Just say no... to these seven players on new teams...
Every year there are newly signed free agents or guys traded to new teams who poolies somehow talk themselves into obtaining despite many red flags and warning signs. This week I’ll try to be the voice of reason and warn you to “just say no” to seven of these types of players, since otherwise you’ll only end up disappointed. For a Final Verdict, I’ll talk more about ways to spot (and avoid) players like these.
With Roy, the lure is the five season stretch from 2006-07 to 2010-11 that saw him score at a .91 point per game pace. Fast forward to now, and you might try to convince yourself that Roy is still only 30 and should have something to prove, especially after only being able to get a one year deal this offseason. But here’s the issue – not only do you have the natural question marks about whether Roy can once again put up elite numbers, but you also must keep in mind that he’s going to a St. Louis team that has a logjam of players in its top nine. In fact, last season only two Blues forwards saw more than 19 minutes of ice time per game and most averaged between 2:00 and 2:30 of PP time, which are far less than what Roy was accustomed to during his glory years.
In Stalberg you have a big guy (6 ft. 3 in, 210 pounds) just entering the time frame (age 27, fifth season) when power forwards tend to break out. The temptation is to think that his talent was held back by his limited minutes (among Chicago forwards who played 25 or more games last season he was 9th in time on ice per game, 6th in PP time). But the big problem is he’s heading to Nashville, which is where offense goes to die. The last time any forward on Nashville finished with more than just 60 points was way back in 2008-09! Plus, even though Stalberg seems like a logical break out candidate on paper, it’s far from a guarantee that he’ll end up producing increased numbers in response to increased minutes.
Now that Corvo is heading back to Ottawa, the whispers about him returning to offensive form have already started. And while it’s true that Corvo did put up a solid 64 points in 127 games during his last stint with Ottawa, that was way back in 2006-08. And think about it - there’s a reason why Corvo hasn’t managed to stay on the same NHL team for more than one season since 2008-09, and it’s because he simply does not live up to expectations. Plus, as you’ll recall from one of my Category Killers columns, Corvo finished dead last in Blocked Shots and fourth to last in Hits among defensemen the last time there was a full NHL season, so there’s a big concern that if he doesn’t manage to get you points you can’t even have his secondary stats to fall back on.
What intrigues fantasy GMs about Clarkson is that having moved from the Devils (28th in goals scored last season) to the Maple Leafs (6th in goals scored), they think he’ll now be able to show his true point production talent. But I’m not buying it. Clarkson is a very good player, but he’s a goal scorer (with 24 more goals than assists for his career), and the Maple Leafs already have several shoot-first forwards in Phil Kessel (more goals than assists in two seasons), Joffrey Lupul (four seasons with more goals than assists), and James Van Riemsdyk (more goals than assists in two of his four seasons). In other words, this isn’t a situation (like Jeff Carter in LA or Johan Franzen in Detroit, for example) where a goal scorer is surrounded by pass first linemates and thus can score 30+ goals with ease.
There’s been some chatter that Khudobin might push Cam Ward for playing time or even have an outside chance to grab the starting job for Carolina. You want to know what’s really going to happen? Neither of those things! Don’t be seduced by Khudobin’s numbers from last season, since not only were they for the defensive minded Bruins (2nd fewest goals allowed in the NHL), but more than half of his 14 games were against non-playoff teams and only two were against a team in the top ten for goals scored. And although Ward has suffered significant injuries in two of the past four seasons, the key is that if he’s healthy he’s a lock to start 80-90% of Hurricanes games. If you want to take a chance on grabbing a back-up goalie, there are likely to be far better options out there than Khudobin, including whoever ends up being the back-up in Philly, Anaheim, New Jersey, Edmonton, or Tampa Bay.
It’s hard not to root for Briere, as he was certainly humbled by being bought out. And since he’s shown in the past that he can rebound from a subpar year (53 points in 75 games in 2009-10; 68 points in 77 games in 2010-11), the temptation might be to take a flyer (no pun intended) on him again this year. But for a guy who turns 36 in October and has over 1000 NHL/AHL games under his belt it’s hard to imagine he has what it takes at this stage in his career to once again be a decent point producer. What’s more, if you take a step back and honestly look at the Canadiens’ roster, which has four top forwards under six feet tall in addition to Briere, it just doesn’t seem like he’ll be a good fit there at all.
For each guy discussed above, the issue isn’t so much that he’ll be terrible; it was mainly just an overall concern that the price it would take to get him wouldn’t be worthwhile. But with Horcoff, all signs point to him being just plain bad. At first the temptation might be to think that Dallas gave up a pretty decent defenseman prospect in Phillip Larsen to get Horcoff, so they must have plans for him. But in truth Larsen’s stock had fallen and Horcoff is basically a glorified insurance policy in case one of Dallas’ many other centers gets hurt. If you adhere to one piece of advice from this column, it should be to avoid obtaining Horcoff no matter what.
When you dissect all the situations above, there are definitely some recurring things to watch out for, particularly players whose best seasons appear to be behind them, guys on teams that either don’t stress offense or have a logjam of top players, and unfavorable situations in general.
The key to remember is it takes more than talent and a desire to succeed in order to put up big points. Plus, some of these guys either have the comfort of a first huge contract in their back pocket (Clarkson) or a new contract plus money coming to them from the team that bought them out (Briere), and things like that could make it difficult to get motivated to work hard.
And because each of these guys was signed or traded for during the high profile free agent frenzy, chances are they’ll be on the minds of each and every fantasy GM between now and when the puck drops in October, making their price artificially high. So even though most of these players (with the exception of Horcoff) should be fantasy worthy, your best bet is to avoid all of them due to the disappointment that you’d experience in relation to the price you’d have to pay to get them.
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