Taking a look at the Top 10 bounce-back candidates in fantasy hockey...

Every year, there’s a group of players for have a bad season and fantasy managers are ready to discard and never hear from again.

However, not all these player deserve the scorn of poolies. Many of them are going to have bounce-back seasons. Identifying them and drafting them accordingly could be key to helping you win your pool.

For this list, I looked at it from a points-only perspective. Also, guys who were injured don’t count, unless they didn’t play well when they were in the lineup. So you won’t find someone like Stamkos on the list. 

Here are the top 10 bounce-back candidates.


10. Dion Phaneuf

While he’s not worthy of his $7 million a year contract, he’s still better than his 31 points last season (a career low for a full season). Strangely enough, the young guys playing for the Leafs will only help Phaneuf. Last season, Phaneuf played 23:33 minutes a game, which is too much for him. Guys like Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly will take some of the pressure off Phaneuf and reduce his ice time. This is actually a good thing, since he won’t wear out as much and will stay fresher as the game wears on.


9. Pascal Dupuis

After averaging about 62 points a season with Crosby the previous two seasons, Dupuis took a major step back last year. Yes, he was injured, but when he was healthy, he wasn’t good. Just seven goals and 20 points in 39 games, with a shooting percentage of 7.2 per cent (his lowest since 2005-06). But he’s still expected to be one of Crosby’s main wingers, and that should be good for about 50 points alone. A healthy year will be helpful too.


8. Joffrey Lupul

For a couple of years, Lupul teased us with his point-per-game production, although injuries were a concern. From 2011-2013, Lupul had 85 points in 82 games over two seasons. Last year, Lupul managed just 44 points in 69 games, far less than many poolies were hoping for. While a point-per-game pace may be too much to expect from Lupul for this upcoming season, but 60 points is doable if Lupul can stay healthy all season. 


7. Mike Ribeiro

It didn’t take long for Ribeiro to wear out his welcome in Phoenix, and it was even shorter for him to wear out his welcome with fantasy owners. Last season, he had just 47 points in 80 games, which was his worst season since 2002-03. But he’s still only a season away from being a point-per-game player. This upcoming season, he’s going to Nashville, where he’ll be the team’s number one centre and will have a chance to set up James Neal. Sixty points is very doable.


6. Dustin Brown

It hasn’t come out, but the general feeling is the Kings captain was dealing with some sort of injury last season. Brown somehow had just 27 points, despite averaging 15:50 and 2:07 power play ice time a game. Brown had a career low 7.7 shooting percentage, and just one power play goal. If those come up to his career average (almost nine power play goals a season and a 10.1 per cent shooting percentage), then his point total should rebound.


5. Bobby Ryan

Remember about a year ago, when Ryan was traded to Ottawa? He and Spezza were supposed to work magic together. Some thought Ryan could be a 40-goal guy with Spezza feeding him passes. A year later, Spezza is in Dallas, and Ryan is coming off his worst full NHL season ever. However, there is reason for optimism. Ryan started last season on fire with Kyle Turris and Clarke MacArthur before an injury slowed him down. With a full healthy season with those two players, Ryan should be able to bounce back to at least a 30-goal, 60-point season.


4. Ondrej Pavelec


After his worst season as a full-time NHL starter, it’s almost impossible to think that Pavelec can’t rebound. However, a lot of fantasy owners have soured on him lately (a 22-26-7 record will do that). But there are some encouraging signs. After Paul Maurice became the new head coach of the Jets on Jan. 12, Pavelec finished the season with an 11-7-3 record, and allowed two or less goals in 12 of those 21 games.  Pavelec is still the number one guy in Winnipeg, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a challenge to his throne. I wouldn’t be shocked if he got 35 wins this year.


3. Sergei Gonchar

Gonchar had a horrible year last season. Once seen as the guy who could provide leadership, Gonchar scored just two goals and 22 points last year (his worst season since 1997-98), and is now on the second defence unit (and maybe the second powerplay unit). But that may actually help this season. The Stars have made an effort to make their second unit better, and Gonchar will now be playing with Jason Spezza and Ales Hemsky on that second line. Those two guys will post better numbers than the Stars second line last season, and that means Gonchar will also post better numbers as a result. And don’t underestimate Gonchar’s familiarity with Spezza, who played together for three seasons in Ottawa.


2. Alexander Edler

Like pretty much everyone on Vancouver, Edler had a horrible season last year. The whole team just seemed to be off. But things have happened to the Canucks that bode well for Edler. A new coach and GM could be a big boost, but most importantly, the Canucks traded Jason Garrison to Tampa. Edler is now the clear-cut number one power play defenceman on Vancouver, which should help boost his numbers.


1. Braden Holtby

A lot went wrong for Holtby last season, including him to lose his starting job to two different goalies at various points of the season. But things are looking up for the 24-year-old netminder. To start, the Caps didn’t sign or trade for a new goalie in the offseason, giving Holtby the vote of confidence he needs. A coaching and GM change may help him as well. The new regime also brought in a new goalie coach, Mitch Korn, who can hopefully get Holtby back to the style he played that brought him NHL success that former goalie coach Olaf Kolzig tried to change.





#10 newfcollins 2014-08-05 13:13
Part 2:

Phaneuf: Some guys play better in limited minutes. I believe Phaneuf is one of them. Less minutes means a better player in his case.

Gonchar: I think Spezza will be more of a second PP unit guy, no? Even if Spezza is on the point, that still means second powerplay time for Gonchar with a better second unit.

Dupuis: I figure Hornqvist plays with Malkin to replace Neal, and Dupuis slides back onto the first line with Crosby and Kunitz. Yes, his shooting percentage was high that season, but that's due to playing with the best player in the world
#9 newfcollins 2014-08-05 13:12
Lots of good comments. I'll just respond to them all in one post. I hope I don't miss anyone.

Pavelec: I've always believed that a true #1 NHL goalie should be good for at least 30 wins (in a non-injury year), if not 35. Pavelec had 29 a couple of years ago, and was on pace for 39 in the shortened season (although there was no way he was going to start every game in an 82-game season). Thirty is easily doable for Pavelec and 35 wouldn't surprise me.

Yaks and Hubs: I didn't include them because there's no where for them to really bounce back to. For example, if Hubs gets 40-45 points, I don't know if that's really a bounceback year (he was on pace for 50-something in the shortened season). I also don't have a lot of confidence either of those guys can bounce back more so than the other guys on this list.
#8 Rodgort 2014-08-05 10:36
Pavelec could get 35 wins.... If he plays all 82 games! BOOM!

I do not believe that one as the Jets did nothing this off season but get Perrault, while each team improved, as well as Pavs being an awful goalie
#7 robmyatt 2014-08-05 09:25
I'm not sure I buy the "Phaneuf will be more fresh" with less minutes argument. It's been proven time and time again that TOI correlates heavily with point production (there are charts showing this at the beginning of most Dobber Guides).

Regarding Gonchar, Spezza is main candidate to play the point on that PP which means Gonchar could be riding the pine.

I would hesitate to include a 40 year old D on a list of bounce back candidates.
#6 robmyatt 2014-08-05 09:24
interesting piece but I have to respectfully disagree with a lot of the choices.

1 - Pavalec is simply a terrible goalie. He's been well below league average for almost all of his career. Bad players to not rebound, they just continue to be bad. As a Jet, Pavelec’s save percentage has never ranked in the top 30 league wide.

2 - Lupul & Dupuis - I would steer clear of using the seasons they shot at unsustainable rates as examples of what they can do. Dupuis is 35 and coming off a season ending knee injury. I wouldn't put a loonie on him bouncing back in any capacity. Dupuis could easily be shoved out by the younger and more talented Hornqvist.
#5 Dakkster 2014-08-05 07:32
Very good article btw :)

Hoping your hunches about Holtby and Pavelec come true. Those two and Halak, plus Stalock, Lack and Andersen will make up my goalie this year. Shaky ground to stand on.
#4 Dakkster 2014-08-05 07:30
"if Lupul can stay healthy all season"

As someone who has owned Lupul since 2007 on my dynasty team, I hope for this every year. but I've learned that it just doesn't happen. You ride him during the hot streaks, shut him down when he's cold. He's pretty decent for peripherals when he's not scoring though.
#3 number54 2014-08-05 02:54
Phaneuf needs LESS ice time? 23:00 is not exactly a truck-load of TOI for a franchise dman. No, the Leafs just needed a better partner for him.

Pavalec may rebound a bit, but by no means is he going to be even average as a starter. He's just too inconsistent. Also, Hutchinson is a very real challenge to his job starting this fall.
+1 #2 Chunkys_Choice 2014-08-05 02:09
Does not include players who will hopefully be coming out of sophomore slumps... yakupov and huberdeau come to mind as two strong bounce-back candidates.
#1 sasquatch 2014-08-04 23:43
How many Holtby/Holtass threads were going around when Grubby had 5-10 games starting under his belt... I hope he does bounce back, and well.

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