparks. Here are four position players to draft instead of Marc-Andre Fleury, all of which have an ADP after Fleury as of now: Victor Hedman, Taylor Hall, Vladimir Tarasenko, Sebastian Aho.
Mat Vilcek is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Mat, check out his archive and follow him @Mat1Thockey.