A couple of days ago, Dylan and I released our list of 2018-19 Fantasy Hockey Sleepers. Drafting the right players in the mid-to-late rounds can go a long way towards winning a Fantasy Championship, but picking the wrong players in the early-to-mid rounds can absolutely destroy your chances.
We have complied a list of our 2018-19 Fantasy Hockey Busts; players who are being drafted too early for our liking. We used FantasyPros Average Draft Positions (ADP), which combines the ADP’s from ESPN, Yahoo and CBS.
Last year it was Max Pacioretty and Braden Holtby (to name a few) but who will it be this season?
Claude Giroux — Flyers — C/LW
ADP: 22.3 | DFO Rank: 26
One-year removed from a 14-goal, 58-point season, Giroux became one of the biggest steals in Fantasy Hockey last year. His bounce-back year was so massive, Giroux goes from steal to bust. The 11-year veteran set new career-highs in goals (34), assists (68) and points (102) but there are a lot of red flags to suggest he won’t repeat those numbers.
Prior to last season Giroux had a career 10.6% shooting percentage but that spiked to 17.6 percent—tied for sixth highest among players with at least 150 shots. Giroux also carried the sixth highest on-ice shooting percentage (12.0) and neither of those rates are going to be sustainable in 2018-19.
Giroux spent 90.3 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with Sean Couturier—who had the highest On-Ice SH% (13) in the NHL—the duo carried a strong 55.14 CorsiFor% and averaged 26.72 scoring chances per 60. While both of those rates are strong, their conversion rate on those scoring chances are almost guaranteed to drop, which will hurt Giroux’s goal and assist totals.
Evander Kane — Sharks — LW
ADP: 60.0 | DFO Rank: 107
Kane was acquired by the Sharks at the trade deadline last year and played extremely well down the stretch. The 27-year-old winger spent 84.3 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with Joe Pavelski and they averaged a robust 36.08 scoring chances for per 60. This year Pavelski will shift back to the wing with Joe Thornton returning from a knee injury. Kane will play the left-side and Thornton will be a big upgrade over players like Joonas Donskoi and Melker Karlsson, who were their primary right-wingers last year.
All of that sounds great, right? But how many times have we expected big things from Kane only for him to disappoint? Is this the best situation he’s ever been in? Probably. But Kane has missed 97 games over the last five years, so there are durability concerns. I think Kane is going to have a strong year, but there are better and safer options in the top-60 than Kane. Fantasy owners are seeing his 43-goal, 24-assist per 82-game pace during his time with the Sharks last season and thinking he’ll re-create that over a full season this year. However, if you apply his career 9.1 shooting percentage to 300 shots, Kane still only scores 27 goals. He will score in the high 20’s with 25-to-30 assists, but his upside is somewhat limited for a player going in the fifth-round.
Patric Hornqvist — Penguins — RW
ADP: 88.3 | DFO Rank: 174
Hornqvist is a solid power-forward in a great situation in Pittsburgh. Last year he played over 80 percent of his 5v5 ice-time with either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin, yet had just 14 goals and 13 assists at even-strength. Hornqvist has consistently done damage on the power-play, ranking 10th in the NHL in PPG (40) over the last four seasons. However, he’s in the same situation that he’s been in for four years and he’s only averaged 24 goals and 25 assists in those seasons. He is a consistent source of 20-plus goals and 20-plus assists but his upside is clearly limited. A 25-25 player is great in the later rounds, but the seventh/eighth round is far too early for the oft-injured winger.
Carey Price — Canadiens — G
ADP: 88.7 | DFO Rank: 92
Through the first 10 years of his career (500 starts), Price posted a 54% winning percentage, 2.40 goals against average and .920 save percentage. Price has run into injury issues in two of the last three years and is coming off of the worst season of his career (3.11 GAA / .900 SV%). To make matters worse, the Canadiens look like one of the worst teams in the NHL this season.
Durability issues, decreasing performance and a bad team has Price trending downwards. A -17.49 goals saved above average is a clear sign of Price’s struggles last season and should make fantasy owners nervous this fall. Price is currently being drafted ahead of Cam Talbot, Jake Allen and Mike Smith. All three of those netminder have just as strong of a hold on the starting job for their team as Price and don’t come with the injury concerns. Additionally, the Oilers, Blues and Flames all project to be much(!!!) better teams than the Habs this year. A once world class goaltender is now falling out of favour in the fantasy world.
Matthew Tkachuk — Flames — LW
ADP: 101.0 | DFO Rank: 132
During his first two NHL seasons, Tkachuk has posted 48 and 49 points despite missing a combined 20 games. Last year, Tkachuk saw a huge bump in ice-time and once again posted stellar analytical numbers—57.7 CorsiFor%, +6.4 relative Corsi. The 20-year-old has developed an excellent rapport with Mikael Backlund, the duo carried a lot of the play last season. The reason for listing Tkachuk as a bust is simply related to his ADP. He is currently being taken ahead of Kyle Connor, Jaden Schwartz, Evgenii Dadonov and his teammate Sean Monahan—all of them are ranked at least 19 spots above Tkachuk in our rankings; Monahan (68), Schwartz (97), Dadonov (112) and Connor (113).
Even in juniors, Tkachuk scored just 30 goals and he shot 12.8 percent last year, which will likely drop closer to 10 percent this season. Even if he fires 225 shots this year, Tkachuk is likely only a 25-25 player and that is not worth the ninth-round investment.
Rasmus Dahlin — Sabres — D
ADP: 104.7 | DFO Rank: 161
Before you freak out, let me start by saying that I think Dahlin is a special player and he will have a tremendous career. Just take a look at this play from his first preseason game, he’s got some serious flair.
Dahlin doing his thing 👀 pic.twitter.com/To0JmFvzmU
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) September 18, 2018
However, he is currently being drafted as the No.24 defenseman on average. He is going ahead of blueliners like Aaron Ekblad, Ivan Provorov and Mark Giordano to name a few. If you look in the last decade only nine of 459 rookie defensemen that have played at least 60 games have recorded more than 40 points. Is he capable of doing what Zach Werenski and John Klingberg did? Of course, but that’s likely his ceiling. You can’t go around drafting players expecting them all to hit their ceilings. Look at a Drew Doughty (No.2 in 2008) or a Victor Hedman (No.2 in 2009), neither of them had more than 27 points in their rookie campaigns. Dahlin has tremendous upside, but don’t be surprised if he tops out at 35 points.
This is obviously looking from a re-draft perspective and not keeper leagues.
Pekka Rinne — Predators — G
ADP: 24.7 | DFO Rank: 63
This isn’t to say that Rinne won’t be a serviceable fantasy netminder in 2018-19, but rather there’s simply way too much risk here to justify taking him in the top 25. You want to minimize your risk-taking in the early rounds of a fantasy draft to give yourself a chance to polish off your roster as the season unfolds. Rinne was remarkable last season, there’s no denying that. He recorded a .927 SV%, picking up 42 wins and a league-leading eight shutouts. As good as he was in 2017-18, he’s turning 36 this year and is only two seasons removed from a dreadful .908 SV%. If his play at all suffers the Predators have one of the best backups in the league to turn to, Juuse Saros. Saros has a career .923 SV% across 48 appearances and is a serious threat to cut into Rinne’s playing time this season regardless of how the old Fin performs. Don’t be surprised to see him start upwards of 30 games for the Nashville in 2018-19. You can do much better with your second-round pick than an aging goaltender that’s set to receive around 50 starts this season.
William Karlsson — Golden Knights — C/LW
ADP: 50.0 | DFO Rank: 109
Karlsson enters the 2018-19 season as perhaps the most obvious bust on the fantasy radar. He defied the odds all year long last season, but it would be a miracle for Karlsson to even come close to a 23.4 SH% in 2018-19. If you apply his career mark of 14.6%, which is very inflated from last year’s numbers, to the 184 shots he had in 2018-19, you’d expect Karlsson to score about 25 times this year. 14 percent even feels a little generous given his 7.7 SH% in his two seasons with Columbus. He could somewhat offset the dip in SH% with an uptick in shot volume, but we haven’t seen those kind of proficient shot rates from him before. He’ll have a hard time breaking 30 goals in 2018-19, let alone 40.
Mathew Dumba — Wild — D
ADP: 80.7 | DFO Rank: 104
Dumba enjoyed a career year in 2017-18, posting personal bests in goals (14), assists (36), and shots on goal (176). Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, and Jared Spurgeon all missed time last year, forcing Dumba’s ATOI to skyrocket up to 23:49. A healthy Wild blueline limits the usage of Dumba, as Suter and Spurgeon will continue to see north of 25 minutes a night. Dumba should start the year on the Wild’s top powerplay unit, but his 11.0 on-ice SH% last year suggests regression is inevitable. He’s obviously still a serviceable fantasy defenseman, but I can’t recommend taking him over Ryan Ellis, Alex Pietrangelo, or Zach Werenski, who are all being drafted behind him.
Gabriel Landeskog — Avalanche — LW
ADP: 93.0 | DFO Rank: 111
We’re expecting Nathan Mackinnon and Mikko Rantanen to take a step back towards Earth this season, so we must assume the same for Landeskog. The Avs’ captain put up 62 points last year, his highest total since the 2013-14 season. He shot a career best 13.7 percent and enjoyed a high on-ice SH% of 11.4%. Both should regress toward his career averages and his production will suffer as a result. He seems to have hit his ceiling last year, meaning he’ll need everything to go right again just to get back to 60 points. Still, his usage makes him a safe bet for about 50 points and you shouldn’t hesitate to add him to the bottom of your roster should he fall in your draft, but don’t expect him to build on what he did last year.
Yanni Gourde — Lightning — C/RW
ADP: 100.3 | DFO Rank: 217
Gourde was one of the biggest surprises of the fantasy season in 2017-18, scoring 25 goals and adding 39 assists in what was his first full season. Unfortunately for Gourde, regression is quite obviously on the horizon for him in 2018-19. He took only 136 shots but was fortunate to enjoy a 18.4 SH% last year and an 11.8 on-ice SH%. An uptick in usage might mitigate the dip in his shooting percentages, but that isn’t coming any time soon for Gourde, so long as he plays on a stacked Lightning team. His 100.3 ADP is incredibly high right now, ahead of the likes of Monahan and James van Reimsdyk. Given his role and the inevitable regression facing him, Gourde would be lucky to break 55 points this season.
Wayne Simmonds — Flyers — RW
ADP: 115.3 | DFO Rank: 121
Simmonds has become one of the more reliable goal scorers in the league, but his ice time is bound to suffer this season at the hands of the newly-acquired van Reimsdyk. Given what the Flyers’ lines looked like at the end of last season, it’s safe to assume that Travis Konecny will open up 2018-19 on the first line with Gioux and Couturier. JVR and Jakub Voracek account for the second-line wing spots, leaving Simmonds to fall to the third line. The Flyers signed JVR for his powerplay prowess, meaning it’s likely Simmonds also gets bumped down to the second powerplay unit. There is still some upside here and goals are hard to come by, but there’s just far too much uncertainty for my liking.