In order to balance the dobberhockey world, this week I’ll give you the Eastern Conference fantasy disappointments of the season so far. If you own any of them, then you’ve probably spent many long hours trying to figure out whether to hold onto them, try to trade them or simply cut your losses and drop them outright. I automatically eliminated the injured and the guys who appear to have already turned it around. Here are my top ten choices for most disappointing fantasy hockey players to date that reside in the Eastern Conference:
10. Jay Bouwmeester- We all know he’ll come up big in the second half, but with only 13 points after 40 games, he’ll really have to turn it on to score 40 points for the third consecutive year.
9. Jason Blake- Not many people expected him to repeat his 40 goal performance, but his six goals have him on pace for only 12 goals. Blake’s scored 20 or more goals four seasons in a row.
8. Darcy Tucker- I thought since I haven’t seen his name in the box scores very often that he was out with an injury! I guess scoring only two points in December will do that. He’s on pace for 20 points this season. Good thing Toronto signed him to a four year contract extension last February.
7. Marc Denis- Anyone wonder why he’s not in the NHL right now? A snapshot of his statistics tells the story. A less than stellar 1-5 record, 4.05 goals against average and a woeful 0.859 save percentage. Any questions?
6. Maxim Afinogenov- Other than a six game, seven point burst in mid-December, the rushin’ Russian right winger has been shooting blanks. After 61 points in 59 games last season, a 40 point season would be disappointing.
5. Michael Ryder- All signs pointed to a monster year for him. Ryder had been one of the top power play goal scorers over the last three seasons and was set to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. The wheels have fallen off this ride. Before last night's three-point performance, he was on pace for nine goals and 25 points after back to back 30 goal seasons. Ryder will begin scoring once again when he starts getting significant power play time with his new team.
4. Jordan Staal- Sophomore jinx? I’ll say. Last season, Staal scored a surprising 29 goals and 42 points with a plus-16 rating last season. This year, he’s not even on pace to score 20 points and is a hideous minus-12. Signs of him coming around are there, but the numbers thus far have been too bad to ignore.
3. Ray Emery- Razor Ray has had to endure starting the season with a wrist injury, then losing his job to Gerber. Fantasy owners have had to endure spotty, inconsistent starts, road rage incidents, stick swinging and watching him show up late for practice. While Emery isn’t happy at losing his starting status, he certainly didn’t mind last season, when he pulled the same trick on Gerber. Emery’s statistics this season are underwhelming to say the least (5-4-3, 2.84, 0.890) and don’t make a very compelling argument for getting the number one job back. Musical chairs anyone? It’s been a goaltending merry go round this year in Ottawa. Round and round, where it stops nobody knows.
2. Alexei Zhitnik- Even with his recent “streak” where he scored three points in two games, he is still only on pace for a whopping ten points! He has been held pointless in 37 of 41 games. That’s a whole lot of zeros. Many expected Zhitnik to score in the vicinity of 40 points this season. He’s not helping anyone out in the plus/minus department either with an ugly minus-10.
Any guesses as to who the biggest fantasy disappointment from the Eastern Conference was in 2007?
1. Thomas Vanek- Many expected Vanek to take a step back this season after jumping from 48 to 84 points in a single season. Along with the leap in points came a huge swing in plus/minus, going from minus-11 to plus-47. Could Vanek go from 48 to 84 and back to 48 points? Is he the new Vinny Prospal (55-80-55)? The added pressure of living up to a large contract and losing two of your top scoring team mates will do that to a young player. Sure Vanek will improve over the second half, but not enough to justify his lofty draft position in many fantasy leagues.
One dishonourable mention goes out to Brad Richards. While Richards has scored a respectable 34 points, if your pool counts plus/minus, then B.Rich is likely single-handedly killing that category for your team with his league worst minus-23, dragging you down to the bottom of the pool like a pair of cement shoes.
Here’s hoping your holidays are going better than the seasons of the above-mentioned players!