Season after season there’s always a list of players who just don’t tickle my fancy. This is for a variety of reasons, ranging from my dislike of some players, changes to the team during the off-season, recovery from off-season surgery, overvalued rookies/prospects, or just plain over-inflated stats from last season. Here’s the second set of my “not with a 10-foot pole” players this campaign.
Patric Hornqvist – RW- Nashville Predators
It’s not that I don’t like Hornqvist’s production, as he’s been pretty consistent over the last three seasons in terms of point production (around the 45-50 point range), plus he isn’t afraid of shooting the puck; registering 275, 265 and 230 SOG over that span. The big worry for me is the ice-time. Last season, he garnered just 15:19 per contest, which isn’t too far off the 15:43 and 15:41 that he garnered the two seasons prior. It seems to me that coach Barry Trotz has found the comfort zone for Hornqvist and I don’t think he’ll deviate from it. There’s only so much you can expect from a player that garners less than 16 mins a game.
Adam Larsson – D- New Jersey Devils
There’s been plenty of offense vs. defense debates in the past couple of off-seasons with Victor Hedman vs. John Tavares and then there was Ryan Nugent-Hopkins vs. Adam Larsson. I guess now we know, for fantasy hockey purposes, which side of the fence you should lean towards. Young blue-liners need at least a couple of pro seasons under their belt before they can eventuate into fantasy studs, which is why I’m not touching Larsson with a 10-foot pole heading into drafts for this season.
Nino Niederreiter – RW- New York Islanders
El Nino turned out to be only a minor tropical storm, posting only a single point in 55 contests last season. The plus side is that he did manage to fire 74 SOG against opposing goalies, indicating that he isn’t entirely afraid of shooting the puck. He probably would have been better off spending a full year down in the minors rather than playing minimal minutes and having his confidence destroyed in the big leagues. With that said he does have six points in six contests with the Tigers in the AHL, but you have to ask yourself if you could handle another disappointing season with a fantasy team killing minus 18 rating? I know I couldn’t.
Chris Kreider – C- New York Rangers
I had a bit of a tough time with this one so I just went with a gut feeling. With the acquisition of Rick Nash, I see the Rangers top-nine shaping into something like this:
I debated a bit on whether Kreider or Hagelin will win out in the final top-six spot, and I went with the latter. One of the major reasons was that the trio of Hagelin, Richards and Gaborik were on fire for most of last season and there was some chemistry there. So I’m thinking coach John Tortorella will go back to the well once again. During the playoffs Hagelin averaged 16:45 per contest compared to Kreider’s 13:09, which shows that management and coaching staff might have more faith in Hagelin than Kreider. Even if I’m wrong in guessing the top-six, with the offensive depth that the Rangers have, Kreider at best might be looking at 35-45 points anyway. I wouldn’t worry too much about missing Kreider on my fantasy squad.
Erik Karlsson – D- Ottawa Senators
If you’ve been following my columns in the off-season then you’re probably well aware of my thoughts on Karlsson. It’s not that I doubt his offensive abilities, but the numbers that he posted last campaign were so ridiculous (11.8 percent of the Sens’ point totals, 28 PPP and the Sens ranking fourth in the league in terms of goals scored) that they’ll be near impossible to repeat, let alone improve, heading into this season. Given his current draft ranking and how high he’s gone in a few fantasy leagues, he’s just not worth the high investment taking into account the risk involved.
Claude Giroux – C- Philadelphia Flyers
Similar to Karlsson, I don’t question Giroux’s offensive ability, as I think he’s one of the games best and brightest. What I will question, is his current draft ranking and whether he’s worth the risk. Another year of similar production to last year and I’d be 100 percent ready and willing to take him at his current draft slot, but with such a small sample size, I don’t think I’d have the confidence to take that leap. Jaromir Jagr had a big impact on the point production from Giroux last season (54 out of the 94 points) and with the wily veteran moving onto greener pastures, I wonder if that will negatively affect Giroux somehow.
Radim Vrbata – RW- Phoenix Coyotes
There isn’t really a Coyote that I wouldn’t want on my fantasy rosters, so I just went with a player who I thought will regress the most, which is Vrbata. He registered a career-high of 62 points last campaign with 50 of which coming when lining up alongside Ray Whitney (80/6 percent). Now that Whitney has moved on to the Stars, I don’t know if Vrbata will be able to repeat the pace that he set last season. He’s currently ranked above other right wings such as Jagr, Daniel Alfredsson, Shane Doan, Martin Erat, Blake Wheeler and Nathan Horton in Yahoo! draft rankings, however I would take any of them over Vrbata heading into this season.
Pascal Dupuis – LW- Pittsburgh Penguins
Dupuis had a massive season in 2011-12 as he posted both career-highs in points (59) and SOG (214), but the only problem is when you compare those numbers to his previous three-year averages (34.3points and 157.7 SOG), it just highlights how over-inflated they really are. His 55 even-strength points ranked him tied with Marian Gaborik for 10th overall in that department, which was higher than other “household names” like Henrik Sedin, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane, Claude Giroux, Henrik Zetterberg and Joe Thornton. I certainly wouldn’t be willing to bet any money that he could repeat those numbers for a second consecutive season.
Justin Braun – D- San Jose Sharks
I could have gone with Martin Havlat with this pick, but that would have been too easy of a choice, so I decided to go with Braun instead. I know Angus is a big fan of Braun, but I beg to differ. With Dan Boyle and Brent Burns occupying the number one and two slots, then a bottom pairing of Douglas Murray and M.A. Vlasic, and throwing in recently returnee Brad Stuart, there’s really only one spot remaining on the blue-line. That leaves Jason Demers and Braun to duke it out for that final spot. If playoff numbers are any indication of the coaching staff’s trust then Demers should win out over Braun as he garnered more PP TOI (1:43 compared to 0:36). Another factor that might favour Demers over Braun is that the former is currently lighting up the SM-Liiga with 11 points in 15 contests, while the latter isn’t currently playing.
Chris Stewart – RW- St. Louis Blues
I’ve been ragging on Stewart for the last couple of years and justifiably so. At the end of the day Stewart posted just 30 points along with 166 SOG last season. This is a far cry from the expectations that poolies had for him when selecting him at the draft table. Two of the key factors that determine a player’s point production potential are TOI (more specifically PP TOI) and team depth charts, neither of which is in Stewart’s favour heading into this season. During the regular season, Stewart averaged 15:26 of which 1:33 came on the PP. During the playoffs those numbers took a sharp dip as they dropped down to a miniscule 10:47 and 0:10. If you’re considering depth charts, Stewart has to compete with Andy McDonald, David Backes, Patrick Berglund, T.J. Oshie, David Perron, Alex Steen, Matt D’Agostini, Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz for playing time, so it’s unlikely that he’ll receive anything more than 15-16 minutes per game. How productive can Stewart really be with both of those factors severely limiting him?
Victor Hedman – D – Tampa Bay Lightning
Following along the same lines as Larsson above, I just don’t have a lot of trust in young blue-liners this early in their NHL careers. They generally have a lot of hype when they are drafted, but there’s a major offensive lull between their draft years until they hit about 25-28 where they begin to enter their prime. What also doesn’t help the situation is Tampa added a couple of offensive veterans in Matt Carle and Sami Salo into the blue-line mix, which forces Hedman further down the depth charts. He’s just not worth the headaches that are attached; bypass him at the draft table.
James Reimer/Ben Scrivens – G- Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs ranked second last in the league in terms of goals allowed (3.19) to opposition teams and they haven’t really addressed the issue in the off-season by signing any replacements. Add that to the fact that the Roberto Luongo rumors have been swirling about him joining the Leafs once the season commences, I’m not going to enter the season depending on Riemer or Scrivens between the pipes for my fantasy squad.
Keith Ballard – D – Vancouver Canucks
With the money that Ballard is making, surely you would think that the Canucks would utilize him in a much more efficient role. If you take a look at the depth charts, with Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis and Jason Garrison, at best Ballard is fifth on the Vancouver defensive depth charts. This pretty much guarantees that he’ll have little to no fantasy value in that role. He averaged just 15:33 per contest and 12 seconds on the PP, and I wouldn’t expect anything more than that this season.
This situation is very similar to the Toronto situation, but the positive is that the Caps actually have some form of a respectable defensive unit in front of their goalies. The drawback is I don’t know who will settle in as the number one goalie? It could go 50/50, it could be 70/30 leaning towards Neuvirth’s favour, or it can go the other end and lean 70/30 for Holtby. With that much uncertainty it’s just darn near impossible to try to predict what’s going to happen, and the only way to solve that problem is to burn two roster slots and snag both of the goalies as a handcuff to cover your bases. It’s just not worth it in my opinion and I wouldn’t touch this situation with a 10-foot pole.
Evander Kane – LW- Winnipeg Jets
There’s nothing majorly wrong with Kane from a fantasy standpoint, but I’m just not in favour of how he approaches the professional game. There have been numerous reports of him having a “schoolboy attitude” to hockey. He signed with a KHL team during the lockout, then had his coach blast him for being out of shape and not ready for professional action. Add that to the fact that he basically held the Jets ransom in holding out for a “better contract” and numerous reports of him being benched by his coach for playing unmotivated hockey. These are just a couple of negative reasons why I wouldn’t want him on my fantasy team. On a numbers front, he’s never averaged more than 18 minutes overall per contest and has sat around the 2:15 PP TOI mark the last two seasons, which isn’t enough to get him into the “next” level. The PIM, hits and SOG are a nice bonus, but his value decreases by a lot if you’re only playing in standard setting leagues.
Any players that you wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole? Question or comments are always greatly welcomed below.
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Previous Posts from Ma:
- Not With A 10-Foot Pole, Part I
- Enlightened You Shall Be (2012)
- Undervalued and Underappreciated
- Forget Me Not